put your money where your mouth isPosted: June 21, 2010
Sometime ago, my grandfather was a little boy who shined shoes and cleaned spittoons in downtown LA. To follow a certain line of reasoning, he lived the American dream: he went to trade school, got married to a pretty girl, moved out of the city to a little town with cute houses and avocado groves, which has since been swallowed by sprawl, but that’s another story. He worked hard and treated his big city like a small town. he liked to go dancing with his wife and have afternoon drinks with his friends. All his kids went to college and he put away money for each of his grandkids to do so as well.
I didn’t, though. Go to college that is. I took that money and used it to buy a house 8 years ago, right before the market here exploded. By some stroke of luck or grit or something, housing in my neighborhood has not lost value in the past few years, so my house is worth far more than what I paid for it. Last Friday, I closed on a loan to refinance my house. A cash out refinance loan, which will pay for IVF. Turns out I had the money all the time.
When I was a little girl, my grandpa would call me sometimes, and after telling me that California was God’s country and wondering why I lived in Virginia and then insisting that I refer to myself with my mother’s maiden name included with all my other names, he would ask me for a loan. “I need $50, Starrhillgirl!” he’d say. Only he’d use my first and middle names instead. Then he’d talk about how he just needed this little loan for a little bit and that he’d pay me back really soon. With interest! And so I’d send him a check in the mail. $50. And a little bit later, I’d get a check back. For $100.
I figured out pretty quickly that this was a sort of scam in my favor, one that was probably sort of fun for him and was designed to teach me the value of putting money away. But, as an adult, when I think about it, I wonder if what I learned in addition to that was that being generous with your money is right. I am, clearly, reaping the benefits of his generosity as well as getting the reward for having put my money away in the right way at the right time. I wish he were here still so I could call him up to see if he needed a loan. I wouldn’t charge him any interest this time.