birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

It Doesn't Grow on a Tree

I'd love to be so philosophical here and say that the essentials are food or water or love. Not possessions. Not that Kate Spade bag or that trip to Alaska.

But I just did my budget for my first month without a job since I had to actually have a job to live and want to know what's essential? Money.

First, you have things like rent and car payments and all kinds of insurance. (Do you know how much money you could save if you have no insurance?) For me, about $700. That's more than my rent.

Then you need to be able to eat because food really is essential.

And so much more.

So why do we love to tell people that money isn't important? Money isn't what matters. Sure, maybe money isn't what matters when we're talking about our egos. But I'll tell you what does matter, the small amount of my daily budget! That will likely get smaller the longer I go without a job. (Yipee.)

Afterall, isn't money the number one stress. It's just the way you look at it?

And don't we all have budgets? We just have a different idea about what our budget is?

Want to know what a big splurge for me would be? Buying a $95 membership that lets me in on unlimited workout classes.

Want to know what my sister's big splurge would be? She and her husband are considering buying a $10,000 painting.

Do you know what I could do with $10,000? First, I could take all the fitness classes I wanted for the next year. And then so much more.

But all money is created equal. How you spend it is what's different and how you earn it. I spend it with coupons and sales.

My roommate spends it on any item she fancies at Whole Foods. Man, I wish I could walk through the grocery store and buy things that absolutely aren't on my list and that I really don't need, but hey why not try it. After all, I'd have the money.

But I don't. And Here I am, venting my frustration about it on a (semi-public) forum. Mainly because this is the second time I've been in this position. This position where I didn't have a steady income. The last time, I was able to get a part-time gig to help me get by until I found something new. That took eight months. This time, I went back to that part-time gig and it got me through for three months. I still don't have a full-time gig even though I've been applying to things like crazy. Even had a few interviews. Got stood up on a few interviews. Thankfully I've had some freelance writing pitches accepted. But those don't pay upfront and they also will cover about half of the basic amount of expenses I need.

Am I freaking out? Only slightly. Because you know what I'll need when I get hungry? Money. Or come down with a cold? Money. Or just want to destress and have fun? Money. Well, sure I could just rent a library book but getting there costs money. Or watching a show on Netflix, but keeping that costs money.

Man, I see how people end up homeless.

Yes, I could move back home. I could accept money from my family. I could make my life easier. But I'm here because of decisions I've made (to move away from home and be a writer.) and because my family has their own money propositions to consider daily.

So let's just take out the possibility of throwing in the towel out of the equation. Money is everything. It's not the only thing, but it sure as hell makes the world turn.

This is kind of therapeutic. To have a one-sided conversation about money. To get out all of my thoughts about it but not have anyone immediately comment back on them.

Earlier today, I shared my budget with my roommate. And he decided to remind me that I will also have taxes and this and that. I know he was trying to be helpful, but in the moment I was already pretty upset about the amount of dollars I'll need (Thanks insurance.)

So to not have someone tell me I could move home or walk dogs or babysit kids or consider this expense is pretty nice right now. Because all of those things could help me get the essential thing I need and I'm willing to do a lot of those things. But sometimes, don't you just wish money didn't matter and people could actually see your worth?

Then again, I had an interview recently and I have been considering the position. I'm not sure it's what I want, not because I wouldn't be good at it, but because it's a managing position and I'm not sure I want to do that. But it would pay a lot of money. And that money would allow me to do a lot of other things. Like maybe sit and write a book.

Because while I chase after a few dollars here or there it takes time away from what I really want to do.

Maybe one day none of this will matter. Maybe one day I'll have so much money I'll be able to give it to people who constantly worry about money. Will I still consider it an essential then? Will I still worry about how I spend every single dollar of it?

Who knows. All I know is the one player that is always in the room are the dollars that add up in our bank accounts and that kind of sucks.

Time to try and go make some money.


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