In August of 2009 I decided to try journaling about my finances as part of my first Art Project for Goddard College where I am currently working on a Masters Degree in Transformative Language Arts. For thirty days I recorded my thoughts about money as they happened, or relatively soon thereafter. There were times where I knew better than to do anything but feel (not writing at all). Still, I wrote consistently on this subject for 30 days. I wrote about my financial upbringing, perspective, and specific acts (to, with, for, and by me) that affected my financial standing and outlook. I was inspired by things I bought, things I heard at church, conversations with friends and family, and things I read or saw in movies.
What I found, during this time, was that my voice and spirit were affected by my finances, but my finances were only superficially affected by my voice. I had control over what I did or did not buy, but I had significant issue with assigning value to myself, and that fact played itself out in many lackadaisical financial choices.
During that part of my learning journey, I began to realize that made noise through my money. I screamed for attention in that way. I didn't necessarily like it about myself, but I took the time to admit it aloud (well, via paper, where things tend to remain).
I can honestly say that throughout my life, I was never a big spender. I would never lose my paycheck to extravagance purchases of unnecessary items. In fact, I was raised to be a coupon-clippin’ sale finder. But in 30 days of writing I really began to unearth how I had been meandering through my financial life in a haze of mediocrity, claiming to want more, but always knee-jerking into some strange money-pickle.
What did that say about the way I viewed own fiscal voice? What did it say about how I let people treat me financially? Through my writing, I began to see it was me that was hiding in the shadows, screaming to be redeemed, and this journaling helped me to take responsibility for my financial protection, proactivity, and growth.
Reading and Revelations
Even reading through it again humbles me. I have come far. I have far to go.
Day 1- Insufficient Funds- Funny thing is I am probably one of the best people I have ever seen when it comes to budgeting for other people. I don't know where the disconnect is. Or perhaps I do.
Day 10- Devastation... – Within a few months she paid me the money she owed me, but the damage had been done. My credit marred, and my trust in people thoroughly annihilated.
Day 17- Picking up speed- I have to fight for my place with integrity, and understand both my divine job and my divine calling. [The pastor] mentioned that integrity is an abstract aspect of truth that can't be seen outside of the fruit it produces. That struck a bell with me. I don't feel that I have used integrity when it comes to my bank accounts. I am starting over with that- with my whole financial relationship.
Day 22- Untitled- Are my thirty day$ really only down to these few already? What a trip. I have learned, and unlearned. I am free from some parts but not all parts of the cycle of stupid money mistakes.
Day 30- Complete- For the first time ever, I went after a job… because I wanted not what it gave me financially, but what it gave me educationally, mentally, and in the form of future work options. Was it easy? No… But just like Graduate school, or some other elected self improvement, the pain of process can not be compared to the peace of completion, and the strength of knowledge.
Alice Walker wrote a book, “The Temple Of My Familiar”, and in it there is a passage where folks are out in the woods praising God, and calling out their version of beatitudes. One was, “blessed are those who know.” I don't believe she was talking about money, but it fits what I have been dealing with lately. What a peace. What a strengthening. What a ride!
Well-Worth The Work
These last thirty days have been hard, but I have learned much about myself, and how I do things. I knew them under the surface, but now, on my mental surface and subconsciously, I own that all I have been doing with my money is feeling. I am not going to say I won't continue to, but I understand, better than I ever have, that my voice is not my money's voice, and they need to dialogue for me to truly be what I consider successful.
This journal act was a rite of passage, and I recommend it highly. Where I am financially at this point is a far cry from where I was a year ago, when I first decided to complete this journaling project. Through the lessons I unearthed in 30 Day$, I have made decisions about budgeting that have in fact changed my life. I am out of credit card debt completely, and have begun to invest more time, energy, and finances in my art. I do this by working freelance as a writer, attending college to study the arts and social change, and watching my finances as a form of self care. My voice and my fiscal voice are taking things slow, but definitely building a relationship.
I am even fleshing out a project where people participate in a global 30 Day$, and I post quotes and art from those persons at some exhibition location yet to be revealed.
About the Author
Tiffany Beard is the quintessential Renaissance Gal. An accomplished writer, singer, and performer; Tiffany is committed to helping fellow artists collaborate for social change. Tiffany is a member of ASCAP, The National Forensics League, and Transformative Language Arts Network.