An Uncomfortable Resolution for 2018

Money and me, we're going to be BFFs

0 Allef Vinicius | Unsplash

It’s that time of year when it seems just about everyone drafts their resolutions for the coming year. I’ve done this in the past, promising myself to write more. (I’m a writer, I tell myself.) I thought about making the same commitment again this year but thought better of it. Previous years’ resolutions always fell through, starting out strong and then fizzing out by mid-February. But recently, I wondered if the solution was as simple as changing my attitude and purpose about writing generally. What if I made a resolution about something that had more impact and integrated it with a 52 week writing challenge (because those aren’t going away any time soon, right?)?

This is where the Writing Cooperative’s writing challenge was a home run in 2017. They asked participants to focus on one topic, and write about that topic for 52 weeks. Of course, I didn’t do that because at the time I couldn’t imagine myself having 52 posts to talk about one topic. I didn’t have the imagination. Couple that with self-doubt that surely hurt my desire to begin a writing habit.

I have a renewed sense of vigor, you could say, and some gut-punch inspiration from the Smarter Living newsletter I got in my inbox a few weeks ago.

It’s all about finances and using the new year as an opportunity to get it all back in order.

Who doesn’t love stories about finance? (I actually don’t. It makes me extremely self-conscious of my financial situation.) Ordinarily I wouldn’t have paid attention to this but since I committed myself to being more serious about my finances, I skimmed the newsletter to see if it had any useful information for me… or interesting enough for me to not glaze over after a few sentences.

On the list of this Smarter Living newsletter, include tips from (maybe) the obvious, such as saving a little extra money every week (bye, coffee shop Americano!), to the more extravagant, such as buying more takeout and hiring a maid (say what?). This reminds me that I’m reading a Times newsletter, and most people who read this are probably not like me.

The column links out to a list of four ways you could start saving some money every week which, on the outset, appear to be no-brainers. But wait, I think to myself. Where does someone who’s living in the red start in all of this? (That’s me, if it wasn’t clear.)

The three easiest things I’ve started to conquer: aggressive budgeting and tracking spending, stop saving on perceived deals, and re-evaluating my attitude about money and savings (my therapist said the last action sounded like I was trying to intellectualize everything, which may be the case, but I can’t overstate the terrible relationship I have with money).

It was not a comfortable conversation to have with my significant other who, until now, didn’t really have a clear sense of my financial situation. (Don’t lie about money!) It was bad. My already-fragile ego was getting pummeled, over and over again as the numbers from his calculations got bigger and bigger. Holy shit. That’s where all the money went! I would think, among other things.

At the end of the initial audit I broke down in shame. Tears streaked my face. As much as my defenses and self-preservation wanted to retreat back and pretend none of this was real it was too late. I couldn’t, in good conscience and for the betterment of this relationship, “unsee” the few hours we spent going over my money usage. It’s bad enough that I was lying to myself about how my money was being spent. It was worse knowing that I had been lying to my S.O. about it for years. It was a terrible kind of denial that a slap in the face, or a dunk in the toilet, would jolt you awake from. I couldn’t live like this. I couldn’t allow this to continue.

So my resolution for 2018, inspired by the constant reminders by my S.O. about buying stupid crap, the Smarter Living newsletter, and, strangely enough, Refinery 29’s Money Diary, I decided that 2018 is the year I tackle the money issue once and for all. Things are going to look different around here, and I’m going to write about it — whatever that ends up looking like. And I’ll have the added — gulp — pleasure of being accountable to the world of the Internet and people I don’t know who may read my words and judge me or sympathize. We’ll see.

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