Our relationship to our money may have dimensions similar to what we require in our interpersonal relationships. We want money to care deeply about our needs and wants. We want our money to understand where it is we want go career-wise, and support our dreams. We want our money to be fun, playful, creative, and passionate. And we want our money not to snore or leave hair all over the sink. Wait… maybe that last one is just me remembering breakfast this morning.Most importantly, we want our money to be true and not cheat on us by, say, suddenly evaporating. Leaving town, and never coming back.That last one is big. Savings are supposed to be steadfast in face of any temptation. That’s “fidelity” and you used to see that word on banks all the time. (Remember banks?) But as numerous friends will tell you regarding temptation, it takes two to tango. Or mosh. Adjust for generation as needed. The point is that, unlike a lover or partner, your savings will generally stay where you put them. So was it you that took your savings out for a drive on a moonlit night…?Perhaps along the northern tip of Mexico’s Baja California coast. There, you met an elegant man with some kind of weirdly aerodynamic pompadour hair cut who insisted you call him “Donald.” And as his lips gently caressed your ear, you removed your checkbook and yielded to him a quarter of a million dollars of your life savings. Three years later, there’s just the wind blowing around your legs where the pants of your savings used to be.Jackie Collins has nothing to fear from my romance novel writing, but that’s not too far off from what appears to have happened. Investors in Trump Ocean Resort Baja have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits on condos as Trump’s luxury hotel-condo plan collapsed. The total of lost deposits is reportedly $32.2 million. That’s less than some single individuals lost in the Bernie Madoff hustle, but the loss and pain for those involved is very much the same. However, I would have never seen the article about Trump’s ‘infidelity’ if I hadn’t been reading an article right next to it about a program for teaching teenagers to be fiscally responsible. In the program, the kids learn about the dangers of racking up high credit card debt and not balancing their checkbooks. The classes, some of them sponsored by the non-profit educational group Junior Achievement, are tending to a critical need: America’s young people may be well versed in such things as swapping music files or accessing Pentagon computers, but they haven’t got byte one when it comes to balancing a checkbook or planning their savings.That’s great, but what about a program for the older adults who appear to have eagerly jumped aboard the Trump Express when its tracks were not fastened to the ground? Two years ago, the real estate market south of the border from San Diego was still hot with U.S. buyers looking for second homes and investment. Those involved with Trump’s project readily admit to having accepted Trump as a brand with implied security and credibility. The man and his children (the family that hustles together…) wooed investors to commit precious savings and those investors remained supportive partners even as the U.S. housing market began to crumble. It was ‘the Donald’, after all.We’re still looking for parts of the picture in the Madoff scheme, but there appears to have also been a strong element of implied trust. One person telling another, “This is the guy. This guy is what makes it work.” Unlike Trump, Madoff didn’t have the aura that a television presence brings although it’s chilling to think of what type of TV show Madoff might have hosted. Perhaps a game in which there are a lot of briefcases, but none of them have any money in them.When I was a kid, they had a program where you brought a quarter to school every Wednesday and bought a very official looking red stamp. When you had filled a folder with these stamps, you could buy a savings bond. And if you held onto that bond long enough, it could turn into money for college. It was a program of the government of the United States of America and the stamps bore a picture of George Washington… just like money. That program worked, but at a top speed of 25 cents a week. We also smoked cigarettes and tested atomic bombs back then, but we were openly suspicious of plans that promised a faster financial road. And maybe of late we’ve learned something about bigger, faster, sooner money. One thing seems certain: The texts for financial literacy are being rewritten. Adjusted and edited. And when that process is over, we’ll all have some learning to do.
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