Let’s talk money!! Money can be an uncomfortable subject for some people. If I’m being honest it’s uncomfortable for me to talk about, and stressful for me at times as well. I’m going to do my best to try and express my discomfort in this blog.
Sometimes I think if I could give my younger self some words of wisdom, and I think she would actually listen to me, I would tell her financial independence needs to be one of your top priorities. And now that I’m a mother of 2 small girls, currently 5 and 3 years old, I will tell them the same, the older they get I will drill it into their heads.
Here’s the thing, I’ve always worked, I’ve always been motivated by money. I started babysitting neighborhood kids when I was in junior high, I coach basketball for elementary school age kids when I was in high school, the summer before my senior year in high school I worked as a receptionists at Super Cuts. My parents had told me if I played sports in high school (which I did play sports) I didn’t need to work, they would help me out financially. Still, I wanted to work, I wanted to make my own money, I didn’t want to ask my parents for it. After high school, I worked in restaurants and schools working with kids, I was always working trying to make some money. When I moved away to college, my parents wanted me to come home for the summer, instead I got a job at Disneyland and took summer school classes and my parents continued to help me out with my rent. I look back on that young girl in her early twenties and think, she was definitely headed in the right direction. At one point while I was living in Costa Mesa and attending CSUF I was working multiple jobs, cocktail waitress, teaching pre school gymnastics, tutoring girls who lived in a group home. I liked being busy and having my own freedom and independence for the most part. When I did need help from my parents I always had this feeling that I owed them something, besides paying them back I always wanted to be successful for them, I wanted them to be proud.
After college, I stayed on with a company that I did my internship with. I was a behavioral therapist for children with Autism. It was something that I did enjoy, however the pay wasn’t great, especially for someone right out of college who is trying to survive in the Orange County. I got a 2nd job working at a fine dining Indian restaurant in Irvine. I loved working there, I loved the food and the people. After a year working 2 jobs trying to make ends meet, I was eager to officially make the move up to Los Angeles, I was in my early twenties, LA was where I needed to be, I would tell myself, I’ll move back to the OC when I’m ready to settle down, marry and have children.
If I thought that trying to survive in the OC was hard, LA was just as tough. Housing was expensive and I didn’t know anyone living there at the time that needed a roommate. My mom helped me get a storage unit right off of Sunset Blvd and the 405 freeway, a place where I would store all of my things until I could find a permanent place in LA. My brothers girlfriend at the time, had a place in Westwood, close to UCLA she’s barely there, she spends most of her time down in Newport Beach at my brothers place, she comes back occasionally when she has class, she’s in a graduate program for design at UCLA. She lets me crash at her place while I look for a job. When she would come back to Westwood, her apartment, I would drive to my parents home, 2 hours north of LA, starting to feel defeated. I wasn’t making it as an actress, I didn’t have my own place anymore, I found a job waitressing again, this time at a place in Korean Town. Another fine dining place, again I met a lot of amazing people, but not where I wanted to be in my career life. After a few months of loneliness in LA a friend from my hometown gets a job in LA and she moves to West Hollywood, I’m so excited I’m finally going to have friend in LA with me. She lets me stay with her in her studio while I waitress and audition. This friend of mine drinks and parties way too much, something I already knew about her, something that I used to find fun, I’m now annoyed by this behavior. I start going home to my parents house again. While I’m in town one night, I meet a guy and my life will forever be changed.
This guy that I meet out one night, later becomes my future husband, the father of my children. At this time in my life I still wanted to be a successful, independent, career women. I never told myself, you will be a stay at home mom and you will have a husband who takes care of you. I was never a women looking for a wealthy man to “take care of me” I always thought I could take care of myself. I never dated men with money, I wasn’t impressed with other people’s money when I was younger. While I’m dating my future husband and commuting between LA and Bakersfield, work and my boyfriend, I’m making money but not a lot. I feel independent but I’m really not, my belongings are still in a storage unit, I’m staying with my friend at her place in LA, I start staying with my new boyfriend at his apartment when I come back to my hometown, around this same time my parents separate and start their divorce, that’s a story for another time, I no longer want to stay at their home. I feel like a Gypsy nomad living out of her car, storage unit, friend and boyfriends place.
As my boyfriend and I become more serious I spend more time at his place and less in LA, we go to Hawaii for one of my best friends wedding that I’m a bridesmaid in, when we get back from Hawaii, I no longer have my waitressing job at the Euroasian restaurant in Korean Town, the owners get rid of their entire wait staff while I’m on vacation, I no longer have a job in LA, I don’t look for another job in LA, why would I? My boyfriend lives in Bakersfield, I’ll move back to Bakersfield and look for a job there, I slowly start to give up on my dreams. I start working as a substitute teacher and waitressing and bartending again.
After 3 years as a couple, I find out I’m pregnant, I have so many emotions. I’m happy, scared, sad, upset that I’m going to let my family down, I’m not married, I’m worried about being judged. I don’t have the amazing career I’d always imagined having, I still feel that I should take care of myself, I shouldn’t rely on a man, this is what I tell myself.
My son is born 2 months before my 31st birthday and I’m absolutely in love! I want to spend every minute with him. He’s immediately the love of my life. I’ve heard moms talk about this instant bond you have with your child once they are born, you can’t really explain it until you’ve experienced it, it’s magical. Now, I’m happy just being with him, all of a sudden I don’t care about careers, or following my dreams, my dreams have changed, my dream is to be with my new baby and watch him, I don’t want to miss a thing.
Now I don’t want to work, I just want to be with my baby. But we’re not in a position where I can stay home full time with our baby. I need to work at least part time, so I continue to waitress and bartend 3 nights a week, this allows me to be with my baby all day, and in the evenings when I do work he stays with his daddy, he doesn’t have to go to a babysitter. I look back on this time with my first baby, even though we didn’t have a lot I was so happy to be with this baby boy everyday. Going on long walks together, playing in the backyard, watching cartoons, life was peaceful.
As the years pass, my boyfriend and I get married, he’s now my husband, we have 2 more babies, my husband decides to start his own business, he does well. This is where, at least in my situation, where financial independence comes into the picture. This is the time in my life where I imagine what things would look like if I had not put my hopes and dreams on hold. If I had actually locked in a solid career, rather than live like a carefree gypsy for so many years. I’ve painted myself into a corner, I’m relying on someone to help take care of me, yes he’s my husband, but this was never my plan.
Here’s the thing weather you want to believe it or not, money = control and whoever has more or makes more money they ultimately control the situation in one way or another. The money maker calls the shots. If you want to call the shots, make the plans, be the decision maker, you need to be bringing in some money. Obviously I’m not speaking for all women or moms, but I know I’m not the only women who feels this way, otherwise you wouldn’t see so many women in pursuit of all these “side hustles” and direct sales type of jobs, they want their own financial independence. They don’t want to fight over a Target receipt, or an amazon package showing up on the porch, they want to have “their own money,” they want control. They want to know that if something doesn’t work out in their life the way they had planned they can survive financially on their own.
Look, I know it’s important to be home with your children, you only get a few precious years with your babies before they grow up and are gone, out searching for their own independence. But it’s also important for us as women to never give up on ourselves, our purpose, our dreams, we shouldn’t lose sight of who we once aspired to be. If you always wanted a career, go after it, if you always wanted to be a mom then do that, do what makes you happy. I’m speaking for myself here, I know that financial independence is what makes me happy, I’ve been lacking that lately, I want to raise daughters who are also financially independent. I don’t want them to ever feel painted into a corner. I want them to know that they can go anywhere and do anything they want if they are financially independent, they won’t have to ask anyone for permission, they can be their own boss. I will raise them the way I wish I had been, and now plan to become. You don’t ever want to feel controlled by money, owning your life is priceless.