Monday, May 07, 2012

money woes

This unemployment thing? Apparently it's getting to me a little bit more than I though. Mostly the money part. My take home from EI isn't all that different when I was working. Obviously it's way lower as a gross number, but the taxes are lower and I wasn't making much more than minimum in my last position anyway. Essentially, it covers my necessities for the most part, but to allow myself to buy the occasional book so I don't feel deprived and freak out or to buy a gift I do have to dig into savings a little bit.

So I stress about the dollars and sense. I know Bunny's got good money coming in on his side from the freelance (and he has so much work offered he is turning stuff down) and I know that we as a family unit are solvent. But me, myself? I'm in the red.

It's hard not to have any spare money to squirrel away. To be paying off my student loans, but only the minimums. To have the balance in my bank account creep slowly down instead of up. (Actually, maybe that's not true. I have almost the same bank balance now that I had in January, within a hundred dollars. Maybe I need to take a minute to appreciate that.) It's hard to feel dependent on Bunny, financially. Even when I am paying my share of the bills.

It's also really hard to watch Bunny spend money comfortably. He tends to make bigger "impulse" purchases than I do. Then again, very rarely are his big impulse purchases completely impulsive. He might wake up one day ready to spend $500 on item X, but he's been thinking about item X and the budget for it for months.

So, this week has been hard. In the course of seven days Bunny has purchased: a new AV receiver (his old one broke months ago and he made the decision to wait until he was working full time to replace it), his new desk and lamp (necessities, in my mind) and computer speakers.

It stressed me out more than it had any right to. I felt uncomfortable, and I was trying to both be supportive of his decisions and also make it clear where some of these purchases would require more discussion and compromise in the future, when our money is completely merged. I listened to his logic in deciding between different options and gave an opinion when asked. He made good decisions, I think. He weighed all the options, and decided on options that would be cost effective, make him happy long term and functional.

That all being the case, it seems completely uncool that he bought me a birthday present and I freaked out. It's this gorgeous vintage LBD-esque cocktail dress, and I love it and it was reasonably priced. Leaving the store, though, all I could think was please take this back and I feel bad about you buying this for me and I don't need it and I don't need you to buy me things and I want to throw up because I feel needy and greedy and controlling and would you stop spending so much f*cking money it f*cking stresses me out.

So poor Bunny was walking back to the truck with me after having bought me a present, and instead of having a happy, cheerful fiance gushing about thank yous, he had a fiance who was moody, sullen and didn't want to kiss him. After about two minutes of this I told him what was on my mind. Because I was acting downright ungrateful, and that's not cool. So we talked for a minute, and I made sure he knew that hey, I like this dress a lot and thank you for it, but I'm feeling a little bit stressed about money right now and it's really affecting my mood and it doesn't mean that I don't totally appreciate the present. Sometimes when I can't afford things for myself I have the hardest time accepting the generousity of others. I don't like asking for help.

Later, we talked a little more. I made sure I articulated that while I was stressed about the financial decisions I didn't think they were bad, it was just too much big ticket impulse purchases for me to handle at once. I can`t handle a grocery bill that`s too big, how`m I supposed to handle a week with $700 of impulse buys? Then today we went to Sears so I could pick up a shower gift for his sister and that was a disaster and a half.

This is me being emotional about money. I do need to recognize that. Practically speaking, I might not be able to contribute to my savings goals right now, but I am still making positive contributions to my net worth with debt repayments and my current budget. My savings have stayed very stable, considering I'm not bringing in a proper income.

But I am stressed. I feel constricted in my ability to make financial decision that make me happy. I'm frustrated that Bunny has considerably more financial freedom than I do at the moment. (We'll be re-examining how we split up our household expenses at the end of May, when he's had a full month working full time. We usually try to keep things proportional, and right now with him transitioning from school to work they aren't. So we'll figure that bit out.) I'm frustrated that I feel like I can't make the splurgest that I'd like to make. I'm frustrated that I feel like I'm not contributing to our household, even though I am. It's just in non-work-type ways.

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