I am five years into my career, making a decent living, and yet I continue to live from paycheck to paycheck. I have thousands of dollars sitting on credit cards, and I have a huge ‘ol student loan (43k +) looming over my head. Like a cartoon rain cloud, it follows me wherever I go.
This debt is oppressive.
I’m tired of it. I’m ready to get out of debt!
So, I began to do some research and found a highly rated book called “Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work.” It’s nothing like I expected…in the best way possible.
The first couple chapters have had me contemplating my past experiences with money, and discovering ways in which those childhood memories continue to influence my spending habits.
In middle school I remember becoming acutely aware that the people around me had certain things. Certain shoes with the three stripes on the side. Certain t-shirts with “GAP” spayed across the front. Certain trapper keepers and notebooks with all the special pockets. They all had these things. I didn’t.
No one seemed to care (or at least I didn’t care) what we wore in elementary school, but after moving across town to a more affluent neighborhood what I wore was all of the sudden a HUGE deal.
At first my mom wouldn’t buy me those all important articles of clothing. They were expensive. We wore hand-me-downs.
Then one day my mom promised me we would go to the GAP outlet store a few towns over. I was pumped! Apparently I had worn her down. The night before that faithful trip I had a nightmare. In my dream we arrived, full of hope, to the outlet store. I ran in and searched for THE logo shirt. It was no where to be found. It wasn’t there. “Nooooooo!” I woke up drenched in hot sweat.
Truth be told, I don’t remember whether or not the shirt was actually there, but I did eventually get that GAP logo shirt. However, I still hold on to that fear today. Fear that I’ll never make enough money to have the things I want, or more specifically, the things that people expect me to have. I fear that if I don’t have “all the things” I’ll somehow not measure up and people won’t like me.
I spend money on things that I don’t actually want just to keep up appearances. I often buy whatever I want whenever I want instead of living within my means. I don’t want to feel deprived like I did as a child. Yet, I live in fear that I’ll never be able to finance the life my heart desires. My finances are a wreck, but not because I don’t make enough money. I’m always so busy trying to live up to our culture’s definition of “success” that I often don’t prioritize the things that actually bring me joy. Wow. That’s a revelation.
Now it’s time to let go of those old fears. It’s time to create new truths.
To be continued…