So, I started this new book (yes, I know, I haven’t updated the “What I’m Reading” page for ages… and I’m still reading some of the books, while others were read in a few days and never even made it on the page).
The book is Peace and Plenty by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Her previous books were on Oprah, the talk shows, and the NY Times bestseller list… all of which would explain why I’d never heard of her and only just now ran across her latest book on the cool bookstore-like displays in our newly-remodeled library branch.
More on the book later, but I want to comment briefly on a question she asked: “How does the word ‘money’ make you feel?”
I would say money is a useful tool, but an annoying boss. And if, God forbid, money becomes a god, it’s definitely one of the gods that demands human sacrifice. (Number one reason usually given for abortions or choosing to get sterilized? “I can’t afford more kids.” I wonder how much of our society’s lack of children is based on our financial insecurities, not our financial realities.) I suppose money makes me feel a bit wary; it may be a servant, but more like a half-wild, difficult to control mustang than a well-trained, calm plow horse.
The author made millions on her first books, then blew the whole thing through bad choices and a messy divorce. She, understandably, wrote that she felt edgy and uneasy about money. She talked about the fact that we can not acheive financial security; most people perpetually feel like they haven’t saved enough. Even Oprah, Breathnach said, has a $50 million just-in-case fund because of her self-described feelings of financial insecurity. It’s the “what if’s” that kill us, no matter what we actually have.
The goal, instead, Breathnach argued, is “financial serenity.”
Do you feel financially serene? Have you made decisions driven by financial insecurities? What do you do when you feel that insecurity creeping in?
I hate it when my comments flood the comments list as I reply to various people, so I’ll comment here first and y’all can follow:
Yes, I usually feel financially serene… now. I didn’t used to be. I still obsess over my lists of adoption expenses coming due and the graph of the Visa bill (which is supposed to be going to zero, but things keep coming up).
Part of that old financial insecurity manifested (many years ago) in my choice of majors: I did very well in multiple areas, but didn’t enjoy math (to put it mildly). My parents pushed hard for me to find scholarships and a major that would lead to a high-paying job. So what did I major in? Systems engineering. Which involved taking the same math courses as the electrical engineers (That’s bad. Very bad. My one and only lifetime F.).
Eventually, I realized that if I had a major with the potential of leading to a high-paying job, but hated it… then it wasn’t worth it. I graduated as a (much happier) history major.
Which may have been good practice for walking away from the many lucrative opportunities out there for former naval officers for the non-paying job of stay-at-home-mom.