Friday, November 18, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Today, I am thankful for financial stability.

Growing up, I knew we were poor. My dad gambled away his paycheck and my mom had to make ends meet on her meager daycare teacher wage. Things were tight - always. Every year, when I would receive flyers for Girl Scouts or extracurricular activities, I stuffed them into my backpack, never to be shown to my mom. I knew we couldn’t afford extras like that, so I didn’t even ask. I knew about money problems and stressing over them way before a child should know about such things.

I hated being poor. It was embarrassing and made me feel inferior. I made a promise to myself to never put myself in that boat. I would not get into debt and I would be smart with my finances.

I can’t say I have always followed through with that promise. I was in credit card debt by the time I was 21. My mom and I moved into an apartment that was far above our living means and we struggled with our bills. It got to the point where my mom was getting check advances on a nearly regular basis and I worried on a daily basis where my next meal would come from. These are hard words to write, because it was a dark time for me. It’s embarrassing to think of how we let it get this far, how we dug ourselves into such a deep hole.

We eventually moved, cutting our rent bill almost in half, and allowing us to breathe easier. We were able to pay our bills, we were able to save, and most importantly, my mom was able to quit her second job.

I am on the road to paying off my credit card bills. After the 25th of this month, I will have three payments left on my biggest credit card and, leaving me with just my bank credit card. (Less than $300 to pay that one off.)

Once I started my full-time job, I became more responsible for the bills. (I pay my mom a portion from each paycheck.) I have my own bills to pay each month. And I can pay them. I don’t ever have to worry about not being able to pay my bills. When I get paid, I give my mom her portion and then break down the rest of my money between bills, savings, and entertainment money. It doesn’t leave me a lot left over after everything is paid, but it is enough. Money is not something I have to stress over anymore. (Other than stress of not having a lot of fun money for myself, heh.)

After spending my entire life stressing about money, it feels really, really good to be in this place. I am thankful for a job that leaves me with a good paycheck twice a month. I am thankful for a mother who can and happily does support me so I don’t have to do this all alone. I am thankful that I am not materialistic and the things I’m lusting after are things I need but are also things I’m willing to patiently wait and save up for.

Struggling with money is terrible and frustrating and scary. But you can fight your way out of it and come out on top. My mother and I are proof of that.

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