Mister Rogers and Money

One of my favorite tv shows growing up was Mr. Rogers. I remember watching the program after getting home from kindergarten and chomping on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich my mom had just made.

There was something about his gentle demeanor and way with others that endeared him to so many – including myself.

He’s also such a contrast to today’s children programming. There’s no “showy” disposition or act that he’s putting on to appear more likable.

I think this is why we are starting to see his stock rise in today’s world. His kind is of rare ilk; with pride, ego, and self-serving acts on display everywhere we turn.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the documentaries that have come out of late to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the first airing of his program, including the PBS special,Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” (which is currently playing in many theaters and has remained at the top of the box office).

While there has been much written about him of late, I thought it would be interesting to focus on what Mister Rogers had to say about money matters. Am grateful to this article in The Motley Fool for some of this information.

A child of meager times

Fred Rogers grew up a year before the Great Depression would take hold of the nation in 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (the same town as golf great, Arnold Palmer). While he grew up in a family of means, he was aware of the times and struggles of those around him.

“When the tenor of the whole country is such that everything is limited, that sticks with you. I was only 2, 3, 4 years old at that time. And yet you get those attitudes from the people that you live with — those who are closest to you.”

“Most of us who grew up in the Depression are quite conscious of being careful with money and other things. Probably the roots of my recycling start in the Depression. I recycle everything I possibly can find. I’ll stop my car and pick up a plastic bottle on the street to take it home to recycle.”

On charity

Giving seemed to be paramount in Rogers’ life – be it time or money.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

“I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said “yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.”

“Life is for service.”

Kids and money

Since his focus was on educating children and equipping them to grow-up and be good citizens. He spoke on how thinking about money starts early on.

“Feelings about money — saving and spending, holding back and letting go — start very early in our lives. Stingy people have often been forced to give when they were very, very young, when they weren’t ready. And generous people have often been really appreciated when they were very young.”

Thoughts on work

Our work can often turn into drudgery (having known this myself). But Rogers saw it as a calling and a way to model to our children.

“[My work] has always been a ministry for me. I felt that people really wanted was to be in touch with somebody who cares about them and appreciates them. And so through the Neighborhood we’ve been able to do that a lot. We have wonderful guests. Those people who come to offer their own talents — it’s a great thing to do.”

“It can be helpful for children to know not only what their parents do, but also that working for money can be a part of caring for children. With the money they earn, parents can buy the things that children need. But parents can’t always buy everything that a child wants. None of us can have everything we want! We all have to learn to make choices about the way we spend our time, our money, and our other resources.”

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”

On greed

After a Wall Street scandal, Rogers had this to say:

“What do you think it is that drives people to want far more than they could ever use or need? I frankly think it’s insecurity. How do we let the world know that the trappings of this life are not the things that are ultimately important for being accepted?

Acceptance breeds right thinking on money

One of the lasting impressions I’ll have from watching Mister Rogers is the sense that I was okay as I was. I know this is a Pollyanna expression, but it seemed to me — by the guests he brought on and the way in which he treated people — that being accepted and appreciated by others can have lasting effects on people. Which, I believe, will trickle down into other areas of our lives — including personal finance.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

“It’s you I like. It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair … but it’s you I like. The way you are right now. The way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you. Not your fancy toys. They’re just beside you. But it’s you I like. Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings, whether old or new. I hope that you’ll remember even when you’re feeling blue. That it’s you I like. It’s you, yourself. It’s you. It’s you I like.”

What are some of the sayings that you remember about Mister Rogers and money?

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