SUBJECT: I FUCKED UP
I am out of money and don’t get paid for a week. I do this every single month and I am so mad at myself and I’m never going to change, am I.
SUBJECT: RE: I FUCKED UP
You’re never going to change with an attitude like that, says your mother. And my mother. And me. Look, Betsy: Of course you can change. Of course. Whether you do change is about whether you want to change or not. Do you actually want to change? Do you want to actually stop spending all of your money before you get new money?
I mean, it sounds like a good goal. It’s pretty much my goal every time I check my bank account and there is no money in it. But it’s not my goal three weeks before I run out of money and it’s not my goal two weeks before I run out of money and it’s not even really my goal when I’m down to my last $20. My goal is to do what I want for as long as I can do what I want. And then I run out of money and I can’t do what I want for a little while. But then I get paid and I can again.
I make real decisions during those weeks before I run out of money: that is me, making decisions to buy drinks and coffees and flowers and sandwiches, this gal, right here. And then I wake up one day and check my bank account and it’s empty and all of a sudden I DESPISE the person who made those decisions. A pox on her house. I forsake her. Loathe that human.
And then I get paid and money money money, I’m going to get an ice cream I’ll worry about this all later/never/when I run out of money again.
A lesson that took me a long time to learn: I am never going to wake up and be a person who doesn’t want to spend the money in her pocket if there is money in her pocket. That’s the kind of change I was trying to believe in but that kind of change doesn’t exist. Barring traumatic brain injury, humans don’t go to sleep and wake up completely different people. Change is active. For me it’s meant paying all my bills as soon as I get paid. It’s meant taking out cash so that I know exactly how much I have until I don’t have anymore. It’s mean learning to pause before I say yes to going to meet people out in the world and thinking, is this what I want to do with that last $20? It’s meant getting another job.
To change you’ve got to actually change your behavior. Hack the heck out of your finances. Give yourself an allowance. Split up your bank accounts. Prepay all your bills. Do what you have to do to save your money from yourself. And then do what you want with what’s leftover. You’ll still run out—if you want to—but you’ll be choosing that. Stop hating yourself. You’re doing okay.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons