Sunday, November 6, 2011

No Money, No Problems (Ok SOME Problems)

I was a stay at home mom for eight years, and this has benefitted me more than I can express now that I'm a single, working mom.  I realize that my financial situation is slightly better than a lot of woman out there, but it's still a struggle.  I've had to do and say some things in the last few weeks that have really just kind of sucked the air out of my lungs and made me cry a bit.

In those moments, I think two things... if he wanted to come back, I'd probably be embarrassed by how long it would take me to say no, and now I get why woman hook up with some random loser so fast.  Help financially.  I refuse to do that.  I want to be with someone becuase we love each other, not because his money would help me breathe easier.

Also, what many people don't understand is that I'm REALLY careful with my money.  I am not at all frivolous. I've given up damn near everything, from my K-cups, low carbing, shopping, buying new books for my Kindle app buy in bulk (Something I really believe in) , fast food. I buy cheap shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and coffee and Splenda.  I mean, like off brands on things I swore I'd NEVER buy off brands on when I was married. I used to only buy Gain and Tide.  Now, I buy the Dollar General stuff.  I used to only drink Folgers or Maxwell house, now I drink Wal-Mart brand.  When I think of the amount of money I would spend on SHAMPOO?!?  Omg. It's embarrassing.  I used to buy $40 body wash. FORTY  DOLLAR BODY WASH.  But, it was really good body wash, I won't lie.  I just shake my head.  The funny thing was, while we were married I was always stressed about money. Always.  It was never enough.  I was an idiot. 

I think the biggest mistake people make is this.  They get too excited that it's pay day.  Seriously.  To me, pay day is another day.  I might breathe a sigh of relief because I have $5 in my purse and I need gas, but I at least still have that $5.  I see people at the credit union all the time, people making a lot more than I am, come strutting in on pay day, excited, smiling talking about all the fun things they're going to do that weekend.  Those are the same people that come back a a week and a half later with a cup full of change, wondering where all their money went.   I'm not judging, but I realized when I was a stay at home mom that rich people?  They never think about pay day.  I adopted that same attitude as best as I could, but sometimes it couldn't be helped.

I think realizing that you're not going to need as much  money as you THINK you do really helps as well.  This is something I did my whole marriage. I'd think "Omg! We only have X amount until pay day, I better go and withdraw money before things start to hit"  and then we're playing the overdraft game.   It's harder to judge when you have someone else out there needing money, too.  Was he going to need money for cigarettes, gas and food?  Who knew?  Now that I'm the only one spending the money, it's easier to control.  So, no more drastic measures to make sure I have "enough to get my through".  I have found that no matter what, I still always manage to have a couple of extra bucks at the end of payday without floating a check or overdrawing the account or having to exchange the change in my coffee can.  

This last pay period was tough, the kids needed clothes and any extra money I had went to that and the beginning of the month is always a tough time for us, too.  But, I know if I needed to, there are measure I can take.  I find if I tell myself to just hold on, to wait as long as I have to and that if I HAVE to, I can turn in my change, or whatever other thing I have to do.  Just knowing that the safety button is THERE keeps me calm enough to think rationally, to not go into panic mode and do focus on what I DO have and not what I don't have. 

It's hard.  I won't lie.  I know though, it can only get better.  People often ask me if I regret not going to school.  Financially, sure.  Sure, I do.  But, what's done is done and I can't change it now.  School was never my thing anyway.  I would have probably wasted a ton of money and never finished.   There is a movie called "Accepted" with Justin Long.  He is a smart kid in the movie, just not conventionally smart. He gets average grades and doesn't get into any colleges at all.  He tries to spin this to his parents as a positive he says (I'm paraphrasing) "The average cost of college is about 20K a year.  Four years, that is 80K.  The average amount of money a person can make without a degree is about 20K a year.  The way I say it, I could SPEND 80K or MAKE 80K.  Seems like a no-brainer to me." and I TOTALLY get that.  I don't know why.  I just do.   Maybe because I just don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I until I know for sure, for sure?  I don't see the point in wasting the money.  If I think times are tough NOW?  How would I swing it as a student?

Anyway, another little tip from me, talking about your finances is always tricky. We never want to talk about how much debt we have, how much money we do or (As in my case) we don't have.  It's a very taboo subject.  Growing up, your parents never discussed with you what was in their checkbook.  You never dared take a peek.  You maybe saw your mom scribbling figures on a back of an envelope (My mom did this all the time.) and you saw a worried look on her face, but there was always food, water, clothes and good times. Always.  Talk about it.  At work we had to take a class about some program we offer our members for free and the instructor talked about this very thing.  We hide our finances in shame if we're in a bad spot.  We don't want to look bad in front of our friends and our loved ones.  We don't want them to pity us and we definitely don't want them to judge us.  By talking about it though, it frees you from the stigma of it all.  It allows you to be open and honest with yourself more than anything.  Since adopting the attitude of being honest about my situation, I have had a lot people help me.  Not with money, but with advice, with their own stories, with suggestions and so forth.  People WANT to talk about it, they just feel like they can't.

Even though, I'm so "po' " I can't afford the extra letters in poor.  Even though I'm so poor I can't even pay attention, I am HAPPY.  I know that sounds crazy, but having less money has brought me less stress in the long run.  Having less money, has shown me that little things can make me just as happy as big things and being honest about it as freed me from keeping up with the Jones' , something I struggled with while married.

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