It was the late forties when I found out banks offered something called a Christmas Club. They gave you a coupon book, and you determined how much money you would pay in each week , for fifty weeks, to “buy” a stamp that you would paste in the book. Early in December, you turned in the book and got the amount you had saved. There was no interest but also no penalty if you fell behind, so whatever you had paid in you got back. I discovered this plan because my father “suddenly” had $25.00 – a huge amount of money in our household -to spend on Christmas gifts. When I asked if I could do this for the next year, my father patiently explained that I would have to come up with fifty cents a week – nearly my whole allowance – to end up with the $25.00. But I was determined, and each week handed over the money which he then took to a Boston bank.
The big day came, and I was nearly delirious when my father came home with my $25.00. Somehow, that weekend, I got my Uncle Sam to take me to a popular furniture store in the next town where I looked for what was called a boudoir chair. I have no clue why I wanted one, but I found just what I had pictured for $24.95. My Uncle Sam tried very hard to dissuade me, but I was determined to have that chair and insisted it was my money and I could do what I wanted with it. The salesman filled out all the paperwork and home I went to await delivery during the week ahead.
That night I started thinking about what I had done, realizing that I would now have no money to buy a Christmas present for my Mom, my Dad, my Aunt Dot, my Uncle Sam. Tears, tears, and more tears – what I think you could rightfully call wailing – ensued. Sobbing I admitted that I had made a mistake; I didn’t want the stupid old chair anyway. So it was probably Monday when my uncle took me back to the store and we were able to cancel the order.
My Christmas shopping that year was a joyous but careful experience. I thought long and hard before I handed over money for anything. It’s a lesson about money that I never forgot.
Dorothy C. Judd © 2015