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It feels like I’ve been running non-stop for about 2 months now. Not only have I been traveling for work, but we closed on our new house the same week we returned from FinCon. Since I had already taken off work to attend the conference, I didn’t request additional time for the move.
If time is money, I’m feeling stretched right now. If money is money, I’m feeling spread thin there too. Between the down payment, new furniture and moving expenses – we’ve spent over $80,000 over the last 3 weeks. It took almost a year to save that money and only like, two phone calls, a couple clicks and a pound of paperwork to spend it.
Add that to a missed opportunity to invest at a discount because we’re cash-strapped, and you have one angsty lady…
Oh, hey. Hello, I’m her!
Calling it angst feels like an understatement though. Fear is more appropriate.
Lately my nights and weekends have been filled with packing and unpacking. My 19-month old son is clingy as he’s adjusting to his new daycare, our new home, and his 7 new teeth. He doesn’t have the words to express how he feels, so we just agree to come to grips with change his way.
Meanwhile, I’m scared that my mom instinct got left on the truck or maybe just lost in the shuffle of boxes. Or maybe I just unpacked my mom instinct where my wife instinct should be and I just need to reconcile the two [once I find them].
I also don’t know if Baby r&R is old enough to have a Love Language, but if he did, it would be snacks. In the midst of all this flux, and in the absence of a routine, I find myself conceding to his crafty toddler antics with extra snacks here and extra cuddles there.
The other day I carried his lil azz up 3 whole flights of stairs, while dragging a plastic lawnmower behind me and balancing a bowl of Cheerios between my neck and chin. I’m scared I might be feeding him too much. But then I remember that he’s not a fish…not that it matters! My body aches, my willpower is weakened and my credit card company upped my limit out of nowhere. I’m scared I’ll use it as a permission slip to buy more, instead of seeing it for what it is— another form of marketing.
Spending has always been a slippery slope for me because it triggers a dopamine rush. While I wouldn’t categorize it as an addiction, I am using a lot of energy just to look high-functioning while cuttin’ these 5 figure checks left and right.
This is why I don’t talk about money strictly from an academic point of view. The math is the easiest part, but the psychology? The psychology is a mutha**** because even if you do exactly what I did and pay off all your debt and learn to “live on half” and enjoy eating at home, you STILL gotta make room for the fear.
I don’t think it’s something that retirement can fix either—just ask Suze Orman. She has gazillions of dollars, recently came OUT of retirement from a private island and is STILL worried about not having enough money. How, Sway??
Every day, I stare into space and wonder if I would feel like this if I wasn’t working. But then I look over at my husband and realize he fell asleep sitting up with a beer in his hand. That brotha ain’t doin’ too hot either!There's no escaping it, no one is exempt. You have to keep chipping away at your harmful Belief Systems (BS), otherwise having money will just amplify them. Click To Tweet
Go ahead, ask me how I know. I am the proud owner of “I don’t have to take this $hit” money, and yet, here I am emoting on the internet about TAKING ALL OF LIFE’S $HIT.
I won’t lie to myself and say that money couldn’t solve 95% of my problems. It very easily could. Instead, I will imagine that when rich people lament about how “it’s not about the money“, this is what they mean.
Because FINALLY, I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s not about the money. It’s about my BS. And my journey to Financial Independence requires learning how to navigate this terrain. Just throwing money at it would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Wisdom without action is a waste.
One perk of getting older is that I get better at describing how I feel. I’m also better at recognizing key themes in my life. After 34 years, I realized that ‘velocity’ is one of them. Sometimes it just feels like the months on the calendar are just a series of concentrated weeks crammed with demanding tasks that leave me waiting for an exhale. In these momentswhen the pace of my life is frantic, I've been conditioned to consume. Click To Tweet
These are the times where I tend to distract myself via mindless scrolling and social media rabbit hole’ing. These are the times where I make unhealthy choices. I become less present. I use my money to self-medicate. I buy a bunch of crap on “sale” just to get a feeling of accomplishment.
It’s a familiar cycle and after 5 years with a front row seat, Mr. r&R can spot it a mile away. I am the frog in a pot enjoying my jacuzzi, and he is intensely observing the stove to make sure I don’t cook myself. So what I am doing about it?
1. Choosing to sit in it and learn. I’m being vulnerable in my marriage and trusting that my partner won’t let the pot boil over because I need to sit here and soak for a while to mull over my money until my skin prunes. I need to be reminded that if my coins are going to be a tool for positive change in my life and my family’s life, then I can’t be afraid to use them. People who build houses don’t have emotional issues with hammers! Instead of letting my fear of spending beaucoup money take me down a path of scarcity, I am choosing to reframe my circumstances. I am affirming that I gained this level of discernment as a result of my efforts. I am affirming that it will stay with me no matter how rich I get and I am affirming that we gon’ be aight! I know that in hindsight, periods like this will be a reminder of why we got married in the first place. Either that or I’ve been watching too much Love Is.
2. Allowing for tiny indulgences. Ok, so look, I probably shouldn’t be trusted in a Homegoods, Container Store or IKEA for a while but… it was a hard YES for the grocery store flowers, the scented trashbags from Target and the mid-day nap. I know “tiny” is subjective, but it’s intentional, and that’s half the battle.
3. Calendarizing my joy. It’s easier to ignore short term impulses when you know there’s something greater later. I’ve physically put events on my calendar as a way to upweight my patience. Seeing the moments that make me happy punctuated in my calendar engages another part of my brain. It’s a small but powerful checks and balances method to ensure my fear doesn’t distract me from being future-focused.
Bottom line: The fear that I feel is a choice. My goal is to create an environment that makes it easier for me to choose something else.
Photo Credit: Phyllis Iller