Dimes, Ice Cream, and a Leather-Bound Folder
Chloe wasn’t your average eight-year-old. Then again, Charles wasn’t your average dad. Actually, he was her grandfather. But with Chloe's parents out of the picture, Charles was the only father Chloe knew. And what a blessing that turned out to be.
The Ice Cream Lessons:
In the spring of 1997, Charles was awarded custody of Chloe after a short court battle against his unfit daughter-in-law who had returned to the drug-induced life she lived before marrying Charles son, Nick, who was killed in an auto accident just a year earlier.
Just three years old at the time of the custody hearing, Chloe remembers the car ride home following the trial. She asked her grandfather when her father would come to see her. “I remember he pulled to the side of the road and just wept in the front seat of his old Buick,” Chloe told Henry, Charles’s financial advisor. “I remember sitting in the back seat completely confused at whether I had said something wrong or if something bad had happened to him.”
As the years passed, Chloe and Charles developed a bond even stronger than that of many fathers and daughters. Chloe didn’t remember how she began calling Charles ‘Dad’, but that was all she really knew him as.
“Even my friends referred to him as my father,” Chloe told Henry. “I remember one time at a Back-to-School function when he introduced himself to another parent as my grandfather and the parent told him they thought he was my dad because that’s what I called him. I think that was one of the first moments that made me ask him about my dad and mom, and this time, he told me the truth about my mom’s addiction issues after my dad died.”
Henry sat quietly while Chloe traveled down memory lane. At times she would smile, even laugh, and others she would tear up.
“So, to answer your question,” Chloe said, returning to the present, “I guess my beliefs about money come from my grandfather.”
“Well he certainly did you a favor,” Henry replied; “I have yet to see a twenty-year-old with such a solid grip on their finances, and their future.”
Chloe went on to share that when she was just three years old, Charles began paying her for chores around the house. He lived on three acres so there was always plenty of work to do, but there wasn’t much a three-year-old could do.
“I now realize it was never about the work anyway,” Chloe said. “I remember he would pay me a dollar, but he would give it to me in dimes. And he taught me to take the first dime and put it in the offering basket at church on Sunday. Then he taught me to take two dimes and put them in my piggy bank, which was literally a ceramic pig,” she chuckled. “That was my savings account.”.
“And then I would take one dime and pay my grandfather rent, and one dime to contribute for food, and the rest I could spend however I wanted, but at that age that just meant saving up to buy an ice cream after church on Sunday,"
Chloe paused as a memory interrupted her train of thought, “And I remember how he would tell me to give the lady at the ice cream shop two dimes for my ice cream, but I’m sure it cost more than twenty cents, so he must have paid the difference.” Chloe stopped talking for a moment and reflected on her experiences with her grandfather at the ice cream shop. “I guess it was never about the money as much as it was about the lesson.”
By this time, Henry realized he was sitting with his mouth slightly ajar and quickly closed it and cleared his throat, “This has got to be one of the greatest lessons about money that I’ve ever heard,” he finally said. “You may not realize it yet, but your grandfather did you a huge favor, and someday…” Henry paused for a moment, “Actually, not some day. You’re already in great shape as a result of the beliefs about money that your grandfather had himself, and that he passed on to you.”
Over the years, Chloe hadn’t known any different than the way her grandfather had taught her. Her habits lead to a mindset that would allow her to avoid the financial stresses so many others deal with; especially those who don’t have enough in savings and struggle each month because they spend all they make.
Chloe was meeting with Henry that day to discuss the accounts Charles had left her after his recent passing. While it’s very common for inheritance money left to a twenty-year-old to have restrictions like not receiving the money until they are thirty years old so they don’t spend it all, Charles had no reservations about leaving his entire estate of $1.2 million to Chloe and allowed her to choose what she would do with it.
“Normally I would have a list of recommendations about where to put this money to keep it safe, but I have a feeling you already know what you want to do with it,” Henry said while sliding the account statements across the desk.
“For right now I’m going to finish college and then I have some ideas for a business I want to start and I’ll use some of it for that,” Chloe replied as she put the statements in the leather-bound folder that was once her grandfathers.
“I know my grandfather worked hard for this money, and he lived a very frugal lifestyle. I’m going to make sure I use this money in a way he would be proud.”
“I couldn’t help it,” Henry told us when he shared this story; “my eyes just welled up with tears as I thought about how proud Charles would have been of Chloe.”
“Train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he will not depart from it”
We can’t change the way we were raised or the beliefs we have about money to this point, but we can change the beliefs we have from this moment forward.