Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More money... but more worries

One thing that has definitely changed for me in the last two years is how I view and use money. Two years ago, I never thought about it. We'd get a paycheck, pay the bills, inevitably run out of cash, put some of it on our credit cards, make some more money, pay the bills, pay part of the credit card, run out of money, etc. etc. etc. In the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't an ideal way of handling things, but oddly enough, I didn't worry about it. I assumed it would all work out eventually.

Now, we're in a better financial position. We can pay our bills. We've established a bit of an emergency fund. We are a few months away from being done with credit cards forever ("just" $4000 to go...). We know what's in our bank account every day. We've started putting 15% of our earnings into retirement. All good things... but instead of relaxing into the knowledge that we've given ourselves a little financial breathing room, I worry WAY more about $$$ than I used to. I'm glad I'm more aware of how I spend/use/save money, but I don't think it's a good idea to obsess about it. Ever. Maybe I do it because 1) we have a child to provide for now; 2) what with the crappy economy, it wouldn't take much to plunge into financial ruin; and 3) I no longer have any illusions that anyone will ever step in and help us if we need it. I mean, maybe they would, but I don't count on that the way I naively used to.

It's amazing how much time an adult person can spend thinking about how he/she is going to provide for his/her family. What boggles my mind is that Trent and I do okay, and we STILL scrape by sometimes. How do people do it? My suspicion is that a lot of us don't have real financial freedom - that is, the freedom to not worry about how we're going to meet our financial obligations. 

Sometimes, I lie in bed and think about where we will be 30 years from now. Will we have affordable health insurance? Will we be eligible for social security? Will anyone our age be getting social security benefits?  Will we be able to help our son with his college education? 

Even if we save and scrimp and never purchase anything expensive ever again, will we be able to afford the future? 

It's scary. I worry.

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