When I was a kid I can remember getting ridiculously excited on Christmas Eve. My mom used to decorate our tiny house beautifully for the holidays. We’re talking all the 80s trimmings. We had a small, but perfect, Christmas tree with multi-colored lights. Yes, multi-colored lights. The big ones! One goes out, the rest stay lit, baby! We had garland adorning the trim. And we had a feast fit for Whoville. Oh, snap! Sure, I loved all the festivities and the food and the fun, but that’s not why I got excited. What I loved most of all about Christmas Eve was getting a crisp $20 bill from my aunt and uncle.
That $20 bill was the equivalent of gold in my eyes. I was dazzled. The funny thing is that I didn’t want to spend it, instead I wanted to keep that $20 bill forever. After the holidays, I was equally excited when my mom took me to the bank to deposit my crisp $20 bill. I felt like a big shot walking in with my statement savings deposit slip and cash and handing it to the teller. I felt…rich.
THE RISE OF THE 20 SPOT
Well, let me tell you this – I’m currently mid-career and wishing I had kept that $20 bill forever, because now a single $20 that I received on one of those holidays would be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $150!
Growing up in the 80s and 90s was one heck of a trip. Being a kid of parents without any financial background, I had to find my own way. Unfortunately, as I got older, that awesome emotion I felt after depositing cash diminished as my attention turned to boys and clothes and having the latest gadget. As I made my way from childhood into teenager territory, I got more excited about a new outfit than my statement savings register. Womp. Womp.
Frugality? What was that? Frugality didn’t hit the scene until much later. I’m talking 20 years later. Yep, back in my early years, flaunting your stuff was way more important than building your wealth. Remember Miami Vice? Please tell me you remember Miami Vice!
Time passed, as it typically does, and I turned into a full-fledged adult. Whoa. How did that happen so quickly?!
Suddenly, I found myself with a car payment, student loans, a mobile phone, a mortgage – you know – all the trappings of adulthood. Something else happened too… Suddenly, $20 wasn’t a lot of money anymore.
Balderdash! I won’t accept that. $20 is STILL a lot of money, and I’m STILL dazzled by it. Let me prove to you why YOU should still be dazzled by a $20 bill.
THE DEMISE OF THE 20 SPOT
Invested money still earns compound interest just like it did when I was a kid. Had I invested all the $20 bills that ran through my fingers starting with those Christmas gifts from my aunt and uncle, I would be one filthy rich lady right now. Instead, I allowed things to get in the way. Boys. Toys. Clothes. Cars. Not necessarily in that order.
I continued to bounce back and forth between saving and spending all the way into adulthood. Not surprisingly, I would eventually find something that was more important than my financial future that I needed to spend my money on. When I was a kid, I would go to the bank with my withdrawal slip and pull out the crisp bills I once deposited. When I was a teenager, I would use my MAC to tap my cash (remember calling them MAC cards?). When I was a young adult, I would use an ATM. Gone. Forever. Gone.
THE 20 SPOT STRIKES BACK
Despite the foolish decisions I made when I was a teenager and young adult, I finally got back to my emotionally-driven financial roots and am now on the path to financial freedom. YES! Mr. MMM and I have been attacking our debt and building wealth with fervor the past few years.
If we have an extra $20 here or there, we transfer it onto our mortgage or into our investment account – whatever strikes our fancy that day. And we get excited about doing it! When we glance over the statement for the previous month and notice we transferred $200 worth of $20 increments, we realize the power of a single $20 bill.
You see, there is no way we would’ve put an extra $200 on the mortgage or into our investment account at the beginning of the month, for fear of needing that money for something unexpected. But as the month passes, instead of using an extra 20 spot for pizza or beer, we throw it towards our financial goals. This tiny habit has been paying us dividends in every sense of the word.
We’re getting rich – one $20 bill at a time!
STOP DISMISSING THE 20 SPOT!
So the next time you think – “It’s only 20 bucks.” – think again. Before you drop $20 on coffee, pizza, beer, make-up, movie tickets, fast food, magazines, candy, toys (I’m looking at you iGen! :), or anything else, think about THE POWER of that $20 bill. Think about what you’re blowing your money on and if it’s actually costing you your future financial freedom. Spend in service of your future self. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you get there!
Related: Why Aren’t More Gen-Xers On Fire