Summary: If you earn it, you can spend it any way that you want to. The great joy of life comes from reaping what you sow.
I once asked my father if he would give me a weekly allowance. After all, many of the kids in my school were getting allowances from their parents and I thought I deserved an allowance as well.
I was surprised by my father’s response.
“I give you a great allowance here everyday.”
I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about and so I asked him to explain it to me.
“I allow you to live in this house, I allow you to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in this house, I allow you to play outside all that you want. You have a great allowance and you should be thankful.”
That was not the allowance I was thinking of and I suppose from my father’s point of view he had a good point.
Then he added something that has been with me the rest of my life.
“You don’t earn it, you can’t spend it.”
That was a rule he went by and I have come to appreciate that throughout my life.
Many people spend what they have not earned and I suppose they do not really appreciate what they have. If you have to earn it before you can spend it, then that introduces a level of appreciation that most people do not have.
Throughout my life I have had to work with that philosophy, “You don’t earn it, you can’t spend it.” In some regards, it has been a little difficult, but in the long run, I have appreciated buying what I have earned.
This has divided itself into about four different categories.
I. The Soda Pop Bottles
When I was young soda pop, as it was called then, came in glass bottles. I don’t think there were any plastic bottles at that time and I don’t remember any soda pop coming in a tin can.
The important thing about a soda pop bottle was that it had value to it. The soda companies recycled all of their bottles and therefore would pay you 5¢ for every bottle you would return. That naturally opened itself up for a little business boy to start up his own business.
I would get on my bicycle and travel up and down the roads looking for empty soda pop bottles. When I got five bottles, which would equal 25¢, I would head for the little country store just up the road from our house.
For 25¢, I could buy a bottle of root beer pop and a pint of vanilla ice cream. On a hot summer afternoon what could be better.
I would take my five bottles in to Mrs. Hershey and she would take those bottles and then give me a quarter. Now, I did not do all that work just for money, I exchanged it for the root beer soda pop and a pint of vanilla ice cream.
When the transaction was completed, I would go out, sit on the front porch and enjoy the delicacies that my 25¢ afforded me.
Now the most amazing thing about this transaction was, when I was finished, I would throw away the ice cream box and take my root beer soda pop bottle up to Mrs. Hershey and I would exchange it for a nickel. And so, my 25¢ treat only cost me 20¢.
I walked out of that old country store with a nickel in my pocket. Do you know how delightful it is to walk down the street with a nickel in your pocket?
The thing that I learned from this adventure is that you work for something and sometimes you get more than what you really pay for. The blessing is that earning can sometimes be larger than the buying.
II.The Potato Field Job
Not too far down the road from where I lived was a Mennonite who had a potato farm. In the month of August, the potatoes would be ready to harvest and so this farmer would hire some of us kids to pick potatoes for him.
We would show up at his barn and he would give us a pack of numbers, which was associated with our name. We would go out to the field, pick up a basket and start putting in potatoes and when the basket was filled we would stick our number on it and move on to the next basket. We usually had approximately 50 of these cards with our number on it. He would pay us 25¢ for each basket that we filled. If I could fill all of my numbers I could take home that night $12.50. That was a lot of money.
Out in the potato field, there were many strange things going on. There were many snakes that would run all over the place and you had to be careful not to get caught by one.