I hate money with a visceral hatred from the deepest darkest place in my soul. If you mention the word money to me there is a place in my stomach that clenches and I want to throw up. I hate money so much.
Money has been many things in my life. Money has been power that someone else had and used against me. Money has been a way for someone to control me. Money has been a substitute for love when money was all my parents had to offer. Money has been an elusive prize that teases and dances, taking one step closer and then running away. Money has been an avalanche that threatens the life of me and my family. Money is my enemy.
And I don't think this is the relationship I am supposed to have with money. It's not the way I want to feel and think about money. I am so sick of money controlling my life.
I grew up in a home where I don't remember ever not having enough money to meet our needs and then some. It's possible my parents had financial struggles, but if they did I never knew about it. My parents never talked about money. Except when they fought.
My mom grew up very poor. My dad didn't. My mom likes to shop. A lot. To the point of an addiction. My dad has money and spends it when he wants to, but I don't know how he feels or what he thinks about it. Except I know he thinks she spends too much. It doesn't stop him from giving it to her; it just gives him something to be angry about. I have heard him complain and yell about money more times in my life than anything else. I'm pretty sure money is his God. And a way to control people. He gives. It seems generous at the time. Then he calls in the favors you didn't know you owed; you didn't know you were agreeing to an undefined contract. And the only thing my mom ever taught me about money is that my dad has plenty and doesn't give her enough.
He's good with money, but he didn't teach me anything about it. Except that spending it is bad and smart people know how to manage their finances and if you can't be self-sufficient financially then something is wrong with you that you should be ashamed of.
Yeah, my feelings about my parents and money are kind of intense.
And then there's my marriage. We've had our share of financial arguments. We don't have the same approach to money. And I'm pretty sure neither of us would claim to be really good with money. But we're grown ups so we're expected to know how to do this.
We've been married twenty-two years. My husband has been the breadwinner the whole time. I worked a bit but just because I wanted to. (My health no longer allows me to work.) And in this twenty-two years my husband has been laid off or fired ten times. The longest we went without any income was seven months. We've been on food stamps. Our children have been on government insurance and received free school lunches. In fact, the government paid entirely for the pregnancy and delivery of one of our children. We've gone to our church for food, clothes, and help with our mortgage payment and bills. We've lived off our food storage and sold many things of value just to meet our obligations. We no longer have food storage or savings. We used these up and haven't been able to rebuild them.
And because of this history, because of the many times we had our electricity shut off because we couldn't pay the bill, I am scared. Whenever we get paid I want to put the money away just in case. I have trouble paying bills because I'm afraid that will be our last income. What if I pay the bills and then he gets laid off? Then I don't have any money and my family is threatened again.
We've had well-paying jobs (I say we even though they were his jobs) and poor-paying jobs. We've had more than enough financially and not nearly enough financially. We've happily worked together on budgeting and spending and fought like crazy about money. We've tracked our money together and spent behind each other's backs. And for most of our marriage I have been in charge of the money. Which meant that even though he earned the money I felt the pressure to handle it well.
I am a smart girl. I am good at math and organization. But I still really struggle with money. And it is still a source of shame for me.
But this thing has been a burr under my saddle for long enough. I'm ready to kick this monkey off my back. I'm ready to acknowledge that I don't know what I'm doing. That I've been trying to figure this out for years and am still not getting it. That I have serious psychological issues that I need to address.
I'm ready for the battle. And I'm going to win.