Featured on BlogHer.com 9/13/2011
You know those money issues you struggle with? The ones that keep you cash poor, that have you maxing out your credit card each month, that keep you from asking for that raise every year? Yeah, those are the ones. Well, here’s a little something I learned recently – those beliefs and issues surrounding money start WAY earlier than I ever would have imagined.
Case in Point:
A few weeks ago, as I was crawling towards the coffee pot early one morn, I happened upon my three nieces (along with one of their small neighbor friends) planning a summer job. Pink, red, and yellow construction paper was strewn all over the front porch and markers were tossed aside – lids off – to dry in the sun that was already baking the concrete.
I stopped, wiped my bleary eyes, and asked what they were doing.
My niece Jocelyn gave me the hand-made poster which outlined their services:
If you got a dirty pup we’ll clean them up!
Open Hours 11:00 to 2:30
$2.00 per dog Any size dog
Not open on holidays and Friday and Mondays and Birthdays
(You will see the dog when you come in the neighborhood)
Plus we dry, brush or put something in their fur, your choice.
It may have been my dull senses upon just waking but I was über proud of my ability to refrain from asking which Friday they are closed (as there seemed to be only one) and whose birthdays they were talking about (the customer’s or theirs) and what “something” they planned to put in the dog’s fur. (Much later, their Dad was not so full of restraint and told Jocelyn that he wanted her to put $4.00 in his dog’s fur.) I was also brimming with a pride I couldn’t contain over their correct use of the word “their.”
After my coffee-deprived brain had spell-checked their document I did the math. For each dog they washed they would make $.50 a piece.
The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I asked, incredulous, “That’s all you’re charging? $2.00 per dog?”
Four heads nodded at me in unison.
“Girls, you are seriously undervaluing yourselves.”
MaKendra, another of my nieces, looked up at me confused, “No we’re not.”
I turned red as a pomegranate. “You should be charging at least $8.00 per dog. That’s $2.00 a piece per dog. Your time is more valuable than $.50. How long is it going to take you to wash each dog? How big are these dogs? $2.00 is just too low, you’re all worth more than that.”
Then I stopped ranting. $8.00? I pay $45.00 for So-kr8z’s S-PaW days (though that $45.00 includes the massaging of his oh-so-delicate anal glands – a task which I’d happily pay $150.00 for.) But even I, at the age of 40, am undervaluing time and energy. Yes, even I was ball-parking low for these girls.
What’s with that and where does it come from?
I got my answer
Days later I was talking with their Dad who is probably the hardest working guy I know, as is their mother. These two parents are on the go from 7:00 am until 1:00 am Every. Single. Day. working their guts out. And they’re not rich. Yeah, they get by, they have the necessities and some fun toys but they’re not vacationing in the Bahamas every year. They fervently believe that they have to work extra hard for every single red cent. They hope the washer doesn’t break down.
I know, I know, material stuff shouldn’t be important, and you can throw tomatoes and other soft fruit at me later, but bear with me for a moment and hear me say that money and material stuff IS important. Let me explain.
Money is just energy.
Let me repeat that. Money is just energy. Let’s use the analogy of the ocean in place of money. The ocean is vast, huge, and, in fact, water covers 70% of the earth’s surface. And it might be my optimism speaking but I don’t see the oceans drying up any time soon. So water flows in to the ocean and water flows out, but the ocean never dries up. Money is the same way.
Roald Dahl knew this when he brilliantly penned the most apropos money quote I’ve ever heard in his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie is thinking of selling his Golden Ticket so his family can eat when Grandpa George tells him, “There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket — There are only 5 of them in the whole world, and that’s all there’s ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”
Yup. Me and my family are a bunch of dummies – and so are you if you have issues in regards to the green stuff. Just as the ocean never dries up, neither does energy and so, therefore, neither does money.
Possessions also have energy.
Most of us with money issues believe it’s “evil” to want things. So, for example, it’s bad to want that nice house with the freshly painted white fence when you already have a roof over your head. It’s horrible to want those strappy Manolo Blanik’s right? Nope. Possessions have energy too and the only requirement for you in the wanting of something is that you love it.
As part of a social media campaign recently I asked people on Facebook, “What’s your favorite material possession.” (WOW… this raised some major angst among people.) Most folks appeared to scratch their heads, hem-haw, and not respond at all. My guess is that these peeps have money issues and believe that they shouldn’t value the possession of a thing. I thought that too, for the longest time, and I would stand upon my pedestal with a golden aura surrounding my head like a halo while I spouted, “you can’t take ‘stuff’ with you when you die.”
But now I beg to differ. When you love a possession – when you truly value it – you’re imbuing that possession with energy. Perhaps the best example is to use an item from your childhood that you still hold on to. One of my most valued material possessions is a blanket that my Grandma made for me when I was ten. Over the years this blanket has traveled thousands of miles with me. This blanket has been washed more than I have. It’s vibrant canary yellow color has faded to a dingy off-white. The stuffing is matted and falling out and sticks to my clothes whenever I huddle beneath it. But I love this blanket. Like L. O. V. E. love. Every time I use it, and feel that feeling of utter comfort, I myself am giving this blanket some of my energy.
My point is that every material possession that you value and love is full of energy. Haven’t you heard the wise sages and money gurus tell you, over and over, to surround yourself only with that which you love? To pare down, clean house, de-clutter. This is why. Because what you love has value and energy. In the case of my blanket, someone out there in the world made the material that my Grandmother bought in order to make it for me. Then, of course, there’s the energy of love that my Grandma put into it while she sewed. The postman who delivered it expended energy too as he drove from the post office, down the tree-lined streets of Stevens Drive, to get it to me a few days before Christmas. You get the point.
Surrounding Yourself with Shit
I’m guessing that 99% of hoarders (or even those folks who just collect a whole lot of shit, have money issues as well, and I’m almost 100% positive that many of these people don’t surround themselves with only things that they love. Rather, many of them surround themselves, simply, with things; an empty plastic Dr. Pepper bottle, a string cheese wrapper, a sack full of things they picked up from Wal-Mart that they just had to have but have never taken out of the bag. That, my friends, is NOT honoring your material possessions. I understand that hoarding is an illness and my heart goes out to those struggling with this issue. But whether you’re a hoarder or not I imagine that we all hold on to things we don’t love, even after we’ve douched our own personal space.
So… what’s to be done? How do we reconcile some of these age-old money issues? How do you figure out how to expend your energy, how to value your energy, and how much to charge for your energy? The first step, I think, is simply to realize that your time, money, possessions, you, yourself, everything is energy. That’s all I’m asking, even of myself, is to take that first baby step towards not being a dummy.