I start a new job on Monday. I am coming out of one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs I’ve had yet. For the past 4 months I’ve worked 40 hour work weeks, supporting a doctor as her one and only admin staff. In this time I did my best to save my money, and to be confident in myself with what I have, both in intelligence and material possessions. It’s been a hard but gratifying adventure, learning how to find fulfillment without spending money. When I had my hours reduced to 7 hours a week at my previous employment, and when I struggled for months to find even a part-time job, I grudgingly began the last leg of my financial recovery journey. I believe I finetuned those skills with the position that I just resigned from, though it still bothers me to not be able to spend money on my appearance. I am still learning how to separate my value as a person and as an employee from my clothing or my hair or makeup.
In the throes of my recovery, I figured out how to style my hair to show the least amount of gray hairs coming in, I went to a budget hair salon when I did go to get my roots dyed, and I didn’t even get a blow-dry after. I bought cheap conditioner that made my hair feel soft, but gave me small pimples on my hairline. I bought clothes at second-hand shops, I stopped buying new cosmetics, and I stopped going to the nail salon. This all brought mixed feelings. Sometimes I felt really empowered, other times I felt really unattractive. But all the while I began to feel more grounded in my standing in society; I officially stopped pretending I was in an economic class that I really wasn’t in. Ultimately, I grew more confident.
As I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for having to wait for my last paycheque at the clinic that I worked my last shift at today before I can buy a couple of small things for myself, I read in the morning news that the Bank of Canada is increasing interest rates. This is in order to curb inflation by discouraging people to spend money. When people stop spending money, the prices will start to go back down. I can understand how this can work, but what it means for us now, is the interest on credit cards and lines of credit will go up, and this will make it even harder for us to pay off the debt.
I have been working toward a debt-free lifestyle since the beginning on the pandemic, and while I am not sure it’s possible, realistic, or even desirable to be completely debt-free, with things such as mortgages and student loans, I am working on having no consumer debt. This has, without question, been a painful process. I have spent my entire adult life using material items to conceal my poor self-esteem and fear of connections with others, so being bare from this phony armour has motivated me to examine why I think I need to spend money and put myself into debt in order to believe I will be loved and accepted.
As I was feeling sorry for myself that I can’t have a new outfit, get my hair done, or have pretty nails for my first day of work on Monday, I paused and asked myself why I think I need those things to be taken seriously at this new job. That was when I was inspired to create the below poster and write this post.
The fact is, whether we are minimalists, naturalists, aspirants of a debt-free reality, or just accepting that our spending needs to be reigned in, we are coming into a tough 2023. A recession has been all but announced, and this interest hike will have everyone, even the most fiscally responsible, feeling it. It’s time we all start questioning our spending habits, and for me, this starts with loving myself, as God made me, and respecting where I am in my life-cycle and my social standing today.