My Money, Myself

It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! June’s theme is money. Which is hard, but important. This week, I explore my money issues. How can this fail to be riveting?

I am all about security. I like to know what’s going to happen next. I have been in the same relationship since I was 15 years old. I have lived a very conventional life. Maybe it’s because my childhood wasn’t always predictable, and I didn’t always feel secure. Or maybe it’s just who I am. Whatever the reason, I like feeling as if I have a cushion and a fall-back plan at all times.

This need for security plays out in my approach to money. I love nothing more than putting my money in the bank and looking at a nice, healthy account balance. Sure, new shoes are nice and vacations are lovely, but they can’t compare to the security of knowing that I have a healthy emergency fund. I like having my bases covered against eventualities both known and unknown.

Money is one big reason that I loved being an engineer. I was a professional, and I was paid like one. My salary was ample to meet my needs and many of my wants. It allowed me to sock money away for a rainy day. Whether the rainy day happened or not didn’t really matter. Whether I had any fun or not didn’t really matter. That wasn’t the point.

Then I was laid off, and I decided to switch my life around. I decided that maybe I could take my severance and those savings I’d been racking up, and do something with them. Take a chance, and find a different kind of freedom. This new freedom would rely less on my savings account, and more on my passion. It would be less about securing myself against disaster, and more about embracing the moment. The possibilities made me almost giddy.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found it that easy to shed my compulsive need for security. Over decades I created a very well-constructed image of myself based around my financial responsibility. I always Do The Right Thing. I don’t buy things I can’t afford. I pay my bills in full and on time. I have an excellent credit score. These aspects of my personal story are very important to my image of myself, and it’s not easy to let go of them.

Since I left the corporate world my self-image has taken a hit. I don’t get that paycheque deposited into my bank account every other week. My bank account is not as full as it once was. My picture of myself as being Super Responsible With Money is starting to fall apart. Let me be clear – I know where my grocery money is coming from. But on the other hand, if a meteor fell on my house I might not have enough socked away to spend 6 months in a hotel during re-building. And I don’t get as much joy out of trolling my savings and seeing the pretty, pretty numbers.

In spite of my personal discomfort, I do believe that passion is more important than security. Even if my self-worth is struggling. Passion doesn’t lend itself as well to planning, and there are no guarantees. So the best that I can do, now, is keep my eyes on my goal. Remind myself why I’m doing this and find security in other things. Things like the people around me.

People are the most important thing. We support each other, we work together, and we share dreams and goals. I think that this is where true happiness and security is found. So I am working out some of my money issues. I am recognizing that money is just a tool. My self-worth and happiness aren’t related to how much I have or don’t have. I don’t have to look for security in a number. At least, this is what I tell myself. Slowly, slowly I am starting to believe it.

How does your feeling of self-worth and security relate to your bank account balance? And how does your relationship with money factor into your own story of yourself? Please share!

June’s Crafting my Life series is about money. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 24th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in June, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.

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    Comments

    1. Ooohhh, money! Mike’s favorite topic :) Were you inspired with this post by our conversations over dinner the other night or was it BECAUSE you had this post crafted and in your mind that the discussions went there?

      I’ve never been a big money worrier. I’ve almost always made enough to meet the needs I had and been able to deal with the unexpected. However, I don’t LIKE not having that regular paycheque and sometimes stress needlessly. My 2 times on Mat leave and Mike’s brief tenure with EI caused brief periods of “FREAKOUT!” ;)

      I’m also the kind of person who HATES debt. I never have an unpaid balance on my credit card. I don’t like borrowing money from anyone and need to feel like I can take care of myself. But I also like treating myself so sometimes my need to have money in the bank and my desire for a toy causes great conflict.

      Conflict conflict conflict! LOL
      .-= Carrie´s last post ..Little Miss Diva =-.

    2. I was really good with and responsible about my money when I was single. As soon as I got into a serious relationship that ended up in marriage though, my account no longer had that safety zone balance. We had things like new roofs, paint, repairs and car loans and commute costs to spend money on, and as I’d never had these costs in the past, being in the same job but with new expenses took its toll on my bank account and credit cards became something I could no longer pay back in full. Fast forward 8 years later I’ve never been in more debt in my life. It’s why we’re selling, just so we can pay off all of our debts, and start again. My money issues are a big deal to me because like you, I’ve always been very responsible with my money. I still am, but I also want to live a little, you know?
      .-= Melodie´s last post ..Belated Birthday Express Pirates and Mermaids Party Post =-.

    3. Oh boy!

      I’ve been a ‘kept woman’ since Fall 2001 and the loss of regular income has been a big one to deal with. When I ‘retired’ I was earning as much as my husband. When we emigrated to Canada we calculated his salary was sufficient for two to live on …. and we’ve been doing that ever since (except now there are three of us living on it). Initially I left the financial decisions up to my husband, expecting to just be kept informed. Despite asking repeatedly I didn’t see any bank or credit card statements for over 3 years.

      When we eventually sold our UK property and bought over here I had to get re-involved ….. and what a shock! Our credit card balance had never been cleared, we’d paid massive amounts in interest and hadn’t saved a single penny since landing. His financial management turned out to be stacks of unopened mail.

      Even though I’m still not earning much and in reality I have little control over the earning of the salary, that experience taught me that I cannot be ‘hands off’ with joint finances. I now run the family budget. Thru a lot of juggling we do have a 6-month reserve, but I often have to call a halt to spending per month if things are tight. And then I get made to feel like a dictator.

      It’s also taught me the importance of having my own funds – our joint financial situation has pushed me into running my own (self sufficient) business, I have ‘negotiated’ an allowance for myself from the monthly salary (and keep urging my husband to do the same so that his expenditures don’t muck up my budget unexpectedly – he still hasn’t as he views the money earned and joint account as ‘his’) and I manage the joint account regularly, paying off credit card bills in full.

      I think managing the family budget has made me more assertive since I cannot rely on anyone else to be financially aware on a day-to-day basis for me. It’s made me meaner and more frugal, but also more appreciative and inventive where treats and luxuries are concerned. It’s built up a certain amount of resentment on both sides which I could live without but, since I’m not wanting to head to financial ruin anytime soon, I will just have to live with it. It’s made me feel incredibly vulnerable (hello, pension???), dependent and nervous, but I’m also incredibly impressed with my financial self-education (especially in this ‘foreign’ country). I now feel much more self-reliant and at peace – I know where I stand and where I have to go in times of need.

      In summary, it’s a big part of who I am becoming.
      .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..Spirit Square in Coquitlam opens this evening =-.

    4. Wow, are we ever on the same wavelength today! I posted about my “responsible” instincts with money too. And I am very proud of my good credit score, and good reputation with handling money. I haven’t had a “professional” paycheck, but I still manage to save for the emergencies and security for my far off future, and that fills me with a warm cozy (safe) feeling inside that I cherish more than any new outfit or fancy bigscreenTV ever could. Maybe it’s because both my parents were too impulsive with money? Maybe it’s because I never want to feel desperate again, so I minimize the chances of that where I can? There was a time when we did have to live in overdraft… when I was laid off before mat. leave kicked in with baby#1, and hubby had been cut back to part time in a floundering company. Those were stressful times, uncomfortable and ugly in my memory. But even at that point we were not DESPERATE, there was no chance of losing the house and we didn’t get delinquant on any bills… we just pulled our belts tight with the budget (I mean TIGHT), and cut out all extravagances…. no cable, not even dreaming of a cellphone, no restraunts, grocery shop from flyers once a week for the best deals, not much meat on the table, basic minimum phone, and one car (for T to get to work). So many people say they are hurting financially and know they are getting behind, but REFUSE to cut the high-def, digital, full tier cable with the PVR and the cellphone with all the latest doodads and the restraunt everyweek and the coffees out, etc, etc, etc…. I wonder how they can sleep at night (on their buy-now-pay-later) beds.

      But the point it, I won’t let myself go there, my sense of security outweighs my need for passion every time! Presently I have enough security put together to indulge in some passion too! Now THATS the BEST!
      .-= *pol´s last post ..and the winner is…. =-.

    5. Asking the big questions Amber!

      After college we quit conventional life and went to live off the grid in the Appalachian Mountains to apprentice on an herb farm. We wanted to learn all about sustainability, how to provide for ourselves (outside of a money perspective) and learn about topics that weren’t covered in mainstream school, but where important to us.

      We did things like barter our work for our shelter and we grew a lot of our own food, but when it came down to it we didn’t have the money we needed. We had an amazing family offer us space on the land to build our own house, but we didn’t have the money to build the house.

      Thus, we moved back home to save $$ with the idea of returning–but life has a funny way of taking you on its own course. The experience of it all left us not wanting to be the people who never had the money they needed to do the things they wanted and so we started plugging away. We saved enough to buy a house in a town we love and we are now venturing off to be self-employed. We’re stable in our investment and in our plan but right now things with $$ are super tight.

      I don’t like this feeling, but I do appreciate the ways it challenges me to question what we do with our limited funds and how we keep the quality of our life/food high with lower income as we get rolling.

      Our goal is to have a secure emergency savings fun for our family and also a separate one for our house. We want to eventually buy another home, but keep this one as an investment–our own version of a retirement fund and we’d like to have enough money to live very comfortably month to month.

      We’re getting there. We still feel rather young and new at this whole living in the real world thing ;)
      .-= Hillary´s last post ..hillaryboucher: oh baby! + awesome music video RT @flowers13 Tickled Pink and Feeling Ready http://bit.ly/9HZ2Ar =-.

    6. I admit a significant portion of my self-esteem is fed by my good management of money. One of my biggest pet-peeves is people spending more than they earn and then complaining about it. I understand that we all have unforeseen circumstances. And I understand that I have been comparatively fortunate with my salary for most of my adult life. However, rarely does it happen that people have one unforeseen circumstance after another after another after another that ultimately leads to consistent debt. I just think it’s passing the buck to say that life costs money. Sure it does, and sometimes things suck. Sometimes you lose your job. Sometimes the foundation in your house cracks even though you had it inspected. But I would bet that if you asked credit counselors they’d say that the majority of people are in debt for getting in over their heads, ie. living beyond their means. I’m not trying to sound harsh, it’s just such an enormous problem.
      Good to see in these comments that many people take similar pride in their financial management! It’s not sexy but it sure is practical.
      .-= Laura´s last post ..Only Guys Are Gamers =-.

    7. I wish I had started life with your skills! At 24 I’m secure enough but still fairly paycheck to paycheck and still owe money to quite a couple of banks and other collections. Only a couple thousand total, but STILL. Thank god I never had a credit card!

      Passion is worth it though. Intentionally paying rent late (with my roomie girlfriend at 18) and going shopping instead… stupid but priceless. I would definitely go crazy being frugal now if I hadn’t had that time of blissful irresponsibility. ;)

      Still totally envious of your good credit score.
      .-= Janine´s last post ..Things I Want Now =-.

    8. I’m proud that I earn well, but I’m also too aware that I’ve had enormous luck. My parents paid for my education, which was an amazing gift and head start. Plus, no matter how secure we try to make ourselves in the US, most are just one big job loss/medical catastrophe away from being at risk. Deep breath . . .
      .-= Lady M´s last post ..Moving On Up =-.

    9. What a great series this month! Wrote about money myself not too long ago in a Spill it Post and was amazed by how many of my readers really appreciated my frank discussion. Apparently we don’t talk about this stuff, share our ideas, thoughts and solutions enough. I wonder why? Money is always such a taboo, nobody every wants to admit how much or how little they have (well, most people.) I used to have a much healthier respect for money before I had kids. Okay, well, maybe not exactly, but there seemed to be so much more of it. And since both my maternity leaves we’ve struggled to catch up and keep up. We’ve implemented some new strategies, and slowly they are working, though I think the only strategy that will really work is when we no longer have to pay that hefty daycare bill. At any rate, I’m rambling. The point I’m trying to make is I think we all need to improve our relationship with money, and by discussing here, I applaud you. I’ll be reading all month for sure!
      .-= Christine LaRocque´s last post ..Blogging: Conversations in happiness and more =-.

    10. Money is just a tool, but is a good tool to have when it’s not mistaken for an aim.
      .-= Francesca´s last post ..Friday’s flowers ~ drinking a bouquet =-.

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