Money… it makes the world-go-round, it is a necessity to survive. Money can cause feelings of jealousy, create competition or leave you with feelings of joy. Some use money as a source of emotional therapy by spending it to fill a void.
My relationship with money has been, well… interesting. Let me explain…
I got my first job the week I turned 15, it was at a fast food restaurant and I made $6.45 an hour. Let me tell you, I thought I struck it rich! This girl had money to spend on clothes, makeup and movies!!! In my first year of working, I spent every penny I made and I mean every penny. Within days of getting my paycheck I would have whopping $1.50 left in my bank account. I worked as much as I could, picking up shifts and staying later just to have more money to spend.
Naturally, my parents were concerned. I remember them telling me I better start saving some of that money, I will need it for university. I remember thinking to myself, “Phff, I have lots of time to save money! Do they know how much I even get paid?? I make lots!!” Oh the wisdom, right?! My whole $200 bi-weekly paycheque…
To my parents credit, they always taught my brother and I financial knowledge. They would teach us the difference between a need and a want, provide us a modest allowance and make us use our allowance to pay for wants.
After a year of working my first job by I started looking into careers. I would attend my Guidance Counselor’s office frequently, taking personality and interest testing, trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. During that process, the topic of cost started to come up. The Counselor would give me booklets on schools that contained the estimated cost of your first year of school. An emotional breakdown ensued, not only did I have no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but the cost was huge! It was my light blub moment.
I started to save almost every penny I made. I picked up a second part-time job where I could do my homework while I was at work to ensure my grades didn’t drop. Saving started to become a game. That game started to become an obsession. My parents saw my behaviour swing the opposite way completely, I was beginning to become money obsessed and they were equally as concerned as before. I am sure they were thinking, “Can’t the girl find a happy medium??”
My approach towards money from the time I was 16 until today hasn’t changed much. Saving money is a security blanket for me and I am not sure that is a good thing. I have a very difficult time treating myself to luxuries or rewarding myself for working hard. There is a guilt that surrounds spending money on wants, which I believe is equally as unhealthy as spending everything you make. Mentally and emotionally you beat yourself up for spending money on yourself, it is unhealthy. That is not to say I haven’t achieved some great things because of my ability to save but there is always a flip side to everything.
Being the Budgeting Queen that I am, I have started to provide myself a weekly allowance. Those allowances are to treat myself. I don’t spend that money every week but I do treat myself more often than I used. I am working my way towards that healthy middle ground and slowly, I am getting there.
Money plays a different role in everyone’s life, some healthier than others. It is important to understand your relationship with money regardless of what those feelings or behaviours may be.