All the thoughts I have every payday
Growing up, my hard-working, single mother’s payday felt like we won the lottery. I mean, even though we lived quite frugally and went without a lot of things, we could’ve bought a freakin’ mansion (if we wanted) because she had a full-time job like a total baller and NOTHING else to spend all that cash on except me and my younger brother’s caviar dreams. Amiright? Okay so maybe in my young, warped mind, that’s what it felt like because back then, I had NO idea how far this woman needed to make every penny stretch. Between rent, utilities, food, gas, and school (and the list really goes on and on and on), I couldn’t have known what a superwoman she was until having to go through it myself. Even as I approached high school, when I should have been more privy to her financial struggles, she and my Gram were good at making sure my brother and I had what we needed, however hard it was.
The older I got, my need for gas money or new clothes became more pressing but sometimes the answer was just a hard “no.” I mean, a penny can only stretch so far. Thus, I got a job at the local grocery store so I could roll around in piles of my own cash and never have to ask my mom or Gram for anything else, ever again. Though, it wasn’t long before I learned what it really meant to receive a paycheck. Taxes, insurance, deductions, what the what?! You mean I don’t have enough to purchase my own tiny island? I wasn’t that naive but I truly hoped I could at least spring for a used car or a milkshake or something. Part of me still clings to those old ideals, wishing every now and then, there will magically be more money in my account. Like finding a winning $2 scratch-off ticket on the ground, a girl can dream, right?
Regardless, here are all the thoughts I have when direct deposit finally hits the bank.
I’m rich! Best. Day. Ever!
At first glance, LOOK AT ALL THAT MONEY! I will buy four new mascaras I don’t need and plan a vacation to the south of France! Oh, and YOU get a car! And YOU get a car! And I’ll narrow down my charity list so I can give a huge contribution to the most deserving because there’s no greater feeling than helping people. There are probably dollar signs in my eyes right about now even though history tells me they will soon fade. Right now, there is SO much potential with this money I can’t even stand it! Payday is THE BEST!
Maybe I’m not “loaded” but I’ll make it work.
After floating back down to Earth, I crunch the numbers so I can physically see where the money needs to go as opposed to where I want it to go. Maybe four mascaras is excessive and wasteful so I’ll whittle it down to three. Okay, two, if I must sacrifice. That vacation can wait until I’m beach ready and if I’ve offered to buy you a car, hit me up next paycheck when I’m sure I’ll have more money because right now, my kids need stuff like school donations and dance gear.
A lot of responsible people swear by a budget but because I’m an author and freelance writer, my earnings wildly fluctuate so we have to adjust on the regular. The only steadfast money we have is through my husband’s full-time job even though we can’t always live solely off his earnings. It really is a hard lesson deciding between national brands of cereal and off-brands or five gallons of gas when two will do. Once I begin to delegate our monies, I think “This isn’t the best but I can do this.” I’m obviously still naïve.
Well, I have a little bit left.
Perhaps I jumped the gun here. Two mascaras is now down to one and even then, I’m looking at the seven I already own (I have a problem) and wonder “but do I really need another one?” The answer is obviously NO but this is where I struggle. Why work if you can’t enjoy any of it? At this point, I usually notice one of my children needs something I’d forgotten and forgo the mascara, or whatever dumb thing it was, and do the grown-up thing. One last look at the amount left and even if it’s a literal dollar, which has happened, WE ARE WINNING.
Wait, where did those other bills come from?
You know the unexpected, soul-sucking, forgotten/last-minute debts such as that lab work you forgot you had or a dance costume balance for your 9-year-old or an extra grocery trip because you didn’t plan you meals well enough to last through the next payday? Yeah, those. Some responsible people who have their crap together may dip into an emergency fund right about now but so far, I’m not one of those people. Though, I hope to be someday! Until then, I’ve heard crossing my fingers and toes while standing on one leg gives a bit of luck. Not that I’ve tried or anything.
We can’t possibly survive until next payday!
Insert all the screams!!! Now that every last cent (and then some borrowed or bartered) has been paid and there’s nothing left except dried-up tears and a whole week until the next pay day, I now know the struggles my mother went through. A little full-circle kind of feeling in the grand scheme and maybe I don’t need a new mascara, lavish trips, or extravagant gifts to give after all. In fact, at this stage, my only desires are to a) survive! and b) make sure my kids have whatever it is they need without feeling this financial burden that comes with being an adult. Some day, they’ll see making money and having responsibilities is a helluva lot harder than it appears and only then may they understand why I can’t always buy another three boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
Between bills, kids, and expenses, adulting is hard! But the point is, no matter how much I stress eat or whine as I navigate my way through, I’m getting it done. Just like most people do; just as my mom did. And really, isn’t that the most important lesson of growing up anyway? If I can do it, daydreaming the whole way through, you’ve totally got this in the bag.