Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 24, 2010

Mad Money

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

For many people today if the term “Mad Money” is used, they immediately think about the Jim Cramer’s television show, Mad Money.

Still others would give a definition of the words.  In 1975 a questionnaire was given asking for a definition of mad money.  Ninety-two percent of the people responding defined mad money as money to be spent foolishly for something not needed.  Written explanation revealed that the individuals saw this as some money that you felt you could spent frivolously.

That is quite a difference in definition from my generation.  The term  mad money  seems to be first noted in 1922.  It was noted in an article written by Howard Savage.  He seemingly picked it up from the “flappers” in the 1920s.  They spoke of having mad money tucked away in a locket or somewhere in their clothing.  This was to provide them transportation by taxi if their escort was something other than a gentleman and they wished to go home.

I believe that pretty well gives the definition for the use of the term as I always understood it.  The truest definition I can find of this term is:  “A small amount of money kept tucked away for emergency; or to insulate oneself financially in the event of a sudden breakdown of a relationship in which one is economically dependent.”  Perhaps it had to do with a marriage relationship, but the practicality of it was used in dating relationships.

As a teenager, I never knew a young lady that did not have some mad money.  It seems that parents made sure their daughters had the resources to get themselves home if they needed to end the evening’s relationship suddenly.

It was always a humorous conversation with a date about her mad money.  With her resources, she could “pay for some of the evening.”  Or there was always “gas money.”  I suppose in today’s world, cell phones have replaced mad money.

Realizing the evolution of the definition from the 1920s, the 1950s, and 1975, I wonder how it would be defined today?

But I will confess a secret.  I learned something from mad money.  It is always good to have a few extra dollars tucked back — on your person . . . and at home.  I don’t mean a large amount.  Just enough for emergencies.  You might be at the store and discover you suddenly don’t have enough cash in your pocket and you feel it is too small amount to charge.  Or there is an item at the yard sale you just have to have, but they don’t take credit cards and you don’t have enough cash. That’s the time for you to retrieve your mad money. 

I do carry a few extra dollars tucked in a portion of my wallet where I cannot see it and thus probably spend it.  And there have been times I was glad I had that extra ten dollars hidden away!

Any profitable lesson in this memory and confession?  You decide.



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