The Marvelous Crumb

Follow Joy. Find Belonging.

My financial situation

quarter

Money.

Just writing that word and I can feel a tightening in my chest, a constriction in my throat. There’s a desire to open another screen and let myself move on to some other necessary project: email, Facebook, Spotify, would somebody call me?

Unlike my best friend who follows an actual budget and adjusts accordingly when necessary (imagine!), I’ve taken a more ‘it will all work out approach,’ to financial planning.

With trepidation I’ve checked my account balance either to be relieved or completely panicked by what is revealed. An inability to “show myself the money” has allowed my imagination to generate all kinds of horrors. What if can’t make rent this month? Do I have enough money for food? When did I last pay my cell bill?

It hasn’t been pretty.

Last November, my financial well being hung in the balance after I lost my job. During that long walk home with my box of belongings, the phrase that kept running through my head was: I am fucked.

I was making roughly $3k a month and had plenty discretionary income which was promptly spent on “necessities” including but not limited to: laser hair removal (it didn’t work), cocktails, clothes, shoes, and meditation trainings. Even with the surplus, my aversion to wellsfargo.com meant overdraft fees happened more frequently than I care to admit.

12 months later I’m living on less than half of what I previously earned. Friends have asked, “how are you doing this? You live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and you don’t have a real job?”

The truth is, I don’t actually know. There’s some alchemy to my finances that I’m just now learning to understand. But I am surviving … rather well, actually.

There have been a few logical adjustments: I look at my bank account regularly, put an end to the laser hair removal (thank gawd), have stopped buying meat (easier on my wallet and the planet) and have unsubscribed to emails that make me want things and services I don’t really need. Goodbye weekly CSA Box.

I trade volunteer time for yoga and dance classes, pour wine in a tasting room to pay for the basics, and I receive food stamps, which, gulp, I hesitantly admit given my advanced education. No this is not my long term plan, but simplifying and relying on social services has allowed me to experience bureaucracy which I suspect I will one day help others navigate. More on this another time. It’s also helped me evaluate what I really value in life.

In this year of 9-5 freedom I’ve traveled to Mexico, danced, done many a meditation retreat, danced some more, and spent two weeks creating art, telling stories and making new friends.

In less than a month I’ll be co-hosting a 30-day silent meditation retreat. This will be a month of no income whatsoever. Can you fathom it? I certainly couldn’t years ago. My travel to this retreat has been funded in large part by the generous donations of friends and family who are supporting this journey. Thank you!

All of this and since being unemployed, I’ve yet to accrue a single overdraft charge. This has happened NEVER in my banking history. In fact, the standing balance in my account is now higher than when I was employed. Whaaaaa?

How is it possible?

Could it be (and this may sound a little woo-woo) that because I’m more aligned and content in my life that the world is delivering resources to support my endeavors?

I have less stress around money even though there is a rapidly approaching expiration date to my ability to not secure a regular paycheck.

This whole experience has awakened a concept that maybe money is not as linear as I once thought. It’s not an either you have it or you don’t kinda situation. Right now it seems to be flowing in and out at just the right times.

I find money in unexpected places like the bag of quarters I lost and then found months later when I needed them most, forgotten bills in infrequently worn apparel, and unexpected gifts from organizations and people I love.

I’m sure I’ve heard something about the “spirit of money,” but my previous self had no interest in such nonsense. Well, I’m most interested now. If this is your thang, please leave a comment with any recommended materials.

While I don’t have a lot, I’ve found that I’m more inclined to give the resources I do have. Sometimes that’s money, sometimes it’s meals I’ve prepared and sometimes it’s my time.

I’m more conscious about the dollars I do spend and who they support, and I’m overwhelmingly appreciative of the life that I’m able to lead. My privilege, especially as I’ve navigated social services, is not lost on me.

I have $153 in my bank account to last through November and while that would have terrified me 12 months ago, today I feel wealthy behind measure.

Oh, make that $153.25, just spotted a quarter.

 

14 Comments

  1. Well you’re living on food stamps and begging your friends for money. That’s how.

    • Sometimes we’re in positions to give and other times to receive. You’re right, right now I am receiving but I do so without shame. What would it be like to live in a society where abundance was spread evenly? Where those who ‘have’ shared unquestioningly with those who ‘have not,’ and no one was embarrassed to weave in and out of those roles as their life progressed? I believe this weaving in and out happens naturally but too often we fear judgment and don’t ask for support. Because we fear judgment we sacrifice what could be a rich opportunity to connect, be vulnerable and strengthen our trust in humanity and instead live and fear as we claw our way back to a position of ‘safety.’ This is not a world I want to live in anymore. Wouldn’t we be much more likely to live within our means, support our neighbors and connect to our world if we realized we were part of a system rather than a lonely, fearful I?

  2. YOU ROCK! I so love this post. I’m reading something called Lost and Found: One Woman’s Story of Losing her Money and Finding her Life. By Geneen Roth. Also a meditator and listening-to-the-body person. P.S. this is Linda Breitag <3

  3. I love reading your blog 🙂

    BC Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Great story. You know I’m all about the spirit-led path. Think about it. We are all not just spiritual beings, but Spirit itself. All that exists, exists as us. Now we usually aren’t identified as any remotely close to the entirety of who we are. And that’s a part of the game we signed up for so all good. But the more we allow ourselves to trust in at least our connection to the stream of infinite abundance and its intent to provide for us whenever we cooperate, the more it gets to bless us. Or we can go it alone. We can sacrifice and work hard and persevere. That works too. That’s the way of acting as a sole, separate agent in a mechanistic universe. That game is always available. But I cast my vote for the path of miracles. Inspiration will come and find you, and you will be working in a way that trades your amazing abilities, talents and delights for dollars that will support your physical needs. All you have to do is keep riding the wave of inspiration, keep paying attention, engaging with action when clarity to do so emerges… the rest is just the unfolding of time.

    • Well said Indigo! We shall see how the journey unfolds but yes, I’m tired of going it alone. I too will cast my vote in everyday magic. A good friend of mine says the world leaves him speechless everyday. A moment, a smell, a touch, a smile, it’s all so unfathomable. Who are we to think we have anything figured out?

  5. Loving your honesty and bravery and openness. I just went through the bureaucracy of applying for SNAP, too. Not sure yet whether we qualified and if so, it will be a short stint, but my kids & I need all the support we can use for the meantime. Without a safety net, our society would not be one I want to live in. They just built a beautiful LEEDs-certified center in Longmont with all social services in one place to work on decreasing the stigma of getting support and making it less of a maze to navigate. This is a phase in your life, and in mine. Pros and cons, choices made and circumstances that arose. We will learn and grow and thrive and change. It’s the only option.

  6. Thank YOU for your bravery Susan. It’s so encouraging to hear what’s happening in Longmont. And yes, just a phase in our lives which I think will make us stronger, more empathetic and more generous.

  7. Loving your perspective on the very fiber of life, which for some is dollar bills and for others experiences. Those experiences and moments are a far greater treasure than statements and balances. Intent plays a huge role in the gifts offered as we move about and just BE. Looking forward to spending time together laughing and experiencing our shared Joie d’vivre

  8. You might appreciate a great little software tool that my wife and I discovered. May not be helpful in this season-between-jobs, but maybe later. We tried many different tools to get a handle on what we earned, and gain some consciousness on putting those funds where we most wanted them. It’s called YNAB – “You Need A Budget”. They have a philosophy of living with money that I find very compelling and down-to-earth and aligned with how our human nature actually works.

    You might also like Vicki Robin’s classic book “Your money or your life.” Or you may not need it – as I think you’ve already discovered for yourself it’s basic wisdom!

    Looking forward to working more with you on the InterPlay Board, Kelsey.

    -Theron

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