Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hard Cash

I worry about tomorrow's money. What's not to worry about?

Will my (very small) pension be enough? How will I manage on my own with the utility bills rising all the time? I lie in bed at night when I get these attacks, reproach myself for all the wrong financial and life choices I have ever made and imagine how I will live as a bag lady.

Self pity and insecurity don't make for a happy mix, and it's pretty obvious if I read the paper or watch the news that there are so many in a similar or worse situation. As the world population goes, believe me, I'm in the fortunate half. Even in the UK I'm not doing too badly. No debt. No dependents. None of this makes me feel any better.

So I’ll have to work as long as I can. OK. Fine. Find something that is worthwhile and makes my heart sing, or at least doesn't make it sink, and I'd definitely choose to be occupied and happy.

I have a good and exceedingly well-heeled friend who owns a couple of rental properties, who has a portfolio of stocks and shares, who is a Buddhist and who also worries about becoming a bag lady. In my more jaundiced moments I roll my eyes. This is unfair to her. I love and trust this woman and believe that when she tells me what she is feeling she is telling me her truth. Her fear is very tangible.

Her teacher tells her that she is powerless over outside events. That her best defence against financial, or any other, uncertainty is to live simply, kindly, in each moment, to make each second a mindful and one-pointed one, and to meditate. That’s it, aside from normal prudent budgeting.

Beyond logic. Yet at a deep level I know this is the answer. What is important is to accept that I see through a glass darkly and what I have to do is to finish this post then go downstairs and start the washing machine. Make a phone call. Take the cat to the vet at 9 o'clock. Mow the lawn. Laugh at jokes. Watch for opportunities today. Tomorrow. In six months time. Oh, and give some coins to the busker.

Leap into the chasm. No alternative when you really think about it. I’m still queasy and scared. I wish the ever-present fear would go away, but it doesn’t. In the here and now I'm not permitted (or required) to have all the answers. I hate that.

15 comments:

Sky said...

oh, m, can i identify with this post. until i married (later in life) financial worry was a way of life for me. it was like an on-going anxiety attack of sorts constantly stirring my inner self into a frenzy. i finally came to realize that i had been worrying about finances all my adult life, yet i had always been able to provide for myself and pay my expenses, even in the worst of times. i had always paid my bills, even if a few were paid late. finally every debt was paid in full, and i was debt free. after i realized things truly had always worked out i began to remind myself of this over and over each time the anxiety started. it took a while of reconditioning myself, but it did begin to work. i have often found that conversations with myself in this manner have resolved anxiety attacks. worry is simply a story we tell ourselves in order to scare ourselves. telling myself the real truth in order to alleviate the fear my storytelling had imparted seemed fair.

in the end i was totally out of debt, and i made a nice profit on the sale of a home. eventually i met and married my husband and found a different kind of security than i had ever known.

i wish you peace from this worry. i know how disconcerting it can be, and i hope you, too, will begin to remind yourself of how you have always made it, how things have always worked out financially in your life. hugssss. :)

leslee said...

I think right now there's a lot of anxiety floating around, whether hearing it directly on the news constantly or picking it up from other people. After 13 years of freelancing, during the last few of which I was living hand-to-mouth and borrowing to make ends meet, I'm in a much better position with a good paying job, at least for now. But I've no retirement savings and who knows how well my brain will function as I get old and have to continue to work. No kids or husband to take care of me either, so I know how you feel. I don't know the answer, other than to stay focused on the abundance you do have - beauty, friends, a washing machine!, etc.

BTW, I had a friend who went to a local charity years ago after her divorce - she'd already been awarded half of their $400,000 house which hadn't sold yet and half the sizable retirement savings, but refused to use her credit cards in the meantime to buy groceries. I was appalled that she'd take money from a charity, meant for poor people. But as you say, it's beyond logic, and people do get irrational over it - basic security issues.

Anonymous said...

ooh at nearly 50, with a lifetime of poor decisions (or being poor at accepting consequences) and of being feckless, with a (to me) very large debt and no pension (example of poor decisions!)...and contemplating divorce I can so relate to what you are saying. And I can also easily relate to what you say about being in the more fortunate half of the world ...and oh it is so hard ot let go and let things be as they are, do one's best (to know what that is!) and accept ...maybe this is the only task of life to do this and to seek out the joy as wel. I must say that reading your blog helps!!

Dale said...

Hugs. It's a beast, that anxiety. xoxoxo

Zhoen said...

(o)

Anonymous said...

I count myself so lucky to have a steady job which pays -- if not richly -- at least comfortably. I have had to make changes in my lifestyle, certainly. I can't drive as freely as I used to because of the cost of petrol, and I visit my dad less often, but these are small adjustments. I had saved some money for Zeke's college fund, which is diminishing rapidly only two years before she'll need it, and that's a little sad, but we'll manage. I do recognize my luck in feeling relatively secure in my job. While I have to work on keeping anxiety down on other things -- as Sky said, much of it is just stories we tell ourselves -- money hasn't been one of them for the past few years. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I'd been facing divorce without a decent job and a little income saved for emergencies.

I wish you luck in finding a job that makes you sing. :-)

tk

mm said...

Sky: "Worry is simply a story we tell ourselves in order to scare ourselves.". Wow. Thank you for this insightful and helpful comment and for sharing part of your story. Self-talk is so powerful - for good or ill.

Leslee: You are right. There is a lot of the this kind of thing in the collective right now and I'm sure that's part of the reason that I've been spooked recently. The abundance of the present is what needs to be emphasised. Thanks for the empathy.

Anonymous: Thanks so much for breaking cover and for sharing a bit of your story. Good luck in whatever path you take in the future and thank you for the final sentence. I particularly enjoy getting comments and feedback such as yours as I don't have a sitemeter ....

Zhoen/Dale: Thanks both. As always.

TK: Yup, a job where I can sing would be nice. :-)
Anxiety is a bummer. I sometimes think that if I wasn't worried about money I'd soon find something else. The root cause lies far deeper imo.

herhimnbryn said...

(((((mm)))))

mm said...

HHB: Hugs welcomed and reciprocated.

datinggod said...

. . . i think we all have cash freak outs, because it's the nature of survival, as in: will i??? i have a friend who makes over $250,000 a year, whose parents are multi-millionaires, and she freaks out about money. one day i questioned her about it and she said: you just don't see what it takes me to live, that in my job i *have* to have certain types of shoes, cars, dwelling, lifestyle, and that it takes a lot of money.

what i got is that it's all relative, that as westerners we live in luxury, even the more lower middle class of us. hot water on demand, plenty of food, solid shelter. that most of the world is much much poorer, and that if we were to tell them our fears, they would roll their eyes at us :)

and i hear you ms. m, as i contemplate creating more funding flows too, and send you a hug from across the sea :)

starnitesky said...

I share your anxiety Mary, I am dreading this winter, I was foolish enough to buy a house with no fireplace so I only have the central heating, last winter's bill were huge and it wasn't that cold. It's not always easy to live alone.

I do hope that perfect job comes along for you to ease some of the anxiety for you.

mm said...

Kate: Thanks, as always, for your inspiration. Hugs backatcha.

Starnitesky: Oh me too. No fireplaces. Gas heating. Apparently stand alone halogen heaters, which are reasonably inexpensive, burn the smallest amount of electricity, or so I am in informed by a very frugal friend ...

MB said...

(o)

LJ said...

So long since I've checked and here you are.
I do that. The worry, the mental rehearsals for the cardboard box, the regrets - ultimately, the same conclusion...
And here's the astrological kicker: I have a friend who worries too and answers the exact description of your friend.
Are you just loving Saturn in the 12th?
Regards...

mm said...

Hi LJ! *Waves*. Good to see you. I suspect I'm enjoying Saturn in 12th just about as much as you are! ;-)