Carnival of Money Stories #56—Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a small boy named Jack. Jack told all of his friends to call him, “Money.” When asked, “Why should we call you Money?” Jack replied, “Because I need a cool name. One day, I’ll be famous. Really famous.

“People will tell stories about me. Write songs about me. They’ll need to hold entire carnivals just to tell all the tales about me. They’ll probably even name the carnivals after me.”

Jack was a cocky little boy.

But Jack was kind-hearted underneath his big words, and his mother loved him very much. Jack's ma was a single parent who worked three jobs. She was tireless and full of fire. The type of person who could get a credit-card company to reverse charges or spend 26 months to get a department store to issue a full refund.

Jack’s ma felt like she was doing all she could and that she was bringing in decent money—but it never seemed to add up. Jack and his ma were poor, according to the thresholds established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Census.

After one hard winter, with the countryside plunged into recession, Jack’s ma lost one of her jobs; and tax season hit particularly hard.

But there was no tax-rebate or economic-stimulus check coming for Jack and his ma. There were just bills and more bills. The debt started to pile up, and Jack's ma was starting to wonder if they would ever be able to see a way out.

“We are going to have to tighten our belts even further,” Jack's ma told him. Jack was pretty sure he knew what that meant. Jack's ma was going to cut off his text messaging.

“But ma,” Jack pleaded, “there are so many other places we might look to save money!” And indeed, there were.

But these were not enough. Text messaging would have to go, and that was not all. Jack's ma saw that there was no means of keeping Jack and herself from starvation but by selling their cow. So one morning, she told Jack, “I have to go to work now, but you must take the cow to market for me, and sell her.”

There were only three ways to get a cow to the market—by car, by boat, or by foot. Jack and his ma did not have a car or a boat. Even used.

Car-less and boat-less, Jack set off for the market on foot, leading his and his ma's prized cow. But Jack and his six-year-old legs quickly grew weary, and he stopped to take a rest by the stream.

At that time, up came a funny-looking old man, who said to him, “Good morning, Money. Where are you off to? "

“Good morning to you,” said Jack, and wondered how he knew his nickname. “I’m going to the market to sell our cow there.”

Well, that funny-looking old man convinced Jack to trade his cow for a handful of beans. Magic beans, he called them, that would grow up to the sky if you planted them and waited just 30 years.

Now you can imagine, Jack's ma was none too happy about the price that Jack had fetched for their cow. But she hadn't the heart to put a damper on Jack's unbridled enthusiasm for the beans as he sat out in the yard, carefully planting and watering them. But she knew, there were no such things as magic beans.

“Don’t worry, Ma,” Jack told her. “While we wait for the beans to grow up to the sky, I’ll take on jobs to help make ends meet.”

“What job can you do?” Jack’s ma asked him quizzically.

“Well, I could try making money online.”

But Jack and his ma had no Internet connection. Jack had a keen interest in real estate.

But Jack and his ma had no capital, and the nearest bank was beyond walking distance. So Jack began freelancing, learning the business of freelancing, and taking the first steps to developing a career.

His ma grew older and soon was no longer able to work. But Jack kept at it, working away, each evening tending to his ma—and tending to his magic beans. Over time, he learned many lessons about how to think about and approach their personal finances.

Thirty years passed, and lo and behold—the beans had grown into an immense beanstalk that reached up to the sky. There were magic beans. They were just a forced and contrived allegorical reference to the power of compounding. In a land far far away, with no child labor laws, Jack turned 36 with a liquid net worth of $1.8 million.

Money wasn’t the end all, be all, but Jack and his ma had a roof over their heads, enough food to eat, and bills that were paid instead of piling up.

Jack was happy. He started telling all of his friends to call him, “Earth.” When asked, “Why should we call you Earth?” Jack replied, “I need an even cooler name. Now that I have a beanstalk that reaches into the sky, people will probably want to name a whole day after me.”

Editor’s Endnote: Thanks for all the submissions. Several great submissions were left out for being a bit too far outside the scope of the Carnival of Money Stories, at least as far as I understand it. As a reminder, the Carnival of Money Stories is for personal stories dealing with money or finances—with the examples given as “personal story/experiences or the stories/experiences of others on saving, investing, finance, money management, money generating, business ventures, success and tales of struggle” and “how you are handling your financial and business challenges as well as your opinions on money news and stories you come across.” Please submit through this link for the next Carnival of Money Stories! The next edition will be hosted by Money Stories. Past and future editions can be found at Blog Carnival and at the Carnival of Money Stories homepage.

Related posts:
Here are links to other personal-finance blog carnivals that I have hosted.

Money Hacks Carnival #12 — The Twelve Labours of Heracles

Festival of Stocks #85—Man on the Moon

Whoa Nelly—The Festival of Stocks #81 at Gettysburg!


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