Editor’s comments: thanks to Danielle, our first Saturday Strategies guest writer!
Have you ever taken the time to consider where your monetary values come from? I’m not talking about your net worth or how much cash you have in the bank. I’m referring to the value you place on the money that gets in your wallet and how you spend it- whether it’s there or not. Do you savor money as the fruitful product of a hard day’s labor or do you impulsively “eat the fruit” before you have had sufficient time to invest it and let it grow? Do you wait for your fruit to ripen or do you keep spending fruit you don’t have hoping the next season will be better?
My monetary values have changed as I have gotten older and were significantly shaped by my parents’ attitude towards money. I grew up impulsively eating the fruits of my father’s labor always assuming there would be more in the next orchard. I was the product of a well-to-do father and a mother who stayed out of the financial picture as much as possible, but expected her husband to provide for her and their children to the full extent possible. While many people would die to grow up this way, the downside of my father’s generosity is that he did not prepare me for the real world, where unlike fruit, money does not grow on trees no matter how many seeds you plant.
I grew up in the affluent Boston suburbs. We ate at the finest restaurants’with meals costing $100 EACH sometimes. We went to the opera and theater, lived in a million-dollar home, and wore the nicest clothes.
Then I grew up…
I experienced a rude awakening when I got my first job out of college. I wanted to commit my life to lobbying for colon cancer in Washington DC. I was an adult; my dad cut me off financially. For some reason, I thought I would be able to live comfortably on my $29,000 a year salary, but with the rent for a studio apartment in a good neighborhood averaging $1,500/month I was out of luck. For two months, I lived in a psychotic elderly woman’s basement for $250/month with rats and cockroaches for company, but I could only stand it for so long. I quickly realized that most people in entry level positions in Washington either had trust funds or had to live in undesirable areas with crowds of strangers. That was how people moved up in that society. As a college graduate, I was supposed to be “on my own” and I was not prepared for the realities I faced upon entering one of the most competitive cities in the country. Now, as I write this, I am back home living with my dad on disability leave because the stress of trying to make it on my own in DC, working three jobs simultaneously, started to take a strain on my health. I came to DC partly to prove to my father and the rest of my family that I didn’t need his money, that I could make it on my own… but I failed, even though I did learn some very important lessons along the way.
–lessons I’ll be sharing in the upcoming months
Danielle will be sharing her perspective on wealth periodically. She spends her time networking with the up-and-up, writing funky Southern fiction, and keeping her finances in check–we’re pretty sure she’ll be continuing that life of $$… and teaching us how!