Growing up in a low income family has had many profound effects on my life.
One memory I am faced with almost daily is SCHOOL LUNCHES.
I remember on the lucky days there would be two homemade chocolate chip cookies in my lunch. I remember most often a sandwich and an apple. I know there was more, I never went hungry, but my lunches were not like my friends’ lunches.
Those glorious lunches were full of pudding, fruit roll ups, fruit snacks, and store bought cookies. It’s funny because now as an adult I will almost always choose a homemade cookie over a store bought one. But seven-year-old me really, REEEEALLY wanted store bought cookies. Especially Oreos. I actually have no words for how I loved Oreos. Every once in a very seldom while, when my mom was busy with something or other, my Dad would pack us up and drive to Woolworth’s. It was kind of a Walmart type store with a little bit of everything.
My Dad was known for being the one to buy the treats. Not often, but when he did, he bought the good ones. Fruit Loops, Nutella, and Oreos. If we went to Woolworth’s we usually ended up with one of those three. I bet you can guess which one was my favourite. Those Oreos were like the holy grail in my eyes. I could not WAIT to bite into them and enjoy how incredible they were. To me, they were just about the best thing in the world. It would pain me to be limited to two, or to know that the package was empty. I’m sure I shed a lot of tears over the end of the Oreos.
It was a rotten feeling knowing that there would be no more Oreos for months and months. Maybe years.
When I got my first job, ironically at a grocery store, you can bet the first thing I bought was a package of MY OWN Oreos, to stash in my work locker, and enjoy at my leisure. That right there was worth giving up my weekends to go to work. And that was the beginning of learning how to balance the money I made with the money I spent, and how I chose to spend it.
To this day, I feel privileged to purchase Oreos. There is comfort in knowing there is always enough money for milk or bread, but I know that I can afford a package of Oreos.
When my children (who absolutely LOVE them as well) ask me for Oreos I have a hard time saying no. It brings up so many feelings for me, and I just want them to know that I will gladly buy them Oreos and eliminate the fear of never getting them again. I can hardly walk past the display myself without picking up a package because of my childhood experiences.
I am a frugal grocery shopper; it has almost become a hobby for me to save on my groceries. And the ability to purchase a package of Oreos any time I feel the draw, makes me feel confident that my future will be very different than my past.
I spent a lot of years learning about finances, budgets, and how to have a comfortable lifestyle without going into debt. And yes, one of those comforts for me is Oreos. Now, when I do not purchase them, I can explain to my children how we decide to spend our money, and why we spend the way we do. I hope to them it is a lesson without fear that they too can someday enjoy Oreos to their hearts content.