A Gay in the Life: Love your money, love yourself

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And that's when we saw it. Half-submersed on the flooding pavement and next to a chunk of yesterweek's Wrigley's: a nickel. It was a simple decision. Grab the nickel and become five cents richer or don't. My instinct was to grab it, and to my surprise, so was my friend's — whose financial troubles are, at best, recurring. I was thrilled. She was learning! And then she chucked it.

Into the rain, from her fingertips and into someone else's, she chucked it.

Maybe chucking the nickel makes her a freer person than I, and maybe the best things in life are free — but I'm sure your landlord would gladly inform you that your apartment must not be one of them. Without money, yours or someone else's, you're out of a home, maybe a car, probably your cell phone and eventually anything nice to wear.

And it isn't vanity. I'm well aware that feeling good about yourself doesn't stem from a new pair of jeans or owning a polo that isn't faded from years of community laundering. But if you're telling me it doesn't help, well, I'd wager those magical beans that you grew up a lot closer to rich than most.

It's common sense: you have to take care of yourself to feel good about yourself. And one of the many ways to do that is to respect the money that you have, and the money that you can get. It's an investment. In you.

I'm not one to  blame everything on the economy. No one has ever made anyone spend money they don't actually have. Overspending and flashing a no-limit Visa isn't respecting money anymore than skipping out on a soggy nickel is. But nothing is certain in today's economic climate.

One day you're on top, the next you aren't. One day you have a job and the next, if you're like my friend, you don't. If she'd presented that nickel to her boss, would she still have been fired? Probably so.

But perhaps if she'd had that "love" and respect for money, that respect for her means to an end, it would've carried over into other areas of her life. She'd be more prepared for uncertainty than she is right now, more ready for the change in front of her, and there may still be name brand Cheez-Its in her immediate future. And perhaps not.

Either way, I bet that nickel's lookin' pretty good.

It's been said that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Whoever said it, though, obviously never saw my aunt's hair. (Only the good dye young.)

I may not spend as much time with it as I'd like, but I love money. It pays for my rent, my electricity, my comics and even the occasional apology bouquet for my boyfriend. I can't get new clothes without it and I can't drive to work to make more of it if I don't have any for gas.

In all reality, it isn't love. Love is what I have for my friends, my family (even for my aunt), and for my boyfriend. And besides:  mo' money, mo' problems. So it isn't love, but it is respect.

I respect the "mighty" dollar, and I respect the coin — because change comes hard without it.

If you're overweight, dough costs a lot less dough than a salad does. If you don't have a job, friend or significant other, your car won't run on fumes forever and those things are harder to find sitting at home. Whether we like it or not, money makes the world go 'round. As much as I'd like to wager three magical beans rather than half of my paycheck for rent, it's not going to happen. The barter system is dead.

Money is survival, and most of us want to survive — so by extension, a healthy respect for money is a healthy respect for oneself.

A very good friend of mine and I were recently carrying groceries in from the car. It was raining and just after a non-rent paycheck, so the bags were heavier and even contained a few name brands. (There's no substitution for Cheez-Its.)

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