Friday, May 13, 2011

It's money, honey

Money is the new sex.  Discussing wallet size at a cocktail party is like whipping a dildo out of your purse and waving it around would have been 30 years ago.  Now people would laugh at your slapstick comedy.  But bring up the M word and suddenly everyone is blushing and excusing themselves to use the restroom.

So yay for sort-of-anonymous blogging!  It means I can discuss this without embarrassing everyone.  I always felt I grew up in a family that was poor.  We wore hand-me-down clothes from our cousins and grocery day was scheduled according to when the baby bonus cheque arrived, not how hungry we were.  I was constantly teased in elementary school for not having the trendy toys and clothes of my classmates.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered in a casual conversation that my younger sister had never felt this way.  Her memory of our childhood finances was that we weren't rich, but certainly not below the norm.  It's as if we grew up in two different families, and maybe in some ways we did.

What seemed like a constant financial struggle growing up really made an impression on me.  I remember realizing around the age of 16 that any material things I wanted in life I was going to have to obtain for myself.  And that I should get off my ass and start applying myself in school, because an education is the golden ticket if there ever was one.

Right about now, some of you are probably climbing up on your pedestals, ready to preach about how money isn't the only thing in life.  You're right.  In my career as a chartered accountant, I could be making a significantly higher salary if I had taken a different path within my field.  I made other choices because I value my personal time - with my husband, my daughter, myself.

But money isn't irrelevant, and I don't see why we should apologize for wanting a certain amount of it.  Rampant materialism is distasteful and even immoral, but money means more than surrounding yourself with things.  Here's what money means to me:                                
  • Safety and security.  If anything happened to my husband, I would have the financial (if not emotional) resources to care for my daughter.  She wouldn't have to cope with losing her house and her future along with her father.  Our neighbours don't beat each other in their driveways and stray bullets don't fly through my kitchen.
  • Beauty.  Silk sliding across my skin.  Twilight sunset twinkling across the pond beyond the lush green grass outside my back door. Foreign language lilting in my ears as fireworks blaze against the inky sky.
  • Memories.  Of the blue horizon spinning around my feet as I zipline through a Hawaiian forest.  Watching the shimmering dancing fountains of the Bellagio through a flashing rainbow of Las Vegas lights.  Opening my eyes and seeing the world naturally for the first time after LASIK eye surgery.
  • Freedom.  To leave a toxic work environment or an abusive relationship.  To sleep peacefully while the baby sleeps because the monitor will wake me if anything goes wrong.  To not make decisions based on fear.   

What does money mean to you?

And the 30-day music challenge continues:

Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry – Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit.  Might want to turn the volume down if the kiddies are around. 



Day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy – California Love by Tupac:

23 comments:

  1. i'm not sure what money means to me because as an adult, i've never had any. might be nice to find out though.

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  2. Maybe it's being the older sibling. My younger sister and I have different memories of our childhood. I was more aware of my parents money struggles (though they did their hardest to keep them from us) than my sister was. I think it's just because we're older, we're more observant, more aware.

    Nonetheless, I agree with you, money is a taboo subject. If you talk about having enough you're bragging. If you talking about not having enough you're asking for sympathy.

    What does money mean to me? Freedom.

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  3. What does money mean to me? First thought that comes to mind is survival, in this day and age where nothing is free. Enjoyed reading your post.

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  4. Great post! In college, I once got into a debate with a male classmate who tried to tell me that money was not important and that I should re prioritize my life if I thought it was. He just couldn't understand that some women want financial independence, not just for selfish needs but for the good of their family. I put myself through college and work my butt off, not to spend money wastefully but to give my family stability and to offer life experiences.

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  5. I grew up with hand me down clothes and toys too. I get where you are coming from. It never bothered me but it bugged the snot out of my brother. The advantage, for me, is that now that I can no longer work because I'm diabetic and going blind ect, I know how to minimize my spending and what is important and what isn't. My kids don't do without the nec. in life but if they want extra's they have to earn them. I think it makes them appreciate what they have more. I know I always appreciated anything I got growing up but things given easily didn't mean as much. I do agree that money is freedom and the other stuff you said though.

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  6. Great job bringing up the M word. You're right people don't talk about it all. But money is important. For many years my family and I have lived comfortably, but now the future's not so rosy. My husband was in a really bad car accident last December and I don't know when he'll return to work. Fortunately like yourself, I was indoctrinated to believe in an education. So with my job as a teacher and me perfecting my craft as a writer, our family will be fine and one day he will return to work. You now have a new follower.

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  7. Great Post. I feel the same way. There are a lot of things you can enjoy without money but having financial stability just makes life a lot easier to live.

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  8. Great post! I was handed a lot in my life and as an adult I regret that lifestyle. It sucks to grow up not-as-well-off as others but you take less for granted as an adult!

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  9. Nothing wrong with earning money, our society is shaped that way.

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  10. I don't think money is the problem but rather greed or hoarding of it. I think if someone works hard and makes money it's okay. I've also seen people living beyond their means, acting pretentious so they can look richer than they are. Sometimes I wish I was a little more money hungry, maybe I'd be motivated to make more and I wouldn't struggle as much. Who knows.

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  11. It's awesome to read a post that is honest about money. Too many people pussy-foot the subject, and I think that contributes to the poor financial state many are in.

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  12. I know what you mean about money. I always wore hand-me-downs from cousins and even today I get them from an aunt (albeit a very stylish aunt who loves to shop), but my sister who is only two years younger than I did not really have to deal with a lot of that. I think the differences are amazing in how now she and I both deal with money. I'm not conservative with it, but I do take exceptionally good care of what I spend and what it is that I spend. She is free with it and I think it has a lot to do with out earlier years.

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  13. My and I grew up in a trailer park. I never thought much of it. My younger sister never let anyone know she lived there and would have dates meet her at someone else's house because she didn't want anyone to know. However, I'm the one who's house obsessed now...that's not important to her.

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  14. i think it's unfortunate that we need to neeeeeed money.. but.. we do. i think it's fine to want a certain amount of money to take care of yourself and your family and to be safe and comfortable. it makes me CRAZY to hear the salaries athletes and movie stars make.. i mean.. that is just absurd. we don't need that much. we should take what we need and help others with the rest. unfortunately, it doesn't really go that way. blah.

    for me, money means not having to worry about where i'll get my next meal or where i'll sleep. i also love to travel.. and even camping costs money haha

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  15. Thanks for coming to visit my blog. I'm an accident waiting to happen. It's sad but true! lol Have a great day.

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  16. Interesting post. I like your idea of attaching a meaning to money - memories, beauty etc.... I've been thinking very much about vision-casting in relation to money http://littlegumnut.blogspot.com/2011/06/vision-casting.html

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  17. I agree completely, especially about the freedom that comes with money. Getting out of a toxic work environment would be a dream come true for me...and honestly, money would make that possible. So, no, money's not the root of all evil...nor is it the key to happiness. But it does provide security and freedom.

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  18. Money is not necessarily the key to happiness, but it does help. Like you've listed, it's beauty, safety, memories..and freedom. Which DO make you happy! I think when you've had to struggle to get by, it really makes you appreciate it when you have a couple extra dollars to spend!

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  19. I think if anything I probably thought we were better off than we actually were when I was a kid. I wasn't swimming in toys, but my parents always couched it in terms of not spoiling us -- you don't get everything you want just because you want it. I suspect things were closer to the wire than I was ever aware of, particularly when I was little, because we were always fed and I expected toy volume to be correlated with my patience and behavior instead of my parents' finances. Or that it would be "a waste of money" rather than being money we didn't have.

    As an adult? Money absolutely does help. Of course it's not everything, but there's no doubt that money can make it a lot easier to deal with the unexpected in life.

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  20. "But money isn't irrelevant, and I don't see why we should apologize for wanting a certain amount of it."

    THANK you.

    I was raised in a pretty poor household that turned middle class without knowing it. When I was born, my Mom was somehow getting us by on $500 a month (which was not a lot in 1976) and a giant vegetable garden. By the time I was a teen, both my parents had decent jobs, and we lived a middle class existence. (Not that we ever had any money. My Dad has no idea how to keep that stuff from burning through his pockets even before he has it.) I got two graduate degrees because I don't want to live like my parents, at a job I hate, where I can't spend time with my kids.

    I don't know whether or not it's working at all, and that lack of knowledge depresses me.

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  21. Visiting from She Writes. This is a beautifully written piece. My philosophy on money has always been to have enough for all my needs and some to spare and to share.

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    1. I like that philosophy - that's how I feel as well.

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  22. Ugh! Money sucks and it rocks. If we have it, we're rocking if we don't, life is dismal. At least, that's how most of us feel from time to time. The root of all evil. But it's a necessity to live, and so we keep working and striving to make more of it.

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Lend me some sugar!