On Money

igor-ovsyannykov-208345

Some thoughts I wanted to share this Friday…

I know money is a generally taboo topic in polite conversation, but I am a writer; polite conversation doesn’t interest me much.

I wrote not too long ago about my desires for the #freelancelyfe and my concerns about diving headfirst into that. Those reasons are mainly financial.

I am a middle-class person, and have been for my whole life. Growing up, I was never hungry; on the other end of the spectrum, my parents have never purchased a car for me or paid my rent. They did, however, raise me in a nurturing environment, enabling me to be a well-adjusted adult who has always been capable of earning the money she needs to live on.

They also taught me the value of saving and living below my means. Hence why, even through some truly spectacular disasters, I have always had roommates; when I was making considerably less than I am now, I wasn’t willing to spend the money to live alone. This is also why my husband-to-be and I opt to live outside Manhattan (well, I’d do that anyways because I like Jersey so much more) and why I tend to be frugal on things like hotel rooms and cab rides.

And at the same time, if I feel like splurging on something, now I can. If I want a bottle of wine or a slightly pricier lunch platter or a good pair of shoes or all the books I want–I can buy them without worrying about it.

When I was younger– high school, college, my early-twenties life living in France and even beyond that, on through my late twenties–I remember stressing over purchases. Something as small as a glass of wine at a restaurant (which in France is something like 2 euro) made me hesitate to spend the money. (So much so that my friends and I used to sneak our own bottles of wine into bars when we studied abroad in Dijon to save money–I know, we are terrible humans.)

When I think about money, I think of this one time after my wallet was stolen. I’d been borrowing money from my friends, but when I got back to my apartment in Saint-Lo, there was still a day until the French bank opened up, my roommate wasn’t home, my other friends weren’t back yet, we had no food, and I had no money. I was hungry, and I couldn’t just go buy food. That was something I have never, ever experienced before, and it brought tears to my eyes thinking about how many people experience hunger like that all the time. (If you’re wondering how that story ends, I hunted through my bags and clothes and sofa cushions til I found enough coins to at least buy me a baguette to tide me over.)

So. Not having enough money frightens me. Financial security makes me feel better, takes away some anxiety, in the same way health insurance does. It’s a safety net. One I have under me right now–and will, presumably, so long as I stay employed full-time.

could afford to freelance–but what would not having a steady income do to my mental health? My sense of security? What if I need the money for something important? What if I get cancer? (I’m a hypochondriac, which is a story for another day…)

I don’t have any answers right now. All I know is the idea of going back to having less money than I currently have, scares me. Even if that means a better life.

Does anyone else have any ponderings of a similar nature? Would love to hear your thoughts…

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