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Why you need 'Vex Money' to keep your values (and sanity)

I once had a job that started off very well, but about a year into my tenure the management of the company took a very different turn. They started micromanaging, changing out local managers in favour of managers from overseas, and the previously hard working but fun culture became tense and fractious. I was about 25 at the time and unhappy working there, but I did not think that I had enough money to just quit. I started aggressively saving and promised myself that never again would I stay in a job just for financial reasons. I promised myself to have at least 3 months of savings that I would not touch. You have to realise that this was before we had the Suze Ormans and thousands of financial gurus advising us on these matters, so I had to figure it out on my own. Today it is advice that I still share with others - Money doesn't make you happy but it gives you options! Those options are particularly important when you may be asked to compromise your values in order to keep your job.

The term 'vex money' is one that we use in Jamaica to describe a small amount of money that we women have in our purse when out on a date. If you and your date fall out you have at least enough money to jump in a taxi and leave. You can see the correlation. When you don't have options you feel trapped and may make decisions that are against your own best interest. You yield control to someone else and this may have long term consequences. A couple of scenarios to illustrate my point:

Scenario 1: Your boss says something that is false and expects you to back him/her up. They make it clear that they expect you to go along with their story.

Scenario 2: You become aware that your company is engaging in unethical practices such as bribery or corruption. Most people know about the practices but choose to be willfully blind. You feel uncomfortable.

In these scenarios your bosses are expecting your silence or complicit behaviour in exchange for a salary. Of course if the truth comes out you may find that your boss can hire much better lawyers than you can, and you are on your own! That is horrible but even it if does not come to that, there is the drip-drip-drip erosion of your core values that takes place and that is, as they say in that famous commercial, 'priceless'. In the short run you may feel uncomfortable, then you may feel stressed and then you may come to the defensive stage where you know that you are in a bad place but you don't want to be called on it. Personal relationships may suffer.

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