What did living with Zero Dollars teach me?

I never set out to live without money. It just kind of happened.

I enjoyed having money even if it wasn’t a lot. At least I had spending money and could go out to a movie or grab a bite to eat. I could buy things for myself and my family.

Without money I felt my wings were clipped and I had lost all my independence. It was a hard blow to someone who was used to earning her money and paying her way for most of her life!

How did I end up having zero income… for a YEAR?

A few years ago I lost my job, and for a few months I had unemployment insurance. For a couple of years my daughter and I had been talking about moving away from the small town we lived in and moving everyone to a larger and more urban area about an hour and a half away. Both of us lost our jobs within a short time of each other, so we thought that would be the ideal time to make our move.

She found a job in the new town, and since she left the house at the crack of dawn and came home at 8 or 8:30 pm, the job of getting the kids off to school, dinners, homework, etc., fell onto my shoulders.

Our plan was for her to purchase a house there, and once we all got moved in I’d be able to find a job.

That was the plan…

…and as plans go, it was solid, but as it happens in life, we got thrown a curve ball, well we actually had a few roadblocks. One was so drastic that we shelved our plans to move away, and instead my daughter focused on buying a house locally.

So, our initial time-frame of a few weeks ended up dragging out into a year! Can you imagine having your life in a holding pattern for that long, unable to do anything until the cogs of the Universe move forward?

How did this affect me?

Initially it really irked me! I was irritated and irritable! I felt trapped and resentful! I knew it wasn’t my daughter’s fault, that it was just a series of difficult events which prevented us from moving forward.

Once my unemployment money and my savings ran out, my daughter had to give me money to pay my bills. I’ve always been the breadwinner… as a single mom, in my second marriage… it was supremely difficult to ask my daughter to step in and help me out. It felt humiliating… demeaning… but she was been absolutely wonderful about it. She said I’m a huge help with the kids, and if she had to leave the kids with a babysitter she’d have to pay much more.

It was a struggle to turn my thoughts from impatience to patience;
irritability to peace and resentment into gratitude.

I had to mindfully practice changing my thoughts! I had to accept the situation and stop trying to push things to go faster. I needed to focus on all the good things in my life instead of magnifying the negative.

What have I taken away from that experience?

I thought I had a good understanding of wants and needs but when one gets put into a situation where they have no money and need to ask others, (in my case it was my daughter) one sees things very differently.

I developed a new gratitude for having any money… My need to buy has been curtailed, instead I came to value money as a tool.

Money of itself doesn’t bring us happiness; it’s a wonderful tool which if used wisely can bring great emotional, and spiritual enrichment into our lives and the lives of other people!

So my new perspective fits in with Adam Bulger’s message in his article: Money CAN buy you all kinds of happiness!

Invest in experiences which bring memories, opportunities to learn new things and meet new people! These are the things which will bring happiness!

A lot of possessions don’t lead to fulfillment or happiness! Time well spent with loved ones and friends brings great satisfaction and happy memories!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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