Seeing as how I have already talked about religion and politics, I suppose I can’t do much more harm by addressing the last traditionally taboo topic: money.
Considering the wretched financial state of the country, though, it seems that no one has felt that money is such a taboo topic anymore. And my own personal finances are really probably not much different from any other young adult first attempting to navigate a financial plan (or lack thereof) for the first time as a Big Girl. It seems, however, that it is finally that time in my life when I need to come to terms with a seemingly inevitable post-graduation situation for my chosen career path: being broke.
It’s not that I am not working, I’m working plenty. It’s that the school districts I work for take their sweet time dispersing my check (lump sum? divided over a few weeks? Your guess is as good as mine! Yayyy...) I am part nervous, part aggitated, part genuinely appreciating the frugality I now have no other choice but to embrace. Things like choosing my favorite brand of conditioner somehow seem far less significant than it did before.
I have, however, learned a few valuable lessons in the last month of being pretty damn poor. The first, and probably most important for me, personally, is that I spend A LOT of money going out to eat. I think my conscience knew it, but I justified it by telling myself that I deserve it, and that I work hard. Which, I do, but I am beginning to realize that there are ways to treat myself which don’t involve chinese food, a surprise trip to chipotle, or a new pair of shoes. I actually have not been too upset at having to reel in my spending habits. I am also realizing that the resulting money in the bank is a security blanket that I absolutely cannot be without, given my profession choice. I know the money will come in, but I need to be prepared for the worst, because if I don’t, I’ll keep getting stuck and never go anywhere on the road of financial security, if I can even get on that road at all.
Throughout the month of no money, I had really thought that I was handling the stress well. I was in a decent mood, I didn’t spend anything, and I knew that I needed to be more careful. It finally got to me though, the week rent was due. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed all week, and couldn’t shake the grump off my shoulders, knowing that I would spend my last pennies on rent. Then, after Mat had done a few rounds of trying to cheer up, and I noticed he started mentioning job opportunities at retail stores, I realized it was time for a talk. It’s always been in the back of my mind that money is the number one cause for divorce, so I really wanted to make sure we could talk through issues like this effectively. We actually had a really amazing talk, and came up with a plan on how to manage what little money we make. It felt really awesome to be able to work together and figure out our problems together (like real big kids!).
I’m not gonna lie: reality just handed my super gung-ho post graduation attitude a nice fat slap in the face. Yeah, we’re making what we want to do work, but I am realizing it’s not easy. Like, for real though. It’s a constant revising of scheduling, weeding out what doesn’t work and what does’t pay enough. I still maintain, however, that it’s worth it. In my more somber moments this week, I’ve wondered why I couldn’t have just found a higher paying career, and then immediately answered myself with a resounding, “because this is AWESOME!” So, lesson learned. I’ve also bemoaned the fact that some of my high school jobs seem a little dead ended, i.e. they’ve all got much bigger financial problems, too big to care about anything else, including the new ensembles I’ve started, concerts I’ve put on, and the vast improvement in musicality. Even so, it’s not always about finding one place and staying, or even whether you receive recognition necessarily or not. I know sometimes I’ll have to move around, and maybe even move on, eventually. That’s life. Kids are great, I love hanging out with them and teaching them about stuff that’s awesome. It’s a sweet deal. A deal that FH and I will have to make some sacrifices for, but I know we both see the immense value in loving our working lives.
So it’s a couple weeks later, my long awaited checks have finally come in, and I’m ready to stick to a plan. The best part it, though, that I was able to work with my FH to talk through a plan that will work for us together (insert sappy “awwww!”s). And I got to realize yet again how super awesome he is and what a great team we make. Go us. :)