I haven’t written another update about my financial situation in a while, mainly because I have had a major setback – my computer is in the process of dying, so to speak, and each week, it seems that there’s something new that breaks. In the past two months, it has stopped allowing me to open certain programs, no matter what I do (and reformatting it is not a possibility – long story) and guess what’s included on the “I won’t open this program” list? You Need a Budget.
I bought the software earlier this year and quickly became completely dependent upon it. It is amazing and helped me so much to get a true picture of my financial reality. I can’t recommend it enough. However…I’ve had to make my way without it now for the past two months, which has been incredibly frustrating.
I was doing all right for a while, though, plugging ahead, doing the best I could. I’ve been holding my breath for April, when my paychecks would finally reflect a decent number, after the hours and hours I have put in at my three jobs. When I say I’ve been holding my breath, I mean that quite literally – each month has been such a challenge, and because of the lag between submitting timesheets and receiving our paychecks, I had to wait over 6 weeks to start seeing any pay from my morning job.
That first check was good – not great, but good. I had put in a lot of hours in the beginning of the program to get it started, so I knew it would be an inflated check. But I figured it wouldn’t drop more than a hundred or two in the following paychecks, since I was putting in regular hours every month on all three jobs.
And then…my paycheck arrived at the end of April. And it was for $900. And I cried. A lot.
I suddenly realized that I have been operating all year on a very strong belief that if I just work harder and longer, I will be rewarded. That was the plan. And suddenly, upon opening that paycheck, I realized that that belief was totally erroneous.
I’m not sure how anyone will react to that number – but if you aren’t sure what’s going on here, let me assure you that I regularly put in at least 36 hours a week of work (sometimes a full 40, sometimes, a little more). I work 11-hour days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I put in tons of time every night preparing work for my students – unpaid, and without an expectation of getting paid for that. No benefits and two of my jobs don’t have paid sick days. And for all of that…I get $900 a month. That covers my share of the rent, my student loan payment and a week’s worth of groceries.
So now that I’m here, at the end of the school year, wondering how I’m going to make ends meet next year, I’m really conscious about the expectations I’ve put on myself in these past few months – behavioral expectations that came with an assumed corresponding outcome. And it didn’t work.
What’s really cool is that I’ve realized something amazing: that I’m free from the a+b=c economic model. It doesn’t exist anymore. You may put in a full workweek, but in this day and age, you may or may not be fairly compensated. End of story. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s not wrong, it’s not right – it just is.
I have read all those financial books and done all those mental exercises about digging into our beliefs about money. I’ve done that a million times, but I don’t think it ever hit home for me the way it has now. Apparently, I can work so hard that I only have a few hours of free time each week and still not come even close to a livable wage. And odd as it sounds, that’s so freeing to know!
Now the whole world is open to me. I feel like I can finally start making choices based on my personal desires, rather than just my needs and a sense of responsibility. I can start exploring what it will look like to work smarter, not harder (and/or longer). I can let go of this very limiting belief that I have to submit to a traditional position and work myself into the ground to be a valuable member of society – cuz it doesn’t work!
I’m excited to see what comes of this. I see big changes for myself in the next three months.
And what about you, dear readers? Did you ever have a financial epiphany come from a paycheck (or a lack of one)?
(And speaking of finances, I’m exploring the option of crowdfunding to help me raise enough money to finish my e-book. Please give me a hand and spread the word! Thank you!)