Bean counting and bag lady dreams
When does healthy financial caution become pecuniary paranoia?
Oh, we had a few other foods -- primarily vegetarian minestrone, homemade spaghetti sauce, baked white or sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs and occasionally a chicken leg quarter that I'd buy and roast for my daughter. The meat counter guy used to kid me: "Come on, live it up -- buy two!" I'd laugh along with him, but he would never know how I hoarded change just to be able to buy one.
After I married, it was years before I could even think about beans. But for the two years it took to get divorced, I was back to bean soup. The Bag Lady showed up then too: in a recurring nightmare about my being broke and alone, with nowhere to go and no reason to live. A therapist I know says this dream is common among middle-aged divorcees.
I paid off my debts two years ago. And I'm still eating beans. That's not to say that I don't eat other things, or even eat out on occasion. But occasional Bag Lady reruns keep me from living too large.
Do men have these dreams, I wonder?
- Bing: Post-divorce finances
That's where I am now. I pay my bills, help a couple of relatives who are struggling financially, make some charitable donations and, yes, set money aside each month. But from time to time the nightmare comes back: I'm being evicted from my apartment. My daughter cannot be located. No one will help me. My money is gone.
- Video: 2010's economic outlook
Thus I doubt I'll give up beans any time soon. However, I would like to stop counting them -- asleep or awake.
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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