Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Story of the Salesman

The doorbell rang.  I answered the door to find a sales man with an iPad around his neck standing on my porch.  He was with Time Warner Cable.  He asked if we have a contract with any cable company at present…

“No.” I said.
“How do you get internet?” he asked.
“We don’t have internet.” I replied.
“So you just look at your tiny phone screens, then?”
“We don’t have internet on our phones either.”
“Do you even have a computer?” he arched his eyebrow.
“Yes,” I said, “We have a laptop.”
After several stumbles and pauses, “What do you do for internet then?”
“We go to the library.”
“Oh. Um… Well, what shows do you watch?”
“We don’t watch TV,” I said, “We don’t have an antenna or cable or anything.”
“Do you have a TV?” he asked in disbelief.
No.  We don’t have cars either.  We have a horse and buggy.  “Yeah, we have a DVD player to watch movies occasionally.” I’m getting a little annoyed.

He proceeded to show me some of his company’s special offers.  I let him do his spiel but then I told him no thank you.  He kept bugging me, so being the polite person I am, I told him TV and internet is not a priority for us.  He assumed that it was my decision and tried to make me feel guilty for imposing my Amish ways on my husband.

Craig and I are on the same page when it comes to TV.  It’s not only too expensive, we believe it is better for our marriage if we don’t have it.  I told the sales guy that if he offered a two channel package, EWTN and FOX Sports Ohio, we’d consider.  He laughed and said he couldn’t do that.

Not wanting to get into a debate about how television is bad for your soul with a cable salesman who makes a living selling TV, I told him to come back in eight years and maybe then we’ll re-evaluate.

“Why eight years?” he asked.
This guy just won’t leave.
“Because by then we’ll have our house paid off and all our other debt paid off as well.  Sorry, but cable and internet is just not that important right now” I responded.
With a surprised look he asked, “You’ll have your mortgage paid off in eight years?”
“We’ll be DEBT FREE in eight years.”
“Whoa, that’s amazing!  It’s going to take me like 30 years”
When you have a goal like becoming debt free, TV, internet, fancy phones, and gadgets aren’t that necessary all of a sudden.
“You could do it too.  It’s not that difficult”, I said.  “Sometimes I think I can save more, but we still want to have fun and enjoy life.”
He left his card with me in case we changed our minds and walked away with the most confused look on his face.

I don’t think he will go home, make a budget, and cut back on things like phones, internet, and TV.  But at least, he got to see that you can be perfectly normal without them.

The point of my story is that money has always been a humongous source of anxiety for me.

When I was in the fifth grade I took a babysitting class and starting babysitting occasionally.  I felt like the money I earned was needed.  I tried to pay for my own stuff as often as I could.

In seventh grade, I started working at a horse farm.  I paid for my own clothes and gave a lot of my money to my family.

In high school, I bused tables, waitressed, babysat, and mucked stalls to try to save money for college.

In college, money caused so much stress that it became difficult for me to go to class.  I tried to work to pay off my debt and pay for my living expenses.  Because I tried to keep some part time jobs, I sacrificed my studies.

Then after I graduated, I perpetually took on too much thinking that I needed to make more money.  My debt was constantly looming over my head.

When Craig and I got married, I thought, for sure, I needed to have a job to help contribute to our household income.  Because of the pressure I put on myself and because I struggled with depression and an eating disorder, it was really difficult for me to keep a consistent full-time job.

I put added pressure on myself because society says that women must work, unless there is something really wrong with you.

After I was hospitalized for depression, I completely relied on Craig to take care of me.  He convinced me that he wanted to take care of me and provide for me.  I didn’t have to have a job.  I didn’t have to make money.  He wanted me to stay home.

Seriously, once I finally believed him that he wasn’t just saying that to be nice, I couldn’t have been happier.

Not having the pressure to make money has greatly reduced my anxiety.  Also, Craig and I have a realistic, responsible plan for the money we do have.  I trust that Craig will take good care of me.  And I trust that we will make smart decisions with our money as well.

I know that money is not everything.  There are definitely more important things than money.  But money is a big part of life, so you can’t ignore it and hope that everything turns out OK.

Forming our debt free plan together has played a crucial role in lowering my anxiety.

If you also have money anxiety, I highly recommend that you (and your spouse, if applicable) create a plan that you (both) feel comfortable committing to.

If you really want to work, go for it.  But remember, you don’t have to sacrifice your mental health because society says you have to have a job to be worthy of life.


  1. Thank you. I needed this. I struggle with money anxiety as a musician, and coming from a family where both parents worked (still work) I have a lot of shame, both self- and mother-imposed, about not bringing in enough. I feel like if I'm not at least anxious about money than I'm being irresponsible.

    1. It is good that you recognize where your anxiety is coming from. Anxiety is debiliating and non-productive. Being less anxious will help you make better decisions - decisions that are healthy for you. You can do it! You deserve it.

  2. I so enjoyed this post!! I would have loved to witness your conversation with the salesman, but you wrote a very clear picture of the exchange. :)

    1. It was quite funny. I had just got up from an epic nap and had lines on my face from my pillow :)