If there is one thing people notice fairly quickly while getting to know me, my mom is an important part of my life. She is the head of my tiny immediate family, and will soon be a very important matriarch in my extended family (technically, she already is but that’s another tale). Family drilled its importance into my head from a very early age, usually to my own detriment although I know that wasn’t the intention. But good intentions sometimes lead to bad decisions, and I freely admit I made bad decisions thinking about how it would help my family without thinking about how it would hurt me.
2017 has been and continues to be a crazy year globally, nationally, and locally. In my own personal life, it has been a year of learning and growth. After two weeks of practicing the art of saying no, the audience being my own self-control and impulse to buy the newest fountain pen or shimmering ink to match said pen, I am increasing my goal of saying no and putting a goal and purpose to it.
It sounds strange, right? That I would choose myself before others to say no to, and have no purpose behind it? I may be a bit vague with that, but the truth is I don’t know how to say “no” to myself. At least I didn’t. My family relied on me to make decisions and help with very adult issues, so I have always relied on myself. But they also spoiled me rotten. If I wanted something, I got it. And if they could not get it for me, I got it for myself. And that was always at the expense of my very small budget. Pun totally intended.
Two very important individuals in my life were getting said no to all the time, and not always for good reasons. Luna and Polar came into my life at very different points and for very different reasons, but the end result was still the same: two more mouths to feed, and no one with the heart, or head really, to say no. Luna is a Husky/Pit/Lab mix with a survivalist mentality and a severe disdain for being out of doors (Yes, she is aware of her conundrum. No, she is not willing to reconsider either option to advance her skills as either an outdoor dog or lap dog). Polar is a Golden mutt who loves being outdoors, but forgets that she lacks immortality or the ability to walk through anything (She isn’t a dumb blonde, but she has her moments). Both are escape artists, hairier than the bearded lady, and mine for better or worse (I love them to death and will kill for them, seriously).
The truth is, when we brought Luna home, we could barely afford another dog (RIP, Princess). When Polar was brought back to us by an irate godmother of mine who was tired of being the caretaker to her daughter’s pup, we could certainly not afford three dogs. Losing Princess, well that’s a painful tale for another day. But with two young pups to feed, and struggling as we always were to make ends meet for our then little family of three, life was not easy. We had to say no to vet visits, keeping constant vigilance over the girls’ health because the closest vet overpriced us (as I later discovered) for years, taking advantage of us and other clients. We had to say no to dog beds if the girls ripped into theirs too often (not the worst thing, but I don’t want my babies on the floor, sue me). Once Luna developed food allergies, we had to say no to dog food for quite a while and figure out a good veggie/raw meat diet for her before we could afford the right dog food (thank God for the nearby butcher and our veggie garden).
So, I never said no to me, sometimes said no to my dogs, never really ever said no to my mom (see the still not used bread machine she swore she would have on daily), and now I wince whenever I look at my bank account which at this point is almost daily. I wasn’t blessed with financial gurus growing up, I didn’t know how to properly save for anything, and I would like to change all of that to make my life and the life of my dogs better. Therefore, I am learning to say no to the right people for the right reasons.
- Saying “no” to myself – It’s been two weeks, and that doesn’t seem like a lot of time but trust me it has been the hardest two weeks of my life. I think I can actually call it an addiction, my online shopping habits. Well, too bad to myself and my friends (who benefit because if I don’t buy for me I buy for them) because my impulse buying days are through!
- Saying “no” to my family – I’ve actually been practicing this as well, but I’ve been saying no or deferring to my mother for action this past week and so far so good. I won’t say it’s easy, and I am definitely getting looks from Mom and her friends, but I’m going to stick to my guns. I am working on my savings, and that isn’t going to be disrupted by anyone…with all due respect.
- Saying “no” to my friends – This one isn’t too hard except for those who are more spoiled than others. I do love spoiling my friends when I can, but from now on that cannot be the case. They understand and support me in that, so they rock monkey socks.
Two folks I will no longer say no to are Luna and Polar. I continually make time to read pamphlets, brochures, articles, and maybe I’ll get to a book while I’m at it, on proper dog care on a budget. I switched to a friendlier and more transparent vet (cheaper too!). And finally saved up for better chew-resistant dog beds. And with Polar developing her mother’s thyroid problem mixing with Luna’s allergies, they get the best food for each of their bodies so they can live happy and healthy. Luna turned 11 this year, Polar is going to be 8 this December. They are currently with Mom for the bigger house and backyard, but I’m searching for an apartment with the right amount of space and amenities for them and thankfully there are plenty of those around even if Maryland is annoying with it’s views on Pit bulls and Huskies.
This is just one of the many steps I am making towards financial stability. It’s more than having a well paying job, or paying cheap rent. I’m am blessed with both, and I’m still consistently broke. But with every step and change in how I behave with money and the people/beings around me, I know I can have a more stable life where I can provide for myself and those I love.