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The Wheel of Money

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They say money can’t buy happiness, but….well, you know how the rest of it goes.

These last few years we’ve been watching our savings dwindle down faster than we can replenish it. Sometimes it feels like we’re treading water, and other times I’m floating on my back without a care in the world.

There are days like today, when all I want is to be able to go to a restaurant because I’m hungry, without worrying about whether or not we can actually afford it. I want to buy the simple things, like food and fuel, without subtotaling in my brain what my American Express bill will look like at the end of the month.

I know we’re really fortunate and there are loads of people who’ve got it worse than we do. I feel like a schlepp for complaining at all.

But just once, I would love to buy the best brand at the supermarket, or that $20 bottle of wine and enjoy eating and drinking things without fretting over what I just paid.

Is that too much to ask, Universe?

My Ticket to a Better Life

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My English degree I earned back in ’92 always seemed to be such a relatively worthless endeavor. Even though I was always proud of the fact that I was the first in my family to graduate from college, I secretly kicked myself on a regular basis for not pursing a “real” career and doing something that made real money, like being a biologist or a veterinarian. There were times I yearned to go back and earn a more practical degree, but I never had the money (and still don’t).

This week, after applying for a mindless factory job for the holidays, I looked around at the people who were there applying for the same kind of work I was. The job only required a high school diploma. I hate to generalize, but it did seem that for many of the other applicants, that was probably the most education they had attained (does that sound like I’m judging people? I really hope not).

But then I had an “Aha!” moment, and suddenly I realized the true value of my degree. By going to college, I never had to apply for factory jobs. I was never limited to this kind of work, because I had proven to the world that I could handle college. That little piece of paper was my ticket to slightly better work, and a slightly better lifestyle. I was there because I wanted to be, not because I had to be.

For today’s kids, I know things are different. A bachelor’s degree is almost as worthless as a high school diploma when it comes to finding employment. Which is exactly why I plan on staying self-employed for the rest of my life, at least after this gig is over.

Hanging by a Thread

Every time I start to worry about  money, I try to tell myself that it’s a waste of energy.

Over the last 12 years that we’ve been hitched, each time I panicked about not having enough money in the bank, or whenever large bills pile up, I would envision these awful scenarios.

Not being able to pay for food or new clothes, or replacing an important object, like a computer.

The other day I realized: not one of those scenarios has ever come true.

The fear of being destitute is what keeps me from being destitute. The fire is always lit under my butt.

But for the last two years, the fire’s been more like smoldering embers. I’ve taken some time off to breathe, after 10 years of working myself to death and watching life go by.

Now that I finally feel like I’ve caught up with almost all that I’ve missed, and the money is dwindling, it’s time to throw some lighter fluid on the fire.