Why Do I Feel Okay About Money Now?

“Okay” is a stretch, but I feel mostly fine.

This godforsaken year is winding its way to a close; it’s been dark and bad and mostly full of terrible news. Normally, at the midpoint of December in any other year, I am at a full-tilt panic about the state of my finances. This year, for some reason, I feel great. Fine, even. Just okay. Everything is not as bad as it could be — still not great, but not that bad. I’ve reached some sort of pleasant stasis in my usual financial anxiety and I’m not quite sure why.

Every Sunday, instead of trotting to a bar and watching football or laying on my bed reading for hours, I spend a good chunk of the morning gazing into the depths of my spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contains line items for each job I work and for every dollar amount I’m going to invoice for. I don’t need the spreadsheet; I’m maniacal about my money and am generally hyper-aware of every dollar I’m owed at any given point in time. Still, it soothes me, just seeing the little numbers in their columns.

It’s color-coded and I’ve developed a system for invoice numbers that I thought was extremely clever at the time but is now so confusing that I mess it up every month. There’s a column for money to be set aside for taxes and another column that shows how much I get to keep. There’s a neat little tally at the bottom that shows me how much money I’m making and how much money I’m socking away and another column that I fill in every time I get a check.

The dollar amounts are fixed. I get roughly the same amount of money each month, just like I did when I held an office job with a salary. But working for myself puts me in complete and total control of my money in a way that I have never experienced before. If I do more work, I will make more money. If I want to have more money to spend, I have to work more for it. It’s not the healthiest way of looking at things, but the freedom I have to be completely in charge of my own destiny, which is tied to very closely to how much money I make in a month, is almost worth it.

I am sure it’s foolish of me to feel less anxious about money than I did in the past; certianly this will bite me in the ass some point down the line. Making more money than I have before and saving great quantities of it in fear of my taxes has made me realize that while I still love spending money on things like books and face serums and various bits of garbage that sit in my house, saving it is okay, too. Spending the money on a plane ticket is a worthy investment; spending the money on another shirt I don’t need isn’t really. All financial security has taught me is a secret that people who’ve always had money have known all along — money affords you choice.

This morning when I left the house, I looked at my bank account and found $363 in my checking account, nestled up against a significantly larger dollar amount in my savings. It’s not a lot of money and it’s less than I usually have at this time of the month; because it’s December, I have spent money with wild, reckless abandon. I didn’t panic like I would have in years past. $363 is fine; it’s not a lot, but it’s not too little either. There’s money in my savings account if my check doesn’t come.

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