My financial anxiety came monthly, like the bills. The uncertainty of getting my spouse’s share made me grovel and flatter him, hoping his portion would be exact and timely. The imbalance in our financial responsibilities caused me to overspend unintentionally. Dysfunction and guilt drove me to overspend intentionally by overcompensating on gifts for the kids on birthdays and Christmas. My savings account had a $5 minimum balance as long as I can remember, and saving was unnatural to me. I paid all the school fees, extras, and necessities to keep the house running. I picked up all the financial slack, all my credit cards were maxed out, and I had no savings or way out. I was trapped financially, and getting my finances together never entered my mind.

Then the pandemic hit. My youngest’s last year and a half of high school was remote learning, and I teleworked. Working from home allowed me to save what I usually spent on my way to work, at work, after work, and before I got home. For the first time in ages, I could put some money into my savings account and increase my monthly credit card payments. It was a good start. I stayed inside for nearly two years, only leaving for the grocery store. And I stayed faithful to my shopping list. The pandemic narrowed my life. No more visiting friends and family, and my places of refuge were closed. I saved a lot of money. The time allowed me to purge my home of all the unwanted things I had collected emotionally. I thought about how easy it would be to pack up my organized stuff if I left. I made good use of the pandemic confinement. Gratefully, my spouse and I were in truce mode and cooperated to keep us all safe.

The Covid stimulus blessings went into my savings and on my credit card bills. I slowly eased out of my bad financial habits of impulse, emotional, and overcompensation spending. The more I saved, the more I wanted to save. I didn’t become stingy, but I reigned in my generosity. I practiced considering my choices before spending: save or spend, needs or wants, and made my decisions accordingly. It was working once I was aware I had options. I demonstrated my newfound self-control and decided not to touch my savings. If my youngest needed clothes or anything, it would have to be sale or clearance items. The youngest worked at an essential business during the summer, and I insisted that 50% of those earnings be saved. I set a budget, stuck to it, and whatever I spent came from my paycheck, not my savings. I set my financial boundaries and posted my financial do’s and don’ts on the wall and was forced to look at those stickies five days a week because my telework desk was next to that wall.

The pandemic and a car accident, two unfortunate and scary events, were blessings in disguise. As the pandemic subsided, my car was rear-ended and totaled in a slow-moving accident with no injuries, thank God. I received a settlement, put a down-payment on a vehicle, and put the rest into my savings account. Savings is a necessity that affords me choices and a way out. Frivolous and wasteful spending got the best of me; I blew a lot of money. Demonstrating self-control and getting my finances together is part of my healing process. My financial anxiety has lessened; thankfully,  there is a light at the end of a long dark tunnel.