I have an odd history with money.
Up until I was around twenty-one, I was a saver. I pretty much exclusively shopped at charity shops, I didn’t have an overdraft, and being that I lived in France (with my flat paid for by my job), it was pretty easy to save cash. And, whilst I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started being bad with money, I’m pretty sure it all went pete tong the day I moved into my dingy North London flat.
If you live in the city, you’ll be familiar with the sensation of spending at a seizure-inducing rate. Flashes of buses, tubes, takeaways and tax, and before you know it, it’s two weeks till payday and you can’t remember the last time you saw outside of your overdraft.
Come the week before payday it would be a case of making the food equivalent of shit mix from what was left in the cupboard and hoping for the best. Until I discovered the credit card.
After a cursory scan of the fine print and a quick chat to the bank, I was handed my lovely, new card. I covered the extra bills and strolled to my local, best friend in tow, exclaiming that dinner was on me. And for a few months, I simply ignored the letters that followed. Continuing to swipe away.
I was well aware that there was a balance building, but I justified it fairly easily. Throwing the odd £50.00 at the account and in a Dursley-esque fashion, batted away any letter that arrived.
Finally, I stumbled in from the pub on a Friday night and, feeling brave, I retrieved the letters from my underwear drawer and ripped them open. Heart lurching, I blinked at the balance and like a woman possessed, I manically opened each statement, pouring through endless quick coffees, bottles of cheap wine and trainer socks.
There I sat. Acknowledging that I was officially in debt, and had nothing to show for it.
Dress – Marks and Spencers.
From there I got my arse in gear, moved back up North and cleared the terrifying balance through a combination of working two jobs and selling most of my worldly possessions on Depop.
But, quite honestly, the worst thing about the whole situation was the guilt I felt. That I was stupid for not reading the details, for ignoring letters and buying things I couldn’t afford, whilst simultaneously having to walk to work when I couldn’t afford the tube.
Which kind of brings me up to now.
I am still crap with money. When people at work casually ask ‘oh, is it payday tomorrow?’ I find myself raging that I know it’s payday because I’ve been counting down for two weeks. I’m far more aware of my financial situation now, and more importantly, more in control. But, I still live month to month, well aware that things could collapse as they did before.
I suppose I’m writing this because I always assumed that being better with money would just happen.
In the same way that I just assumed that one day I’d own a house, I figured it would naturally happen. I didn’t realise that it was an active thing, something I had to participate in to fix.
So, when will I better be with money? I guess it’s up to me.