Nobody Talks About Money, But This Priceless Conversation May Be Worth Having

Recently, I've found myself having conversations about money. Not uncomfortable, "oh no, why did we have to talk about this?" conversations. Not prying conversations, either. Just conversations about this little necessity that pays my rent. 

I made the decision to work at a startup, in the media industry. *insert my father breathing deeply with worry. Pair that life decision with New York state taxes and New York City's price of living and holy bananas, I have quickly learned the meaning of a budget. I'm proud of my budget, and I am a stickler to keep it. 

But money is neither here nor there. 

It's not the end of the world. 

It's also rarely the beginning. 

One of these recent conversations I had was the result of someone asking me if I was able to "enjoy myself" in this city, even at a startup salary. I was confused at first...I live in New York City, often boasted as THE greatest city in the world. How could I not enjoy myself, simply by walking around and observing the humanity that finds itself packed into five relatively small boroughs? 

I then realized that there are different definitions for "enjoying" life. Sure, big parties and constant restaurant visits and the ability to take an Uber without making a mental note that you're exceeding your transportation costs for the month is nice. It's the way some people are accustomed to living, and that is fine. Being able to do those things doesn't make you any better or any worse than the person walking down the sidewalk next to you. 

But a life without those things is not poor. 

You can buy things to enjoy with money. but you can an enjoy life for no cost at all. 

If you ask me about my favorite things I've done in the city, all of them result in free, or practically free experiences. A weekend walking through the city without a plan, meeting people that are drastically different than anything I've ever known, sharing a collective groan with my subway car when a couple spends five stops screaming at one another...the beauty of humanity is free. 

I have seen Hello Dolly on Broadway twice now. To say I wish to be Dolly Levi (by way of Bernadette Peters) is not an understatement. A line that Dolly delivers to the audience is: "The difference between no money at all and a small about of money is monumental. But the difference between a small amount of money and a monumental amount of money is hardly anything at all." 

Excellent point, Dolly. 

Realistically, if you have a small amount of money - you can pay for the roof over your head, you don't go to sleep hungry, and you can get by - you're doing OK. That's all we can really ask for. 

A smile is free. A few words of encouragement, also free. A thankful heart, free and necessary.

Next time you get down on yourself about drinking office coffee instead of Starbucks, or you start to wish you were living a life that's not yours, take a second to enjoy life - not the material luxeries in it. Don't turn down a pay raise or anything - come on, Starbucks once in a while is absolutely no crime - but just appreciate the free things and soon your money problems will become obsolete.