Jealousy and money

Jealousy is a strange emotion.  I used to be proud of the fact that I really don’t get jealous very easily.  What I never realized is that when I get mad…it’s because I’m jealous.  Jealousy is an ugly, ugly thing.  It’s not that I want what someone else has.  It’s that I want them NOT to have it, because then maybe they would understand me. 

I may have realized tonight why people are so hesitant to talk about money.  I was talking to a coworker, and she said she only got two hours of sleep last night because she balanced her checkbook and her checking account has almost fallen below $500.  I mean seriously, payday is next week, and she lost sleep because she ONLY has $500 left!  So immediately, I was pissed.  I kept my feelings to myself, of course, but right away I was thinking, “We should all have your problems!!!”  If I had $500 left one week before payday, I would be jumping up and down with glee!  I wanted her to have my problems, so she could realize how stupid it was to worry so much over such a thing.

(This is totally not an excuse, but I should mention that we are both single girls who rent apartments alone.  Just so you’re not thinking maybe her cash flow is different from mine.)

But I have no right to be angry with her.  My finances are MY responsibility.  It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to share my problems and understand my feelings.  What I should do is ASK this person what her strategy is!  The solution is not for her to feel my pain, but that terrible, horrible jealousy wants her to.  In fact, no solution is needed.  If I am comfortable with my situation, great.  I don’t need for everyone else to make the same choices as me.  If I am not comfortable with my finances, then I need to fix them.  Either way, I need to be a good friend and empathize with her concern, even if I think I wouldn’t have a hint of concern in her situation.  The fact is, SHE DOES, and she was looking for a friend to share her concern with, not someone who would judge her and lash out with jealous anger.

Jealousy seems to always arise over money or status or STUFF, doesn’t it?

But of course, I didn’t actually lash out.  I just would have been better at empathizing if that stupid jealousy hadn’t taken over my feelings.  This road to financial responsibility is a tough one for me, for some reason.  I wish I would have asked someone to sit down with me and show me how to manage a monthly paycheck when I first started working after college.  But it was one of the many things that I didn’t know I didn’t know.  So instead, I made bad choices…some big choices, like too much debt, and some little choices that add up over time, like hitting the vending machines at work way too often. 

Buying my new car was, by the way, one of the best and most responsible choices I’ve made with my paycheck.  But I made that choice about one month too early, and as a result hit rock bottom around the end of January.  But I’m actually really glad that I did, because I’ve had to learn how to manage my money, and even though it will be a long road back from debt, I will have had a lot of practice managing my monthly paycheck by then.  Above all, I’m glad I’m single during this time, believe it or not.  I don’t want to share the consequences of my choices with someone, they were MY choices.  Now by the time I am sharing finances with someone, hopefully I will be better at it.   

I would like to know, how come it seems like all of you just instinctively know how to manage your money?  Why does it seem like it’s so easy for you?  Did you learn from someone, or did you really just know what to do when you got that first paycheck?

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