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What do you wish you'd been taught about money as a kid?

Thread starter #25
Thanks @Movingforward10 and @blackemerald1 ๐Ÿ˜Š

This thread and what you and others have contributed has really helped me a lot to be a bit less phobic, avoidant, panicky, escapist about it.

Funny, how reassuring and helpful it can be just to know that others struggle with the issue too... I guess it's validating to hear it, so it helps stop the inner critic dialogue of "I'm too stupid to deal with this, it's my fault it's a problem, I'm weak to be scared of it" and so on.

I think just giving myself permission that yes, this is a scary and challenging and emotional topic... for many people and for ppl with childhood trauma especially... I think that's allowing me to feel more empowered about it and less like I'm weak/ stupid for "not getting it" or "not knowing the answers already".

So thank youuuu for the encouragement!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Having said all that, I've just hit the first "bump" in the road already... d'oh.

I put my savings plan in an excel spreadsheet, thinking it'd motivate me to see how the savings add up over the next 12 months.

Instead, kid-brain is like "OOOOMMMMGGGG savings are so SLOWWWWW" and very disappointed about the projected savings I'll have in 12 months.

Which, uhh, objectively is ridiculous, because if I wasn't doing this, then I'd have *no* savings in 12 months.

I guess kid-brains are not good at delayed gratification stuff... sigh.

I guess I can use my adult brain and be compassionately-bossy with kid-brain and say "Hush, it doesn't matter how much savings it is... The point is, savings = safety and we're adding to the safety each month. Leave the details to me and just focus on the fact that we're building more safety each month, bit by bit."


In the context of good parenting,no that wouldn't be. That would be teaching life skills. But in my context, which I'm assuming you are referring to, it was. Food was not witheld from me (although I paid for my own), my basic needs of food and shelter were not denied. But the context for me was as I wrote in my post. So overall: it was an abdication of parenting becuase they needed me to be an adult to sort out their problems.
Also wanted to say that I agree with this ^^ totally. If it had been done as part of good parenting, it would've been fine and a great example of learning responsibility etc. But how it was actually done was neglect and abuse imo.

@bird_on_a_wire I found your description of your family's financial situation very interesting. If I've read it correctly, then it was challenging to be affected by poverty, but there was no abuse/ neglect around the topic of money in your family? If I've read it wrongly, I apologise.

The way I did read it, however, gives me a sense of comfort. Because it's my personal belief that poverty does not have to = abusiveness and neglect around money. I've met a lot of "decent, honest, hard-working poor folks" over the years, and have admired them greatly. Seeing them dealing with it so well and supporting each other and finding joy in life despite financial hardships... That is beyond inspirational to me.

In my family, lack of money was used as a reason/ excuse/ justification for abuse and neglect. So those two things have become very intertwined in my head. I hope to be able to untangle them one day and I aspire to live, think, feel and manage my money like your parents did @bird_on_a_wire . If I can get there, I will be very happy and at peace. So thank you for sharing your story... it resonates with me very deeply.

They didn't throw away money and when I got a date for the prom with 2 weeks to spare, there wasn't enough time for my mother to sew me a dress and oohhh and ahhhh over her fashion design in two weeks....and buying one was out of the question so because I got asked too late for her liking.... I couldn't go. The money was there......not accessible to me....I had no idea what people did with money. I guess I learned through the lessons of hard knocks.
I'm very sorry about this experience... That's such a mean way to use money as a power game. I remember countless similar situations... Where my abusive parent was out to shame me and money and my lack of access to it was used in an abusive way. Ugh.

One thing that I learned to think about that over the years is to stare at the person that was being mean/ stingy/ abusive with their money and silently think "Yeah, God/ the universe gave you money because they didn't give you anything else (like compassion, soul, warmth, intelligence). You're the one that got the raw deal."

And yeah, my family did the whole "hoarding" thing too... From post WWII experiences of poverty... I find it really challenging myself, because I grew up with this iron clad rule of NOTHING GETS THROWN AWAY EVER cos who knows, maybe in 25 years we'll need it for SOMETHING. I have huge amounts of guilt around throwing anything away, it takes a lot of effort to remind myself that it's a stupid nonesense "rule" made by abusive people who weren't well... And that there are more sensible and sane ways of being respectful and not-wasteful with your possessions, than "just hoarding".

Hoarding is definitely part of a "poverty mindset" imo... A sense that there will never be "enough"...

Edit to add:

I wish I didn't feel such apprehension every time there's a bill but I still do, even when I know I've saved for it.
I also wanted to respond to this: Over the past few years, I've developed a really big phobia about "opening the mail". Like, ridiculous levels of phobia. For the first time in my life, I've literally just left letters unopened, cos my brain just wasn't coping. I'm seeing a social worker atm and this is the first thing we've started working on. What's really helped me is to have it validated that it's a HUGE issue for me. We've decided that just as other people are phobic about things like dentists, flying, snakes, etc (all things I'm not scared of) I'm "allowed" to have a massive phobia about opening the mail.

The social worker and I brainstormed for ages and have come up with the following system: I have two boxes for mail. One box I'm allowed to just dump the mail in unopened, when I get it from the letter box. (This is a scary step for me, just on its own). Then, I'm allowed to open that mail (all or some of it) when I feel ready. The mail that just contains information and doesn't need me to take action in any way, goes in the 2nd box to be filed away at some later point.

So the first box contains the opened mail I need to take action on and any mail I don't feel able to open. And I take this box along to the appointments with the social worker. When I'm there, I open any letters I didn't feel able to open on my own, and we got through the contents of the box to talk about what needs doing and if I can manage on my own.

This has helped *massively*.

It's stopped the inner dialogue of "I SHOULDN'T be scared of this".

Cos, just trying to suppress the fear wasn't working.

So even tho the process of using 2 boxes to put the "scary" mail in feels kinda silly... It's working... It's an emotionally scary topic for me and the social worker and I have found a way of responding well to that emotional component.

I dunno if there's anything "similar" you could do about your sense of fear about the bills? Some way of validating that it's OKAY to be scared of it, EVEN if it's "irrational" because you've saved for those bills and some way of sharing that burden with others?

Another edit to add:
(This topic fries my brain and I forget everythingggg)
I got rid of my credit card/debt a few years ago.
So, I want to *keep* my credit cards, but not use them anymore. Because, there's several thousand $ worth of "potential credit" on each of them, so if I ever had a big "emergency" that I haven't got enough savings for (huge vet bill, car can't be repaired and needs to be replaced) then I'd have those credit cards as an additional safety net. That's the role I want them to play in my life in future.
 
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Thread starter #26
So... next task is to work out my monthly budget.

As with everything else in life, I find that growing up with trauma and having PTSD = I rarely ever "fit the mold" for "how to do things".
I feel like all the advice stuff out there on "how to... run your household, exercise, set up a budget... whatever" isn't really geared to how trauma and PTSD can affect your life. I spent a long time in my life "trying to do those things right" until I realised that I can't do things that way, I have to adapt them all individually to suit my strange, messy, challenging situation.

So, budgets... Thanks to trauma, PTSD and disability, my career and income has never been anything like "what it should be". So bye-bye to all those concepts.

The fact of the matter is that much of the time, I don't know what my income will be next month or next year. Simply don't know.
I have phases where it's more predictable than others... I'm not just randomly guessing all the time...

But for example, last year I was working part-time and supplementing with Disability payments. This year I started off working full-time with a really comfortable income. Then got laid off and was really ill, couldn't work and had noooo idea if I'd be able to live just from Disability without any income from part-time work... Then it surprisingly turned out I'd get sick pay even tho I'd been laid off... So currently, sick pay is 70% of the fulltime income, which is not "comfortable" but double what I'd be getting on Disability. When sick pay ends, I have nooo idea what my income will be then... Hopefully I'll be able to work so that my income will be more than Disability, but I'd rather be careful and assume that I may have to budget to survive just on Disability for a while, if I don't find suitable work quickly enough.

And this kind of stuff ^^ is typical for my life-with-PTSD. I can't tell in advance when symptoms will be mild and I'm fine to work or when symptoms will be severe and I can't work. So trying to set up a budget "in the way you're meant to" just doesn't work for me and inevitably I end up feeling like a failure cos I can't do a budget "right".

So, I'm going to need to get out of that mindset and screw doing a budget "how you're meant to" and just do one that's compatible with how PTSD affects my life.

The main thing that I did early on when I realised that PTSD was going to stick around for the foreseeable future was to reduce all my neccessary spending to a bare minimum, so that I could always survive on Disabilty if I had to. So that's rent, utilities and food. I've set that up so that if I can't earn a full or part time income then it's not some "huge disaster" because I'll lose my apartment. So I have a flexible budget that allows me to adjust to either times of minimal income or times of a more comfortable, liveable income.

So far, so good. But here comes the exception: Since 2013, I've had pets and since 2016 I've had a few farm animals and a 2nd hand car.

Those are my only "luxuries" so to speak. And they weigh pretty heavily on my mind, because those things are really hard to finance on a minimal income. Not impossible, but it's very tight. So I need to work out how to deal with that, in case my income is minimal in future.

So yeah, I need a weird flexi-budget that's got a minimal income core plus additional spending and saving in times of more income, plus I need to find a way to budget for animals and car costs. (Living on a farm, it's not really viable to not-have-a-car. I used to not have one when I lived in the city and that was fine, but living rurally and needing to transport things like animal feed, a 2nd hand car is basically an unavoidable neccessity).

So yup, those are the challenges for my budget and I have to get out of the mindset of trying to create a "normal" budget... I'll just have to make my budget SPECIAL ๐Ÿ˜
 
#27
I appreciate the need for a special budget. I had a similar problem for a while. I also had to find the bare minimum I would need to have in order to not become homeless again. I made lots of lists and did rough maths (not my strong point) to see how I could manage.

My parents and grandparents also had the depression era mindset. It's hard to shake when one is the off-spring of that kind of family environment. The withholding of food, clothing, shoes, education opportunities and much more accompanied by the incredible shame I felt when sent to school in clothes that didn't fit, or were way more than second-hand has had a big effect on me. Children can be really cruel at times. It's had a few unforeseen consequences like I've got no sense of fashion or identity with clothes for one thing. In my professional life I've spent most of my life in a uniform of one kind or another so there's no room for growth there.

With my own children I've been careful not to perpetuate that cycle. Actually I may have gone slightly over-board the other way. I made sure my children had every opportunity they needed to get their educations and I sold personnel possessions and worked crazy jobs and hours to make sure they didn't suffer from the abject poverty that was a over-whelming feature of my childhood.

You're right though. I too knew others who were just as poor as my family but they were so happy, loving and kind. What a difference that made to the children in those families.

My siblings have suffered terribly to consolidate their wealth... It effects everyone differently.
 
#28
Thanks @Movingforward10 and @blackemerald1 ๐Ÿ˜Š

This thread and what you and others have contributed has really helped me a lot to be a bit less phobic, avoidant, panicky, escapist about it.

Funny, how reassuring and helpful it can be just to know that others struggle with the issue too... I guess it's validating to hear it, so it helps stop the inner critic dialogue of "I'm too stupid to deal with this, it's my fault it's a problem, I'm weak to be scared of it" and so on.

I think just giving myself permission that yes, this is a scary and challenging and emotional topic... for many people and for ppl with childhood trauma especially... I think that's allowing me to feel more empowered about it and less like I'm weak/ stupid for "not getting it" or "not knowing the answers already".

So thank youuuu for the encouragement!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Having said all that, I've just hit the first "bump" in the road already... d'oh.

I put my savings plan in an excel spreadsheet, thinking it'd motivate me to see how the savings add up over the next 12 months.

Instead, kid-brain is like "OOOOMMMMGGGG savings are so SLOWWWWW" and very disappointed about the projected savings I'll have in 12 months.

Which, uhh, objectively is ridiculous, because if I wasn't doing this, then I'd have *no* savings in 12 months.

I guess kid-brains are not good at delayed gratification stuff... sigh.

I guess I can use my adult brain and be compassionately-bossy with kid-brain and say "Hush, it doesn't matter how much savings it is... The point is, savings = safety and we're adding to the safety each month. Leave the details to me and just focus on the fact that we're building more safety each month, bit by bit."




Also wanted to say that I agree with this ^^ totally. If it had been done as part of good parenting, it would've been fine and a great example of learning responsibility etc. But how it was actually done was neglect and abuse imo.

@bird_on_a_wire I found your description of your family's financial situation very interesting. If I've read it correctly, then it was challenging to be affected by poverty, but there was no abuse/ neglect around the topic of money in your family? If I've read it wrongly, I apologise.

The way I did read it, however, gives me a sense of comfort. Because it's my personal belief that poverty does not have to = abusiveness and neglect around money. I've met a lot of "decent, honest, hard-working poor folks" over the years, and have admired them greatly. Seeing them dealing with it so well and supporting each other and finding joy in life despite financial hardships... That is beyond inspirational to me.

In my family, lack of money was used as a reason/ excuse/ justification for abuse and neglect. So those two things have become very intertwined in my head. I hope to be able to untangle them one day and I aspire to live, think, feel and manage my money like your parents did @bird_on_a_wire . If I can get there, I will be very happy and at peace. So thank you for sharing your story... it resonates with me very deeply.


I'm very sorry about this experience... That's such a mean way to use money as a power game. I remember countless similar situations... Where my abusive parent was out to shame me and money and my lack of access to it was used in an abusive way. Ugh.

One thing that I learned to think about that over the years is to stare at the person that was being mean/ stingy/ abusive with their money and silently think "Yeah, God/ the universe gave you money because they didn't give you anything else (like compassion, soul, warmth, intelligence). You're the one that got the raw deal."

And yeah, my family did the whole "hoarding" thing too... From post WWII experiences of poverty... I find it really challenging myself, because I grew up with this iron clad rule of NOTHING GETS THROWN AWAY EVER cos who knows, maybe in 25 years we'll need it for SOMETHING. I have huge amounts of guilt around throwing anything away, it takes a lot of effort to remind myself that it's a stupid nonesense "rule" made by abusive people who weren't well... And that there are more sensible and sane ways of being respectful and not-wasteful with your possessions, than "just hoarding".

Hoarding is definitely part of a "poverty mindset" imo... A sense that there will never be "enough"...

Edit to add:


I also wanted to respond to this: Over the past few years, I've developed a really big phobia about "opening the mail". Like, ridiculous levels of phobia. For the first time in my life, I've literally just left letters unopened, cos my brain just wasn't coping. I'm seeing a social worker atm and this is the first thing we've started working on. What's really helped me is to have it validated that it's a HUGE issue for me. We've decided that just as other people are phobic about things like dentists, flying, snakes, etc (all things I'm not scared of) I'm "allowed" to have a massive phobia about opening the mail.

The social worker and I brainstormed for ages and have come up with the following system: I have two boxes for mail. One box I'm allowed to just dump the mail in unopened, when I get it from the letter box. (This is a scary step for me, just on its own). Then, I'm allowed to open that mail (all or some of it) when I feel ready. The mail that just contains information and doesn't need me to take action in any way, goes in the 2nd box to be filed away at some later point.

So the first box contains the opened mail I need to take action on and any mail I don't feel able to open. And I take this box along to the appointments with the social worker. When I'm there, I open any letters I didn't feel able to open on my own, and we got through the contents of the box to talk about what needs doing and if I can manage on my own.

This has helped *massively*.

It's stopped the inner dialogue of "I SHOULDN'T be scared of this".

Cos, just trying to suppress the fear wasn't working.

So even tho the process of using 2 boxes to put the "scary" mail in feels kinda silly... It's working... It's an emotionally scary topic for me and the social worker and I have found a way of responding well to that emotional component.

I dunno if there's anything "similar" you could do about your sense of fear about the bills? Some way of validating that it's OKAY to be scared of it, EVEN if it's "irrational" because you've saved for those bills and some way of sharing that burden with others?

Another edit to add:
(This topic fries my brain and I forget everythingggg)


So, I want to *keep* my credit cards, but not use them anymore. Because, there's several thousand $ worth of "potential credit" on each of them, so if I ever had a big "emergency" that I haven't got enough savings for (huge vet bill, car can't be repaired and needs to be replaced) then I'd have those credit cards as an additional safety net. That's the role I want them to play in my life in future.
Credit cards unusued, actually can reduce your credit score. Credit cards pd regularly or pd off monthly, increase your credit score.
I totally get the credit card will save me in an emergency concept....I think that's normal. It's like a lifeline. I have the going to mailbox fear, too. Not as bad as I used to.....I hate bills.....and I forget sometimes, and frankly I hate paying them. I'm relieved in the end when I do pay them.....and I hate junk mail too....so much clutter....I'm always cleaning. Good thing they have autopay for the important things.
 
#29
I use credit cards for me now: I make money out of them rather than them making money out of me! I have a credit card that gives me 1% cash back on everything I spend. So I use it like a debit card and pay it off every month, so I pay no interest on it. And then every year I get my 1% back.
I use my app to check my spending, and I know how much I can spend on it to be able to pay it off.

So I moved from someone who was focused on drugs and drink,and managed money in a really awful way, to someone who is financially savvy and secure.

If I lost my job tomorrow: I have enough savings to last me a few months to hopefully find another job.

So it's possible to work through the fear of being in debt and not feeling strong enough to change the situation.

And I also understand the "all this effort and it's going to take years to make me debt free/build savings, what's the point?". I had that. That's where breaking it down really helps. So ok, at the moment I have XXX debt, but in a year it will be Xx debt. Work towards that. Then the next goal. And then the next. Looking at the end game: no debt as the goal can be demoralising. (Depending on how much debt there is, but looks like you don't have much debt and you're focused on savings, excellent, !).
 
#30
Credit cards unusued, actually can reduce your credit score. Credit cards pd regularly or pd off monthly, increase your credit score.
^Maybe but not maybe... Credit cards used to be a way of financial institutions taking a snapshot of your history. Now where I am, it's taking out loans and paying them off - like for cars, homes & even smaller purchases and paying your utility bills on time and believe me... financial institutions do look at your income, your ability to save and to budget.... they want bank statements & loan history. They may ask for credit card history but only to see if you've paid up and how much you're in hock to that finance company. All of the non credit card history adds up big time in terms of credit rating.

I have no credit cards and haven't had any for years but I've now got an excellent credit rating/history. Banks are more than happy to give me loans but in the main, I'd rather save my money and buy that way.
 
Thread starter #31
I'll reply in more detail later, but just a quick note to say that I've done a rough draft of my "minimal" monthly budget (for surviving on Disability) and my current monthly budget, which is approx. double that.

Gah, this stuff is triggery and uncomfortable and... negative... yeah, it feels it feels negative.

And I'm such a kid-brain about stuff like that... "If it feels bad, then it is bad"
Kid logic.

So, cos dealing with finances feels bad -> that means finances are bad -> that means running away from them is a good thing...

Anyway, I'm learning to just "sit with" those negative, uncomfortable, overwhelming feelings.

Sit with the sadness, sit with the vulnerability, sit with the frustration, sit with the shame, sit with the helplessness, sit with the loneliness, sit with the fear, sit with the dissociation.

Adult-brain thinks wow, this finances stuff has so many powerful emotions tangled up in it. And if I manage to overcome, say, half of them, by staring this stuff down and doing exposure therapy with it and facing my fears... Then I'll be carrying a much lighter load, and will feel far more liberated and at peace than I do now.
 
#32
Most financial stuff needs to be alive because needs attention regularly.

It's really hard setting it all up and it feels bad.. I agree (when you know? Most of my peers would love to have such freedom over their finances and what happens to them). But it still feels bad. Lonely too? Yes - completely agree with that. Alone in the respect that if I stuff up.. well I've only got myself to blame and bear the brunt of the consequences. But also alone in that if I could share the feelings that rise as a result of doing the finances, the negative tide, then it probably would feel less scary? But, again - I cannot be expecting people to help if I'm unwilling to disclose and share. Trust isn't strong enough for me to do that.. so I suppose I choose loneliness rather than riskiness?
 
Thread starter #33
I've been meaning to reply to this in detail, but I've been really dissociated the last 3 days - I think because I'm facing this topic, which for me is so scary, so emotional and so complex.

I've had the following draft sitting here for 24 hours, so I'm just going to press send on it and try and reply "properly" later...



One of the things that I remember from starting to/ attempting to read Kate Northrup's book a few years ago is the concept of money = value and what you spend your money on are the things you value in life. (Probly not explaining the nuances right, but that's the general gist.)

One thing that I appreciate from this looking-at-finances stuff is that it's making me more consciously "aware" of what I spend my money on.

For example, I usually just view the electricity bill as "an annoyance". As something unavoidable. As something that's just part of modern day life and I don't really even get a say in it, it just is.

But, if I look at it the other way around, then my spending a % of my income each month/ year on electricity must mean that I value electricity. I must value the things it does for me (it powers my washing machine, so I don't have to wash clothes by hand, it powers my electric blanket so I'm snug and warm in bed in winter, it means I can turn on lamps to make a room look more cosy and less gloomy, etc).

I guess it's a way of *feeling* stuff more... which counteracts my PTSD's tendency to numb feelings about a lot of stuff.

And a way of feeling gratitude about things as mundane as electricity. I'm too young to have grown up without electricity being anything other than a given that everyone takes for granted in affluent western countries... So I don't really "feel" anything about utilities like electricity, gas, water. They're part of how I grew up, they're always just "there" and everyone is always mildly annoyed about the utility bills and that's that. I guess that's specific to my particular type of childhood trauma tho... Utilities were something that was always paid for, even if other things weren't paid for. So I guess others may have had significantly different childhood trauma experiences re utilities and what life is like without them. Hmm.

So yeah, it's making me reflect about this stuff more... Actually seeing the *value* in things more, whether it's intangible stuff like utilities or more tangible stuff like belongings.

Also, doing my budget, I noticed again how much having pets and farm animals is my only real luxury... And it was kind of nice actually... I smiled and petted my dog and told him "You are my luxury, did you know that?" It's nice to think of him like that.

One thing that I'm actually a bit apprehensive about is tracking my weekly/ monthly spending. I've tried that in the past and found it extremely claustrophobic and triggering... Controlling myself like that... controlling every dollar and cent that I spent, writing down every cup of coffee I bought... It felt horrible... Even tho it was me controlling my spending, it just felt unbelievably suffocating.

So I'm a bit worried about how that will go. I hope that if I find an app for my phone that I can use, then it will feel more playful than carrying around a notebook and writing every expenditure down... I really hope I can generate some kind of positive mindset about it so it doesn't feel so punitive and stifling.
 
#34
I've been meaning to reply to this in detail, but I've been really dissociated the last 3 days - I think because I'm facing this topic, which for me is so scary, so emotional and so complex.

I've had the following draft sitting here for 24 hours, so I'm just going to press send on i
It IS really scary, emotional and complex to face this. And you have faced it head on. Like I said in an earlier post , you've just jumped 10 hurdles in one and landed perfectly. So maybe look at it this way: jumping 10 hurdles perfectly is great and a wonderful achievement, but it can also knock the wind out of you. So you just need to rest a little. Recharge your emotional batteries to be ready to race again.

I think apps are great. All we got to do is look at them. They do the maths and calculations. I have my credit card on an app and my bank accounts on another.

My friends talk about an app that tracks all spending. I forget what it is, but they rave about it.

You got this @Sophy (in lockdown) !
 
Thread starter #35
Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting so much emotional fallout from this. I think it's healthy tho.

Just removed my credit cards as payment options for things like Amazon, Ebay, Paypal etc.

And removed my credit cards from my purse and put them in a drawer.

And I found a good/ easy "payment tracker" app so that I can track my cash payments each day.

So far that hasn't been too triggering, so I'm relieved about that.

It's called "Spending Tracker" and is on the Android Google Play thingee for free.
 
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