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My Unhealthy Relationship with Money

Elizabeth Wilks
5 min readOct 11, 2020

And what I’m doing about it

I recently made a post lamenting my previous high paying employment with a wedding on the horizon. It was meant to be an affirmation of sorts. A kind of self-care for my soul. Instead, the universe had left me with my hand poised in the air ready for a slap of congratulations and getting none. What it did give me was clarity. I have an unhealthy relationship with money. This isn’t to say that I overspend, max out my credit cards, and avoid collection calls. I am rather smart with my money. (That is, if you overlook my close to $200,000 in student loan debt.)

My unhealthy relationship with money stems from the anxiety I feel over spending.

My unhealthy relationship with money stems from the anxiety I feel over spending. Growing up, my family was considered “middle-class” but never had much money. My toys came from thrift stores. We never went on vacation, and any time off was spent cleaning the house. We got by, but we often lived paycheck to paycheck.

My parents had very different views on money. My dad felt it should be saved. My mom felt it should be spent.

For my dad, money tore him apart. He slaved away at his job just to stay afloat. For my mom, money was a reward system. Feeling depressed? Must be time for a shopping spree. Because of their conflicting views, money was often a topic of conversation. When I was younger, I didn’t understand the underlying problems. I trusted my mom when she said we could spend money. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to see the rift between my parents over money.

As my parents headed for divorce, money was the biggest issue. My mom wanted to file for bankruptcy while my dad didn’t. In the end, my mom won out, but they didn’t have enough money to declare bankruptcy. It fell onto me to pay for the fees. The money I had brought back with me from trip to England, the money which I hadn’t exchanged for US dollars because my plan was to return, was given to my parents. I remember my mom taking me to the bank downtown. The downtown branch was the only one that would complete a currency exchange. I knew in the back of my mind that it meant I wouldn’t be going back to England. I think I also knew that the bankruptcy…

Elizabeth Wilks

When she’s not writing at the coffee shop, cuddling with her cat, or watching bad reality television, you can find her traveling to new and familiar places.