This is not what I planned for my first post in 2015.
I’ve had that post mulling over in my head since Christmas, dwelling on what I would and wouldn’t write, what tone I wanted to set to start the year off well, as this year my focus is on change, and making things different (in a good way), and moving forward in life instead of letting past stuff hold me back.
And then I had to buy an ink cartridge for my printer today. One I needed to be able to print paperwork to do my job (the job that actually pays me an income). I knew I had to, but I’d held off, until push came to shove this morning.
So off I went and bought said cartridge, which cost $25.50.
An amount for which I held my breath as the payment was processing, praying that there was enough in the account to cover it. There was, and I breathed out, knowing that there wouldn’t be much left next time I checked the balance.
Then I got home, swapped the empty cartridge for the new one, and felt the weight of idontknowwhattocallit thud into my chest. I realised I actually had a spare cartridge in my desk drawer, and could have saved myself the angst of spending money I could ill-afford to spend, on something I already had.
Something I didn’t realise I had, because I thought it was a different cartridge in my drawer, and I didn’t bother to check.
And now I only have $20.96 to my name until pay-day next week.
After I let all the feelings of shame and anger and self-loathing settle, I knew what my first post for 2015 would be.
Before I start, let me be very clear on something – I am not in crisis. I have a roof over my head, plenty of food in the cupboards, clean water, a good job, people who love me, and the bills are (mostly) paid . I am not seeking pity, or sympathy, or anything of the like, I am simply stating the facts of my life as they are as of right now. I don’t want for anything, and this is not a cry for help. Well, it sort-of is, but I’ll get to that later.
My first thought was ‘this has to change. Now’. Not my monetary situation, there’s not much I can do about that for now, but the constant rinse-and repeat of ending up in this position. I live week-to-week (well, fortnight-to-fortnight), and there is always more time left than money. I don’t live extravagantly, I don’t spend to fill an emotional need, and I live a pretty quiet life, one I’m very happy with.
Except for this.
There is a bit of back-story to today, but I can’t even blame the events of the last 12 months for what led me to standing at the check-out this afternoon, holding my breath. I have been living like this for one degree to another my whole adult working life, and it is all because of me and my choices. Yes, of course, circumstances influence what happens to us and our financial situations etc (such as at the moment, my job is very variable in hours from one fortnight to the next), but at the end of the day, it comes down to the choices I make. And apparently there’s still a huge lesson for me to learn, because there’s something I’m not getting, and here we are again.
I am so, so tired of being in this all-too-familiar place. I want out.
I have no idea how to make that happen right now.
And this is why I’m writing – and sharing – this story, because I know I’m not the only one. Far, Far from it.
I have read many stories of people working through and triumphing over their horrible financial crises, but they’ve always been after the fact – I haven’t come across any place where someone has shared their journey as they’ve travelled it, and that’s what I want to do here. Share what I’m dealing with, in the hope that is will encourage even just one person wherever they are, who might be feeling alone and in despair and completely hopeless about their situation.
If that’s you, then please, please, if nothing else, hear this – you are not alone.
I don’t have any answers. I don’t really know what I’m doing (obviously). But I truly, truly care about the humans I live with in this world, and if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s to encourage and walk with people in their travels, and that I can do in spades. If you desperately need kindness, and encouragement and yes, accountability for whatever challenges you’re facing in your financial life at the moment, then please, join me here and we can walk this path together.
What I said before isn’t exactly true – I do know what to do when it comes to managing money (i.e budgeting, cutting expenses etc), it’s the practical working out of it with discipline where I get tripped up.
This journey isn’t just about money – acquiring, spending, managing. It’s about self-discovery, being willing to face the hard stuff and finding the joy of enough. I know this because I’ve been here so many times before, and I have learnt a lot along the way. I’ve made lots of awesome, positive changes, and I know I have more to make. This post is one of the first – not being afraid to talk about money (which I don’t believe we do enough of in our culture, but that’s for a different discussion), and turning away from shame and fear to bare all in a very, very personal topic, at the risk of judgement and criticism (even though I’m totally hesitating over hitting the ‘Publish’ button, and inviting people to ‘Like’ the new blog page, and yeah, there will probably be the whole vulnerability hangover thing tomorrow morning and I’ll be so tempted to delete this whole post….). Maybe for me this is the turning point – full disclosure and no excuses in a public forum, there’s not much shying away from that!
I’ve written this post off and on over the course of the afternoon, and I’ve had time to think about where to start. I’m an information gatherer by nature (the putting it into practice bit is where the challenge often lies), but in my many, many hours of research over many years I have collected a wealth of information and resources, so that’s what better place to start than with what I already have. So over the course of this whatever-you-want-to-call-it, I’ll share books and blogs and websites along the way (as frugally as possible, of course!). I don’t need to re-invent the wheel, and there are plenty of experts who talk about things way better than I can, this series is about sharing the journey and encouraging each other along the way.
To quote the awesome Ben Lee, we really are all in this together, and that makes all the difference.