Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's A Funny Thing About Money

Couples fight more about money than any other topic. Sex is a close second, but money wins that dubious honor.

In the last year and a half in addition to my full time job I've been working at every thing I can think of to make extra money to pay off my medical bills. I've rented out my voice and my brain. I've sold artwork and writing. I've taught people about social networking and given speeches about food traditions. Fortunately, I like doing all these things.

But at the same time I've had to do something I don't like so much - I've had to say "no" to many, many things. I've said "no" to trips, concerts, weekends away, dinners out, lectures, books, and dozens of other things.

The obvious reason was that those things would cost money. The less obvious was that they took time. And I have spent almost all of my waking hours doing something that could generate extra income. However, through this journey I've never given up things like lunches with friends. I contend that may be the only thing that saved my sanity.

By the end of last year I realized I was exhausted and worn to a frazzle, so I decided to try to find more balance. It's still a struggle for me because it's hard to convince myself to spend time doing anything that doesn't make money when I still have bills to pay.

But, that's not the funny thing about money, which is what the title of this post promises. The funny thing about money is that people just do not want to accept that you need to spend your time making it, or that you need to deny yourself fun to save it.

We live in an atmosphere of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," but when you are trying to do that very thing financially, people do not want to hear, "I can't afford that." They are taken aback. They are uncomfortable. They quickly find someone else to do whatever the thing is that they initially wanted to do with you. At some point you have to accept that people did not want to spend time with you - they wanted to do this thing - and when you can't do the thing, you can't spend time with them either.

So, it's a funny thing about money. We all need it. We all know we make it. But we all want to pretend it's a process that we somehow don't have to sully ourselves with. Our paychecks are deposited without us ever seeing them. Our tax forms arrive with no input from us. We pay for things with a plastic card so we never have to actually touch money.

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