family and money

My Family Needs Money To Be Happy

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I think we all know the right answer to the question: What does a family need to be happy? The “right” answer, the answer that we are supposed to say to save face, is that we don’t need money to be happy. Needing and wanting money makes you materialistic, doesn’t it? If you need money to be happy, then you probably don’t understand that the best things in life are free, and all that bullshit.

I completely disagree. I’m not materialistic, but I do work my ass off to make a good income for my family. The main motivation behind me and my husband’s drive to work ourselves crazy with young children is how we were raised.

My husband and I both had lower middle class families in the 80s and 90s. I don’t know what this means to other people, but to me, it meant that I carried a financial burden my entire life. We were not poor, and I am grateful for that. But both of my parents made it very clear to me that we were always low on money. The subtext was that kids were a burden and a financial drain. Rather, I was a burden. I was costing my parents money that they didn’t have, and it was my fault that we were always borderline broke.

I can’t speak for where my dad is now, but back then, he had some psychological issues. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, he hoarded and had a poverty mentality. His habits weren’t enough to earn him a spot on Hoarders, but he never, ever bought anything new and continued to live in my grandparent’s house rent-free.

I have a vivid memory of spending time with my dad after my parents’ divorce. I was probably 13. My dad drove with me up to the drive-through of the bank to withdraw some money. He opened his checkbook and showed the six dollar balance to me. He said, “This is it. This is all we have for the weekend.”

The story sounds sad, but the worst part is that it just isn’t true. I know for a fact that my dad has thousands of dollars that he inherited from my grandparents. At that time, he also lived in their house and drove their car without any bills. He worked a full-time job with a steady income. I don’t know why he chose to tell me that. I still can’t figure it out, but it has greatly affected the way that I view money today.

I have worked through most of my money issues, but I refuse to leave my family living paycheck to paycheck. My husband and I both work full-time jobs with freelance clients on the side because we want to have more than our parents did. I don’t plan on spoiling my kids, but I will never let them feel like they are a financial burden.

(Image: Edyta Pawlowska/Shutterstock)