Small Holes Sink Big Ships-an Amusing Look At Money Habits

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When I was a child, I had a newspaper round. Every morning at five I would drag myself out of bed, peddle my bicycle across town to pick up a stack of newspapers that would make my bike creak, and ride back across town to distribute them.

My round included a few very different areas of my city. Some streets were broad and lined with trees; villas were hidden behind shrubbery and long driveways, whereas other streets were simple rows of houses. Finally, there were streets with grim, dreary apartment blocks.

I used to enjoy being in the city just before it wakes up. There’s something magically still in seeing light come into the streets, but that’s not the point of this article.

I Learned Something About Wealth at Christmas
The way it works in my country when you deliver newspapers is as follows: You get paid a very basic rate for the amount of addresses you have to visit. It’s pocket money for kids, not much more. The fun started when the Christmas season came around.

The newspaper would print piles and piles of small cards and hand them out to us kids. We would then do the same round as always, except we’d do it around dinner time, when we knew most people would be likely to be home.

The cards were colourful and Christmas themed, displaying seasons greetings and a thank you message from the newspaper to their readers.

You would ring the doorbell, present a card, and say something like: “Hello Sir. Your newspaper boy would like to wish you merry Christmas and a Happy New year.”

Everybody knew what it was about. They were expected to dig into their pockets and give you a little tip. Begging for a handout? You bet. After all, I’d spent the entire year biking through sleet and rain, fingers freezing off in winter, dodging angry dogs and what have you, to get them their fresh new paper on the doormat before breakfast. Not that we were entitled to a tip, but most people were more than happy to show their appreciation.

Some people would give a Guilder (roughly equivalent to a Euro), sometimes a 2,50 coin, or even a fiver. Happy days.

Can You Guess Which People Gave the Most?
Easy! The rich people, right? Wrong. The biggest tips came from people who obviously had very little money. The rich streets where big shiny cars glimmered outside plush villas hardly yielded anything. I’d say only 20 percent of the richer folk would give anything at all, and if they did it was never more than one Guilder. Some even had the nerve to give a quarter. Seriously.

But almost everyone gave something in the poorer streets. The less money the people seemed to have for themselves, the more they seemed to appreciate what money really is worth. And they shared what little they had. It was wonderful and heartwarming (and nice to get the cash, too!) Fivers, tenners, I even remember one person giving me a 25 Guilder note. The door closed and I stood there for a moment, staring at the paper lit by a bare bulb in a grimey concrete hallway.

The Moral
There is a good reason a rich person is rich. You’ll find that for those to whom hoarding wealth is important, the way to do it is by hoarding wealth. Every penny you don’t spend goes on the pile.

So if you find that your financial situation isn’t quite right or if you have trouble reaching the end of the month, consider saving on the small expenses. Have a cold hard look at how much money you actually spend on things that aren’t strictly necessary. Most people will spend 10 to 30 percent too much when shopping, on things they don’t really need.

Buying lunch? Bring your own from home instead. Coffee at Starbucks? Buy a thermos and make your own. If you think about it, you can save a lot of money when you eliminate a number of small expenses.

I’m not saying you should deny yourself luxuries or eat like an ascetic. Just be careful with your money and spend it wisely. Just please make sure to tip your newspaper boy.

Jackie writes an amusing article to gradually open your eyes about money habits. This has been written for the blog of Cash Choice UK, who are a faxless payday loans company in the UK.

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