I know that sounds ridiculous. Maybe you don’t believe me; I mean, money has never been a huge concern for me as an adult. I owe a debt of gratitude to Geoff for working so hard to make that possible.
But trust me when I tell you that money is a struggle for me. Or, rather, it used to be a huge concern. I grew up dirt poor. Because of her anxiety, my mom couldn’t work outside the home. She didn’t much go outside the home, remember? She received disability, food stamps, Section 8, and occasional gifts from my Bubbie. She sewed small things for a lady with a craft shop.
I grew up poor to the point where not-money had a lot of power over me. I carpooled to school because my mom didn’t have a car, and I lived in fear of being left behind. I was embarrassed about receiving FREE lunch at school. I never had any new clothes unless my Bubbie bought them for me. I missed field trips because my mom had no money for them.
My mom did an amazing amount with the small bit of money she had every month. But the fact was that every single grocery item got tallied up before getting in the checkout line, and the fact is that paying too much attention to money to this day makes me panic.
When I was a kid, I never starved but I did go hungry. There were no snacks and meals were small. My mom did her absolute best. She did better than that. She made our bread, she made all sorts of things from scratch. My mom showed me just how much you can make from almost nothing.
When I was a kid, Bubbie would periodically swoop in and take my mom and me to restaurants or to the mall for shopping sprees. Money was how Bubbie showed her love. She redecorated my mom’s apartment twice. On my birthday every year, she’d buy me a large savings bond, until she stopped.
Bubbie made me hate money. She didn’t mean to, but it happened anyway. She made it so I still don’t trust people giving me money. To this day, I’d much rather give a gift than sell something. And I only buy what I absolutely need. I hate the mall, hate shopping. I barely ever make a grocery list, let alone count up what I’m buying before I get in the checkout line.
Luckily, I have a fairly good, but not perfect, sense of what I need, of what my family needs. I kind of emotionally gauge my purchases and I resist many of my urges to buy things. It’s not a failproof system. But I have kind of insulated myself against money.
In my dream world, there is no money and everyone barters for what they need, because I like to negotiate and I hate money.