Shakin’ the (Empty) Money Maker

by Bill Brenner on May 7, 2010

The author on keeping sane when you gotta make do with less.

Mood music for this post:”What’s It Gonna Take” by Motley Crue:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wredTXeMS64&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

It’s easy to come undone when the money supply tightens up.

Just about everyone I know is feeling the financial hurt these days. In our case, we chose to take on the world of financial hurt. Erin has a cool editing business that deserves a chance to flourish and we had to take a chance for that to be possible. I don’t regret it for a second.

Success isn’t for those who play it safe.

But it can be a bitch when you have an addictive personality like I do. I put down the addictions that were going to be the death of me, but the trouble is that to keep the most destructive addictions at bay, people like me latch onto other vices. One is spending money. Not the crazy spending on fancy cars and clothes, mind you.

It’s the little things. The spending you do when it’s the path of least resistance and maximum comfort.

Buying dinner instead of cooking what’s in the fridge. Getting one of the high-octane coffee drinks at Starbucks when I should just stick to the coffee supply I have at home. Spending money on desk trinkets and books when I’m on vacation.

I do much better at keeping these habits in check now than I used to. I don’t really have a choice right now. But sometimes I do something stupid, like download new music from iTunes. When the Slash solo album came out, for example, I pressed the download button. Instant gratification. It didn’t even register in my head that the action mean Apple would be taking its money from one of the credit card numbers stored in the system.

Or when fueling up the car, I might grab a Red Bull without thinking. Red Bull is expensive, by the way.

Next week I’m taking the family to Washington DC, and we’re doing a lot of things to save money. Driving down instead of flying. Staying with a friend instead of paying for a hotel. Packing a lot of meals to have on the road instead of eating every meal in a restaurant. Given my most destructive addition, that would be a bad idea even if we were flush with cash.

But with two kids in tow, it’s going to make things a lot harder than it would be otherwise.

Though our financial burden is something I worry about, I’m not coming undone like I would have a few years ago. I would have stayed in bed or on the couch, binge eating on everything in site and drinking wine from the bottle. My brain would spin the problem around over and over and over again, with no solution at the end. I would punch walls and drive with all the road rage I could muster.

Those things aren’t happening, and for that I am grateful.

We have a roof over our heads and we’re in no danger of losing it. We still get the food on the table. Our clothing and medical needs are met. Most importantly, we have each other and God.

We’re very creative at finding things to do on the cheap or for free. We have a ton of wonderful friends and I’ve reconnected with some people who have been very important forces in my life. A friend who works at the White House is giving us a West Wing tour. That will be a huge experience for my kids, and it’s not costing a dime.

There are a lot of people out there who aren’t so lucky, and I really feel for them.

So I’m going to keep taking it a day at a time, and while it sucks being broke sometimes, I know things will work out.

They always do.

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