Things I Would Do If My Income Doubled

It’s been a rough week for me.  I’ve been confronting money issues.

It’s been paralyzing.  So much so that it’s taken me two days to write this post and hopefully not come off sounding whiny.

$0.23 balanceThe beginning of the month meant bills were due.  I didn’t have enough in both of my checkbooks (business + personal) to cover everything, and there wasn’t any more money on the immediate horizon.  I ended up raiding what I’d saved for Gayle’s NASCAR birthday weekend at the end of the month to cover my rent.  My total expenditures this week: going to lunch with my gay boyfriend on Saturday ($14 with tip, and then he picked up the tab for drinks later) and putting gas in the car — both on a credit card, adding to that debt.  Except for orchestra rehearsal, I sat home alone every night.

This left me with the horrible feeling of being a failure.  That I’m not good enough.  That no one wants me.  That there’s no way to stop the downward spiral.  That this can’t end well.

Other people have jobs/work.  Other people go places and do things.  Other people can socialize with friends. Clearly it’s possible.

What’s wrong with me?

A few years ago, I had this epiphany: What if I was sabotaging myself from making a lot of money because I didn’t want to become one of those rich assholes?  You know — the guy who parks his SUV in the fire lane and has to tell you he spent $500 on his shirt.  (Dude, you want to impress me? Tell me you donated $500 to a non-profit music education program.)

So I revisited that conversation, and I made a list of what I would do (in no particular order) if my income doubled.

  • pay off the credit card debts I’ve racked up the past few months
  • pay the property taxes on the loft
  • eat out at local restaurants with friends a few times/week
  • travel — visit family & friends, see new places & cultures (3-4 times/year)
  • buy season tickets to the ASO
  • see bands and theater (support local arts)
  • take at least 1 yoga class/week
  • buy gifts, for occasions and just because
  • put away for savings & retirement
  • get my teeth cleaned, maybe straighten the bottom ones
  • drink more wine
  • web-enable my phone
  • fix my flute
  • get new athletic shoes, for kickball, walking, working out
  • shop at local farmers’ markets more often
  • donate to charities & causes I care about
  • buy a scooter
  • get my hair cut regularly and professionally colored occasionally
  • go fabric shopping, start sewing again
  • upgrade to QuarkXpress 8
  • buy a new mattress
  • attend neighborhood/art/beer festivals
  • add extra money to my car payment
  • buy an ice cream maker
  • see a movie in a theater on the big screen
  • buy an iPod and listen to podcasts
  • attend the National Flute Association annual convention
  • join a networking group

That’s right: I DON’T do these things now.

When I read my list as if it were someone else’s, these items are reasonable, some even necessary.  But I’m so worried about the crisis of the week that to me most of these simple things seem like luxuries.

I believe it’s ok for me to want them.  Here’s the hard one: It’s ok to think that I deserve them.

It’s hard to believe that when you’re raised in a blue-collar Catholic family.  It’s hard to believe when you’ve been trying to find a steady source of work for three years.  It’s hard to believe when you haven’t had a date in almost as long.  It’s hard when you’re doing something you love but the money isn’t coming (like they tell you it will). It’s hard to believe when you know that there are lots of good people out there who live in their cars because their landlord stopped paying the mortgage or who can’t feed their kids because their employer went out of business or who are coping with whatever circumstance isn’t their fault either.

Yes, my lifestyle would improve with more money.  No, I would not become a selfish, conspicuous consumer.  I wouldn’t become someone different with money — I would be better able to be myself.

I wasn’t the only one thinking about this subject.  I must’ve read Traci Love’s “Wanting to Make a Lot of Money Does Not Make You a Bitch” a half-dozen times.  And Lisa Robbin Young’s “Achieving The Impossible Has a Cost” hit me hard:

It’s not that I’m arrogant, or becoming some kind of an elitist. It’s just that it’s time to give myself proper credit, and value myself in the same way I coach my clients to value themselves.

To stop chasing clients that are wrong for me, and be confident in who I am and what I do for the clients that love me.

This sucks.  I’m tired of living under a cloud of doom like this.  I want my wish-list to be outrageous, fun things.

I want to be happy.

I need my mojo back.

Posted on Thu, 07 Oct 10, at 11:38 pm.  •  Filed under money, rant.
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3 responses to “Things I Would Do If My Income Doubled”

  • Lisa Robbin Young, The Renaissance Mom:

    There’s so much I could say here. I’ve had this screen open since yesterday, and wanting to be sure I would say something that would be helpful to you where you are right now.

    First, acknowledge your imperfection. I think you’ve made a great first start here. And know you can’t have everything “right now”. This whole transformative process is step by step.

    People say eat an elephant one bite at a time, but what if you don’t know how to catch one, or even what an elephant is? Sometimes we assume the smallest details, instead of getting into the minutiae to see what’s really there.

    Decide you’re not going to be a rich asshole, but instead a rich, compassionate giver to the world. Yes, it’s okay to believe you deserve stuff, but before you can get there, you’ve got to deal with that underlying believe that will work to undermine your best efforts. It sounds like you already have a vision of what a rich – um, shall we say “jerk?” what does a rich, compassionate giver look like?

    Then take the tiny, tiny steps to move closer to that image.
    Praying for you!

  • allyson:

    i don’t know whether this will make you feel any better, but i feel that way, too. and i’m in a much better financial position than you. (then again, i still work for other people, so there are pros and cons.) i’m so excited when i get paid $300 for a show (for 8-12 weeks of work, that is) that i don’t know how to spend it. i *should* pay down my credit card debt or my debt to my therapist, but both of those amounts are so ridiculously high that $300 won’t even be noticed. i *should* save it for an emergency or use it to tow my car from the mechanic’s to my house since i can’t afford to fix it or use it to buy my family christmas/bday presents or put it toward Pinky Swear’s next show or get new headshots since my current ones are now going on 5 years old or buy my medication for the next 2 months. but what will i do with it? i’m going to buy some new clothes, because what i have doesn’t fit and what fits has holes or stains. my winter shoes are falling apart, and i don’t own a single suit/work dress that fits.

    i don’t even know what i’d *want* to spend it on, if all of those “shoulds” weren’t staring at me.

    i make a good living. i make well more than i imagine you do, well more than a lot of people do, and i don’t live extravagantly. i haven’t taken a vacation that i’ve paid for in almost 3 years, and i don’t have cable, internet, or even a landline. frankly, i can’t afford it. i always bring my lunch, i never go to concerts or shows i have to pay more than $10 for (and 95% of the time it needs to be free), and i color my own hair. i, too, have dental work i’m putting off because i’m afraid of how much it’ll cost. my last major dental episode took me 3 years to pay off.

    the fact that the two of us–educated, intelligent, creative, whole people–have to struggle just to live in pretty basic situations (alone, in a not crappy part of town) is ridiculous. i’d laugh if it didn’t make me want to cry.

    so i know how you feel. you’re not alone. and at least i know that neither one of us, while the other has a roof to share, will ever be on the street.

  • kate:

    Well, I’ve made it through this month, barely.

    Thank you, both, for your heartfelt words. I’m sorry I haven’t responded more promptly to your comments. I’ve been deep in A&D (avoidance & denial) and the often-monumental effort of just putting one foot in front of the other.

    Lisa: I’m quite clear that I am generous and compassionate and would continue to be. I’ve been working on “transformation” since the early ’90s, and I use my powers for good. I think the underlying issue is in the realm of believing that there are finite resources (money, love, etc.) and resolving the arrogance of thinking I, rather than the next guy, should get a bigger slice. What makes me “special,” “better”? As you said in your blog, it’s about valuing yourself and having confidence. I’m looking for evidence to reclaim that belief in myself I once had, in a more keep-the-focus-on-the-mat instead of competitive way.

    Ally, yes, you have made me feel better. Because you got it, and that means I’m not crazy. It *IS* ridiculous and sad. I wept with relief when I realized you have my back, and that I would absolutely share my roof with you. I am so ongoingly grateful for the serendipity brought us together for those first 5 minutes and the technology that has allowed us to build a kinship.

What would you like to say?