There aren’t too many things that make me feel more vulnerable than money issues. Whenever they come up, I feel shameful and I want to clamp up. But I know how important it is to share our stories, which is part of why I’m writing this post.
When I was a kid I never learned how to properly handle money, so when I entered college and adulthood things didn’t really change.
I remember a few shame-filled calls home when I was a newbie college student asking for more money. One Christmas, my dad got me one of those gag gifts that is a notepad that looks like a $1 million bill. I know he meant it as a joke, but I had to push back the tears. When I opened that present, the shame filled me like a warm tide. I was so ashamed that I had to keep asking for money.
Money was also the root of many of my troubles between me and my ex-. I tried to keep tabs of our money situation, but I think he viewed that as me trying to control him. Regardless, about 6 months before we paid off our Ford Focus, he came home with a new-to-us Jeep that sent us further into debt. He also made the jump to buy a house when our apartment lease was ending. Since I wasn’t the primary breadwinner, I didn’t feel like I could say much so I went along with it. Somewhat needless to say the house we bought ended up costing more than the mortgage in upkeep, so we didn’t end up saving the money we thought we would. I ended up feeling left out of money making decisions, helpless, and in the realm of the Jeep, betrayed.
The actual divorce didn’t help my feelings about money, because I was left with credit card debt that was earned with help from my ex-. Since it was in my name though, it was my responsibility. And a part-time graduate student Teaching Assistantship wasn’t enough to pay it, so to bankruptcy court I went.
It’s not a great self-esteem builder.
I barely want to mention all of my student loan debt. It’s such a dark cloud looming. I feel ashamed that I have so much, but at the same time I couldn’t have stayed sane and worked an extra a job on top of graduate school… (I was already working as a Teaching Assistant.) I just couldn’t have.
Just now, at the ripe old age of near-37, I’m getting a handle on my finances. I’m budgeting. I’m saving. I’ve got a retirement account. I’m becoming a regular, old, responsible adult.
But when I get that occasional call from my bank asking me about suspicious charges, I zoom right back to those told times of precarious money situations. Those asshats who stole my debit card information to try to book a hotel and buy stuff at Wal-Mart (I do not shop at Wal-Mart. Especially in Seffner.), they sent me right back there.
I’m really glad for the fraud security that banks offer nowadays. I remember that once-upon-a-time you were stuck with the charges that others made. Not so anymore.
But the whole thing still leaves me feeling naked and vulnerable. So much so that I downloaded my free credit report just to make sure other ridiculousness isn’t going on.
It’s fine. It’s being taken care of. But I’m angry and riled up. I already have negative feelings about my money situation. I don’t need help from those who prey upon people who already don’t have a lot of money.
Ok. My rant is done. Thanks for reading.