Cauliflower and Melon is a Financial Freedom story by Doug Weller. It tells the story about the dangers of trying to keep up with your neighbours through borrowing more than you can afford
Stories can be powerful for illustrating the lessons of financial freedom. In this series, in each financial freedom story, you will meet explore a familiar fairy tale world with remarkable characters and magic. There’s action, and drama, and love, and sometimes a happy ending. Enjoy each financial freedom story.
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Cauliflower and Melon – a Financial Freedom story – by Doug Weller
There once lived two rabbits who lived in a meadow, and their names were Melon and Cauliflower.
Both Melon and Cauliflower were both partial to carrots, so they often met in the fields of the nearby carrot farm.
“Good day, Melon,” Cauliflower said, as he munched on a carrot.
“Good day, Cauliflower,” Melon replied as he dug in the dirt with his front paws.
“Say, Melon, my old friend. Would you like to come and and visit my warren after we’ve finished eating carrots?” Cauliflower asked.
“Why not?” Melon replied. Melon had never been inside Cauliflower’s home before so he was naturally curious.
They both hopped to the underground warren, and Cauliflower gave Melon a tour.
“You have a very spacious warren,” Melon said. “I am most impressed.”
“Thank you. I did all the digging myself to build this warren,” replied Cauliflower.
It was getting late, and Melon had to get home to his family. He hopped to the entrance of the warren and said goodbye to Cauliflower.
“Watch out on your way home,” Cauliflower warned. “The local fox may about, and he is not to be trusted.”
Melon returned to his warren, as quickly as he could, but there was no sign of the local fox. Melon’s warren was far smaller than Cauliflower’s. It even had a leak in its ceiling that let the rainwater in.
“I wish I had a nice, spacious warren like Cauliflower,” Melon said. He heard a noise outside his warren and went up to the entrance to investigate.
When he came outside, he froze in fear, because prowling outside was the local fox.
“Do not worry about me for I am not hungry today,” the fox said.
Melon relaxed at once, because he really didn’t want to be eaten that evening.
“Actually, I have a proposition for you, Melon,” the local fox said. “Did you know that I could dig you a burrow even more spacious than the warren your friend Cauliflower lives in.”
“You can? You would?” replied Melon, excitedly.
“Of course. It is really not a problem for me, because I have plenty of time and love to dig,” said the local fox.
But then, Melon remembered what Cauliflower had told him about never trusting a fox.
“This must be some kind of trick. I know better than to trust a fox,” said Melon.
“It is no trick,” replied the local fox. “All I ask is that thirty days from now you repay me for the work I will do.”
“And how will I repay you? All I have is carrots. Every day, I dig in the nearby field, and in the evening my family eat every carrot I find.”
The local fox considered this.
“I will accept payment in carrots,” he said.
Melon was excited at this news
“How many carrots do you need?”
“Let me think. Today, I will dig you a new warren. And in thirty days you will pay me for the work. So I will require thirty carrots,” said the local fox.
Melon though about whether this could be possible.
“All I would have to do is dig up one extra carrot every day for the next thirty days and I will have a bigger warren,” he said. “That doesn’t sound too hard. I will just start digging a little earlier in the morning.”
The local fox grinned, showing off two rows of sharp teeth.
“Excellent decision, Melon. First, I will make the opening to your warren wider, so that I may fit inside. Then I will repair your roof,” the local fox said. “And then I will dig you a new carrot store, so that you have space to keep the thirty carrots you will owe me.”
Melon quickly agreed to the fox’s proposition. He couldn’t believe how much his warren would be improved.
Immediately, the local fox started to dig. And as the sun rose the next morning, Melon woke to find his warren had increased to more than doubled it’s original size. In fact, it was now bigger than Cauliflower’s warren.
Delighted with his new warren, Melon headed for the nearby field to dig for carrots. He quickly set to work digging for carrots, knowing that he would have to collect more than he usually did.
An hour or so later, Cauliflower arrived and found Melon hard at work.
“Good morning, Melon,” Cauliflower said.
“Yes, it is a good morning,” Melon replied, with a twitch of his nose.
“You must be hungry today, Melon, my old friend, because you look like you are digging up more carrots than usual,” Cauliflower observed. “How are you going to carry them all?”
Melon paused. He normally dug up only the carrots he could carry home.
“Would you like me to help you bring that extra carrot back to your warren,” Cauliflower asked and Melon agreed.
When they arrived at his new and improved warren, Melon invited Cauliflower inside. Cauliflower was clearly impressed by the size of Melon’s warren.
“You must have worked very hard to dig a warren so big.”
Melon was going to explain what had happened the night before, but then he hesitated because he knew that Cauliflower did not trust the local fox.
“Yes. I have been digging day and night. I have worked very hard.” Melon lied.
Cauliflower congratulated his friend and then returned hometo his own warren.
After his family had all eaten, Melon checked on his new carrot store and saw one carrot sitting there.
“So one day has passed and I have saved one carrot. At this rate, I will have thirty carrots by the end of thirty days.”
Soon ten days had passed, and when Melon went to his carrot store he counted ten carrots.
“This is wonderful. After working for ten days I have ten carrots saved in my store. At this rate, I will have thirty carrots by the end of thirty days.”
On the twenty ninth day, Melon hopped to the carrot field as usual. When he got there, Cauliflower was hopping back in the other direction.
“Are you not digging for carrots today,” Melon asked.
“Not today. There is a man sat in the carrot field with a shotgun. As soon as he saw me he took aim and I ran. We will have to wait until tomorrow to dig for carrots, my old friend.”
Melon agreed, because he didn’t like the idea of being shot by man with a shotgun, so he returned to the warren. He borrowed one of the carrots from his carrot store to eat.
“Tomorrow, I can work even harder and get even more carrots,” he thought.
On the thirtieth day, the local fox returned to Melon’s warren.
“Thirty days have passed and you owe me thirty carrots,” the local fox said.
Melon laid out all the carrots from his carrot store on the grass. The Fox counted them carefully.
“But this is twenty-eight carrots. You owe me thirty carrots.”
Melon quickly explained about the man in the field with the gun. How he had not collected on the final day, and had to eat one of the saved carrots to make sure he didn’t starve.
“None of this is my concern,” the local fox replied. “Thirty days and thirty carrots, that was our bargain. I must say I am starting to feel rather hungry.”
“For carrots?” Melon asked.
“For rabbit-stew,” replied the fox as he leaped towards Melon.
“Wait, wait. There must be some way I can repay you,” Melon cried as he dashed away from the local fox. “I promise to get you your missing carrots, I just need more time.”
The local fox stopped.
“Very well, Melon. I am a reasonable fox. In fact, I will give you five more days to pay me. But because you are late, the price has gone up. When I return in five days. I expect ten more carrots.”
Melon quickly agreed and jumped back into his warren before the local fox could change his mind..
The next morning, he arrived at the nearby field before the sun had even risen. He could see no sign of the man with the gun so he got to work frantically digging for carrots.
By the time Cauliflower arrived, Melon was exhausted.
“You’re up early, my old friend,” Cauliflower said. “Are you alright?”
“Oh yes. There’s nothing I like more than hard work,” Melon replied as he continued to dig without looking up.
“No sign of the man with the gun today?” Cauliflower asked.
“No,” Melon replied as he dug.
Melon’s efforts continued for the next three days, and through all of his hard work, he had managed to save up nine carrots.
“I only have to dig up one more carrot, and I will be able to pay the local fox,” Melon said as he looked into his carrot store.
“I won’t even have to get up early to do that!”
On the fifth day, Melon had a extra lie in before hopping along to the nearby carrot field. On route, he saw Cauliflower coming the other way.
“Are you not digging for carrots today?” Melon asked.
“Not today. The man with the shotgun is back. We will have to wait until tomorrow to dig for carrots, my old friend.”
Melon gulped, because he didn’t want to see the man with the shotgun, but he didn’t have enough carrots.
When he returned to his warren, the local fox was already waiting for him. Sadly, Melon went to his carrot store, and brought out all the carrots he had.
“But this is nine carrots. You owe me ten carrots,” the local fox said angrily.
Melon quickly explained about the man in the field with the shotgun.
“That is no concern of mine, Melon. Five days and ten carrots, that was our arrangement. I must say I am really feeling very hungry.”
“For carrots?” Melon asked.
“For roasted-rabbit,” replied the local fox as he leaped towards Melon.
“Wait, wait. There must be some way I can repay you. Tomorrow, I will get you your missing carrot.”
The local fox stopped.
“Very well, Melon. I will give you one final chance. But because you will be late, the price has gone up. I will return tomorrow and I expect five more carrots.”
Melon agreed and jumped back into his warren to safety.
That night, Melon could hardly sleep. He arrived at the carrot field in the middle of the night, and saw no sign of the man with the shotgun, so bounded straight into the field to begin digging.
But something was very wrong.
No matter where de dug, he could not find a single carrot in the field. It was as if they had all vanished overnight.
Cauliflower arrived and saw what Melon had seen.
“I expect the carrots have all been harvested. It happens every year. Never mind, you can live off all the carrots you have been storing up and wait in your lovely big warren until winter is over,” he said. “That doesn’t sound too bad does it, old friend.”
“But…” Melon said, as Cauliflower waited for a reply. But he couldn’t tell Cauliflower about how he had promised carrots he did own to the local fox to exchange for his new warren.
When Melon returned to his warren, he found the local fox waiting for him.
“So Melon, do you have my five carrots?”
Melon shook his head.
“In that case, I have some good news for you. If you come a little closer I will tell you it,” the local fox said.
Melon really wanted to hear good news so he took a hop closer to fox.
“Just a little closer,” the local fox said.
Melon took another hop.
“Just one more hop, Melon, and I can tell you the good news.”
“But what is the good news,” Melon asked.
“For supper tonight, it’s RABBIT-PIE,” the local fox cried. He leaped forwards with his teeth bared.
Melon sprung out of the way, but he felt a nasty pain in his ear. He dived into his warren, but this did not stop the local fox because the opening was now wide enough for him to fit inside.
The local fox chased Melon around and around the warren, through tunnel after tunnel. Melon turned and kicked mud into the local fox’s face, and just managed to get back outside the warren.
With nowhere else to go, Melon found himself racing towards Cauliflower’s warren, with the local fox in hot pursuit.
As he reached the entrance to Cauliflower’s warren, the local fox pounced. But Melon made it inside just in time. And, because the opening was not too large, the local fox could not follow him.
Cauliflower came hurrying out from a back tunnel. When he saw Melon he was shocked, for Melon had lost one of his ears to the fox.
“Come inside quickly, my old friend,” Cauliflower said and Melon followed him. Cauliflower tended to Melon’s ear with dock leaves and rose petals.
“Thank you,” said Melon.
“But how did you let the local fox get so close? Didn’t I warn you he wasn’t to be trusted?” Cauliflower asked.
At last, Melon explained the whole story of what had happened, right from the first day he had seen Cauliflower’s warren and wished he could have a nice warren just like him.
“Oh, Melon. Was it worth all that digging, and the lying, and the loss of your ear? Just to have a bigger warran?”
“But I was only missing carrot. Just one,” Melon complained.
Cauliflower went to his carrot store and pulled out a fresh carrot.
“Here, accept this carrot as a gift from me. And I have enough saved here to share with you all winter, so you and your family will not go hungry.”
Melon thanked Cauliflower.
“Oh Cauliflower, my old friend. I am so lucky to know you.”
“Remember, never borrow just to keep up with what your neighbours have. Especially not from the local fox. And save all the carrots you can. For you never know when your field of carrots will be harvested.”
Thanks to Cauliflowers gift of a fresh carrot, Melon settled his debt with the local fox. But his missing ear always reminded him of the mistake he had made. Over the next year, he repaid Cauliflower even though he had not asked for this. And because they were old friends, they worked together to connect their warrens, so they always had a route of escape if ever the local fox should visit them again.
And Cauliflower and Melon lived happily ever after.
Themes – Emergency fund, don’t borrow, don’t keep up with the jones or be a sheep, beware of trusting people you’ve been warned against, friends are helpful in a crisis, stay out of debt, don’t overbuy house
Cauliflower and Melon – a Financial Freedom story – Coda
Melon learned the hard way about the dangers of borrowing more than you can afford to repay.
Melon wanted to have as nice a house as his friend Cauliflower. He wanted to “Keep Up With The Jones” even though he couldn’t afford it.
He proved he was willing to work hard to dig up more carrots, and that he was able to save the carrots / money that he earned. But all that went to waste because he had to pay off the loan he had taken out with the local fox.
Although Melon felt confident that he could repay the amount he owed the local fox, unexpected circumstances meant his debt grew and grew until he had no way to repay. In real life, there are many unexpected circumstance, from a personal health issue, to losing your job, to a global pandemic. These black swan events will take you by surprise, but although you don’t know exactly what will happen, trusting that the future will always be the same as the past is risky.
Melon’s friend, Cauliflower, had learned these lessons. Rather that using credit, he had improved his own warren. Essentially, he used DIY to improve his home rather than borrowing.
Cauliflower never got into debt. He also made sure he had an emergency fund, so he was ready when winter came, with enough carrots to spare to even help his friend in the end.
If you meet a local fox, who promises to help you out, remember, they really only want to help themselves.
Want to read another Financial Freedom Story?
Each Financial Freedom Story is written to teach lessons about mastering your money in a fun way. Sometimes, reading dry financial advice can be a little dull, or too complicated at first glance. These fairy stories aim to refresh the parts that other types of money advice miss.
You can read another Financial Freedom Story here. Why not start with The Young Man with Red Hair – a financial independence story?
And while you’re here – why not learn more about the building blocks of financial freedom?
You could also read why Medium thinks Financial Freedom is not a fairy tale.
I hope you enjoy this Financial Independence Story. You can let me know your thoughts in the comments below. My plan is to keep writing these stories similar to this Financial Independence Story – so if you find them useful, or you think they could be improved, let me know.