How many times have you spent money and actually remember what you
spent it on? Yeah I know it’s a rarity these days and while I
always used you say that I wouldn’t become the debit card girl I
have inevitably become just that. I mean this was a time when cash
was the thing and it was cool to see those dead presidents on
green paper with their serious stances and stone walled
expressions. It made you feel accomplished, like your work meant
something and above all important. Hell, it made you a hell of a
lot richer than the next guy who didn’t have a dollar to spare or
even the homeless guy begging on the street.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that I was any better than
the homeless guy on the street but I will say I did in some ways
feel pretty awesome. Then came the plastic, an inevitable death
trap that we would live eat and breathe by; let’s face it, I
spend more money swiping this card than I ever did with cold hard
cash. Why? Because I could see the funds I was throwing away and
therefore knew when to reign in the resources before it was too
late. Online banking is another thing that just kills me. I don’t
see the money coming out and therefore am broke before month’s
end. I hate when there’s more month than money to go around.
So I started to cut my expenses in half and eliminate the luxuries
life had to offer me. And still I was left with nothing but a
sinking feeling in my gut, a tear in my heart and a fire blazing
in my account of over drafts and threats of wage garnishments (due
to student loans of course, but that’s a whole other topic)
because these days our money is gone before it even gets into our
precious hands where we can appreciate the fruits of our labor.
Every week my paycheck is gone before it hits the bank and what am
I left to show for? I am 31 years old and barely making it on my
own. Scoot over Earl I just may have to take the 10a-2p time slot
on your intersection to make ends meet, hope you don’t mind, oh
and by the way I’m going to need to borrow your cup for change!
No unnecessary outside expenses affordable.
My generation is struggling. It pains me every day that I can’t
provide for myself or help loved ones, like my mother in her time
of need who mind you has never asked me for a dime, simply because
my efforts are null and void. Minimum wage is a joke when the cost
of living is sky high. I saw a post on Facebook about what $20
used to get you in groceries and what $20 gets you now and it’s
pathetic. If you can feed your family on a coke and a bag of chips
then I guess we’re all living the high life. I remember when I
used to go to what was then called the penny candy store and leave
out with a brown paper bag full of goods for just $3. Mind you it
was all junk food and my friends and I had stomach aches by the
time we got to lunch…it’s the concept people.
My mom’s boyfriend would by $200 worth of groceries every two
weeks and we were swimming in more food than we knew what to do
with. Things were made to last and jobs were treated like careers
where companies looked out for you and had your best interests at
heart. Vacation time and sick days, good pay and descent hours,
maternity leave without “hours worked” restrictions and even a
personal day or two were part of the financial plan and just
I shop at the dollar store for most things these days and I
specifically look for off brand items while grocery shopping as
well as compare prices to stay under the imaginary budget, that at
the end of my day doesn’t really exist because I am still going
to be -120$ short on my bank statement (for this week anyway) or
running to work on E begging my family for gas money when they
know I just got paid; and they can barely make it, or sacrificing
enjoying time with friends because I don’t want to be humiliated
in the event that wherever we’re planning to go requires I have
cash on hand that doesn’t exist for me to spend. And I know
they’re my friends and sometimes they don’t mind spotting me
here and there but how do you live with yourself in that moment
when you know you aren’t’ even sure when you‘ll be able to
return the favor?
Have you ever borrowed money from someone that goes against
everything you stand for and then have no choice but to put
yourself on that line and then struggle even harder to now pay the
bill and then have to make double in return to repay the debt and
then afford that same bill next month? Or not have a health
insurance plan because you can’t afford it; not a co-pay or a
pre-pay or a post-pay and are scared to get on government aid
because if I can’t even manage to pay for my life on their plan
then what kind of minimal health care are they going to provide
How about when you can’t even THINK about wanting something…and
I’m not even talking about the desire to buy clothes, shoes, and
accessories (which I love and miss doing terribly) but the
essentials: like deodorant, toothpaste, gas, groceries and rent
(two things which are no longer a problem cause I live with my
mother now but, if we’re being honest, still can’t help with),
or just wanting to celebrate taco Tuesday or go to a movie (I
wouldn’t even care if it was a half priced early show, but I
can’t even meet the expense of that). What about counting dimes
and nickels so you can get a cheeseburger off the dollar menu at
McDonalds for lunch but can’t buy that cause they switched it to
a value menu and the clerks like, “$0.63 more cents please” or
you come home and want to make a hamburger and cant cause all we
got is bread and ham that your sick of cause you’ve had a
sandwich for dinner for the last three days.
Nevertheless, I try not to let the fact that it upsets me show
because I can only look upon it all and take full responsibility.
I am almost sure I screwed up somewhere. I know that I could have
managed my expenses better by not spending money on myself or
going to college thinking that a degree would help me get
somewhere better than an unpredictable retail job that doesn’t
pay me enough to pay back school and live an adult life outside my
mother’s house, but why shouldn’t I be able to indulge in life?
Why has it become so difficult to do so for me and many others? It
sickens me to think that I should be ashamed of splurging on
myself every now and again.
But this isn’t about beating myself up or saying that those
with less than me haven’t’ gotten it done. It is to say that we
need to wake up. Not as a government but as a people,
individually. Our government cares about themselves and no one
else and its time we start doing the same. It’s time for me to go
back to simpler times where one pair of shoes lasted a lifetime
and you didn’t get the next pair till those were worn and a time
where bread milk and eggs were the survival of the fittest, where
you got something only if you earned it. I did chores as a kid and
I got an allowance.
Future thinking I will have to make sure everything is paid in
full before I indulge and while that may be never for me, at least
I won’t have the money demons at my coat tails dragging me back.
Can’t lose sight either, because once you look away they got you
and you’re right back where you started from. It’s a constant
race to safety but no one knows where or what the safety tree
looks like so you just got to keep on moving.
I used to say that I just wanted to be able to live comfortably
one day, in a house preferably where I made enough income to have
all the bills taken care of and not have to worry and stress and
tear myself apart, but I think that I’ve reached comfortable.
Here I know what to expect and I know what is expected of me; A
sad fate. I asked to be comfortable because it’s a cozy warm
feeling its content its peace and its love but I was a kid and I
didn’t’ know any better and I suppose my mom couldn’t have
known that there’d be days like this either.
I miss those days sitting in the backyard dreaming up stories for
us to play and building snowmen and shooting off fireworks on the
day we all rejoiced in what we thought was so much freedom. If I
could click the heels of those ruby red slippers I begged my mom
for when I was just a little girl and go back…I would and I would
do it all differently. They say you can’t go back to the past and
alter things without changing the future, but I think I’d be
willing to take my chances. Donald Trump just might be the next
President, lol how much more ridiculous could things possibly get?
With all of this my advice to parents is teaching your kids the
things that they don’t teach them in school. Teach them how to
balance a check book (it will help them to understand the value of
money, organization, a useful skill). Raise them to earn the
things they are given by doing chores and receiving allowances but
also give them penalties when they do not accomplish those things
(it will teach them responsibility, something to value and how not
to be lazy and that ultimately not everything in life is free).
Guide them to avoid the error of your ways (the things you have
learned from failing) without discrediting them or not allowing
them to make their own mistakes. Let your children explore all the
possibilities life has to offer them and not the ones nay sayers
prey on them to believe, expand their horizons and show them
different ways to achieve their dreams: college isn’t for
everyone and it is NOT the begin and end all of their career or
Do you see how many people make it big in the world without ever
having sat in a classroom or received a degree as opposed to all
of us who have one and in turn have nothing to show for it but
overwhelming, paralyzing debt and regret? That being said there
are some of us that have made it and to them I say hats off, but
we need to shed light on those of us who didn’t (due to
unavailable positions, the economy, not enough experience, etc)
and those of us who just don’t fit inside a school. And please
don’t forget home economics…whether you have a son or a
daughter teach them how to cook and wash clothes so that later in
life they know how to provide for themselves and not depend on
others. Make them read and write and try everything at least once.
Introduce them to new places and foods so that they can be well
traveled and diverse.
In the end no matter what my circumstance I always seem to make it
out of the shark tank by nearly a couple of centimeters. It is my
resilience against failing that I believe has gotten me through
most everything and in most cases by the graces of a higher being.
But that is not the fate I want for others because for me when it
rains it pours, there are more grey skis than sunny days and I’ve
probably learned more from pain than I could ever have learned
from pleasure so I am hear as an advocate of educating this
generation into becoming promising individuals.
My name means messenger of God and if it is my purpose in this
life to go through hard times repeatedly so that I can edify what
stays ahead when I am left behind than that is what I will do with
the talents that I was given. I used to assume that I had this
great burden to deliver the message always dodging bullets because
no one likes the messenger, but pondering it now, maybe I am in
fact the message.