I remember being in law school and getting my Visa statement. It was maxed out and I cried. I was worried, I was scared, I didn’t know what to do. The balance was about $500. Wow. I could likely find that much change in my couches and purses now if I looked really hard. Or maybe an old savings account I have forgotten about.
Now I’m unemployed (by choice) and working madly at (Ommmmmm) not caring about money. And for the most part I don’t.
Luckily, after working my ever-lovin’ ass off for the last twenty years, I don’t have to worry about money for a few more months. And if I wanted to spend everything I have, I could probably make it a couple of years before I would have to go back to an office to have my soul sucked out one painful drop at a time.
I find myself living a virtually stress free existence. It is a little bit boring, but the lack of stress is a nice change.
I hadn’t thought I was overly concerned with money. I always had enough, for the most part. I planned what to do with it; I daydreamed about what I would do with more of it; I made decisions based on it.
I made decisions based on it.
It seems an innocuous comment, at first.
in·noc·u·ous adjective: not likely to bother or offend anyone; causing no injury
in·sid·i·ous adjective: causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed
You start out making decisions based on money as soon as you have your own money to spend. Lik’m’stix or a Kit Kat? XBox or Playstation? Volkswagen or BMW?
But then, slowly, in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed, more and more of your decisions are based on money. If we only go on a one week vacation, we can put more money away for retirement. If we buy this house, then our kids can’t go to the best college. If I gamble my whole paycheque away at the casino, my kids won’t have shoes. If I take this job that leaves me a barely-conscious cortisol-riddled mess at the end of the day, we will have more money than we know what to do with.
I know that these kinds of decisions should not be the ones that determine our life’s path; most of us do. But it requires a daily reminder to keep it front of mind. I wish I could say that I don’t think, about once a day, “if I just went back to private practice for 6 months or a year, I would have enough money to…” Enough money to be miserable, is the only thing that can consistently fill in that blank.
So I blink and say nothing when my kids intimate that I am somehow ripping off their dad. And I listen hard and commit it to memory, pray that it burns indelibly onto my soul, when one of them says,
“Mom, if you become a writer, or a golf pro, or a furniture builder, will you still be able to make us cookies all the time, and be at home when when get home from school?”
Yes, sweetie, I will.