August Journaling Day 9: Money

Is there a more stressful part of life than money? I mean I suppose relationships can be? Certainly death probably trumps all of it, but money has to be up there. My relationship with money feels the healthiest it’s ever been right now but given my pp’s with money, that ain’t saying much. I think like everyone I have money regrets, but many of those lessons I think have helped me deal with it and treat it better now.

Money is a strange topic to write about publicly because I’m writing about my personal relationship to it. That said, I think it’s an important topic to talk about with people you trust. It’s something we all to some degree have to deal with and is a necessity in modern life.

My earliest concept of money was hearing my dad complain about it. He ALWAYS complained about money. As a kid looking back we never went without. We always had food, clothes, and the necessities as far as I can tell. We got to take yearly vacations and often when I wanted something like a new baseball bat or golf clubs, I generally got it. But looking back now as an adult, I can see how it would be hard. My parents were very much middle class and worked hard. My dad was a union truck driver and basically hated his job. In fact when I got bad grades in 8th grade the speech he gave me was “Do you want to be a truck driver like me and hate your job the rest of your life?” No sir, I don’t want to hate my job.

But he just always felt stressed about money. My mom very well might have been as well, but she never said anything or made it feel that way. I do think that gambling was the source of a lot of my dad’s money stress. I’ll never forget when he hit a twin-trifecta for like $11,000. We came home and my dad had the money spread out all over the table. My mom said “That 11k is gonna cost you $30k.” I have no doubt she was right.

My dad with some cash after a win at Longacres

Gambling (which is tomorrow’s topic) had a major effect on how I’ve viewed money in my lifetime. My first job was at Shakeys Pizza Parlor in Renton and right when those $150 bi-weekly checks started coming in was about the time we started playing quarter poker games with my buddies. That was also when Emerald Downs opened. Money came and went all the time and even though I had a job in high school, I was often asking my parents for money. And often gambling it away. $20 one night. $10 the next. Small time stuff, but still.

Again I don’t want to touch on gambling too much cause I’m going to write about that tomorrow. But in general my view of money for all of my teens and all of my twenties was that it was expendable. My mom’s business really took off in the late 90s and throughout the 2000s and I think I often thought because she was doing well, that I had back up no matter how many times I blew my always tiny bankroll. Believe me she bailed me out with money more times than I can count in those early adulthood years.

I really wish that I’d received some real financial literacy and training as a younger person. Now granted I likely would have ignored it and not invested or anything, but knowing what I know now, I really do wish I’d had some education about it. I really started trying to learn about money and how to manage it, grow it, and be responsible with it, just in the last few years. It’s made me appreciate money more, respect it more, and also be more at ease about talking about it.

Before I continue on, it would be stupid not to admit that part of the education and feeling better about money for me certainly coincides with making more of it. I spent most of my career making $30k to $50k a year and getting by, paying rent, but never getting ahead. I had some medical debt and student loans that hung over me for years and feeling like you’re just always swimming upstream and trying to keep your head above water is so damn hard. So to be earning more now and be out of debt and to be saving is a blessing and something I’m very grateful for. I tend to think most people work hard so I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I do think I’ve worked hard for the opportunities I’ve gotten. I’m also aware that some of me getting those opportunities is just luck. But a little luck never hurt 🙂

The one thing I haven’t been able to shake from my earlier relationship with money is never having a feeling of “comfort” in regards to money. Like I used to always think as long as I have a few grand in the bank I’m ok. But as I’ve saved up more, the comfort that I thought would come with that doesn’t really settle in. Like if I got fired from all my jobs today, I’d be fine for a while. Certainly long enough to find a new job(s) and no change to my lifestyle. But maybe that’s part of money. Does anyone every feel “comfortable”? I mean, even if I had a million bucks someday, do you feel totally comfortable? I don’t know, but I’d love to find out.