My Dirty Secret

I have a dirty secret. I don’t make a lot of money. I often just get by financially, and not because I overspend, but because I just don’t earn a regular income. I have to think before I spend more than $50 and I can’t afford to travel as I used to.

I am not in debt, and never have been. In fact my family has always offered me help, but recently I decided I would not depend on them as much and learn to live within my own means. Well, it’s been over a year now, and I’ve exhausted my savings (the little nest egg I had saved hard to build as a safety net) and am worried I made the wrong decision.

But…

I can’t deny loving the sense of independence I feel because I am living within my means.

I can’t deny how freeing it feels to have simpler choices. When I go grocery shopping, I can’t buy any and everything that I want now. Instead I buy mostly what I need and is within my budget. There is less to choose from, and funnily enough, I feel happier.

I can’t deny that knowing what I have in my bank account will not last me beyond the next 2-3 months makes me motivated to create more workshops and share what I have learnt about health, healing and purposeful living with a wider audience.

I can’t deny that I appreciate and am immensely grateful for the clients I have now and want to find the best way I can to serve them.

I can’t deny that spending less money, mostly on what I need, rather than what I want or can spend money on, makes me no less content. Modern society has conditioned us to think that more money and material things will make us feel secure and happy, when in actual fact, recent studies have shown that ‘once wealth reaches a subsistence level, its effectiveness as a generator of well-being is greatly diminished.’*

Deep down inside I knew that depending on my family financially just didn’t feel good and in fact it made me feel disempowered and resentful. I feared it kept me as a child and in fact I am often mistaken for being much younger. While my vanity revels in this, I can’t help feeling like this is also because there is a part of me that has yet to fully grow up.

Maybe that’s what matters most, that I am doing what feels empowering and truthful for me.

When I was in this same position last year, down to just about enough money to last me a few months, I received a cheque for $10,000 after the death of my Godmother. She said she would look out for me and even in her death, she did.

In retrospect, I’ve always had enough to pay for my necessities and a little more, on the odd occasion a lot more, which has enabled me to study, travel and broaden my horizons. So this year, I decided I would make a conscious decision to keep going, keep moving toward my dream of independence and financial freedom. One step at a time. Maybe that is how you succeed. Not by never failing, but by making a decision to keep going even when you don’t.

* Quote taken from Wikipedia page on Happiness Economics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness_economics

10 thoughts on “My Dirty Secret

  1. Hey Michelle. Just wanted to say this was a very good read. I feel the same way, about how being financially dependent on my family keeps me as a child, especially to them.

    To be honest, I have a sizeable inheritance waiting for me, and I’ve certainly been born into a more than privileged family, but I would much rather someday look back and feel proud that I’ve made it on my own. It’s something that baffles a lot of my friends, they wonder why I want to work hard and slog my guts out for little pay when I can kick back and be a bum.

    Glad I’ve found someone who has the same view on this issue! :)

    -Mary-Anne from ALL

    • Thanks Mary-Anne, I appreciate that coming from you being a writer. Here’s to following our truths and making our lives worthwhile.

      Being a bum is so over-rated. As a Russian friend of mine once said, if you are not growing, you are decaying- only a Russian can express this in such a visceral severe way- but I have to admit that there is some truth in that :-)

  2. Good on you Michelle for sharing and thanks. It certainly takes guts and courage to post it and be truthful and honest to what you really feel.

    I know you have had offers where you could get that stability and security but opted to do things in your own terms and not sell out. This is a harder decision to make and hats off for sticking to your guns. And saying NO.

    My issue is saying Yes when I really mean No. As women, I think we have a disease to please. I am robbed of my time and space which leads to less opportunity to make money. And not having the sacred space to do what I like because my fuel gauge is low.

    Being away from home in a foreign has helped significantly because I have more time to connect with myself. I am learning the gift of saying No and that it is a complete sentence. A No does not need sorry or explanation.

    Here’s a toast to NO which will open up better opportunities
    HABIBI

    • So articulately expressed Habibi. You make me wanna be a better writer. I applaud your courage, desire to always be better, grow and learn; and I toast your complete sentence No.

      Funny thing about getting older I find, it’s somehow easier to say no and not care as much about what other people think of you.

      Can’t wait to see you very soon!

    • Yup, all good here Paul, glad to know I am in your good company. I hear it takes 5- 7 years to build a business, so let’s just keep going, deal? I love your initiative and actually you probably aren’t aware of this but your advice was enormously helpful to me last year. Thank you and hope to visit Cafe Compassion sometime in the not too distant future. Much Love.

  3. Thanks for a beautifully honest post Michelle. It is almost taboo to reveal honest facts about our financial situations and you have been most courageous in stepping past this.

    Since I went freelance 3 years ago, I’ve experienced the same surprising sense of liberation that came with having fewer options for consumption (eating out at expensive restaurants, unnecessary shopping, etc) but my happiness levels just get higher and higher each year.

    Here’s to being true to ourselves and enjoying the deep JOY that that brings to the heart!

  4. Very well written babe, I’m happy to see you feeling fulfilled despite choosing the path less traveled. Always here for the times you need a hand if the going gets tough! XXX

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