Friday, December 26, 2014

A demon placated

I have often talked about my money demon.  I think about it as a tiny red monster on my shoulder that is constantly yelling at me to never spend money, to buy the cheapest option, to be paranoid about debt.  It doesn't want me to cheat anyone else mind you because it sees that as debt and as such it is a thing to be desperately avoided.  It has been there as long as I can remember but sometimes it is sleeping, dormant sort of.  I know it is there during those times but its exhortations are silenced.  Back when I was in university the demon was at full strength but it took a long nap while I was working selling beds as I had more money than I had any pressing need for at the time.

Over the past eight years the demon has been agitated, bouncing around and shrieking at full volume.  This month though Wendy finished her PhD and got a job and the demon took this as a cue to sit down, relax, close its eyes for just a minute, and finally nod off.  This has been a pleasant change that influences all kinds of small things in my life.  I don't worry about bus fares anymore and I go out and spend a little money to go to a movie or something like that without feeling tense about it.  Best of all though my desperate need to balance the books between me and everyone else in the world has faded dramatically.  I no longer worry about incurring debt quite the same way.

That shouldn't be taken to mean that I am now going to become a spendthrift that tosses money around like water.  Even in the years when I was working and making good money I literally spent one third of my take home pay and put the rest aside for later - I am always going to be frugal.  This change is just a small alteration in my habits, a pulling back of fear and doubt, worry and stress.  The demon going to sleep means I can do things that are well within my means comfortably and buy things I need without concern, secure in the knowledge that my bank account is on the way up.  It is going up slowly but the demon only really gets excited about the direction of the money vector not the magnitude.

Some people frame my discipline surrounding money as a laudable virtue but I don't see it that way really.  It has its advantages but others often don't see the cost of having a demon on my shoulder all the time.  There is a perfect middle ground where one makes ideal long term decisions about money but is not subject to lots of extra stress and I go far beyond that most of the time.  I hope now that the demon is slumbering once again I can be sensible and disciplined without all the monetary paranoia that has so often dogged my steps throughout my life.

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