She works hard for the money

Here’s the thing…

Sometimes I worry about not having enough money. Not enough for later when I am ‘old’. This worry is not new, and has variations on a life-long theme of “there is not enough”. And “there’s something wrong with me”.

Recently, I checked my bank account and was unpleasantly surprised to see I was in overdraft by $42.00.  This pissed me off because I thought I knew how much was in my ‘working’ account. I noticed my immediate reaction was a barrage of “I am a failure when it comes to managing money. When will I ever learn?  Everyone else knows what they are doing and doesn’t fuck up like this” and so on – with attendant feelings of shame and anger.

My parents argued about money when they thought I was sleeping.  Through the wall, I could hear them shouting. I knew it had something to do with me.  I was a burden.  ‘If I hadn’t been adopted into the family then there would be less arguments and more money. Would I be sent back if there wasn’t enough? If I wasn’t enough?’ Next morning nothing was spoken. I too was silent and pretended all was well.  I learned that speaking of money generates fear, shame and anger. As soon as I was able, I managed the emotions by reading everything in sight. And I waited. Maybe my ‘real’ parents will come and get me?

I left school when I was fifteen. How the hell does a small town girl with little education or financial literacy get by in the wide world? I adapted and became emotionally and oftentimes financially, dependent on men. I was afraid to be alone. I became a serial monogamist. Mostly. Consequently I couldn’t be ‘me’. In a sense,  I had to like what they liked, be quiet and play nice. Defined by my adaptation of ‘I will be whoever I think you want me to be.’ I sold my ‘self.’ In the words of Donna Summer, I worked ‘hard for the money.’ Unsurprisingly, I didn’t learn how to manage money in this context either. I learned to manage the unruly emotions generated by this behaviour, this denial of my true self, by consuming increasingly large amounts of mood altering substances.

I got to a point where the drugs weren’t enough. They had stopped working. That was a nightmare and blessedly I found myself in rehab.The Queen

Long story, short. I made a decision to recover. My life, with the support of like-minded others, transformed. I trained as a social worker and got work that I loved and was good at. Hurrah!!  At last, I was the breadwinner for my two daughters. I was bringing home the bacon.  Me! I thought I had cracked it. Until it dawned on me, I was spending just a bit more than I earned, and had no idea why it was disappearing. I had ‘terminal vagueness’. I was anxious each time I was in the line at the supermarket or standing before an ATM. What if…? I solved this problem by getting a credit card. You can see where this is going…The years passed. Along the way I picked up compulsive shopping FFS! Talk about mood altering? That’s another story. Needless to say, financial wisdom did not come with age. Old habits do indeed die hard. Especially when they are a secret.

What has all this to do with ageing, I hear you ask? Well,the shaming of the ‘the baby boomers’ is upon us. Articles are appearing along the lines of, and I am paraphrasing here, ‘There won’t be enough left because a silver tsunami of unmanageable old people; recipients of all that free education and that plentiful employment; hanging onto jobs, spending the inheritance (in my neck of the woods anyway) on Harley Davidson’s and Deadly Pony handbags, as we gleefully await Winnie’s Golden Ticket, so we can sit on our arses on the Waiheke ferry as we bleed the country dry’.

These days, thank the baby lord, I am learning not to keep secrets. When I noticed I was automatically giving myself shit about the overdraft, I called a friend who knows the pain of being money drunk.  And told on myself. She listened to my story then lovingly reminded me I am not broke(n). To show some mercy.  That it was merely an oversight.

So, the surprise overdraft is not proof that I am not going to be living in poverty and eating cat food, in my dotage. Who knew? Despite that enticing invitation, I decided not to go down that well-worn neural pathway of believing there is not enough. Blessedly, there is a fork in that road. Solvency is my goal. Solvency is a feeling of being comfortable with money, and not careless with it, either. Solvency is about balance money, time and love.

I have a choice today. I have enough.  I am enough.

23 comments

  1. Yes the being ‘funny with money’ is a taboo topic and a source of stress.
    I read an excerpt of your book in Metro Jimmy. Loved it!! Thank you xx
    Immerse yourself in the warm Pacific
    We have enough
    We are enough
    Love xx

    Like

  2. Jim Mahoney · ·

    All of this strikes a nerve, Suzie. I’ve escaped to a low-cost economy and there’s still never enough. I don’t feel guilty about receiving a pension. Actually, I’m a bit pissed off about it because they dock me for living with my wife, when living with a Samoan family in Samoa isn’t a financial asset, it’s the reverse, yet they pay me less than a single person. I’ve paid huge taxes since my early 3os, and next time I’m in NZ I’ll make full use of my gold card without guilt. But I still stress about my “financial illiteracy”, the houses I’ve let slip through my hands, my tendency to buy depreciating assets like cars and boats, etc. The fact is I live beside the Pacific Ocean and go to sleep with the sound of the reef in my ears. I am looked after and look after myself. I am doing the thing I always wanted to do, write a book – in fact I’ve nearly finished – and can walk off my section and do the thing I love most, spearfishing in warm, clear tropical waters. I am lucky, I am blessed. Enough, as you say, is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes! The supermarket queue – the single parent putting back things because it’s gone over the max at the checkout, the fear of there not being enough – never enough. Now I have enough and am scared I’ll somehow blow it without realising it – vaguely- before I’m REALLY old, when I can no longer work my way out of it. I have an affirmation that (mostly) works for me: “I live in an abundant universe and I am sharing in that abundance. I am deserving. All my needs are being met. I am a money magnet”. Magical thinking or creating my own reality? Given that quantum physics is showing that thought does influence action? Since I’ve been saying this on and off for about 15 years my income has tripled and money has come from expected and unexpected sources ….

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  4. Thank you Sarah – that means a lot – and yes, thank god for peers xx

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  5. Thanks Gary😊
    And yes to the coffee☕️☕️

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  6. I grateful you are along for the ride Ngaire x

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  7. You are SO right – ageing ain’t for sissies (said someone famous)😊

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  8. Thanks for listening Johnny😊

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  9. Oh we do loves us some ecstatic misery…:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous · ·

    I know money does not bring happiness ,but I wouldnt mind a bit of the ecstatic misery it brings .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hear ya sis, and it’s good to hear you.

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  12. Gosh this is so true! I hate speaking about money, would rather talk about nearly anything else. Im a fat smoker luckily and unlikely to use my golden ticket for free racketing around the city for too long when I get there. I sometimes think that as I smoke by stealth, gloomily hovering over a rubbish bin so as not to leave evidence of my unmastered nicotine use, whilst trying to not be within 20 feet or so of any being that inhales and exhales.
    Love love love your stuff, thank you for the truth and thank you for the honesty! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anonymous · ·

    The truth resonates. I guess at times all we can do is feel the fear and live life to the full anyway. Ageing is for not for the faint hearted xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ngaire Jermaine · ·

    I relate so much to this. Thanks Suzy.

    Like

  15. So Suzy guess this means I’m buying the coffee! Great article, plenty will identify with the sentiment. Love ya work

    Liked by 1 person

  16. sarah mcdougall · ·

    Great mahi Suzy.yes I hear those “the greedy baby boomers” voices and shorten serenity prayer thm.Good telling how it is for you and a lot for me.Not being on a regular pay cheque by choice of career I often go with allah will provide faith w money and day at a time pay bills.Feeling sated with my age and life today.Thank God and gorgeous peers xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Allan T · ·

    Always good to know i’m not alone… Long time fan, love your work Suzy

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ian Thomson · ·

    I am truly impressed, young Lady. And I do believe that you have nailed it, right there.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Michele · ·

    Love you Suzy x

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Tim Quirke · ·

    Awesome Suzy. I hear your voice as I read it

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Suzy! I LOVE it!!!! So truly you and your voice and beautifully constructed!!! Keep going!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. polaodtc · ·

    Thanks Suzy
    What a great journey to be on

    Like

  23. It’s such a hard thing to speak about. I can speak more easily about other messes I get in to other than the financial ones.
    Thanks for putting it into the light

    Liked by 1 person

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