I want to share a win and a why!
What do I mean by this? I want to share a recent win and I want to share WHY this is such a big win for me. IT’S MONEY! No I didn’t get rich. My brain just beat out my money! I hesitated to write this, and I think my hands are shaking as I do because this has always been such a touchy subject for me. This is something I have struggled with and tried tirelessly not to let anyone see.
MY WIN: I just paid off my credit card and one of my student loans! This is a huge win for me, not just for the sake of paying them off and helping to get out of debt, but mentally, THIS IS HUGE.
Money has been a stressor for me for my entire life. College loans made this worse. Starting my family put me over the edge.
I’m not sure how since I had so much support while I was pregnant. People overwhelmingly sent gifts, hand me downs, etc. to get us started with our new addition. Our families wanted nothing more than to spoil the little one, which was great, and so helpful. However, the worst for me mentally hit after the baby came. Don’t get me wrong as a family we were just fine, it was my stubborn need to feel independent that was ripping my insides apart. What do I mean by that?
We had a healthy baby, short hospital stay, healthy mom, cute clothes from family members visiting, nursery all set up and ready to go with anything you might need because my mom bought everything we might need, milk coming in fine for baby to get enough to eat, supportive partner who makes sure I’m are okay to be home with baby, and helps with middle of the night feeding, no post-partum depression, all things on track and going well. How am I getting “worst” from this? . . . MONEY!
I am at home on maternity leave for the 6 weeks I have for short term disability as I cannot afford any more than that without pay, I am using up every drop of my PTO, receiving 60% of my regular pay for 4 weeks and not getting paid for 1 week. During this time the hospital bill comes. Baby was also born in late August meaning Christmas was right around the corner by now. I was trying to manage having a new baby, keeping up with my house chores so I didn’t feel useless while not working, keeping up with my regular bills and responsibilities, and everything else that came at me. No matter how insignificant money was my stressor. I had to get out birth announcements because that’s what you are supposed to do. That was over a hundred dollars just to order the cards, not to mention the stamps on top of that. I didn’t have extra money so I took the photos myself. Shortly after these went out I needed to order and send out Christmas cards. This became another almost $200 project on top of Christmas gifts. My family has always gone above and beyond on Christmas because they enjoy it so much, and while I know they would not think twice if I couldn’t get great gifts for them for Christmas the guilt I would feel about it would be worse than the debt I would be in. I put off ordering those Christmas cards for as long as I possibly could. I was at a point where I had to borrow money from my credit card just to make my car payment. I was miserable but determined not to show it.
Then Christmas came, I was sitting with my family already feeling guilty because the gifts I got for them were not as good as the gifts I would get from them. We were chatting and someone mentioned that they hadn’t gotten our card yet and asked if I had sent them. They meant nothing by it, it just came up in conversation. I quickly ran upstairs, closed myself in a room and sat on the floor curled up in a ball crying . . . no sobbing. I know what you’re thinking, she was sobbing over Christmas cards? Yes! That I was. I had finally cracked. I was so miserable. I felt like I was a failure. Here I was with a college degree and a growing family, I had a job, and a roof over my head, and I was surrounded by people who love me on Christmas, and yet I was a hot mess sobbing over Christmas Cards of all things.
I am well aware that my “problems” are ridiculous, and there are so many people out there who have it worse, and to be completely candid in my year of ups and downs (the year that followed that Christmas) I often thought about this and felt worse. I thought to myself “What’s wrong with you, these aren’t real problems. There are people who have no food, no house, etc. and you think the world ended because you had to wait to send out Christmas cards”, this continually added to my guilt and I felt worse. I knew everything else in my life I was so lucky to have, but for some reason money trumped all those feeling and caused me to continually feel not good enough.
Here’s the thing, while all that is true about others having worse problems, I know now that we all have baggage. It’s personal. Someone else’s baggage is not yours, and you shouldn’t steal it off the baggage claim! Be a better you, and then help those who need you. I know this now.
The year following that Christmas was pretty much a series of thinking I was feeling better just to have something else happen; my lease being up and it being time to get a new car which meant I had to spend money I didn’t have, my car needing tabs, going to the emergency room after getting very sick from a virus my kid brought home from daycare, and then getting the bill from the emergency room visit, getting passed up for a promotion at work by someone I trained in, and those are just the bigger things (bigger to me). I went back downhill when it was time to go to the grocery store and I felt like I couldn’t feed my family, when someone’s birthday came up and I couldn’t get them the type of present I knew they deserved, or when it was my son’s birthday and everyone kept asking if we were throwing him a party. I felt so sad all the time. I had so much potential, so much spunk, so much ambition while I was school, HOW WAS I ALL OF THE SUDDEN FAILING AT LIFE! Or at least that’s how money or the lack there of made me feel.
I know now that I was not failing, I just was not living quite right. I was trying to be someone I was not. I was trying to spend money I didn’t have so that I wouldn’t feel guilty for something no one cared about but me. I was making myself miserable because I was not taking control, I was just sitting back and wondering why me.
Now days I think “Why not me”. This is a much better state of mind!
I sit here writing this and in all honesty I’ve cried twice. I’m not generally a crier but I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling of sitting in a room at my parent’s house crying because I sent out the Christmas Cards late because I couldn’t afford them. I realize this seems really petty to some, and believe me I can hear this out loud and I realize it sounds crazy, but to me in that moment that was breaking my heart. My parents gave me a life where I never knew if we had money or not because it never came up. I wanted that for my kids, and felt like I couldn’t give it to them. This was heart wrenching to me.
Instead of feeling bad and crying about money, these days I dive deep into personal development. I feel as though I should always be trying to be better. I heard the quote today “don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better”. Man is that an open hand slap to the face when I look back at that moment. These days I read or listen to Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect, Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace, Janine Driver’s You Say More Than You Think, and I have about 5 more just waiting on my list. I feel more confident every day. When I start to feel like money is getting the best of me again I simply look in the mirror and tell myself “Suck it up Blum!”, and then go back to reality where I continue to strive to be better. I am not rich, I am simply a pretty common almost 30 year old in today’s world when it comes to income and debt, BUT I control my money, my choices, and my future. Situations (with money) will not get easier as my two children continue daycare, get sick or injured, start sports, ruin furniture, ruin cars, as proms come and go, graduation parties, and weddings eventually. These will always be there and I will enjoy them for the memories and not remember them for the bill. I will be better.
The next time you feel like you have no control because things are just too hard, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better”, and then be better!