Sunday, April 20, 2008

My relationship with money

In an email to a friend today…I mentioned the fact that my relationship with money has never been healthy.

When I was in my twenties I ended up in a great deal of credit card debt due to excessive shopping.

Or…maybe it was excessive WANTING.

Never having enough…always needing more….well..that’s an entry for another day.

Today…I want to talk about money.

When I was a young girl, we always had enough.

I usually (tho not always) got what I wanted for birthdays and Christmas…we weren’t wealthy but we did ok.

My parents split up when I was a teenager…my mother had to rejoin the work force. She took a minimum wage job at a department store. My father contributed almost nothing, financially…and..we were poor.

We got by.

We never went without a meal, although I can recall looking under sofa cushions for change in order to buy groceries.

I knew then, that I would never depend on a man financially…and that I would not struggle….I was going to be able to take care of myself.

And that’s what I did.

But it really didn’t matter how much money I made…it was never enough.
I didn’t manage it wisely…I couldn’t save anything…I always WANTED things….

And patience is not one of my virtues….if I want it, I want it now…so I’d buy it…and worry about paying for it later.

I was often paying for things long after they’d been discarded..

I ended up getting in over my head with credit cards…and I couldn’t bear to open the delinquency letters…the overdraft notices, the collection agencies….so I turned to Mom.

She didn’t bail me out financially (much)…but I’d turn over my paycheck to her and she’d handle payments…making arrangements for better terms, etc.

Then I had one card.

An American Express.

It had to be paid in full every month.

On the day the statement would arrive…I would never know…wouldn’t have ANY idea..what the total would be….during the month, when I wanted things, I bought them. Period.

Sometimes the bill would be $300 – sometimes it’d be $1600…..and…I never had any idea what it would be…there was always a great deal of stress when that envelope arrived in the mailbox.

When I married, I was put on a budget (ugh!)…and I often exceeded it…and my husband would fuss a little…then ‘clear the slate’..I’d promise to do better.

Eventually, he turned over the finances to me.

A move I’m sure he regrets…and questions…what was he THINKING???

My spending really got out of control.

I had access to more money than I’d ever had…I was MAKING more money than I ever had….there were so many ways to justify whatever I wanted to do financially…and I did.

I shopped like a mad woman.

Until I started gambling.

When I first started gambling….I would reason ‘if I hadn’t just gambled that money away, I would’ve blown it shopping’…of course, my shopping didn’t stop altogether..that would’ve been SUSPICIOUS (I was gambling in secret)…in an effort to appear like everything was NORMAL..I was STILL spending outrageous amounts of money.

But it was different….now I felt GUILT when I would shop.

Funny….I could drop a few hundred dollars at the casino and find a way to make that seem OK..but buying myself a nice outfit felt dirty?
Felt..extravagant and unnecessary.

I would spend hundreds at the casino, then, at the grocery store…HOW MUCH for a can of corn???? I'd spend time comparing prices…this brand versus that….which is the better bargain? All in an effort to safe a few cents. HUH?

Yet…other times…I had no problem at all wasting money….knowing that…I would simply blow it at the casino anyway.

I’ve always found ways to justify whatever it was that I wanted to do….and worry about the consequences later.

But this…this gambling thing…I’m sure that my lack of respect for money contributed to this…but this became something much much bigger than money.

Much bigger.

Learning to respect money…is one of the things that is necessary to remain free of this addiction….AND…for me to live a satisfying life.

See Just How does one learn to respect money?

2 comments:

addiction recovery life coach said...

Thank you for your public post!
It is interesting this relationship we have with our money. It plays out in all areas of our lives, but shows itself much more clearly in the area of money.
Since you mentioned you have to learn to respect your money, I would pose of question of where else this shows up for you. What else do you need to learn to respect?
Much love and light to you!~Cheryl

Peg said...

That's an interesting question...my immediate response was TIME..but then...that's not all.

I can think of a few things that I now respect a GREAT deal, but when I was in the cycle... geez...even things that I DID respect (prior to addiction) I was losing...more and more...my addiction took over my thoughts..at the expense of everything else.

There are some things that I haven't BEGUN to address...or perhaps even identify.

I'm going to have to give this more thought.

Thank you --