Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Money Madness

When times are tough, it is so tempting to make financial decisions based on fear.

I have struggled with feelings from time to time that there won't be enough money to pay the bills, I'll go hungry again, and God won't take care of my needs. I find myself collecting food when I start to feel anxious about money. I get worried even when I don't need to be.

Others around me struggle too, especially during the past few years when the economy hasn't been doing as well as in the past.  I think it's even harder for those of us who grew up with financial troubles to overcome anxiety about money.

My younger kids, especially Mr. I, struggle with similar feelings. It comes out in an interesting way with him. I noticed that lately he has been asking to go shopping nearly every day. He's been obsessed with hats, shoes, hoodies, and clothes that need to all match. If he can't talk me into taking him shopping, he asks his sister.  He keeps asking to take more money out of his bank account to buy things he really doesn't need. He searches online for just the right clothes. This morning he asked me what we were going to do today. When I told him we were going to the library, he asked me if I was going to the store. I told him, no, we need to cut back on going to the store as often. He shouldn't have to go to the store every day. He then got a panicked look in his eyes and asked me if we were poor. I told him no, we just need to be wise with our money. I don't know how to get him out of having to buy stuff in order to feel happy or secure.

I know what works for me.

The more I give, the less hold the fear of not having enough has on me. The food distribution ministry has really helped me to break the fear that has been with me since I was a child. There's nothing like giving to break the spirit of fear.

It helps for me to be wise with money and be frugal, yet not to the point of fear. It's so tempting to procrastinate budgeting or paying bills when I am worried, yet that's when I make the most mistakes. That causes more fear and I end up in a fear spiral that gets me nowhere. I need to work on bills and budgeting a little each week, on a schedule. I can handle just about anything in little bits. When I can do things like cut Hubby's hair, do my own home repairs, or make food from scratch, I think of how much I'm saving. There is a lot I can do to make the household budget work. Active participation is a lot better than fretting and complaining.

Another thing that helps me is to be thankful and remember the times of blessing. We were able to keep making payments on our house a few years ago, even through Hubby's unemployment. And now, just when more taxes are being withheld each month, Hubby got a great annual review. His workplace couldn't give him much of a raise as they would have wanted, but it should be about the amount that will cover the extra taxes taken out of each paycheck. God has provided unexpected blessings at just the right time over and over again. This has happened for years. Someday, I hope to not get worried and learn that He'll take care of all my needs. God is so patient with me! I am blessed even more than I realize!

1 comment:

  1. Those are such great strategies for handling the fear. When I was pregnant with #2 I had fear of being low blood sugar and not being able to care for my toddler--but I remember now wanting that fear to rule me. So when we had a Bible study every Weds morning and there was a big potluck of breakfast things, not only did I wait until last to get my food, but I even made a plate to take to the janitors to thank them for setting up and cleaning up our space, before I got my own. It felt so good--completely gave it over to God, and conquered the fear. : )

    So interesting that Mr I's strategies are so much more like what I have observed in, um, economically disadvantaged people. I remember as a pre-teen helping my parents deliver donated food at Christmas to "needy" families in our town's section of public housing--and was so shocked to see that they all had huge TV's, much bigger than ours, and all the kids had the latest toys. It really made me wonder what the heck was wrong with that picture. I guess it is just another coping strategy--and I would imagine one founded in hopelessness for the future.