Should I begin with the part where I found out yesterday that I’d been overpaying on a bill for fourteen years?* Or the part where last summer I paid the rent amount to the cable provider by accident? Or the October when we didn’t have to make a car payment because I’d accidentally overpaid on it the entire year before? Or should I focus instead on the part where I have a stack of medical bills that I can’t fathom how to work the budget to pay for? Or maybe the inevitable last week of every month where I put off Man Cub’s allowance until the coming Monday and scrape quarters out of the maneki neko to cover a pack of cigarettes while trying to figure out when I’ll next be able to buy ink for the printer?

I don’t open my bank statements if a poke into our on-line banking will do.  I don’t open the statements from Man Cub’s college fund account more than once or twice a year because the market’s been awful and I’m afraid of what I might find.** I have a text alert set up with the bank so that I know when the balance on the account dips below $200 so that I know when to panic properly. Once a month I pay the bills and the rent, and I feel like a grownup – a very broke grownup, but a grownup nonetheless. Then I talk to my brother, who works for Fidelity, and I feel like a kid who has to fill out paperwork once a week so the temp agency will send me my allowance.

The money is weird.

Part of the problem, I think, is that tho’ I understand the value of a dollar, I don’t really understand money itself – like how to make it work, how to not be emotionally attached to it in such a way that discussing it makes me break out in hives. I’m working on a Very Big Project right now, and thank gawd I have someone who knows how the money operates working with me, because there’s a distinct possibility that I might actually be afraid of the green stuff on some level.

That sounds bizarre, right? It sounds bizarre to me, for sure. I mean, I’m averagely responsible with money – it’s rare we bounce checks,  the utilities stay on, and we eat well enough; none of us is prone to exorbitant splurges*** or anything. But I always seem to be on this teeter-totter where I’m worried about having enough money and at the same time worried about asking for more than my share – for example, grants writing makes me physically tired and literally queasy when I hit the budget part. And then, inevitably, whoever’s looking over it says I’m asking for too little. I’ve spent years having to ask other organizations to act as fiscal agents for grants our poetry reading series applies for in order to tone down my direct dealings with the cash.****

But the Very Big Project is approaching, and I think it’s about time I get a grip on this whole how-money-works stuff. So I hereby proclaim that this is the year I learn money, and learn to invite fiscal prosperity in. I put forth a goal to myself to become comfortable with being prosperous, and to recognize that the things I want to do are not only really great in the social sense, but also worth the money to realize, and so worthy of asking for money to make happen. I vow to get comfortable with accepting money.  I also vow to pay my bills from here out, to the penny instead of rounding up.

Ok, big year, here we go.

***

*Yes, fourteen years. 14. I found out when I called Earthlink to investigate our hacked email accounts, and was asked to verify the last two payments made. By my records I owed them some money (honestly, I thought the account had been shut down because I forgot to pay the bill – this happens sometimes) and was unable to. It appeared that someone else had made payment on the account. Turns out it was Earthlink – they were paying on the account with money accrued over the decade and some that I had rounded up to the nearest dollar on payment. They’re mailing me the surplus now that I’ve cancelled the account – fer Pete’s sake, we haven’t actually used their dial-up services we’d been paying on in, well, a decade; I’d just not wanted to have to change my email address. Jeebus. This is the kind of thing that happens, I guess, when I go paperless with billing. x.x Also, we at No 208 have now changed our email addresses.
**We may or may not have a semester covered with books. The child will graduate high school in four years. I wish we could have put the extra money that was going to Earthlink in that Scholars Choice account instead. See? I’m already sweaty, just contemplating student loans.
***A splurge for us is buying the occasional lamb chops on manager’s special, or $30 on magazines twice a year. Seriously, we don’t get extravagant. I’m not even sure we would know what to do with extravagant in the conventional sense.
****I love paying performers and participants – I can say with sincerity that I derive great joy from paying performers and participants. That’s about where it starts and ends.

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