These are from my Twitter stream yesterday-
I put these on storify for easy reading.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of financial anxiety. I can’t say that it’s reasonable levels of anxiety, but to be honest, this is pretty much the last frontier in terms of things that just Fuck Me Up.
For some extra background, I’ll talk about some of where this particular trauma response comes from.
I’m sure we’ve all heard these supposed ways that we poor folks can save 1000$ dollars a year or whatever shit. These ideas are based on the premise that if we just stop spending “frivolously” we’d have savings.
Even way back when in the mid90s when yours truly was a baby adult trying to figure shit out, I was told that sort of thing. Back then I think the highest paying job I had was about 6.25$ an hour.
Right and I bought it. Even back then. I’d learned to budget in school and my budgets typically were basics, rent first, no cell phone back then so everything after rent (even then I had to pay gentrification prices which is a whole other thing) took up about 75$ of my checks. I spent most of the rest of my checks on things like bus passes, feeding myself (usually the dollar menu at Wendy’s. I could eat to stay alive for 2$ a day it wasn’t okay), and the few vices I had.
At that time my main vices were smoking, appetite suppressant pills (for the energy and to save money on food, I vividly recall mathing that out and finding that it was cheaper to do that rather than eat, also a whole other post) and I really loved to do one day every three weeks or so where I splurged. Usually I’d take five dollars, get a very good coffee and go prowl my favorite used book store for hours until I found the perfect book for under 1.50.
Back then I was deeply committed to trying to financially better myself. I took odd jobs, I stripped under the radar, I worked some other not really above board jobs. What I didn’t understand back then was that even when I was doing stuff under the table, normally it did not work out in my favor. For some jobs, the taxes were enough to pretty much negate my ability to save, etc.
Even then I had the low key understanding of how problematic a lot of these savings schemes are. I didn’t have the language, but I got it.
Most of the ideas and plans for savings I see assume a LOT of things such as but not limited to:
- You have X amount of dollars you spend every day on “frivolities”
- You drive.
- You can afford in the most technical sense (as in having 2.5-3 times your rent in income) to live where you do.
Now a lot of the language around these things is very paternalistic and designed to induce guilt if you as a poor person ever treat yourself to “frivololities”
All of us poor folks have heard it. I got it a lot while I was writing for XOJane because obviously I can’t actually be poor if I ever have a nice thing (a Clarisonic), I waste money because I like makeup, I waste money because sometimes I want a beer or a slurpee, I’m terrible because I “encouraged” poor folks buy themselves things if they want to.
I bring this up because I believed it. Up through my early 30s, I still in my heart believed that my poverty was because I was too ignorant to make good choices, that I was somehow morally inferior to other people. I internalized the things I was taught from childhood up, that mingled together to fuck up my self esteem. It caused me to really spend a lot of time feeling like a shit person because I couldn’t afford things, I couldn’t “stick” to a savings plan, I couldn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps out of poverty.
All of this created a cycle of terror, self hatred, shame and panic that became really vicious. I devalued a lot of the poor folks skills I have/had. My ducks ass tight budgets, my ability to even pre-internet access find ALL them deals, my ability to barter, ways I learned to live a better quality of life while being in poverty. It wasn’t good enough.
Looking back over the years, I’ve endured some financial fuckery. Being stolen from, having a landlord go SUPER mega slumlord and rook me out of about 5K, being rooked out of 3-4.5K in shitty dental work. Things that were huge and ruined my entire life.
Fast forward to right now.
I have done a lot of work on this. I have spent so much time reteaching myself and figuring out what I actually believe.
Thus lately I’ve been struggling. I have a deep desire to improve the quality of the life my partner and I are living. We need some stuff and haven’t been able to afford all of it and it sent me into a bit of a shame spiral.SO I was doing that thing, the obsessive balance checking, the self loathing because there was personal self-care stuff I needed, shame because I also need some other stuff like pants and shoes.
But the silver lining is that after my obsessive checking and budgeting, I realized today that we’re 100% on target this month and last month. There has been a dip in my side hustle income through not much fault of my own, but, damn it we’re doing the damn thing.
I am able to plan for my partner’s birthday, we are eating good, satisfying food, I got partner new pants and supplied with his preferred medications.
AND today I realized that I have a little bit of enough mad money to get a new pair of walking shoes and maybe some facial masks.
I realized today that holy fucking shit I am DOING THE DAMN THING. No, I can’t afford to buy name brand shoes, I can’t afford to move and I’m still living in poverty, but I am not living in miserable poverty.
There’s less coming in but life is good.
That is huge.
Okay, if you struggle with this sort of thing, y’all- it can get better. If I can learn to not abuse myself and let myself live a better quality of life because I fucking deserve it, not because I’ve “earned” it..you can too.
I leave y’all with this.
Image is a gold star with the text “Congratulations” on top and on bottom “you did the thing”
I love y’all. The next post I’m gonna have some natural hair struggle bus updates, soon another wig review and I’ll give some beginner hair care tips I wish someone had given me.
[<a href=”//storify.com/Weebeasty/poor-kid-feels” target=”_blank”>View the story “Poor Kid Feels” on Storify</a>]