This is a thing I think about a lot.
Money has always been a scary thing to me and I’ve never been good at it.
Thus, I harbor a lot of shame and bad feelings related to anything to do with money.
In middle school we actually had a whole semester where we learned to balance a checkbook and pay bills. It was a pretty neat exercise actually.
Each student got assigned a different job with a different salary, and honestly, this is the part I remember most. It was very important to me that I get a non-boring job, the money part wasn’t important, cause it was just a class and not real life, after all.
I think I ended up with something boring like an accountant for a boring amount of salary. I learned about how to budget my bills on paper with no real life repercussions.
However, as a smart bored person, I did what I needed to to get an “A”. I made my checkbook look balanced and wrote down however much made sense for food and the other stuff. Like, I didn’t actually DO the things and learn from them.
That’s because I was so goal-focused. The report card was the important part, not the life lessons. Because the report card was all that mattered. That’s the way I was raised and I don’t think the school system did anything to teach me any different. But that’s a rant for another time.
I definitely didn’t learn one lick about the credit system. I still don’t know quite exactly how it works, but, honestly, who does?! Not me because I was 12 years old when the FICO system started. No wonder.
Here’s my point though.
I’ve been afraid of money my entire life and, thus (why do I keep using this word today?), I’m afraid to talk about it.
But then I figured this out: that’s one of the ways the system keeps you down.
This is part what keeps cash-strapped people working jobs that pay infinitely less than they should for the work they are doing.
So, let’s talk about it.
I’m a freelance marketer/writer/creative human. Right now, I’m making about $40,000 – $45,000 a year, basically the same as I was making working full time, over 40 hours a week at my corporate job.
I’ve held a variety of other positions throughout my life, but, if I’m being truthful, I only ever chose two of them. The others I took because I had to. I was a single mom, and even felt that way when I was married because of the way my hubby handled the money, so when I lost a job, I scrambled to find anything, just so that D could stay eatin’ and in dance classes (and costumes, the costumes were so expensive).
So, nowadays, I’m not making a fuck ton of money, but also it’s also nothing to sneeze at. It’s comfortable and I’m living, not just surviving, which is absolutely how I felt before. I felt like I could never catch up, physically, financially, or mentally.
I know part of that was the lunchtime “office escapes” where I’d just go to Walgreens and wander around for 30 minutes to just get away from the never-ending onslaught of work. Of course, I’d guilt buy something (most often food that was terrible for me to get me through the rest of the afternoon) so that I didn’t feel like I was taking advantage of the store.
Between that and driving 45 minutes round trip, my wallet stayed empty.
When the work from home order started, I started accumulating a small savings for the very first time in my life. It felt weird, but good.
However now? I only work about 4-5 hours a day. Tops.
And let me tell you about the guilt I feel about that.
There’s a lot of it.
I feel so bad that I’m not “working to my full potential”.
I feel bad that I’m floating in the pool in the afternoon instead of doing work like a normal person should be doing.
I feel bad that other people still have to live this struggling life I used to lead.
I feel bad that I could be making more money but am not.
I feel bad that I’m not suffering through my work day the way I know so many people do every single day.
What is boils down to is this:
I shouldn’t be the one feeling bad. If there were more transparency about what we actually make in our jobs, maybe, just maybe we’ll start getting paid what we’re worth. WE FUCKING DESERVE IT.
One of the most eye-opening things for me since going freelance was joining some industry-related groups, where everyone was frank about what they charge for the work they do.
When a newbie comes into these groups asking for pricing advice on a new package they want to offer their clients, these folks make sure they are getting what they’re worth, because new freelancers almost always undervalue their work because they are just so desperate FOR work.
Like one of my fiction heroes, D-Jay says, “If you want quality, you have to pay for that shit.”
It’s us. We’re the quality.
So why aren’t we getting paid for that shit? Because we let them. It’s that simple.
My whole career I operated from a brains pace of “Just keep livin'” and not in the cool Matt McConaughey way. Follow all the rules so that you don’t lose this job too. (In case you didn’t know someone who is autistic with OCD and aphantasia and no personal self worth is not easy to employ.)
I didn’t talk about my salary with my co-workers because it would make the bosses mad and I’d probably lose my job.
That is how they keep us workin’ for cheap y’all. When I found out what these other marketers (you know, what I thought in my mind as the ‘real’ ones) were charging for the social media portion of my job alone, I had tears for all the things I could have been doing or buying or, like, taken care of.
Cause when you’re strugglin to survive, you ain’t gonna do anything expensive like body maintenance. You eat. You pay your bills. You buy too much gas. And in my case, you pay for dance classes. (not that I regret those one bit. Some of the dance teachers filled educational and emotional gaps in D’s like that I was just unable to and I am forever grateful).
If I would have known what I was worth, and had the confidence in my skills that I have now, I would have asked for a raise… ever. I would have negotiated my salaries instead of just accepting them blindly.
LEARN FROM ME.
You are not an imposter. That’s just how they want you to feel so that they can make a profit.
The businesses are the imposters. Not us. Why are they be allowed to survive, paying people not what they’re worth and turning a massive profit?
Because we let them.
So, turn it around on ’em. Let’s talk about our salaries, y’all.
What do you do? How much are you making? Let’s get this out of the shadows.
Bring it out into the light so we can all make the life of our dreams.
We have the power, we are the quality. We’re worth every penny. Let’s secure that bag, babies.
Let’s be so money, everyone knows it, babies.