February 23, 2012

Thinking About Money

Cat in a pile of money!

Today one coworker bought another coworker a Coke. The one buying the Coke doesn't make as much as the one receiving the Coke, and she also has 2 kids and can be heard on the phone talking with her fiance about money issues. The coworker receiving the Coke asked how much he owed her and you know what she said?

Don't worry about it.

As in, I just bought you a Coke and do not need you to pay me the $1.25 back. And do you know why? Because the cost of the Coke was so small it wasn't going to make a difference. Her exact words were:

I mean, it's not going to make me go broke.

Hearing her say those words made me feel pretty shitty about myself because I realized I'm selfish enough to know when I've spent $1.25 on someone else. I don't worry about things like that with close friends, my sisters, my roommate or my boyfriend because there's a regular give and take with those people, and something like five bucks, or even a meal or utility bill, aren't worth worrying about with those relationships. But I would remember buying a Coke for an acquaintance or coworker.

I really need to let go of my money worries. I'm constantly recalculating my finances trying to make sure I'll have enough for taxes and car insurance and have been living on a very strict budget since the beginning of the year in order to do so and worrying about money (which is way more fun now that gas prices have jumped 35 cents a gallon in 4 days) is exhausting. And depressing. I know I'm OK and I'm sure I'm going to make it, but I would have asked for that $1.25. Kinda makes me feel like a crappy person. 

I really want to not worry about money. I want to be the person who buys people Cokes, or even lunch, and says don't worry about it. To be the person who tips generously. To take friends out for celebrations on me. To give random presents. And I really, really want to look at the left side of the menu page before the right side, not let price dictate everything I do and be the first question I ask. 

The other want I have, however, is to do something with my life that I feel passionate about, something that's important to others and that might matter in a few years, or even decades. But I'm worried that I'll never be able to have both of those things... to feel like what I'm doing means something and to also not always be so worried about every dollar I spend. I know when I graduated with a writing degree that I said I would be OK with being poor, but if I'm already sick of it at 26 what am I going to do in ten years? My hope is that once large expenses stop I'll be able to save for accidents and unexpected expenses in the future. And then I'll have a buffer so I can stop worrying, and stop feeling bad for saving for fun things, like vacations and computers and bigger beds. 

I feel like I've been saying the word "someday" a lot.

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