The next two items on my list of 100 Things to do Before I Die are major ones:
#5: Attain financial stability.
#6: Maintain financial stability.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been a single mother. I was married, once, for five years. I’ve been a single mom, raising kids on one income since 1979, with sporadic child support for one of the kids and none at all for the other one. My income has fluctuated a lot over the years. For a while, I supported my little family on a convenience store clerk’s salary. Trust me when I say that’s not much.
After that, I had a couple of secretarial jobs that paid slightly more and offered me a few benefits. For a while, I had a pretty good job working for a law firm, and then, when my boss became a federal judge, for the United States Court system. I made some pretty good money then, but for a number of reasons, that job caused me a lot of stress. I liked a lot of things about it, though, and I stayed with my boss for 15 years. I probably would have stayed longer if my circumstances hadn’t changed.
In late 1992, I began to pursue the one thing I’ve always known I was supposed to do. I began to write. In late 1993, I sold my first novel to a major publisher and early in 1994, I sold to another major publisher. I stayed at my day job for a few years, working 50-60 hours a week at the job, coming home and trying to be a good mother in the few hours I got to spend with my kids each day, and then working another full-time job when the kids were asleep to meet my contractual obligations to both publishers. The stress of my day job and the strain of working so much took its toll, though. Eventually, I walked away from the stable job that was killing me and I’ve been a full-time writer ever since.
There’s nothing like living on an uncertain income with paydays 6 months apart to drive home the importance of financial stability. It’s something I pray for unceasingly, but it’s not as important to me as my health and the health of my children and grandchildren. If God said he’d grant me financial stability tomorrow, but one of my loved ones would have to become ill in exchange, I’d turn my back on the money so fast it would make your head spin. Some things just aren’t worth the price.