Day 9: I am a Millionaire. Coins, code, conflict and contradictions.

Welcome to Day 9.

On Day 8 I told a story about an expensive bike and my efforts as a kid to raise cash to buy it. If you missed it click here for Day 8.

You know how the story ends. I spent three hours washing all these mucky coke bottles for 25c. I was learning the lesson: hard work = success. Time for money. If you want something, work hard for it.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But hard work earned me 25c, not $15. And back then $15 was still a LOT of money for anyone let alone a kid who earned 5c pocket money a week. In those days a penny could buy a small bag of sweets.

I grew up with coins: grimy old pennies and thrippenny bits, the occasional shiny sixpence, the magical shilling, and the eye-popping two-bob bit. Then in 1966, it was 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins when decimal currency was introduced.

I grew up saving instead of spending, doing bob-a-job and spending Saturdays afternoons mowing lawns in the scorching summer sun. And occasionally being rendered speechless when a grandparent gave me $2 for my birthday.

But this day I ended up exhausted, discouraged and forgot all about the bike. And I wrote a piece of life software about work and money. It didn’t matter how hard I worked that bike was five years off. What was the point?

I learned to resent hard work. I was angry at the man, and my dad, and stupid police and the bike seller. It wasn’t fair! Why wasn’t money easy to get? Why was there never enough? Why did I have to be careful and safe-guard what I had?

Your brain is a association device. It gathers stories and experiences and feelings and creates chains of neurones called ganglia that get reinforced and strengthened with emotion. And because the brain is designed to conserve resources it converts long chains of experience and converts it to the equivalent of distilled and shortened links – coding designed to fire off quickly and automatically. And once learned they disappear into the background.

Some of those ‘programmes’ or codes sit there driving behaviour.  The code sits under category called How Money Works. Time for money. If you want something work hard. To get what you want you have struggle.

Here’s the point. I was an excited kid.

Earning a lot of money is grown-ups work. Not kids work. But a lot of our attitudes and lessons around money are well and truly formed as a child. In other words, a kid wrote the code. But the kid didn’t have the life experience or knowledge to write a piece of code called How Money Works.

We forget that.

Most of our reactions to money are childish or child-centric – helpless, angry, fearful, conditional fuzzy logic, circular, rebellious. Under pressure we plug into expressions like I can’t, I have to, why can’t I, I give up.

Powerful stuff.

And I was so angry.

Why am I so smart and still working? How come Stacky Robinson who worked in a hardware store ended up retiring at 58 and living six months of a year in Portugal?  Why did the vicious and lazy Reggie O’Reilly win the lottery when he was a wife-beating, drunk? Why did my mum and dad work so long and hard for so little? Why did fat little Paul O’Keefe do nothing for money and have so much? Why did some kids have money for tuck shop and I didn’t? Why did the kids at cub scouts have money for ice cold creamy soda or sarsaparilla and I didn’t? What was wrong with my parents? Didn’t they love me? What was wrong with me? Didn’t I deserve money? Why isn’t life fair?

Why can’t I see a million?

Making a million is relatively easy. I would guess you have already earned a million in your life. I now know that millionaires who become millionaires and stay millionaires think differently and feel differently about money than I do. Or did.

I had to write new code. But first I had to become aware that code existed.


Your turn

So today I want you to reflect on your earliest memories of money. And your relationship with money. One of the best money books you can read is The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth Ph.D.


Andrew Priestley is an award winning business coach, best selling author of The Money Chimp, Awareness, and Starting! and listed in the 2017 Top 100 UK Entrepreneur Mentors. Check out and @ARPriestley on Twitter. Disclaimer: It goes without saying that this is for information only and does not constitute clinical, legal, business or financial advice. The author is not responsible for any losses or damages that occur as a result of reading this material.


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