I’ve always been terrible with money, disastrously so. The few times I’ve tried to make a budget did little more than reinforce the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. My life has been a kind of financial fugue, in which, somehow, I’ve made it this far, living what appears to be (superficially) well, while on the inside it’s been nothing but constant stress and evasion. In Vanity Fair Thackeray devotes a chapter to “How to Live Well on Nothing a Year”:
The truth is, when we say of a gentleman that he lives elegantly on nothing a-year, we use the word “nothing” to signify something unknown; meaning, simply, that we don’t know how the gentleman in question defrays the expenses of his establishment.
I keep thinking things will improve. I’ll find a better job, make more money, and take care of the debt I endlessly incur. It’s as if I have this strange, completely unwarranted belief that the universe knows I’m a good person, with all kinds of unrealized potential, and that the scales will eventually balance.
I’ve started reading a book on making a budget not as an exercise in spreadsheet manipulation but as a philosophy, and was struck by this line:
It’s funny how we can have no problem spending on a whim, but the idea of hashing out a meaningful plan for our money can be paralyzing.
This is so true that the absurdity is sad. Why is it so hard to face my finances directly, yet so easy to ignore them and spend as if I already own the things in question? My hope is to stop blithely running.