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I Changed That – A Late Post About Money and Things…

October 5, 2013

This post is a little late! I noticed that it had been saved to ‘Scheduled’ instead of being published – whoops! It is from a few weeks ago but actually will lead very nicely thank you into the next few posts about finances, managing ourselves, our communities and being able to feed ourselves….

Next Monday I was planning to go on holiday to Spain. A very good friend of mine invited me. ‘All’ I needed to pay for was my flights, food and local travel. So I booked my return flight for just £65.00 and started the pre-holiday excitement along with my friend, I will call him Jeremy. I haven’t been away for a year and in that year I had experienced losing my home, a mental ‘breakdown’, a stay in a suicide prevention unit, the loss of friends and having to adapt to life in a local housing authority complex. It has been a hard twelve months and so a holiday was welcome.

Problem. Of course there is a problem!!

I can only just afford to live day-to-day. I have the habit (yet another old habit that needs to die) of trying to keep up with friends who are far wealthier than I. I get caught up in their excited plans, projects of expansion and expensive evenings out. I just can’t do it. When I buy flights, I cannot then afford my Council Tax. If I go out for a meal, I then have to reduce how many meals I cook myself for the next couple of days. This is not me moaning at you at all – imagine I am speaking to you in a very matter-of-fact manner. It is how it is. I am a writer, it’s what I do. Although the previous few months have been painful and traumatic, I have continued to work. I have written a full length book, several short stories, the beginning of a play and have submitted many of them. Of course being ‘an artist’ – of any discipline – often involves living in poverty or certainly very close to the bread line. This is a choice that I have made and living in this limited fashion is my responsibility. I am telling this to myself now because I have the habit (yep – another one!) of projecting this onto my richer friends and thus blaming them for ‘making me’ keep up with them and their levels of spending. Nope, they didn’t make me do anything, they were just trying to help by giving me a free holiday (Jeremy had paid for the accommodation) or taking me out for the day. It is then up to me to know if I can or cannot afford to get there, fly there, go halves – keep up. If I cannot – then I cannot. Yesterday I was talking about this to a guy who runs the singing lessons at one of the mental health organisations I go to as a service user. He said that he had the same problem and that now he literally stays home whilst his richer friends go out to expensive restaurants: “I realised that I just can’t keep up with them. I also realised, that I am perfectly happy cooking myself something nice, cheaply, and staying in whilst they go out… it was stressing me out” and here we have it: ‘It was stressing me out’. I was becoming anxious again at the thought of ‘keeping up’. I was worried that whilst I was away in Spain, no-one would be submitting my work for me, no-one was there to pay my bills and there certainly was nothing anyone else (but me) could do about the £3.67 in my bank account. Jeremy’s position is completely different to mine; he can afford the flights, the food, the taxi fares et al and his mortgage payment. I cannot. Many moons ago I flew to India with £40 in my pocket and nothing in the bank. Some would say that was amazing. Others would say that was Bi Polar.

I don’t do that anymore. I changed the habit and so although I am bitterly disappointed at not being able to go to Spain, I am calmer, more peaceful and mentally clearer for the fact that I am home, building my writing business, paying my Council Tax, my rent and have enough food to last me a few days. Had I gone to Spain – I would have returned to hell, just like I did back in 2008 when I fell flat on my face after my India trip.

Here’s to changing old habits….                      


Matt xx

  1. Indeed, I’ve been through something similar. And if I wasn’t unemployed, I was working as a slave for slave wages with an utterly despicable employer that rules the world and even had the government convinced it’s wonderful. All the while it breeches every human resources rule on the books. I’ve finally landed a good job. During my struggles with the slave drivers and bouts of unemployment, I’ve learned what’s most important. I had to let go of my material wants and focus only on needs. Now, I’ve come realize that the Sirius XM satellite radio I had in my car is a luxury many can’t afford and I was lucky to be able to pay for that service when others had to choose food over, not just satellite radio, but maybe medicines. Now, I have my luxuries back. My XM radio, my new smart phone, and I bought new clothing. However, I look at all of these things in a differently. I don’t have these things since I get paid well, I have these things because I earned them. It’s odd, but then again not, how we lament over things like our electronic toys, or nice car, or restaurants after we lose everything. When we lose these things, I think it’s important for us to realize where these things should stand in our lives, and how we should not allow them to define us. Once we do, we’ll get back what we lost.

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