Money Anxiety

Remember the phrase “money is the root of all evil”? I don’t believe that in the conservative religious sense, that entails that money is literally a demon of which a certain fiery death would come to those who seek after it. Instead, I have come to the conclusion that money sucks a lot. Before the metaphorical injection of metabolic steroids into free market capitalism that produced the three headed monster of consumerism, money was just a means to secure what you needed to survive. A roof over your head, food to eat and clothes on your back, but today money has become more valuable than the earth itself and even the life on it. Large corporations exploit sweat shops that pay workers pennies and dimes to whip out the clothes that we will eventually find in the dumpster. These workers have a roof over their head, yes, but some go to work every day afraid that it’s going to collapse on them. Don’t get me started on how much of an environmental hazard this is. Why is this happening? For large companies to save a buck, or to put MORE money into CEO’s pockets? We work an obscene 40 hours a week in a job we probably can’t stand to make money. Money detracts from the larger picture of our purposes in life and can turn the kindest of intentions in our lives sour. As an ex-shopaholic, I know very well the dangers of using money for quick pleasure.

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When I was in college, money was scarce. I made about 60 bucks a week at my part-time job, which gave me a bit of pocket change to go out with friends. Every week, 60 dollars was direct deposited, then spent the next day on dinner with friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with hanging out with friends! The trouble was that I made a subconscious habit of making money then promptly spending it. Shopping became therapeutic for me. The stresses of college life pushed me into the clothing stores, where I would then peruse the selection of finely stitched fabrics and materials that would lead to my inevitable undoing.  I saw a bag, then a top, then some shoes. Like a ballet, I danced around the store in my blissful naivety adding more and more items to my cart until everything was right with the world. At least it was before I heard, “your total is $104.70.” That’s where everything goes wrong. That’s where it always goes wrong. Upon hearing those words, the reality of my frivolous spending and blatant disregard for other, more important, financial responsibilities slaps me in the face like a wet glove, and my stomach sinks with dread. Every. Single. Time.

After leaving the store, I was stuck with the enviable task of managing the rest of my finances now that there was a hole in my bank account. It wasn’t pretty. It never is. Since then, I have realized that my proclivity for excessive spending is a response to money anxiety. I hate dealing with money and I hate that it runs my life. It was as though I just wanted to be rid of all of it in return for stuff I actually wanted. I didn’t see the value in money, and today I still don’t. Sure I recognize that I need it to survive, but that is all and that’s all I treat money as. I get what I need, and a few fun things, then save the rest. I can no longer deal with the anxiety of buying things. The quickly come and gone gratification that clothes awarded me was a vicious cycle that I could not afford. So I have to live simpler. Do you have anxieties about money? How have you learned to deal with it? What advice would you have to those who are afraid of dealing with money?

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