I used to really sweat about money. A lot.
For most of my adult life it seemed there was never enough to make me feel safe. I didn’t usually run out of money before I ran out of month although there were many long stretches that were too close for my comfort.
During these times I only bought stuff that was an absolute need and then only on sale, scrimped on groceries, got creative with what was in the freezer and the pantry, said NO a lot…and found ways to amuse myself and the kids that didn’t cost anything. It really irked me that I couldn’t ever let my guard down about money and just spontaneously treat my loved ones (or even myself) to a gift or a dinner or a show. Sometimes I did it anyway, then fretted about it the whole time.
Money management was all about keeping the ever-looming wolf (in my mind, at least) from the door.
I remember during one of these stretches that a good friend asked me to be her guest at a conference in the Bahamas. All I had to do was pay for was the flight and bring some spending money. My hotel, meals and recreational activities would all be paid for – a fantastic opportunity, in the dead of winter!
This was during a very dark time in my life – I was being stalked and harassed on a daily basis without any real help from the police – and I was starting a new life as a single parent. I really needed some respite from this situation, to be briefly safe and to breathe deeply again, and to gather my thoughts.
I managed to find an amazingly cheap last-minute flight with only 1 problem – I would have to be in Nassau 2 nights before my friend showed up. I couldn’t afford to stay at the hotel the conference was going to be in so I found 2 cheap places nearby – a motel and a B&B (that offered afternoon tea as well as breakfast, in the price!) Neither place could accommodate me for both nights so I had to move around. I decided I was going to book the flight and join my friend!
But what to do for food? I had very little money and eating out on the island was expensive. So I packed some trail mix, two apples, and a bag full of sandwiches (some cheese and some peanut butter) along with my luggage and off I went.
I had a fabulous time for those 2 (now suddenly 3) days by myself as I waited for my friend (who was unavoidably detained and arrived a day later than planned). Thankfully the Hilton let me check in ahead of my pal!
I had to crash the Executive Floor’s Happy Hour that night and load up on complimentary wine and appetizers, having run out of sandwiches by then… 🙂
The point of this story, for me, is that I had much more fun and adventure trying to manage in this way than I would have ever had if I was flush with cash.
It also provided one of the many lessons life has taught me about money and having faith in my own resourcefulness to find a way around financial (and other) obstacles put in my path.
So, lack of money doesn’t bug me quite like it did in times past. The kids have flown, I’m on my own (bonus poetry…hehehe) – things are easier now that I have only my self to be responsible for. And I believe enough in myself, finally.
I imagine the worst case scenario – I lose everything and have to start over from scratch – and I now know I have the strength and the will to make the hard but necessary choices, if it comes to that. And maybe even (dare I say it?) have some fun doing it. I am confident I will always be able to manage (financially and otherwise) with whatever life throws at me.
So those kind of worries don’t keep me up at night anymore. Money has become one of the smaller things in my life…and we all know we’re not supposed to sweat the small stuff, right?