I paid off my car loan yesterday. I didn't even plan to -- I was assuming I'd continue my let's-just-squeak-by-unnoticed plan until the middle of next year, at which point I'd probably just keep the payments rolling with way over due car repairs and ten missed oil changes. But as I was driving to work yesterday morning and I began my daily ritual panic attack about all the things I'm unsure of currently, I started thinking about the money I have sitting in my account after the bank made me unceremoniously chuck my own ass out. And then I started thinking about all the money I owe, outside of those student loans that will haunt me of my failed scholarly attempts until the day I trip over a toe and die in a puddle of ice cream or something. Assuming my diet is purely mechanical soft, at that point.
Mid-Taylor Swift radio repeat I realized: money + debt = NOTHING. Or broke, whichever one is still Not Bill Gates (does Bill Gates have debt? If so, is that like the United States having debt? Like, we have debt, but we really have a shit ton of money in all the wrong places? Do I even know what I'm talking about here? Should I just stop making myself look like an easy target for telemarketers and door-to-door campaigners?).
Money is a big hot button for me. Growing up we were dirt poor, living around a bunch of people who were absolutely not dirt poor. Although I did learn that garbage picking furniture in a town whose welcome sign should read Welcome To White Upper-Middle Class really shows you the value of the curb. And dry couch cushions.
Growing up broke around people who vomit Jeep Grand Cherokees on their children's sixteenth birthdays makes for a pretty twisted material complex in a child. I always lusted after the best of everything but grew up believing I would never have it. Though I never wanted for anything, none of it was ever enough. And I never thought anything would ever be enough.
When I began making my own money, I started developing this love/terror relationship with it. The more I had, the harder to it I clung. The emptier my account, the more consumed I became with something I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED but could not afford. And the more elaborate the schemes I would come up with to just make enough money to afford ONE MORE Tamagotchi (to clarify...this was allowance money. I was not working at Dairy Queen at 15 just to buy Tamagotchi. Enter: Fall Out Boy).
Even today this come-closer-go-away relationship I have with the dolla dolla bills, y'all, persists. I had all this money just sitting there, for two months, knowing it was an opportunity to clear a large obstacle from my way. But I chose to just let it sit there, so I could obsess over whether or not to blow it on new tattoos or completely clear my debt slate as a Responsible Adult should.
Truth is that money came completely out of the blue. But as soon as I knew it was mine, I all of a sudden couldn't have survived without it. So I guess the cycle comes full circle, in a way: the money that I didn't know existed became imperative to pay for things I didn't know were possible until that point. Which leads me to wonder, what am I clinging to now that may not be necessary in my life, but seems so just because it's here? What about you? When was the last time you took stock of what you have -- things, experiences, people, etc. -- that you may not need anymore? Does anyone else have such a dysfunctional relationship with their wallet as me?