I’ve been kind of obsessed with Money lately. Not so much acquiring it but more so financial freedom. Managing what I have better. I looked at my credit card recently and thought “What the hell did I buy?” Mostly pastries and coffee according the transactions but I digress. I’m done with that. I want to DO better. So, tonight, I googled “Keys to Financial Freedom” and my web browser crashed. Bad omen.
There’s been a lot of talk, mainly since the financial crisis of 2007-2008 about the concentration of wealth among a small sector of the population. Along with my fellow Americans, I went through the stages of grief as I watched the news day after day and took note of all the bailouts (also known as the government giving away our money to business who fail because they’re shitty) and I got angry. And as my anger tends to do, it started with an overflow of complete irrationality that eventually resolved itself to something adjacent to reality.
I’d love to think that my last name will become Zuckerberg, I’ll have a closet full of Fruit of the Loom tees and bring the gift of the interwebs to little African children but that most likely will not happen.
I often talk about going “off the grid” but I know that I like my Chock Full O’ Nuts and HGTV too much to ever really go further than Prospect Park.
I’m pretty average. So i’ll likely do average things, that earn average money, which needs to be managed in an above average prudent sort of way.
Prudence? Did someone call my Dad?
Yes, the most frugal people I know are my dear old Dad and my dear old Dad-in-law. So my Husband and I went to them first.
Scene: Picture me. Sensible shoes. Maternity shirt, although thou art not pregnant. Sitting perched at the edge of my seat. Waiting with baited breath for the secret. Maybe an undetected yet intricate ponzi scheme. Maybe a drug hustle on the side. Maybe they invested in the market of stocks. Perhaps they trademarked the Apple name back in the 70’s and wala!
Scene: Dad stops watching TV for a second. “Stop spending so much. Pay off your debt. Don’t get anymore debt. Save your money.”
Patience? Follow through? Sacrifice? This big bad evil thing called money that’d i’d been fighting since I got my first tiny check from my cashier job at 16 years old. The nemesis that forced my acquaintance with Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac in College. The foe that made me have cancel MTV documenting my daughter’s first birthday on “My Sweet 16”. It’s not really the enemy at all…instead it’s me.
It’s not lost on me how shockingly Christian that advice was. Money is simply an extension of the people who control it. Money is not evil. Money has been used to do significant things (see: interwebs and African children). Alternately, it has also been used to place politicians and entire political parties into the pockets of a few who have a vested interest in self preservation instead of global conservation. Bottom Line: If a few of us (read: all of us) get smart about what (and who) we give our few dollars we can shift the economy. Whether it feels that way presently or not, it’s the honest truth.
As a millenial, we are inundated with information about whats new, whats hot, whats needed and who has it. It’s everywhere. Decades ago you didn’t know your cousin who’s 5 years younger than you got married and purchased a home until a carrier pigeon brought a note to the family home during supper. But today it’s instant, in your face, and the crappy feeling of failure is instant. We compete with one another and society as whole. When we compete we borrow. We spend more than we have. The cycle is vicious my friends.
Cash rules everything around me and it’s important to me that my average money go to extraordinary things. By saving–by allocating my money where it counts, I maintain control. Therefore, I’ve embarked on a bare necessities challenge for myself and my family. It loosely means that I will only purchase what I need, when I need it for the next year. My husband is not aware of this but I’m 3 days in and so far I’ve done my own manicure and pedicure and I’m figuring out how to tackle my own natural hair via Youtube Videos. I may look like Celie told Harpo to beat me for the next year but it will get better. But in the long run I, and my children, and generations will be better off for it. And you can’t take that away from me. Makidada.