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Financial Stress

Ordinarily I tend to do my writing in the evenings. I’ll sit down and let flow some of the thoughts that have filled my mind during the day before heading off to bed. Today I find myself nearly overwhelmed with thoughts and concerns and I haven’t even finished my morning coffee yet. What has me so worked up this morning you wonder? Well, it’s never a good start to the day when you wake up to a notification from your bank that informs you that your account is over drawn. All those checks you wrote out for the bills last week and you thought had all cleared, well you missed one and the extra cash you thought you had to buy a few extra groceries and fill your gas tank more than half way for once was actually not “extra” … It was the money you’d allocated for the internet bill. Shit.

Oh yah, and then there was the email from the pre-school my daughter attended last summer that just decided to inform me that there were a couple weeks for which there is an outstanding balance remaining. Gee, thanks for your prompt notification on the matter. The upside, if it can be called that, is that I know for a fact I wasn’t responsible for paying for all three of those weeks. One for sure, maybe two but at least one was my ex-wife’s responsibility. Was she listed on the email though? Nope, of course not. To give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she was sent an email as well. Will that really change anything though? Eh, probably not. This is the same woman who was meant to have taken our last state tax return and used it for the local and school taxes we owed. That didn’t happen, she used it, not on our daughter, but on herself evidently.

Now that last part is not an assumption on my part, I know it because that’s what she told me when I called to ask why I was getting a notice saying the amount we owed was being sent off to the attorney general for collections. I went ahead and paid it with the understanding that she’d pay me back. That hasn’t happened yet either, so I don’t have high hopes regarding this new additional sum of money owed to the pre-school.

Add both of those to trying to figure out how you were going to come up with even more money so you could pay the subscription fee and get your blog out there just compounds the problem. Some, or possibly even most, people can tell themselves “well, I get paid this Friday so I guess it will have to come out of that”. This isn’t really the case for people like me though. I own a tattoo shop and offer reflexology/massage services as well as taking the occasional welding job when it comes along. I can’t just head in to work and have any expectation of being compensated for that time. Nor can I just make a client decide they want a tattoo or a healing session just because I need to make some dough.

In so many ways, I absolutely love my life and being able to work on my own terms doing something I really truly enjoy. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want to get paid to do something they love when and how they want to do it? The potential for problems comes in the “getting paid” part of the equation though. That constant wondering “will I make enough” is stressful. Generally speaking, I try to think of it as a good stress because I can remind myself that I’m doing what I love and free to do what I wish, when I wish. Other days I have to wonder, would it be so much easier just to go get a job working for someone else and let them worry about keeping the business profitable?

When these days happen, I often find myself browsing online job postings and calling the provided phone numbers to find out more about the opportunity to see if it would be something I could tolerate. I’ll call and they’ll explain all of the benefits and merits of the job and how the employer is very interested in really taking care of their employees and then they drop the bottom line; “____ Employer is willing to start you out at $X.XX with opportunities for a raise once or twice a year”

This is usually the point at which I start to end the conversation as politely and quickly as possible. “Wow! Well it’s no wonder you have job openings!” I think to myself. I’m not opposed to working hard or working a job that I find far from intellectually stimulating but if I’m going to do that, I better be getting compensated for my time in a manner that I can actually support myself and my daughter in. With most of the jobs I come across, they’d be perfectly sufficient to meet my financial needs IF I had about half of the monthly expenses, or If there was someone else to be home with my daughter while I was off working a third shift position.

Next, I’ll usually look at said monthly expenses and see if there is anything else I can feasibly minimize. Rent? Not so much. Short of buying a house and having a mortgage (an option that my post-divorce credit score prevents) there’s not much I can do there. With the dogs and all the tools in my welding shop (aka my garage) there’s not really a better option. The options that would be available even if I was willing and able to downsize further aren’t much less expensive than what I have now. Plus, I’d have to give up the garage, the decent sized fenced in yard, a bedroom or two, and the benefit of not sharing a wall with neighbors and having to listen to whatever shenanigans they were up to.

“What exactly is the point of this little rant?” you might be asking yourself. Aside from my using this space as a means of getting things that have been rattling around the ol’ brainpan out so that I can make use of the gray matter between my ears, I want to let you know that you’re not alone in your own struggles. If I wrote happy, positive, oh-look-at-how-great-my-life-is shit all the time you might get discouraged and think to yourself “well, I’m glad his life is all sunshine and unicorn farts but some of us actually have to deal with some shit on occasion.”

You’re not alone, life sucks for all of us sometimes. The only thing you can control about the situation sometimes is how you choose to react to it. Personally, what seems to work for me is to sit down and write out whatever is in my head so that I can let it go (Damn it, now I’m going to be mentally singing like Elsa all day). For those that don’t already know, stress affects your body and your brain and people tend not to think as clearly during these times. I’m not yet at the point where a nice vigorous work out helps (mostly since I don’t exactly work out) so I pick this. If you’re stressed and feel at the end of your rope, instead of trying to solve all your problems at once, I’d suggest finding a way to get the stress part out of the equation as much as possible so you can work through its causes one at a time in a productive manner. Take a shower, take a nap, meditate for a little bit, hell, go spend a little “quality time” with yourself (if ya know what I mean, wink wink). Do whatever works for you to push reset and then come back and take it one step at a time.