In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Money Makes the World Go 'Round

I have this ambivalent relationship with money. Some days, I just hate the stuff. On other days, I dream about what I would do if/when I have some. Heck, I can dream about money, even when I hate it.

My other half and I are just talking about our personal finances. We have a LOT less than we did at one time. It seems, so far, that we are doing quite well about staying within our budget. We are doing OK - but I do feel trapped by the lack of options. We have fewer options in the winter, because everything you want to do costs money! You can't just hang out outside. You have to go into a coffee shop, mall, or venue. The alternative is to stay home and watch TV (probably a worse option than spending money, in my opinion).

I'm also ranting about this because it seems that most all of the institutions have issues with money. I work on projects in two different congregations. Both are doing great things, but they are limited by income. There are a lot of great projects I either am working on, or want to work on. Unfortunately, I also have to earn some cash to pay for my house, my food, and my lifestyle. Some of these projects are sapping my dwindling time, or I just can't do them.

Everyone is worried about money these days. Why is that? There is an illusion that money is freeing, when it's really binding. Money determines what I do, who I converse with, and what my worth is.

I'm in a mood today where I don't like money at all. I may be more into it tomorrow or the next day. Once I want something, then I want money. Today, when I'm seeing how trapped I am, then money is the enemy.

Oh, and my title is supposed to be ironic. I hope you figured that out. Curse money!


Blogger Michael Dodd said...

Money is so bizarre. I spent thrity years in a monastery with a vow of poverty. Although we tried to live simply, it was a comfortable, middle-class and very secure lifestyle. Since leaving, I have come to realize how secure it was. (Don't get me started on trying to find individual health insurance when you are 55!)

Yet those thirty years have taught me to live very frugally, and with the generous help of my Partner, I have been able to put a significant amount into savings. (Monasteries do not provide pensions, folks.)

My Partner, on the other hand, is in fact worth over a million dollars. He used to be a share partner in a major international law firm and in recent years was working as an IT consultant in a firm he owned with one partner. He has always lived frugally, and no one seeing him or our apartment would think "millionaire" I don't imagine. Yet he is the one who has more concerns about money, making three times as much as I do and on the verge of retiring early with a pension that will still be more than twice my salary -- before his social security even kicks in (if it ever does.) This is not because he is miserly, because he is generous to a fault. It is not because he is greedy or a spendthrift. It is just something different in our approach.

Maybe together it balances. I would be too careless and he might be too careful. Between the two of us, life is actually pretty good. We don't do without and we don't stumble over excess.

Except, as I re-read this, excess verbiage, perhaps...

6:33 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

Actually, you and your partner sound a lot like me and my partner. When I met him, he was making a ton of money in the computer industry. I was a poor college student (who became a poor seminarian, and is now a poor youth workers).

For the longest time, I resisted spending on "fancy" stuff. I didn't want to go overboard on spending. Slowly, I got used to having more money. Then, he lost his job. We lost all that extra money. I was pissed. I yelled at one point, "I resisted getting used to this lifestyle, and now that I have, it's been pulled out from under me!"

That's what money can do to you.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Michael Dodd said...

Life's sometimes the pits, ain't it? I may be facing some of that pressure in coming months when his income dips and the construction of the house eats away at his savings. His full pension won't be available for another year and a half, and even his Social Security is seven years away. Health insurance will be an issue for both of us. We may be living on lettuce -- like rabbits -- and matzoh and cheddar for a while.

Well, we both have been trying to trim down.

9:01 AM  

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