I Need To Relax About Money
I think about two things: death, and money. I’m a lot of fun at parties.
I roll out of bed and write (hoping to make money), I go to my more-than-fulltime-job (confident I’ll make money), and I work at my side gig whenever I have a free minute to make even more money (the amount depends on how much I work, which drives me like a hamster on meth).
I’m like a fairy tale character trying to spin straw into gold. And we know how that turns out — not good. I have money in the bank, but it’s not enough. And I know it will never be enough.
Obsession tells you that if you think about something hard enough, it will happen, or not happen, or appear or not appear. Whatever end result you’re hoping to achieve, obsession is the spell that conjures it.
I walk through the woods and I think about money.
I watch TV and I think about money.
I go to the grocery store, pick something up, do the math in my head, put something down. Repeat. Last time it was a jar of peanuts. I’ve assigned peanuts a random monetary value. The jar of peanuts exceeded that random, completely made-up number.
I really wanted the peanuts.
And I can afford the peanuts. But the masochist in me says, “No, you can’t. What if you lose your job tomorrow? What if a tree falls on your crappy house? You’ll be homeless and destitute because you bought that jar of peanuts.”
Instead of “Rosebud”, my last words are going to be, “I should have bought the peanuts.”
How many tiny happinesses do I deprive myself of by thinking this way?
That’s not to say I shouldn’t think about money at all. I’m very close to someone who assumed his grandmother would leave sufficient money to his kids to fund their Ivy League college educations. All four of them.
That didn’t happen. Things went extremely South, they didn’t get a dime, AND he no longer talks to anybody in his family.
His oldest is 18 and the college drama has begun. And he has three more in a holding pattern behind her.
It’s not pretty.
My mom insists I won’t need to worry about money after she’s gone. But she also thinks that 50 cents is a princely tip for the young gentleman who mows her lawn. (I exaggerate, but she is wildly out of touch with the cost of living.) I have health insurance and a mortgage to pay, on top of a car payment. All of which are things she hasn’t needed to think about for the last 50 years.
My health insurance premium is more than my mortgage.
But repeating that sentence over and over in my head like a mantra doesn’t change anything. It just sucks the joy out of my every waking minute.
I work, I earn. I spend, I save. Maybe I should write that down on a scrap of paper and float it down the little creek behind my house. Maybe it will carry my worries away like candles on the Ganges.