I grew up pretty much never wanting for much of anything. We had a very nice house, a beach house, and my dad drove Corvettes. We took annual trips to Florida to go to Disney World. We had whatever was the latest cool thing, be it Swatch watches, Reebok pump or Converse high tops, and whatever else was the “it” item in the 80s and 90s. Some time in middle school or early high school, I remember becoming conscious of our wealth compared to others. Why? Mainly because of comments that other kids made. In their minds, we were some kind of millionaires with fancy things they could never have. I was uncomfortable with the attention it gave, and with the things the other kids said. The assumptions they made were often a bit ridiculous, but it was the fact that they could even think such things that bothered me. Perhaps the truth of some of the statements bothered me too.
I remember talking to my mom once about our family’s wealth, and she responded by saying that while it appeared that way, that we were in fact, millions in debt. My father owned a home building company and so usually several houses were built to be sold at once, which quickly equaled a lot of debt. Of course when the houses sell, then the money is made, but there is always a lot of debt. Her relationship to our wealth seemed to be that it was merely a facade, and that in reality, we were very much “in the hole.”
I began working at the age of 12 or so, starting in my father’s business helping out the secretary, and then by 14, I was working summer jobs at the beach. I’ve been working for over 2/3 of my life. I think it instilled some good values in me, and at the same time, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I missed out on a bit of my childhood. But I’m a first-born, with tendencies to want to over-achieve and support my own weight. Beyond that, my dad made us a deal that he would match whatever we saved up for our first car, so that we could get a car worth twice as much. Mine was a quite glorious used 1989 Honda Accord with the pop up headlights, I might add.
All of us have what are called “money memories.” Money memories are the first or poignant/stand-out memories you have around money. I listed some of mine above (but not all). These memories have shaped what become our current beliefs around money.
What did I learn?
- you need to work long and hard to make money
- outward appearance of wealth is just a facade, or it is ok as long as you have lots of debt so it’s not “real wealth” (aka, always being in the black)
- being wealthy or having desirable things attracts attention and judgment
I became more comfortable with the idea of being wealthy if we had lots of debt and weren’t “really” wealthy, because it meant that I did not have to accept any of the comments the kids at school made. I didn’t have to deal with the attention it brought, and the feelings of privilege and related shame that came up with it.
Attracting financial abundance
Since my childhood, I have pretty much either never made quite enough money, or I have always had “just enough.” I’ve known that my upbringing was a source of shame for me, and with the current political and social climates, the conversation about privilege has come up many times. It doesn’t matter that my mom grew up in rural Kentucky, with tons of brothers and sisters all crammed in a tiny house on a mountain. It doesn’t matter that I have hidden African ancestry, remnants from slave ancestors both African and Irish from my dad’s mother’s family’s 300+ year history in Barbados (thanks, Oliver Cromwell…jerk). As much as I want to downplay how privileged I was growing up, and still am, I can’t. I can’t run away from how I was raised, and what my skin looks like, and even how I currently choose to live my life.
I knew I had to work on my issues around money to be able to move past them, and attract more financial abundance in my life. I want to be able to give freely to those in need, as well as support my family easily, grow my businesses, and make a positive impact on the world.
A few weeks ago, I decided to order a book by Denise Duffield-Thomas called, “Get Rich, Lucky B*tch!” (censoring it for those who may be offended by cursing) The entire book is about getting rid of your blocks around money. She shares so many amazing tips, but I wanted to go over one in particular for you. I have been practicing it for about a month now and find it very helpful.
Shifting focus to the positive/in-flow
Denise recommends writing down every day all of the money that you receive. This could include gifts as well. By writing these things down, you shift your focus to the incoming money, instead of worrying about debt or expenses. It’s been amazing for me to write down all of the gifts and random things I receive. If you find a penny on the street, write it down. Did your mom give you a gift card out of the blue? Jot it down. Did you get paid to teach a random class or did you sell an online product? Write it on the list.
I always write down my salary if it’s a weekday, and I also extend it to write down when I get items on sale. So that shampoo and conditioner I got on clearance a couple weeks ago? Yup, I wrote it down. Did I hit up some awesome sales at the grocery store? If so, I write it down. The courses I’m taking in my doctoral program that I get at a big discount because I work at the school? I write that down too.
I also write when I receive non-money gifts. For example, my mother in law gifted me a scarf that she had received as a gift but was allergic to it. She also gave me a gift card she had received at Christmas to a place she doesn’t shop at. Her loss is my gain! I write down when I get free food at a work meeting, when I earn a free tea at the cafe after filling up my loyalty card, or when my in-laws bring food over for dinner.
Writing down these items every day has forced me to pay attention to all the abundance in my life. In turn, more abundance is attracted to me as I focus on it and tell the Universe/God that I am ready to receive. Last week, we had a “Souper Bowl” party at work, and I won a game. The prize was a scratch off ticket. No one else won anything off of their scratch off, but I won $5! I thanked the Universe/God for the free money, and am ready for more.
Try it out
So try it out and let me know what you think. I may share future lessons from Denise on my blog, but if you’d like to pick up her book, check it out here on Amazon. I’m not an affiliate, nor do I benefit financially in anyway. I just think it’s a good book. She also has a free app for Apple here, if you’d like to track your money in an app.