A very loved copy of Little Women sits quietly on my bookshelf and fills a tender place in my heart. With bent corners and pages slightly stained from tears that have fallen upon them, it’s a book I’ve read over and over again. At first, with my sisters, gathered around our own Marmee. Then by myself, stumbling along on my own journey from girlhood to womanhood.
I’ve always been drawn to this story and the little window it offers into the lives of four girls growing up. Each time I read it, it touches upon something a little bit deeper within me. It teaches me a little bit more. And it overwhelms me with such a magnitude of different emotions – from nostalgia and joy to pain and utter sadness – that by the end of it, I feel like I’ve lived four different lives in the course of a few hours.
I could go on and on about what this book means to me but instead, I want to focus on a different topic: What the March sisters taught me about money.
From Meg, I learnt that it’s okay to want pretty things. It’s okay to hate having to budget. It’s okay to look at those people who seem to have everything and want what they want. It’s even okay to buy a new dress and then feel guilty about it afterwards. Buyer’s regret is indeed a thing.
Jo taught me the value of fighting to do what you love – even if this means taking on low-paying jobs in the meantime, just to pay the bills. She taught me about sacrifice and hard work and never giving up on what you really want. Through her own realizations, I learnt that money is pointless if you have no one to share it with. Through her own frustrations, I learnt that money is also necessary to fund dreams that are bigger than you.
Beth taught me generosity – not just financial generosity, but the generosity of giving your time to help others. She taught me to love broken things, bent things; to find value in the things other people carelessly throw away. But most of all, she taught me that you don’t need money to be happy, because the best things in life are as simple as a fragile sonata, a new friend, and the feeling of being together.
Then there’s Amy. The youngest March sister taught me to make the most of what you have. She taught me that a bit of paint on a pair of old boots can make them just as good as new. That marrying for money might be a realistic view of how the world operates, but marrying for love is more rewarding. And she taught me that no matter how much money you have, you simply can’t buy class or sophistication.