It probably comes as no surprise to learn us writers are emotional wee beings but I think it's fair to say that when it comes to money and the competent managing of it, everyone's emotions play a part to a fair extent. We've all heard of emotional spending. That's the spending you do when you're having a sad day, a happy day, a bad hair day, a thin day, a fat day, a tired day, a sick day - any excuse we make when it's just all too hard and we can't be arsed so instead resort to buying a new dress, lipstick, takeaways, anything to make us feel a little better or our lives a little bit easier. Of course, the more you do it the harder you're actually making it for yourself in the long run but we don't think of that at the time, we just want a quick fix!
Lord knows I've been guilty of that over the years and the urge to splurge can still hit, especially with two teenage boys who are professionals when it comes to tapping into tired parent emotions. With all the ups and downs and illness and emotional upheaval of the past couple of years I have to really keep myself in check on the blue days. And when that happens I'm careful to make sure I pat myself on the back inwardly for not giving in and making careless, lazy decisions.
However I have stumbled across one emotion at least which is surprisingly useful. Most people find it hard to believe but every now and then I get very, very angry. Not the overt temper tantrum kind which everybody around you knows about and steers clear of but the kind which stays inside and just simmers secretly for days until it reaches boiling point. Fortunately that doesn't happen often, which is good as I don't think it's a healthy way to be, keeping all that negativity inside but the good thing is, sitting at the bottom of my hellhole in recent months has taught me how to channel it and put all that powerful emotional energy into something productive instead. Believe it or not, I have discovered that anger can be very profitable!
The first time this happened that springs to mind was at the end of last year at the end of my second bout of pneumonia. I had hardly been out of bed in two months which meant I had been unable to find work (or every time I did I had to turn it down due to sickness). The boys bless them were unable to contribute much either as they were both in the thick of exams and studying and with the bills racking up more and more and getting further behind the old self esteem couldn't have been much lower. I was officially (at least in my opinion) the most useless mother and provider on the planet.
Then one night as I lay awake worrying about money as usual and getting angier and angrier at my sorry state of affairs, for some reason I thought randomly of all the junk under the stairs. We'd just kind of pushed a load of stuff under there that we didn't have room for when we'd moved in 18 months earlier. I had no real recollection of what was even in there but made a mental note to check it out when the boys were at school the next day. The next morning I hopped out of bed, dragged everything out from under the stairs, cleaned it up and started listing it on our local Facebook Buy, Sell, Swap page. I have no idea what got into people that day but everyone went crazy and were actually fighting over my listings! Being on Facebook there were no success fees, no postage costs, no waiting or hassle whatsoever, just straight cash profit. The more interest my listings got, the most it fuelled my energy and determination and by the time the boys got home from school I had made over $400. I made another $200 the next day. My self esteem was back up through the roof!
Of course another great example of how I used my anger in a productive way was in the case of battling the insurance company recently. Throwing a mental fit gets you nowhere, you have to be cool, calm and 100% confident of all your facts so that you are unable to be argued with. I actually won not one but TWO similar cases the previous year when I was unfortunate enough to be involved in two car accidents in quick succession. One of them was particularly unpleasant and I ended up laying a complaint against the claims officer who was investigating. Just as with my recent life insurance case, as soon as I got angry, I got results. In the case of both car accidents, the claims against me were withdrawn, the fault on both counts was found not to be mine and I was refunded $600 in excess fees.
This week is a little different in that it wasn't my circumstances that made me angry but an actual person. I could feel the situation eating me up more and more and getting into more of a state about the injustice it all when I literally stopped myself short and said 'You need to do something productive with all this, girl!' And I was absolutely right. What was the use in getting my knickers in a knot when I had so many other pressing things to do and think about? My son was leaving home in just over a week and we needed money. I wanted to send him off with a decent supply of essentials - food, bathroom items etc to stand him in good stead when he arrived alone in an unfamiliar city - but now all my benefits for looking after him had been cut this was proving nearly impossible. We hardly had enough money to feed us every week now as it was, how could I possibly scrape up enough to buy a whole second stash of supplies? By doing just as I had before. By getting angry and putting all that energy into finding things we could do without and selling them on Facebook. Like these boots. Much as I love them the money I could make from them was more valuable than having flowers on my feet and I managed to sell them for the same price I paid!
Of course the great thing about getting all productive this way is that you can feel any anger or negative emotions lift almost immediately and get replaced by the feeling you're doing something good. I made $120 that afternoon just selling a few bits and pieces and watching my success motivated Liam to do the same and he sold $100 worth of his own stuff. Now I don't have to worry and Liam and me can go to the supermarket next week and get all the basics he needs to start his new adventure. Being able to do that for him is hugely important to me, I want him to go off and be able to feel as though I've done all I can to prepare him. I guess this tactic may not work for everyone but of course it doesn't have to be anger that fuels you, whatever emotion floats your boat will do I'm sure. The important thing is that you make it work for you and turn it into something positive. After all, we have emotional spending - why not emotional earning? People have said to me in the past 'But surely eventually you run out of things to sell - what happens then?' The funny thing is, you don't. There is always something more you can live without, something more you can find. This story I wrote for That's Life magazine a few months ago proves that - I found talking to Lauren incredibly inspiring!
I still have more things to sell and was even more glad I got my bum into gear when I received a bill for $45 in Sports Science fees for Ali and over $300 in oven repair fees from last year. That one was a bit of a nasty shock! To be fair I should have expected it but as the repairs were carried out last November and I still hadn't received anything I thought they had forgotten and I was in no position to chase it up! As it was, they just had the wrong email address. Still, I'll just keep on selling until they're both covered. It's so rewarding not to have to eat into my bank account. After so long without money I'm still absolutely terrified of spending it to the extent that I still have some debts to pay off fully but I'm making sure everybody gets something each week and have paid off another two in full. I even managed to pay to get my car serviced (which was thousands of kilometres overdue) thanks to a wonderful kind hearted mechanic who did the job for me for half price after reading my story in the Sunday Star Times! It's a long, slow journey but I will get there and every day it gets a little bit better. Time to go and face the day, so much to do!