I used to obsess about my finances.
I planned, I projected, I did my best to pay down debt, save and have a little "in case of emergency" fund. I budgeted and accounted for every single penny.
The more I counted my pennies, the more pennies I seemed to need.
I had every bill covered with little room left for the unexpected. The unexpected always happened. Where there is a car, a house and a family there are always surprises.
There seemed to be a direct correlation between the amount of energy I spent obsessing about money and the amount of money I felt I needed. There was never, ever, ever enough.
I don't know what shifted my perspective in my "worry to money ratio". It may have happened when I rid myself of five different accounts to budget for every contingency I could imagine. I amalgamated all of my savings with all of my debt and my enemies started living together under one roof. Surprisingly, they have lived quite well together.
Since that time, I have stopped "sweating the small stuff". When times are good, I sock away my money and pile it onto my debt. When times are lean, I borrow from that same debt sparingly.
Unfortunately I have had quite a few lean years in recent history.
Going back to school was the death of my finances but resuscitated me in so many ways.
The years when I attempted to redirect my career were the hardest years I can remember living but they taught me more than a formal education ever could have.
The leanest years of my life took and gave back to me, in proportion to each other. Mentally and financially.
I just went back to the archives of my financial history.
I have accumulated $17,107 more debt since my return to school. In that same stretch of history, my pension has grown by almost $50,000. My savings is an ever-changing number and has been depleted by almost $2,000 but the number that is in there now is more of a "static" number.
I went back further in time and I am aghast to see the years I felt the poorest, I had the least amount of debt and the most amount of savings. I guess counting every single penny did have its advantages.
Now that wasn't the direction I was headed when I started writing this post!
My point (which feels slightly moot at the moment) is that by lessening the energy I spend on worrying, I have found "things always work out in the end".
For each and every extra-curricular expense, I have found an unexpected windfall on the opposite end of the spending spectrum.
I planned a purely whimsical trip to see Dancing With the Stars in Las Vegas. The cost of this trip was simply absorbed by some unexpected gift money that had been tossed my way.
Recently I ordered some extra family history books for both my mom and dad's families. Surprisingly, I had some unexpected financial bonuses which equalled almost the exact amount of my book order.
As I considered the expense of a new computer verses the need, I hovered back and forth in a state of indecision for quite some time before letting my income tax refund (almost the exact amount of the new computer) make the decision for me.
This week, I took the plunge and booked flights and accommodations for a trip to see my uncle. I invited my mom along for the ride.
I planned this trip for all the right reasons and knew without a doubt I would find a way (or it would simply work out) that this would not cause my financial situation any undue hardship. What has transpired is beyond amazing.
My son just happened to need to buy a car without shopping for one. I just happened to have a spare one sitting on the driveway. He paid double my asking price but my price was enough to cover my trip. My trip is paid in full.
Add onto that equation, the fact that my mom overpaid me for doing her income tax. Add that total to the refund I will get for cancelling my car registration/insurance and not only do I have my ticket paid in full, but my mom's as well.
Me, the spendthrift in the family, throws my money around without a second thought when it comes to simply doing the right thing.
This trip was the right thing to do. I knew it without a doubt. I spent first and budgeted later. The end result is nothing short of amazing.
I was telling my cousin (a minister) of the miracle of my spending lately. I worry less and it always works out in the end, in the most unexpected ways. He spoke of a the "gift of provision" (law of provision??) and if we just relax and trust (in God) we are always provided for.
I am quite certain my cousin could speak more eloquently than me, but the long and short of it is (to me) "Trust, and you shall be amazed".
This line of thinking hasn't served me too well in the department of romance, but hey! Maybe it is because I didn't trust enough. Hmmm ... food for thought, for another day.