Honey

Why my finances are no longer my frenemy

Each week the Honey newsletter includes a column from women and LGBTQ folks in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. We’re always looking for more stories from you. Click here to learn more about how to get published.

By C. J. Wade

Meet Money.

If we were on the dancefloor, our tragic song would be “You Gets No Love” by R&B star Faith Evans.

No matter how hard I tried over the years, Money and I just couldn’t find our groove. Debt and Fear became best friends and wedged their diabolical selves between us. I developed a strong dislike for it, and I was convinced it was allergic to me.

We never had enough of it growing up and when we had it, a stressful string was attached as it flew to the next bill. My mother always tried to shield me from the scarcity, but I knew it was there. I knew she was doing her best with multiple jobs to make ends meet. I knew she wanted to have more and that’s what got her out of bed every morning.

That’s what got me out of bed in the mornings too.

I’ve been working since I was in elementary school and I held three jobs in college. If there was a way to get Money to notice me legally, I was determined to do it. And I loved the way it made me feel. I could give as much as I pleased and buy whatever I wanted. The independence was addictive. On any given day, I could buy $400 worth of shoes and the retail associates knew my name. I could treat someone to dinner and buy their favorite thing and it would make me smile to see them bloom in excitement. I loved having Money at my beckoning call.

But don’t let it fool you, we weren’t friends.

I gave it away more than I saved it.

I drowned in medical bills and it disappeared.

My identity was stolen… twice.

Money couldn’t stick with me long enough to create its flowerchild—Wealth. I worked myself into insomniac habits, mental health strain, and a hamster wheel that took decades to disintegrate. In a typical day, I woke up with Money on my mind like a toxic situationship, wondering where my lover had gone. How was I going to find it? Which penny could I pinch over here to pay the bill over there? Why am I not making enough in my salary to cover the basics? How much can I pay on this medical bill and still have gas to get to work? Calls from creditors invaded my workday and I would answer them honestly – “I don’t have the full amount, but this is what I can pay on this particular date.” Working every day and not having Money as my partner was debilitating and I didn’t know why.

I didn’t have cable television.

I had stopped the shopping spree demon cold in its tracks.

I rarely ate in restaurants.

I could grocery shop and cook a strong meal for $10 (and I still can).

I was in a perpetual survivor mode and it was costing me my health from sunup to sundown.

Then I walked into work to discover I would be without a job in three weeks. The company was dissolving, and I was left with what I had put into my 401k to transfer it wherever I wished. I met with a financial advisor and a broker feeling like a used dishrag. “Listen, I need some help. I work hard every day,” I shared, “and I give generously, so I have no idea why I’m struggling.”

He reviewed my income and expenses and said “Frankly, you don’t make enough money to support yourself. You work hard for too little.” He commended me on managing my budget, but the truth was in the numbers. I was chasing Money that wasn’t going to add up to the bills no matter how many jobs I had. I had to stop chasing Money and start seeking value, my value.

So, how did we work things out? I stopped chasing it.

I realized that Money was waiting for me to work in my favorite careers. It was designed to be a tool, a conduit. That’s why it’s affectionately called currency. As long as you try to restrict it, it can’t breathe goodness into you or anyone else. When I allowed it to flow through me, I was no longer wearing myself out trying to capture “enough” of it. I didn’t have to be exhausted every day from work and be angry about its absence. Money and I could actually be partners in making my dreams come true instead of playing cat and mouse. Over time, I no longer had to be afraid of it being absent in my life. All I had to do was let it flow to me through the opportunities of my gifts and talents.

Everything I love to do, Money walks with it.

Dance.

Writing.

Massage Therapy.

Public Speaking.

Teaching.

Money is right there holding its hand out, waiting for me to accept.

When I wake up in the morning, I don’t think about Money. If I need to move an obligation or not attend an event, I do so without guilt. I set my rates where I need to meet my expenses and my goals. If I have a side hustle, I let it be just that, on the side. It doesn’t dominate my schedule in hopes of collecting Money. That’s what fear wanted me to do. I’ve developed a healthy habit of saying no.

I also developed a mantra: If I don’t have it, I don’t need it because God supplies all of my needs.

That brought peace of mind, restful nights, and freedom to give from a spiritual place. So, I govern what I have, and I pray about what I don’t. Period.

This shift also breathed new life into our relationship, one where Money and I could both dance in sync and smile with value on the ones and twos.

And I intend to keep on dancing.

C.J. Wade is a creative soul and author of the book The Morning After. In addition to managing her massage and wellness practice, she curates inspiration and motivation at www.thewritewade.com and on her podcast Listening at the Speed of Life.

Guest Voices

Authors submit these comments to AL.com and we share them with our audience.

The Reckon Report.
Sign up to receive the Reckon Report newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday.