Revanche over at A Gai Shan Life posted an interesting piece a few days ago. It’s an excellent post — and not just because she manages to reference both Lord of the Rings and Firefly.
She talks about attitudes toward charity and giving, having recently learned that a friend is opposed to it. He apparently feels that he’s done all the work himself and doesn’t owe anything to anyone.
I find the attitude very frustrating, and I know I’ve talked before about invisible privilege. Even I, a depressive with a physical disability, had so very much help/luck that it’s nearly impossible to list it all.
But what really got me thinking was – and here’s where I sound like a navel-gazing douchebag – my own comment.
I mentioned that I keep meaning to give to charities. But other than Goodwill donations, I just don’t. But as an afterthought I wrote, “I just feel like we’re constantly pummeled by bills. Plus we’re saving up for Tim’s dental implants which will be between $15k and $30k. And double pane windows. So I just never truly feel financially safe.”
And after I hit the Submit button, the last sentence kept running through my head. Thinking about it caused me a flurry of panic, which then caused an overwhelming sadness.
I used to be exasperated by my mom’s bag lady syndrome. Granted, her finances have changed somewhat (though, ironically, she may be calmer now about finances than ever); but at the time she looked panicky whenever she was discussing saving and retirement.
I thought it was so sad that she couldn’t accept and enjoy how far she had come in a few years. I hated that she spent time and energy being upset and uneasy about her financial future.
Physician, heal thyself.
As I pointed out in my comment, I have some very valid expenses to be worried about. We need to tamp down our ridiculous energy bills – and, living next to a park, some sound insulation would be swell too – and Tim needs oral surgery within the next three years.
So in the next few years we’re looking at expenses equal to a year’s tuition at Harvard. Once we’re done with that, we can start saving just for the sake of saving.
And there will always be bills we didn’t anticipate. Like, say, the cost to brick up that wall so we can refinance. Or car repairs. (Though those come out of the car fund, thank goodness.) Or $300 to get the yard tamed. Or $400 for insulation. Or plumbing bills. Or… you get the point.
Having the big bills looming over me can sometimes be debilitating. It can be hard to feel sane, let alone safe.
It feels like we’re never putting much away. Part of that is because we’ve divided savings into the car fund, vacation fund, etc. But I know that the saved savings account will help make sure we’re stashing something away.
Still, once this flurry of contractors, yard work and insulation gets done, we need to focus on avoiding putting things on the credit card other than a few basics. Lower credit card bills will mean more of the paycheck can go into savings.
Maybe I’ll feel less anxious as the savings grow. But maybe not.
Do you guys feel financially safe? Do you think you ever will? How do you calm the panic?