When I was sixteen, I was sent to live with another family. Within 6 months they found a job for me and I was expected to give my entire paycheck. I wanted to help, so I did it with little resentment. One day I tried to keep back five dollars and was promptly punished – emotionally – which taught me to never try that again. The punishment was this: when the mother discovered I’d kept out a few dollars, she took the rest of the money and threw it back into my face. Literally. Bills and coins spattered my face and chest. I suppose a “normal” teenager might take the money and be happy about it. But it hurt my feelings that she was rejecting my help – simply because I’d chosen to hold back a few dollars of the money I’d earned. In order to never experience her rage again, I began signing my checks over to her.
Due to my stability and ability to hold a job, I was essentially the main breadwinner for this family. I witnessed a lot of frivolous spending. I was accustomed to eating healthy balanced meals at home, while this family ate out a lot and when they did cook, it was an extravagant meal that cost too much money. They bought a lot of junk food and pop. The head of the household was vain and attempted to portray to the outside world that the family was wealthy. We lived in the wealthiest city in the state and rented a home in a wealthy neighborhood. She leased an expensive car. She wore a wig that was painstakingly styled regularly by a stylist, she wore fake nails, eyelashes, dyed her hair until it turned to straw, bought new outfits on credit cards and then returned them after wearing them once. We were constantly broke and we moved during the night several times while I lived with that family.
Go here to continue reading My Money Story – My Twenties.