January 12, 2014

I Blow You: A Path from Fiscal Frivolity to Financial Freedom. ~ Michelle Savage-Mena

I need you, I want you, I don’t have enough of you.

I treat you so badly, no wonder you always slip though my fingers. I’ve learned my lesson, really—at least that is what I tell myself every time you are gone and I am left with nothing.

I’ll be better next time, I promise.

I’ll cherish you and save you from random shoe purchases, justified gourmet groceries and the latest Lego set that was once just a sparkle in my children’s eyes. It’s not as though I use you for cocaine and hookers or other fancy stuff. I use you for yoga classes, for bills and, oh yeah, I use you for minimum credit card payments because I use more of you than I really have.

And every time I get a little bit more of you, I blow you, again and again.

I spend money under the illusion that the more freely I spend, I somehow affirm that I am “in the flow,” believing that no matter what I spend I can trust the universe to provide me with what I need, when I need it.

If this is really working for me, then what I need must be a pile of debt and a perpetual subconscious feeling of stupidity.

New age recommendations for conjuring cash like ‘be in the flow’ or ‘manifest abundance’ are sayings I jive with in theory but, honestly, just piss me off when I can’t afford to buy groceries. After many attempts to wish and will my way to financial security, my inability to ‘believe’ a fat bank account into existence has left me questioning the practicality of my spiritual convictions and broke as a joke.

The phrase “relationship with money” has never really made sense to me. Maybe you get a relationship with money when you have a lot of it to put into things like portfolios and high yield something or others. It really wasn’t until I was telling my sister about my financial woes over the phone one day (for about the thousandth time) that I had one of those “holy shit, I get it now” moments. I do have a relationship with money and it is an abusive one.

I do not show money the respect it deserves so it goes away from me.

I continue to make excuses of why I can’t save anything and I continue to buy things I don’t have cash for. Most of these things are gifts for others, or things for my kids or upgraded groceries that we all appreciate but often go to waste when purchased in mass quantities. By ignoring my money problems and wishing they would just go away, I give up the power to create money solutions.

I get that having more money does not mean having more happiness, but not being able to pay bills makes it really difficult to feel creative and open. Because I have always been afraid of becoming greedy, it has taken me a long time to admit that money is super important and the more of it I have, the more wonderful things I can do.

Money equals choice. Money lets me say yes to participating in community events, paying for my son’s extracurricular activities, and saving for the future. I can invest. I can donate more than just my time. Can we all agree that money is awesome?

When I don’t have money I spend such an obscene amount of energy focusing on the lack of it, that I actually perpetuate a mentality of poverty. It is true that you manifest what you focus on and that focusing on not having enough of something only makes things worse.

Reading “Money: A Love Story,” by Kate Northrup, has helped me start a new relationship with my money.

Northrup offers exercises to help readers dig deep to discover limiting beliefs surrounding money and then offers both practical and metaphysical methods for getting back on track. One of the most effective tools she suggests is simply to begin paying attention to your money—know your net worth and track income and expenses without attaching any fear or judgment. Northrup checks her bank account every morning, is grateful for every dollar she has, she opens bills when they come and finds a childlike excitement in making and managing money. She has also renamed her bills “blessing already received.”

While it is obvious that different incomes provide for different lifestyles, there is a much greater divide between financial freedom and what you do for a living than you might think. Previously, I believed that my career choices of massage therapy and freelance writing were what held me back from having financial freedom.

I’ve held the limiting fear that in order to have financial freedom, I will have to work myself into the ground at a job I hate. Sure, working as a doctor might offer more options than a fast food employee but there is a lot of truth in the saying, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend,” or don’t spend as the case may be.

My grandmother, who is the most frugal woman on the planet (this is not an exaggeration), said that since the day she and my grandfather married, they saved something from each paycheck. She didn’t say it had to be a certain percentage, it just had to be something. So even though she worked odd jobs here and there while raising three kids and my grandfather was a road builder and construction worker, they are able to live comfortably in their retirement.

They nurtured their money by paying attention to their income and creating a habit of saving first.

I am a beginner at this financial freedom thing but so far I’ve begun by taking an honest look at my net worth and have already had fun stuffing more into savings than I thought I could.

I can report that actual giddiness was felt when I saw my bank account this morning. Turns out, manifesting money and being ‘in the flow’ are entirely possible, but only when we treat money with integrity and take actions toward creating the reality we truly want.

Could it be that my flippant and sordid affairs with money are evolving into a sweetly functional relationship?

One word I have decided to change when talking about my finances is control.

The truth is that it is impossible to have real control over anything. Control seems unyielding and suggests that any fluctuation in financial health suggests failure. Let’s face it, cars break down, medical emergencies arise, spontaneous shoe purchases still may occur. So from now on I’d like to think that I am nurturing my finances, one transaction at a time.  It may not be a flawless transition from a negative net worth to purchasing a home, but I’m willing to bet, I won’t blow it again.

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Assistant Editor: Zenna James/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Kevin Dooley/elephant journal archives


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