A life long dissatisfaction with money and what I’m doing about it

I have been dissatisfied with money all my life.

In early childhood I became aware of the doors it could open and close, depending on whether you had it or not. Whilst I had a great childhood, many of the doors I wanted to open were locked! In my teens, my cousin and I plotted how we would make it big so we could buy whatever we wanted (we now know there’s more to just buying). In my twenties I got my dream first class degree and my first proper job. Except in the end, it wasn’t so ‘proper’ and neither was the job after that.

And so began my journey into self employment — the world of figuring things out as you go along, working days, nights and weekends, often, and certainly in my case, with no immediate substantial financial reward. It is a world in which you face your own incessant fears and doubts, not at all helped by the anxiety and skepticism of those around you.

So, here I am in my late thirties, staring at this lifelong dissatisfaction with money and deciding I’ve got to do something about it. I’ve got to get to the bottom of why life has been, and is great, in so many ways, except the money thing.

  • Great marriage ✓

  • Happy, healthy little boy ✓

  • Close family and friends ✓

  • Personal health ✓

  • A home to call my own ✓

  • Education and opportunities ✓

  • Money ✗

Yup, my personal finances are distinctly average, and quite possibly, below average.

Discovering badassery

On my 37th birthday I wrote a letter to myself and started thinking deeply about what my issues with money may be. They say, when the student is ready the teacher will appear…. Enter Jen Sincero’s, ‘You Are A Badass At Making Money’. It spoke to me as I scrolled through Amazon.

Circa two weeks into the audiobook I bought the actual book. I don’t have the luxury of focused listens - my audiobooks experience is more like multitasking snippets in between 24/7 mamahood responsibilities. I had the urge to highlight and reread - not something you can easily do on audiobooks.

The problem with notebooks

One morning, as I started scrawling the You Are A Badass ‘homework’, I found my son’s scribble on my notes and my husband’s DIY to do list on the next blank page… Seriously boys?

I’m doing this self work at 5am in the morning. I can’t afford to disturb my light sleeper of a toddler or our nervy dog while I’m creeping around avoiding squeaky floorboards and squawking toys while I’m trying to find my notebook in all its beautiful physicalness.

I adore notebooks but in this life they get moved by tiny hands, buried by laundry, or forgotten downstairs when I need it upstairs, where I am imprisoned by squeaky floorboards, especially in the early hours when little people sleep even lighter, seeming to sense you are awake, juggling 20 important things to do before they wake.

Could (little me) write a money blog?

One early morning, amidst the humdrum of 10,000 thoughts, a little voice in my head whispered, “Use your blog”… You know the one. The blog I’ve been paying for that has sat unused for years… The blog that has meant to house my love of writing... The blog that has needed me to find something to write about…

And so I promptly ignored this little piece of intuition. I mean people don’t talk openly about money. It’s one of the sticky topics like religion, politics and race where people aren’t too sure whether they should say what they’re thinking. Should I really be putting my money story out there? This could get really embarrassing. And who the hell am I to offer opinions and advice on money? I have zero credibility on the topic. This was exactly why I was not going to write about money until I heard Jen say,

“Listen to your intuition during meditation, visualisation or just running around being you, and the moment you get a brilliant idea that would move you in the direction of your financial dreams, jump on it. Go for it like you’ve never gone for it before. Leap like the largest leaping leaper ever. Notice any crappy thoughts that come up while you’re in mid air, and rewrite them, but do not stop your forward motion in order to do so. The successful completion of this one exercise could land you in full-on badassery. Just sayin’”. Jen Sincero

After that wake up call, I turned my attention to resurrecting this blog, trying hard not to get distracted by design choices, which could quite easily chew up hours of my very limited time and stop my forward motion. I am facing my fears, yes but’s, and 101 reasons not to do this. I am using this blog to explore my lifelong dissatisfaction with money. I am going to use it to unravel my money issues with a lot of help from authors and podcasters along the way, starting with Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money. I am leaping like the largest leaping leaper ever.

Money, motherhood and meaning

So I started writing and thinking about the angle of this blog. I don’t want a dirty laundry diary. I don’t want one of those blogs that talks about me all-the-time. I’ve toyed with starting a mummy blog, but there are gazillions of them. What could possibly make my mummy blog unique and therefore worth reading? Money. The answer is money.

Motherhood has done something to me. As a mother, I desire financial success more than ever. For the sake of my son and the things I want to do with and for him, the money frustration is bubbling more ferociously inside of me. I know I’m not the only mother feeling this frustration. Conversations with other mothers and threads I’ve read on Instagram confirm this. Money brings safety, security, promise, opportunity and joy — things that mothers desire for their children.

But money isn’t everything right? True. Not true. Everything in between. We are all seeking meaning of some kind. Satisfaction. Significance. Purpose. Worthiness. Fulfillment. 

And so, this blog about money, motherhood and meaning came to be.

Does any of this resonate?

If we dare to speak of it, opinions about money vary significantly. I dare you to speak about it, explore it and face it just like I have dared myself. Here’s how I’d love to connect with you:

  • Sign up to my newsletter — I would so appreciate you being one of my first 100 subscribers ;-)

  • Follow me and join the money, motherhood and meaning conversation on Instagram

  • Buy Jen Sincero’s book on Amazon and let’s do the homework together —  references to the book in this blog are affiliate links so if you do buy the book, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. (Psst, I have no idea what I am doing yet, but I’m doing it anyway! So when I do get an email to say someone has bought something via my affiliate link I will be super excited and bowled over…)

  • Or simply, comment in blog comments below

Thank you, xxx

A letter to myself at 37 — a self analysis by stepping outside of myself (+ tips on how to do this)

Dear Sara,

You turned 37 today. You see 40 looming and you are scared. It feels like time is running out. You had (have) such big dreams and it seems like they are eluding you. You are tossed between feeling dissatisfied with life, to feeling ungrateful for all the good in your life. Life is so full and yet so empty. So, what can you do about this?

Shine your light and fear less

Sara, stop hiding your light. You fear no one will notice and yet you fear judgement. What a conundrum. Because the world is overloaded with content you dodge creating more. But you love writing. You don’t have to have it all figured out to make a start.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” — Joseph Campbell

You worry about content, word counts, time limits, fonts, visuals and technical ability. These worries and fears are stopping you from taking action. And it is action that will teach you what you need to know. You will win and fail. Both will hold valuable lessons. The faster you act, the faster you will learn, and the faster you will succeed.

Be thankful — thank and you will be full

Sara, give thanks for the love that encircles you. You often think you are lonely, but you have more quality friendships than you realise. You have a husband that loves you deeply and a son that calls for you. You have family. It is big and scattered, but you have special family members who always have your back. You have in-laws that you actually get on with. This can be quite a rare thing.

“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.” – Roy T. Bennett

Value what you have achieved. You may not be where you want to be, but you sure are a long way off from where you started. Appreciate your body and your mind. You are healthy. So is your family (mostly).

Look at the word ‘thankful’. ‘Thank-ful’. Maybe, if you thank, you will be full.

Let people be

Sara, what other people say, do and believe, is absolutely beyond your control. What you do have control over is how you respond.

“The older I get, the more I believe that the greatest kindness is acceptance.” ― Christina Baker Kline

It will help if you stop expecting people to treat you a certain way. Accept people for where they are on their journey. This can be very difficult to do with people you love, but you will be less disappointed and more able to celebrate the good in them.

Reach the finish line

Sara, you are now aware that you tend not to finish things. This awareness will serve you well.

Count your unfinished projects, books, notebooks — eek! This decade long writing project that hasn’t got off the ground. The 3 year old unfinished e-book course. The fab at 30 project. Fab at 37 hasn’t got the same ring to it, has it? You love ‘shiny new things’. But the art is in the application, the doing, the completing.

“To get to your finish line, you’ll have to try lots of different paths.” ― Amby Burfoot

There are two types of finish lines. 1. Completing the things that are important. 2. Knowing what and when to finish and leave something behind. Deciphering what is important and what you must leave behind is your biggest challenge right now. You do not have the answers yet. Let yourself sit with the fear, turmoil and unknown. The answers will come. You will come through a significantly better version of yourself. Keep trying until you find the right path for you.

Believe in making it through

Every day that you experience is another set of achievements and lessons. Minutes. Hours. Days. In time you will find that you have made it through the things that seemed impossible.

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. “ ― Stephen King, The Stand

Somehow, at a place beyond all the gargantuan effort you put in, beyond the overthinking, the crippling fear and debate you have with yourself and others, somehow beyond all that, you will make it through.

Self analysis tips

When I started writing this analysis about myself, I started to feel sorry for myself. That is not what I wanted to achieve. Rather I wanted the outcome to be more like wise words from a teacher, guide or friend.

By stepping outside of myself I was no longer speaking in the first person, like I am now. It felt like I was guiding someone else rather than myself, which is a lot easier to do! By taking a ‘birds eye view’ of myself or being a ‘fly on the wall' of my current state of mind, I was able to be less emotional and significantly more matter of fact.

The experience is like decanting the wild waves of the stormy sea into a neat row of glass bottles. The water is exactly the same. The presentation is completely different. It is calm and more ordered so you can process the contents more easily.

In my silly busy world of juggling toddler, relationship, health, work and home (with its never ending need to be tidied and piles of laundry), there is no time for uninterrupted self reflection. So my thoughts, self talk and inner knowing are like the wild waves of the stormy sea. I bet you can relate! This ‘external’ self analysis helped me unravel, untangle and present the wisdom floating around my head in a way that I can process and revisit again and again.

Key steps

  1. I did this on my laptop. Yup. I think you can do this freehand or whatever technology you desire ― see what works for you.

  2. Write as if you are writing to someone you love and care for deeply.

  3. Write about how this person you love (you) feels right now. This is like setup statement, something that frames the important issues for you right now.

  4. It may help to ask yourself a question. I asked, “What can you do about this?” But it can be any question that is relevant to you.

  5. Don’t feel the need to stop your train of thought or edit what is pouring out of you ― presentation can come later (if needed).

  6. If lots of thoughts are coming at you, just write the keywords down, then come back to them. If they are needed you will easily be able to expand. If you find they fade, let them fade.

  7. You’ll probably feel silly at some point. I felt like the whole thing was pointless and a waste of time, intermittently, throughout the exercise. But having persisted, I have found the direction soothing, calming and powerfully on point.

If you try this, let me know how you get on! Or just share whatever you get out of this (now very public) self analysis. Simply comment or get in touch sara[@]somethingbeckons.co.uk Thank you!