I’ve been recently listening to a podcast named Budgets and Cents (highly recommend!) and there’s something they said that got stuck in my head. No one talks about money: it’s a taboo. You can talk freely about what you do in your bedroom or the bathroom and with whom, but not about money. Sadly, I find that to be very true.
Virtually everyone I know here in Edinburgh is broke. Some are students, have student loans to pay and cover their expenses with a part-time job; some others are professionals that work a very-low paying job and earn just enough to survive. But no one really talks about it. Students usually live kind of a frugal life because they know that everything gets paid with their parents money and that seems completely fair.
My colleagues and other friends that have full time jobs are completely different. Most of them are stuck in a minimum wage job but they managed to get the latest iPhone, Beats headphones, very expensive clothes, and go out almost every night burning their money in booze and other expensive vices. I couldn’t possibly afford any of that so, how can they?
No one likes to speak about money because money speaks for itself.
When you are trapped in a minimum wage job all you can do is survive. I know that from experience: you just earn the money you need to pay your bills and cover your basic necessities, but that’s about it. You can’t really pursue the things that make you happy like travelling frequently or afford to continue your studies to land a job that you enjoy. I didn’t like to speak about money because when I told a few people how much I really earned I felt like completely unsuccessful and I didn’t want anyone to think that of myself.
You don’t really need to speak about money because money speaks for itself. If you have the latest gadgets and a lifestyle that most people can’t afford, people will automatically think that you are successful. That is completely fine as long as you can actually afford it but if you earn my wage you know that this attitude towards consuming is completely out of your league and potentially dangerous.
I also got into the spending rut
At the end of the month, I would spend that extra £100 to treat myself to useless stuff that I’m trying now to get rid off. I spent £500 in a guitar + amp combo, tons of books I haven’t read (worth around £700-£800), 7 or 8 pricey board games that I’ve only played once, and many more things.
It’s difficult not to spend money on superfluous things: you can spend £5 here and £10 there without even noticing. To be fair, I never got into debt or overdraft to get any of my possessions but I bought them with little regards for my savings. It’s horrible to think that if an emergency had happened at home I would probably have a bad time gathering money for a same-day flight home; or if our landlord kicked me out of the flat I probably wouldn’t have the money to pay for a deposit in a new flat. There is nothing that would make me more anxious than those two scenarios.
How I’m trying to revamp my finances now:
Not spending any money in things I know I will use only for a couple of times. I used to buy stuff without using my brain but now I am trying to stop and think of the use I will give to stuff. A few tricks:
- Do I already own something similar that I can use instead of buying this thing? Probably yes
- Does it feel like a whim? Give yourself a few days before actually buying it. You will probably change your mind.
- Do you really need that book? Try to check if it’s on the library first or go to your shelf and pick one of the many you still haven’t read.
- Feeling lazy… takeaway? Try to spend a few hours in the kitchen cooking and freeze the leftovers (I have to admit I’m seriously bad at this one).
- Sell old stuff and don’t buy new: I recently sold my iPad and some games (and I’m trying to sell my guitar + amp combo). If you really need to buy something check second-hand first. Some items feel like they’re brand new and you would save half of what you were initially willing to pay for them.
Do you talk about money or does it speak for you? Please share any money tips in the comments below!