There is so much shame around money, or I should say money, just like food is so fucking emotional. At least it is for me. So just for posterity I will bold all those “emotion” words.
When my wife died in 2012 I contributed equally to the household but I was not the breadwinner. See, lesbian, bisexual, gay, straight, in a partnership roles just need to be filled by a warm body. So many times she reminded me of this but I could somehow never feel equal because I was not bringing in anywhere close to the same income. I wrote for Pink Play Magazine, I had a private practice but it was grocery money, not her unionized job with the city. I had never secured a career that supported me which was disheartening and sometimes humiliating. So it goes when you are the kid who feels like they will always have to be supported, as if it were the only option.
When our son came along I was the primary care giver so I was suddenly slammed at work and Kara felt poor for time with him. This is the time honoured struggle for a two parent home with kids. When she died I suddenly found myself living on her pension and social assistance programs which I was very grateful to have!!!This is when the enormity of what we called reality hit. I have always been lucky, I had affluent parents that had saved for my University education. While everyone around me seemed to be obliged to be on OSAP (a students first source of debt) I did not. This was when I really had my eyes opened to just how damn lucky I am.
With me a widow and my house falling down around me it was then I, ironically, decided to buy a house with my first year university roommate Erin. The one who told me she was flabbergasted that I made long distance calls in the daytime. Like my wife who said the “no name is the same as the brand name.” Erin was suddenly on the task and that is when I secured my first job since 2005, when I learned just how important a source of income was for my self esteem and sense of value.
I was still in a pickle. I was never good at balancing my budget and any debts incurred either by necessity or habit were taken care of for me. I really started to get a handle on what a blissfully ignorant state I was still shaking off. The state known as upperclass white privilege. I am still very privileged to have two families who are ready to lend their support when they can. However I am continually filling the gap between the theory of budgeting and its practical application. Erin, who has a head for numbers has over the last five years been helping me get closer and closer to it, cutting through the shame and emotional pitfalls of feeling like I have failed somehow. She reminds me “how can I apply to life what I never learned to do? It’s a learning curve!”
I was never that successful with Mint, the first budgeting system I used that my cousin Wendy introduced me to even though I was so embarrassed that she was looking at my finances. Now I co-own a house and share the bills I have been obliged to change this, thank goodness. Credit cards are not the devil but they can be so unconsciously overused. Plus they are way too abstract a concept for me. And so we are trying the envelope system, or the digital version of the envelope system You Need a Budget (YNAB).
Basically you have bills to pay but you can’t spend what you don’t have, it does not manage your money it just shows you what you have to manage and how to allocate funds. When you get money you assign it jobs or envelopes so you can see what you have left over to work with instead of shockingly hitting the bottom of the barrel and thinking “oh shit I fucked up.”
I am starting not to panic. Lots of people live pay cheque to pay cheque. As a person I know starting with “ther” and ending with “apist” says, “no Kelly you are not up shit creek, you are resourceful.” This month I am proud to say my bills are paid, I have no debt and even though I don’t have much in the bank I can still go to the market to buy fruit, damn it. I went into my tip jar this morning and counted $40 in change. So I would respectfully like to say to my younger self,
You are strong, you are smart, you are resourceful, you are blessed, you are sure as hell getting there and you have nothing to be ashamed of! So failure can fuck off.
Man I love f-bombs.