What’s Your Earliest Memory Around Money?

A while back, I listened to Denise Duffield-Thomas interview Gabby Bernstein on the subject of money (the interview is embedded at the bottom of this post). She asked her a question I’ve heard many others ask before.

“What’s your earliest memory around money?”

Every other time I’ve heard this question, and have tried to answer it, I drew a blank. I could not (and still can’t) for the life of me remember my first gift of money, my first time spending money, my first time earning money, or any other conceivable “money firsts”.  I’ve even tried to recall how adults spoke about money when I was a kid, but nothing that would have left any sort of impression on me ever emerged.

When I heard Denise ask Gabby about her earliest money memory, I wasn’t actively listening to the interview. It was ambient background noise. The only thing I was actively concentrating on was what I was working on with my hands. And guess what?! Like magic, the answer to the question popped into my head! I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection earlier! What came to mind was not something I ever forgot—it was an extremely traumatic experience—I just didn’t think of it as a “money memory” before that moment.

When I was a toddler, my family lived in a mobile home. My room was about the size of a small walk-in closet. It was just big enough to house two pieces of furniture—a daybed that was a hand-me-down from my grandmother (when I graduated from my crib), and a very short dresser that came with the mobile home.

On top of my dresser, sat HUGE red barrel “piggybank”. Okay, so maybe the “piggy bank” wasn’t really “HUGE“, but, believe me, it was HUGE from my two year old perspective. It was taller than my torso, and I could barely get my arms around it. Aside from the daybed and the dresser, it’s the only other object I remember from that room—the room I slept in from birth to age four.

One day, while alone in my room, I wanted to take my “piggybank” down off the dresser. I slid it forward, but when I got it past the edge of the surface, I was not able to carry the load. The “HUGE” red barrel full of coin knocked me onto my back, and landed on top of me. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t breath. To this day, I have never again felt the kind of terror I felt in that moment. My mom was there to rescue me almost immediately, but for a long time after, I was gasping for air, and mentally shaken. So. Damn. Shaken.

Is it even possible that this—a traumatic memory of being crushed by the weight of coin—is is my “mental money block”. Could this thing that happened, in the blink of an eye, when I was 2 years old, be what, today, is preventing me from charging what I’m worth, and the reason why I have only $24 in my life savings?