What does the cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants have to do with personal finance?
Probably not much, unless you have kids who occasionally watch the show. Anyway, a comment related to this show, made by my school-age daughter, got me thinking a little bit about how I might come across to on occasion when it comes to money. In other words, my financial image.
She and I were in the car on the way home recently, at which point I was reminded that I had previously mentioned that we would go get ice cream. Okay, I said, let’s go. So we went to a local place that has a drive up window for ice cream. Low Fat Vanilla, here we come!
After we ordered through the speaker, I pulled up to the window. At that point, while paying, I opened the car door a bit and looked to the ground. It was almost instinctive, and some of you might remember by experiment a year ago on picking up coins at the drive-thru. Clearly, I had found that you can usually find coins sitting right there, that people have dropped and nobody bothered to pick up.
Well, as I said, it was just natural for me to take a few seconds to open the door and look for change under the window. I didn’t even think about it much, and don’t know if I was more than minimally consciously aware I was doing it. At that point, my daughter asked me the following question:
“Daddy, why did you open the door?”
At that point, I stopped and practically froze. It hit me in an instant that I had been looking for loose change without even thinking about it. I was kind of embarrassed, and just stammered something about how “Daddy does that sometimes”.
Then she paused as if to collect her thoughts, and said “Daddy, sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes, you can be like Mr. Krabs!”
Ha! Mr. Krabs is a character from Sponge Bob Square Pants, which I’ve picked up by my daughter watching this show. This crab is supposed to be the owner of a fast food restaurant, while being obsessed with money and pinching pennies. That is, to the point of being cartoonish – which makes sense, since the show is a cartoon.
It occurred to me that how I might be presenting myself, and how I might be perceived when it comes to money, have the potential to escape me.
In other words, sometimes we aren’t aware of how our money habits appear to others. We of course want to be authentic to ourselves and who we are, but we want to consider what’s socially appropriate and how our actions impact others. There are some things we might want to consider.
- The way we model our behavior to kids
- The consideration we show to family and friends
- The impression we make on coworkers
We certainly want to behave in a way that positively influences others, and puts ourselves in a positive light. Again, we also want to balance that with the need to be genuine and who we truly are.
My Questions for You
Do you ever think of how you appear to others in terms of the way you handle money?
What kind of impression do you think your money habits make on others – if any?
Have you ever drawn conclusions about anyone based on how you have seen them handle money?