money money money, must be funny

money1So I keep thinking to myself, “I really want to write a post about money. And about not having any. And how much that sucks, how much it messes with your head in a culture that loves to sell things to people, that’s all about conjuring desire for things.”

And then the other voice in my head says, “Yeah, but what are you going to say beyond that? You don’t have time to do research on poverty and mental health, or go finding the statistics to back stuff up. It would just be your thoughts on money, so what? You should be concentrating on your schoolwork! Then you can get a job, and you can stop worrying so much about money, ya twit!” (Come to think of it, that voice is kind of a jerk – why do I listen to it, anyway?)

I don’t have the time to do a bunch of research, its true. And I’m hot on the heels of yesterday’s Multitude Monday post, which is all about finding the things in life to be happy about, so I don’t want you to think I’m a downer.

But, I really do want to talk about money. And about how tight things are financially for a lot of people. Including me. This winter I’ve been broke, pretty much the entire time. Saying this on the Internet feels a little bit like I’m blabbing secrets about my sex life — makes me feel a little too vulnerable, if you know what I mean.

(I also want to say that I’m not looking for advice on managing my finances, because I get that from my Credit Union and from my Mom, and I think I’m doing as good as I can be, given the circumstances.)

But, even though it makes me feel vulnerable, I think it’s important to talk about it in the open, not just hush-hush in private conversation. If we all are going around thinking “Everyone else has it more together than me!” then we’re beating ourselves up for no reason. How much stress would you let go of, if you knew that most of the people around you were just as deep into their overdraft and credit cards as you? I think that in order to “dream big” as an individual or as a community, you’ve got to be able to look at where you are right now, and own it. And tell the truth of that place, of what it’s like to be at the start of a journey.

Since the coal and steel industries petered out and ended, Cape Breton has been known as an economically-depressed area. There are some businesses doing well here, for sure. But overall there is a reason people are leaving to go out west. That’s where the money is. And our overall culture, the North American capitalist culture, runs on people spending money. From big corporations to small mom-and-pop places, the whole economy, the engine that employs people and gets work done, runs on you and I opening our wallets and hooking up our bank accounts to automatic withdrawals, and spending.

So no wonder there are ads everywhere you turn. And no wonder I feel like a failure if I have to say to someone, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that simple, cheap activity with you, because I actually can’t afford it.” I mean, I’m pretty good with my money. I shop in thrift stores part of the time, I’m a little impulsive but I do think about things I’m buying, and I keep track of my spending in a cheque-book and online. But, even still, my bank account is a sad dry well, getting partially filled up every two weeks from EI, and then quickly depleted again with the regular bills of a relatively-simple modern life.

As for what to do about it, well, I think talking about it is a start. And from there, I can work on my attitudes towards money, and re-thinking what I’m spending money on and why. I want new clothes because I feel good in them, for sure. It sucks to have only two pairs of jeans, neither one fashionable, and just not have the funds to go buy a new pair, now or for several more months. But, it’s not the end of the world. That’s where things like Multitude Monday and gratitude journals come in. To remind myself that while money may matter, some things — like a roof over our heads, warm food in our bellies, and just having one another — matter more.

As always, thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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11 Responses to money money money, must be funny

  1. Angela says:

    Money is just one of those things, isn’t it? You are either making it or spending it.
    I know what you are going through. I’ve been there. But I’ve also been much, much lower than where you are right now.
    It took changing my habits, my desires, but most importantly-my thoughts and beliefs about money, before I made any significant progress.
    Abundance is created through gratitude, through working, and through asking.
    It’s very true that we live in a historically economically depressed culture here, where settling is as commonplace as Tim Hortons. But, that doesn’t have to be your legacy, and you don’t have to leave (unless you choose to) in order to create a good living.
    I don’t want to sound all New Age-y, but the truth is, before you can accept not living in poverty, you have to change your thoughts.
    You are as qualified and deserving as anyone to reap financial benefits…but first, you need to believe that. And THAT is the hardest part.

    • leahcnoble says:

      That’s a very good point, Angela. I think in a way when you’ve never really had much, you’re sort of afraid of what it will be like to actually have money to spend, and to manage! So part of it is mental, for sure. Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. Krista says:

    I keep thinking “when I get a full time job, I’ll be fine” and “if I just get that raise, it’ll be okay” and “once I pay down my loans, things will be great” but the bills never disappear completely and with every increase in wages comes a new expense (get the car fixed, buy a house, pay for cat surgery, etc.). I think it’s good to try to enjoy life within our means, to know that being financially free-and-clear is a luxury very few of us will ever attain, and to recognize the income-earning potential we’ve gained from years of hard work, education, side projects, etc., and to continue to pursue those endeavours because even if they don’t pay off in a monetary way, they add to the fulfillment of our lives and our communities.

  3. Hey Leah…I love reading all your posts and I do, faithfully….and sometimes I feel compelled to drop a wee note! this is one of those times! Your words so resonated with me and your present circumstances are so familiar to me. Maybe you remember that like you, I returned to do a college education at your age…I was 30 and headed into full time study at Sheridan to be become a potter! Perhaps a big part of the difficulty is that there once was a time when you were earning more money and you were more able to keep things balanced….most folks go to college/university right out of school and they haven’t had the experience of being in a more financially stable place, and they haven’t had as much independence as those in the workforce. So part of your challenge is going to be making these adjustments, and knowing there is an end in sight. that doesn’t make it any easier in the present. Not sure I have any words of advice (and as you say you are not really asking for that) and it seems like you are doing all that you can to deal with a very stressful situation. Because there is no doubt about it, having money worries is terribly stressful, and I have to tell you that heading into self employment brings with it a whole bunch of uncertainties (like you didn’t already know this!!!). But, I would totally encourage you to keep going, keep working at little ways to reduce your stress….and never mind that your jeans aren’t top fashion….you look gorgeous any which way 🙂
    love Linda x

  4. Suzanne says:

    A couple of years ago I was robbed and for a few days had no bank card, no cheques, very little cash, and no ID — and it was AMAZING how much of a nonperson I was in the eyes of all merchants — and even other customers. A subhuman. Everyone eyed me suspiciously even though I was dressed and clean and so forth. It made me realize that discrimination is not about race or whatever — it’s about how much money you have, or even just pretend to have.

  5. larry says:

    Hi Leah,

    I had a long conversation last night with a fella who is in the same boat. And he’s not in Cape Breton, but in rich Ontario. He is at a point where it’s his apartment or his car and is living on next to nothing. Granted, he may be better off in the near future, if he can work things out, but that isn’t certain. He told me he would be so happy if he was able to read his favourite books and relax some, without having to worry about where is next dollar is going to come from.

    Being a writer is a great way to understand this poverty thing. You can just look the famous writers up and read all about how many of them were destitute and were just happy to have a roof over their heads, a few clothes and enough or almost enough food to survive.

    Fortunately, I plan on living like Stephan King. I also dream a lot.

    Good luck, Larry http://www.larryagibbons.com/blog.html

    Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 10:01:20 +0000 To: wolfcoug@hotmail.com

    • leahcnoble says:

      Thanks Larry for reading and for writing! Both your comment here, and your writing in general. It’s fantastic. And you’re right, being a writer is a great way to understand poverty. I hope your friend is doing OK.

  6. Regina says:

    Thank you so much for accepting my request to be a part of this Club. I am originally from Germany, spend the winter in Florida and the summer on Cape Breton Island. Thanks again!

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