& Fortune: Actress Meg Tilly
teaches her: Live within your means
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Bankrate: You survived
a financially and emotionally difficult childhood. When you look back on it, are
there any good memories?
Tilly: You know, some
of the real happy memories have to do with my brothers and sisters.
There were enormous challenges, that's just a given, but when bad
things would happen, we would laugh about how clever we were to
get away. When my stepdad would come bursting out, we all would
just scatter, and it always made me feel really clever that I was
able to get away because I was a really good hider. It might sound
horrible, that we were hiding from a beating, but to me it's like
I'm really tricky because I found this really cool place behind
the fridge where there's six or seven inches and if I turn my head
and feet sideways I could fit in there and he'd never find me if
I got there first! Or under the kitchen sink where you could twist
your body around the curve of the pipes. He never thought to open
that door. So you're sitting there scared, terrified, but feeling
so smart because you're smarter than him. Or if you run fast and
he's naked in his bare feet and you climb a tree, he can't climb
trees. It's hard for people not in the situation to see, but in
a way it made me a very good problem solver. I can be in a situation
and see all the different ways playing out and make decisions very
quickly. Life was full of challenges, but having to work so hard
as a child gave me strength.
Were you aware of living in abject poverty?
One of the things that makes me most happy is that I can go to the grocery store
and put anything I want into my cart. That's such a huge blessing. People often
think that most people can put anything they want in their carts, and well, no,
actually most people can't. There are a lot of people who can't.
One of our favorite conversations at night was: What
do you like better, Christmas or Halloween? And we'd have these
a big debate about which was better. They used to have these contests
where, if your name was drawn, you got to have three or five minutes
in a grocery store where you could fly around, and we'd daydream
about that. One sister would say, "I'd go get ice cream," and another
sister would say, "No, I'm going to the candy counter and I'd throw
it all in," and I'd be like, "No, stupid, I'm going to the meat
cabinet, I'd get all the meat, the expensive stuff, not the cheap
stuff, the roast beefs and the pork chops, and then I'd freeze them
and I'd sell them and then I could buy all the candy in the world!"