She Works Hard For The Money

Heard this song on the radio the other day and now it's stuck in my head and not just because of the catchy tune or lyrics.  It resonates with me and I'm sure with plenty of other people who are working hard just to get by.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems like more and more people are working harder and harder to keep afloat.  I'm beginning to feel like I am a hamster running on that wheel and getting nowhere.

I have always been a hard worker.  Or so I'd like to think.  There are times when I have worked hard and been rewarded financially for it.  But mostly (and more recently), the money that I work so hard for, is just not where I'd like it and need it to be.  I'm supporting a family of three. (My husband doesn't work; this is not by choice so if anyone in the Northern NJ or NYC area is looking for a computer repair type or a non-programmer computer guy, let me know.)  I am making the around the same amount of money I was making in the early 2000s.  (Back when there were only two of us.)  It's a struggle to get by; a struggle that I try not to let on to most people.  (I'd like to think that most people, upon a casual glance at us, would think that we are a relatively average middle class family.  In reality, we are much lower on that spectrum and if you take a really close look at our home and family activity you would be able to figure that out.)

There were times when I made a good salary.  I knew it and I appreciated it.  When I made more than enough to cover the bills, I did save.  I also indulged a bit.  Not overly indulged because even in those days, I knew they would not last.  As the old saying goes, I made hay while the sun shined.

Financial advisers will tell you to have enough savings to last you for six months.   I did my best to have that savings ready.  But I was not ready for the long period of time that I would go as unemployed. (Perhaps I should have knowing my husband's employment situation.)  I never thought of my family as overindulgent, but we did cut back as much as we possibly could.  (I'm sure some would say we could have cut back even more...maybe we could have.  What I consider "necessities" and someone else might consider; I know they will differ from person to person.)

When a new job finally came about, I jumped at it.  Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be the long term position that I had hoped for.   Working hard for the money became harder and harder as I accepted a smaller salary and a part time position in order to keep the family afloat.  (I will admit that with the exception of the salary I liked the part time work.  It gave me more family time and that is something that I value more than money.  I freely admit that as much as I would like to make the largest salary possible, I want and need to be able to spend time with my family.  So a while a six figure income would be very attractive to me, if it required constant travel that kept me away from home, I'd have to pass.)

I like where I am currently employed.  However, financially I am still struggling, and hence, so is my family. Some days (and today just happens to be one of them), the struggle really gets to me. (The straw that broke the camel's back today was seeing how quickly the money in my son's "lunch fund" was going.  While I want him to enjoy the independence of purchasing lunch at school, letting him make his own food choices, and be a part of the gang, when I see that he has run through $20 in 3 days I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Clearly this can't go on.)

I am always looking at creative ways to try and increase my income, but thus far haven't come up with a definitive answer.  (So I am open to suggestions.  Clearly blogging is not the way to fame and fortune for me.)

I suspect that I am not alone in this conundrum.  It's in the news daily; workers struggling on the minimum wage.  (Let's face facts; an individual can barely survive on a full time minimum wage position.  A family cannot survive that way.  Employees/workers, no matter what they do, deserve to earn enough money to survive and dare I say it even thrive. )  Although things are far from perfect (and far from where they once were), I know that I should be considered one of the "lucky" ones.  But as I work hard for the money, I do not want to be lucky.  I want to work hard and I want to earn enough to provide for my family in the part of the country where I currently live. I want to earn enough and still have time for my family.  I'd even like to have a little extra to save and maybe "indulge" in some luxuries such as a family vacation or household repairs that have been held off for longer than they should have.  (Actually right now I just want a vacation.  Working hard for the money has put a big emotional strain on me and I'm going to be honest here and I say I really need some time for ME.  As the sole financial provider for the family, my needs and wants are always put on the back burner.  Right now my inner child is screaming out: "What about me?  When is it MY turn?  When will someone else pay the bills, play the chauffeur, etc.?  When do I get to do what I want?")

I work hard for the money.  We (the collective we) work hard for the money.  Isn't it time we got treated right?


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