The difference between 5 and 55

My daughter has become aware of money overnight. Yesterday, she took $2 from her piggy bank when we went to the store and decided to spend $1.13 on a lollipop and $0.50 on a merry-go-round ride. Today she wanted to give money to her friends, so we had to have a chat about money. I explained to her, that in our family, we don’t just give money to people. That if someone is very special, you can buy them a gift that is thoughtful…or that you can save money for something very special for yourself.

She gave it a great deal of thought and then asked me if we were rich. We live in LA, so rich is quite common and also quite disturbing at times. We are not rich. But we live in an affluent LA suburb and many of her friends are, in fact, quite rich. With big houses, big cars, long staircases (we live in a small, comfortable bungalow), many toys and lots of Uggs.

What struck me was that at 5 1/2 she is suddenly aware of the power of money. She will explode onto the consumer scene at a speed that is terrifying. My Canadian sensibilities keep values in check…even in heady LA. On the other side, at 55 we become paralyzed by the prospect of the loss of the power associated with earning. And the realization that retirement income may not be enough to last us through another 25 to 30 years.

If I were a younger mother, I suppose I’d never make these type of associations. But as an older mum, they slap me in the face through the startling innocence of the questions of a young child.

Two of my married friends, also older parents (late 40’s with a 2 year old and an adopted daughter on the way) just decided to quit their jobs, sell their home, pull up their stakes and their britches and move to Colorado. Just like that. Just like in my 20’s, pulling it up and moving from Montreal to Toronto to find my path.

Their decision

SLAP

solely based on wanting to lead an easier lifestyle without the pressures of money that is so hard to fathom when just moving to LA. This is a hard city where the divide between the haves and have-nots is increasing by the millisecond.

SLAP

Where a woman driving a Hummer comments that if someone needs to worry about the price of gas, they shouldn’t be driving a Hummer.

SLAP

Where 3 million dollar homes abound and where there are people that can really, really afford to live in them.

Slap, slap, slap.

How will our 50 plussers survive in a world that is so divided? The only way that I see is to capture the energy of the 5 year-old that still lives inside of us and to boldly find our place in the work force, as producers, as a force to be reckoned with. To roll with the punches. To slap back, with hands on our hips, laughing, bellowing into the air. To take our 50 cents and take the merry-go-round back!

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