Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Money Troubles are Making me Lean and Mean

Kinda sucks. This economic downturn. Husband out of work. Me, promoted to "primary breadwinner" on my part-time paycheck. We have 60 dollars to last until the next pay period and I just found out that, because of the long weekend, they processed time sheets a day early so... I won't be paid for a month.
Kinda sucks.

On the other hand, now that the pressure's on, I've hauled out those manuscripts that I keep chipping away at but never quite finish; and I've started sending them out. Even got a nibble... I've started trolling for freelance work--and gotten a really fun assignment about people who fell in love at Jewish summer camp.

And, every evening Matthew, Katie and I have been playing the Prosperity Game, invented by Abraham-Hicks. It's a simple game: Each person imagines that each day, the Universe puts 1,000 into a virtual spending account. We sit at the table calculating how we would spend the money. We find exact sums for the things we want, sending us to the Internet several times each session to Google things like "Honda Insight" (me) and "white, embroidered Anthropologie 600-thread count sheets" (Katie). Matthew just keeps paying down the bills with his magic money. He's almost gotten the back rent covered and in another week, he'll be completely current on all utilities and medical bills. "Then, I'll start paying down the kids' college tuition," he smiles, looking really satisfied and kinda peaceful as he slides his index card into the checkbook cover he made to keep everything all tidy.

I like the game. It's got us taking and thinking, very consciously, about money--which is the opposite of the approach I usually take when we're cash-strapped--ignore the bank balance and go shopping.

Im not sure why I do this. Maybe it's the crossed wires, One programmed for great wealth (otherwise, WHY did I grow up in Great Neck? Duh.) and the other programmed to imagine total starvation the moment my stomach starts to growl.

Whatever it is, the whole thing makes me VERY hungry. Imported Sheep's Feta ($6.99), Balthazar Multigrain Pan bread ($5.75); organic berries ($4.99) and Cartlidge and Brown Cabernet ($27)

In some ways, it's better. With everyone tightening their belts around us, I don't feel like such a freak when I pay for the Omega-3 organic brown eggs with nickels and pennies. (We spent the quarters last week.) And last Friday, when I called to ask the bank to let us skip a car payment--just this once--they were very understanding (once they'd taken down all of my contact phone numbers and my employer's name and address).

I've switched from Tazo tea to LIpton and that strange head buzz has gone away. (What was THAT about, Tazo?) Plus, I've FINALLY had a chance to use all that lovely tuna, canned salmon and the dry beans in the pantry.

I'm not saying I want this to continue. Hear me, Universe. Send money now! But I have noticed that having less money is making me more focused; it's making Matthew and me talk about money more honestly and in a more creative way; the kids are pitching in and every night that weird, crazy little Prosperity Game is bringing us together around the dinner table to talk about what we really want and begin to build a bridge to create it, together.

PS The game seems to be working. Last week, I bought a Mega Millions ticket and tonight, when I win the 25 million, everything's going to be just fine.