I Feel Bad About Wanting to Make Money
I’m tired of struggling financially. So why do I feel guilty about trying to make more money?
I check my bank account and type numbers into the calculator, trying to figure out if I’ll have enough to cover the bills this week. My stomach clenches until I’m able to relax again — I’ll make it through this week. Barely.
This has been the story of my life for at least the last year now. Before that, things were tight for sure, but I didn’t find myself constantly checking my bank account and doing calculations to make sure I was going to squeak by again.
But then I got sick, and I started working less. What little savings I had evaporated and I started living more of a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. While I have continued to be able to make ends meet, that’s about all I can do.
My Life Has Been Derailed by my Health. I Want to Get it Back.
But everything feels so slow.
My relationship with money has always been a little bit troubled. (I think many people’s relationship with money is a little bit troubled honestly, whether they don’t have enough or they have more than they could ever need.) Being poor isn’t new territory. I grew up poor, my parents never having enough money and always struggling to get by. When I was a teenager, they had to file for bankruptcy and our house was foreclosed on. Money was a constant source of stress for my parents, and as a sensitive kid I carried that stress around with me.
I even felt somewhat resentful towards my parents when I was a young teen because of their financial struggles. I had naïve ideas about how easy it was to make money, and I think I felt like they just weren’t trying “hard enough.” I had this idea that if I just graduated high school and went to college I would automatically find a “good job” and never worry about money for the rest of my life.
Oh, to be so young and naïve again.
Funnily enough, life isn’t like that.
Obviously once I got a bit older I realized that getting a college degree isn’t a guarantee of a good job, and that being an adult is pretty expensive, actually. In fact, it’s more expensive than it’s ever been, with wages not rising fast enough to meet the higher costs of living.
While I was in college and shortly after, I wasn’t too concerned about finances. I had grants, loans, and a part-time job in college that were, combined, enough to live off of, and my day-to-day expenses were fairly minor.
After college, I lived with my parents for a while and drove a crappy car that I had paid cash for. Again, my expenses were minimal and I was able to save some money while also helping my parents out.
But then I moved out, and there was rent to pay. And then I had to get a different car to replace my old one that was breaking down constantly and costing more in regular repairs than it was worth. Expenses started to stack up. Still, I was healthy, working plenty, and didn’t struggle too much month-to-month. I didn’t really foresee a time when I wouldn’t be able to afford the things I’d signed up to pay.
Then my chronic pain started, and things went a little pear-shaped.
Chronic pain, that tricky bastard.
Chronic pain threw me for a loop. There was a period of a couple months at the beginning where I barely worked at all. And even once I started managing my pain better, it was still hard for me to keep up the pace of work I had established before.
There was also a mindset shift to contend with. It was as if my chronic pain broke something down inside me, mentally, and even when my body felt strong enough to work all day, my mind did not. Add that to intermittent bouts of depression and I had myself a recipe for financial struggle.
The Financial Consequences of My Depression
Being poor and being depressed go hand-in-hand.
It’s taken me over a year to get my mind into a better place when it comes to work, and to be honest it’s only recently that I’ve even neared my pre-health-crisis work levels.
All of this is to say, money has become a greater source of stress in the last year than it’s ever been before. And with this comes a newfound guilt.
Here’s the problem: I want to make more money, but I also feel bad about it.
Because I have been poor all my life, I think that on some level I have a fear of making too much money. What would I even do with it? How would I handle it? People like me don’t just achieve financial stability! I’m supposed to struggle.
Then there’s also a part of me that feels guilty for wanting to strive to make a good living for myself. Isn’t the acquisition of wealth for wealth’s sake an inherently evil prospect? Isn’t there something a little morally bankrupt about chasing dollar signs? Shouldn’t I just be content with what I have, even if what I have is sub-par medical insurance and an inability to save for retirement?
Here’s the thing though: when I talk about wanting to make more money, I don’t mean I want to hoard wealth and resources like a billionaire who thinks the only thing wrong with this country is that poor people don’t work hard enough. I’m talking about stability for myself and my family, the ability to pay all my bills without an anxiety attack, and enough left over to take a vacation sometimes.
But despite knowing that my desire to make more money isn’t “wrong” on a logical level, I still can’t help but feel a little guilty when I start planning ways to achieve more financial security.
These days, I am trying to cultivate a healthier mindset when it comes to making money.
It’s not easy. I need to let go of guilt while also maintaining a realistic view of what money means and what it can do for me.
I’m also working on being grateful for the things I have and enjoying things in life that don’t revolve around money. I figure that the more importance that I give to money, the more it’s going to stress me out, and the less likely I am to actually be able to make the money I want to make because I am too consumed with money-angst.
Will I ever fully let go of my negative feelings around making money? Who knows. Will I ever get out of this financial rut and make all the money of my wildest dreams? Who knows that, either. All I really know is, the best I can do on either front is try.
I’ll probably never have a private jet (though that would be pretty cool, to be honest, and I wouldn’t turn one down). But I don’t have to be afraid of trying to make money, either.
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Grace Moore is a writer from Washington. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and the occasional poem. She also writes articles on travel, mental health, writing, and books. Sometimes she’s funny, or at least that’s what her mom says. Follow her on Instagram @gracieawriter.