What is money really worth?

I work a full time job as a teacher. My salary is tolerable for a single woman making a life for herself, but laughable if I were trying to start a family.

I work a second job as a waitress. I work 1-2 nights a week to make a little extra “fun” cash- I use it to get my hair done, go on a trip, or buy endless articles of clothing at Old Navy.

I spend my weeks alone since my boyfriend lives away, so the night(s) I go in to work aren’t usually taking away from our time together (though occasionally, it can). I block off my weekends so that I know I don’t get scheduled for a shift and lose out on lazy Saturdays and productive Sundays; but sometimes I wonder how much I’m missing out on, money wise.

My dad is a money guy. Not in a ‘bad’ way, just in the way that made me super diligent with my money. I have 2 savings accounts, I never carry a credit card debt, and I only keep enough in my checking account to pay my monthly bills. I also keep a piggy bank for even “extra” savings for random/last minute things (like the time I wanted to buy myself a $70 shirt for my birthday…..every penny came out of my piggy bank that’s tucked away in my bedroom). I’ve had a job since I was 13 years old, I worked 2-3 jobs all through high school and college (being an RA was one of them-saved me tons of $$), and now, here I am, graduated, working a career job, yet still working 2. My dad was always…encouraging…me to make money. Save for everything. Save for the things you know will come up, save for the unexpected. Work every chance you can while you’re young, have “fun” later.

My parents worked (and still work) so hard to provide for our family of 4. We had everything we needed and most things we wanted growing up. My brother and I both had some assistance paying for college, and even now, 3 years moved out, I still get a $20 slipped to me from both my parents most occasions that I see them, and my mom is always asking if  I need things like toilet paper or frozen chicken. They have given me so much, and I hope some day to be able to take care of them.

But I’m not as good as them. I’m not as committed to working and saving money. I’ve given shifts away before, I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of money on things I really don’t need ($800 on a new paddle board, another $800 on a new bike…), I’ve taken multiple flights to see my boyfriend during times that I could have been making just as much as I had spent flying…

I just don’t care. I care, but not like they did. They cared about me before I was even me. They cared about their future and about how they would survive- I care about my April vacation plans getting me out of Maine. I care about spending my only 2 days off a week with my boyfriend and friends. I care about buying those cute shoes and that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream- even though the shoes will only match with certain outfits and the generic ice cream is 1/2 the price of B&Js. I wish I cared more about my future. I wish I knew what kind of future I was going to have. I feel guilty not working more and saving more of my money but I feel sad missing out on time and memories. I want to have fun now, not later. (But I’m also a huge planner- see my dilemma?)

What is money even worth? Is it worth the security? Is it worth the “things”? Is it worth the time and emotions that come with it? Is it worth knowing that it’s there for things, good, bad, fun, sad…do I really need it? Seriously…will my life be less if I didn’t have all that “extra” money sitting in my savings account? Some days I feel so guilty turning things down because I try to treat my savings account as “$0.00” even though it’s not…I’m saving my money…but for what?

I’d like to think it’s for fun trips and adventures, but I know I won’t spend it on that. Because I feel like there’s a bigger purpose for it. But WHAT? It aggravates me that I spend my time and save my money for some things and I don’t even know what they are. Yes, my savings account has “saved” me a few times in the past few years..I’ve been very grateful for that..but I can’t help but wonder what will become of this money. I’m a big proponent of the “what if I die” theory. My dad was never too fond of that one..I’ve tried it on him multiple times, and at this point it’s a “your money your choice” discussion, but he just never seems to “get” my point of view.

Will this money ever amount to something? Will I ever feel comfortable only working one job? Will I ever stop worrying that I’m not making enough for something? When is it okay to live and enjoy the money? Or should it stay locked up until it’s my time someday…

4 thoughts on “What is money really worth?

  1. terierrol says:

    I don’t just think it is because you are young that you have these questions. I’m in my sixties and i am still asking myself when is enough, enough. When do i stop worrying, planning. Let’s just try to do the best we can and hope for the best. And enjoy a few of our days – we can’t afford to enjoy them all!!???

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz McKenna says:

    My husband and I have this conversation all the time. We are in our 30s with a daughter and a new house. We are often saving for the future, but we try not to do it at the expense of right now. You have to figure out what your time is worth, and what YOU (not your dad) really want and need out of life. That’s what helps us guide our thinking about money. It is SO hard to stop hustling when you’ve done it for so long, but if that’s what’s going to make you happy don’t be afraid to take the leap!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate Schwarz says:

    Balance, balance, balance… and living simply. I think that those things answer your very thoughtful question. And the fact that you are thinking about money and the importance of it probably means you are doing a lot of things correctly. Loved this slice that got me thinking of money and its role in happiness and life!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shana Karnes says:

    This post resonated with me! I love the writing–especially about your parents and the $20 bills and TP and frozen chicken.

    I also just identify with a lot of what you wrote. My hubby is the money guy in our family, but I feel like you do–we spent the first 10 years together working multiple jobs, saving money. Now that we have a baby I think we should relax on the savings and just make it a goal not to dip into our reserve accounts.

    It doesn’t sound like you’re interested in blowing your nest egg on a trip to Europe, so I wouldn’t guilt yourself when you decide to give a shift away or spend the weekend with your boyfriend. Whatever you do with your savings–a trip abroad, a house, your wedding–will be worth it. In the meantime, try not to worry!


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