Observations On Having Money (from someone who never did)

I’ve never been brilliant with money.
Mostly I can put that down to unhappiness: when you’re miserable & hate who you are, it’s all too easy to be seduced into buying things you don’t need. Maybe these shoes / this bag / this book / this lipstick will make me the new person I want to be!
 If I could just look like the girl in the advert, my life would be different.
It never was. It never is.

The short version of this story is that old cliche, that change had to come from inside me – in my case quite literally via the emotional roller coaster journey that started with me giving birth to Orla – and if I could surmize all that learning in a blog post I’d be a millionairess. It’s tough. It’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t involve as many handbags as I’d originally thought.

The funny thing is – either by coincidence or perhaps by some sort of symbiotic relation – as my self worth grew, so did my financial value. It makes sense, I suppose – it’s certainly far easier to believe in your talents and work when other people are attributing a monetary value to it. It’s easier to defend your time and your choices when you have a proven track record of success.

For the first time in my life, there are zeroes in my bank account that aren’t preceded by a minus-sign. I don’t have to cross my fingers at the petrol station at the end of the month. My first thought when my tyres slip on black ice on the moors is no longer “if I survive, I can’t afford the car repairs”.

Here are some things that surprised me about having enough money.

observations on having enough

1. People who say money isn’t a big deal have never struggled for it. Of course money cannot buy you happiness, but it can buy the difference between unhappily hiding from the postman in a freezing cold house, living off sliced white bread, and unhappily lounging in pyjamas at a fancy hotel with a netflix subscription & pizza. I mean, which kind of unhappiness would you prefer, on balance? 

2. Having more money makes you less afraid. Looking back I realise that a lot of my previous day-to-day anxieties were indirectly linked to my lack of disposable income. The fear that your card will be rejected, that you’ll get on the wrong train, that your car is making a funny noise, that the roof is leaking, that you might have left your phone at the park… all of these fears are greatly relieved when you have enough money to handle them. Money buys you smooth passage through pretty much any daily disaster, or at least the peace of mind to know you can get some help.

3. I feel really guilty. I spent £40 ordering room service breakfast and couldn’t sleep the night before for the guilt. I even had a good excuse – I was having a POTS flare up, and needed to stay in my room the next day and rest – and I could expense it through my business. But it still made me feel sick with guilt and shame and I-don’t-deserve-it emotions.
The same is true for every launch or contract that has brought me a good income. After the initial elation of success comes the cold hand of shame. It’s weirdly uncomfortable to be financially safe; most of all because I feel guilty that not everyone is here with me.

£40 room service breakfast. Tastes of shame & regret.

4. Fancy hotels are a lot like nice hotels, except the staff are annoyingly attentive. Just leave me alone! I can carry my own rucksack and pour my own tea, for Sith’s sake.

5. Having enough money makes it easier to see your priorities. When a project or commission comes in and you’re used to struggling, it’s hard to see beyond the promised pay packet. It’s all well and good to promise ourselves we’ll stay focused on the big picture, but often just the details of day to day life can be overwhelming. Having enough money to work with means I can pick and choose the projects that fit best with my long term goals, instead of immediately chasing the biggest rewards.

6. It feels incredibly fragile. Which, of course, it is. 

7. The best thing I can buy is more room for love. I’ve just spent a solid 5 minutes trying to think of a less wanky way to say this, but in the end it’s all I could find. I don’t want a shiny car; we already have a wonderful home. The thing I have been working for – the thing I can currently afford, that I could not before – is to have a lifestyle business that supports my little family. It means Rory will no longer have to get up at 6am on cold winter mornings and work 12 hour days at the job he long ago stopped loving. It means Orla will always have one of us to collect her from school at 1:30, and will have two parents with a healthy(ish) work-life balance. It means we can be together more, while we’re all here, and it’s the most incredible luxury I can possibly imagine.
So, from September, Me & Orla will be the family business. Eep!

It feels super weird and vulnerable to talk about money, maybe because I’m British or maybe because of some combination of all the above. It’d make me feel less nervous about this post to hear your thoughts too – how have you felt differently about life when you’ve had some financial freedom, and when you haven’t? 

  • I love this honest discussion on money, thank you so much for sharing. It’s so exciting that you’ll be becoming the family business – and what a lovely thing for Orla to experience, too.

    I definitely don’t earn the most money in the world, but the moment I realised I could probably be on maternity leave, buy a new(ish) car on finance and likely still have enough money for a decent holiday once we’ve got a handle on having a new baby, was a pretty big moment for me. (Although come back to me in 6 months and see how chirpy I feel about it then!).

    We’ve recently started talking about investing some money and maybe buying a second house at some point down the road to create a bit more financial stability, and even being able to have those kind of discussions in any real way is a total game changer compared to how I grew up. I went to quite a posh school, so knew a lot of people with rich parents, for whom that was totally normal, if not a little ‘low level thinking’, and I didn’t think I’d be *there* myself by this point in my life, if ever.

    I definitely understand the guilt and shame; financially I am now better off than my parents and my siblings, and a lot of my friends (although that is partly due to having a partner much older, and therefore further along the career ladder than me – it’s definitely not all my own doing!). It makes it tricky because I *want* to share, and I do in some little ways like with gifts and hosting Christmas, but it’s not like being a millionaire and being able to throw huge sums of money at them that would actually be able to help solve problems. You also don’t want to rub it in everyone’s faces or be blasé about it, because money is such a prickly issue.

    Money seems to occupy so much of my thinking; how much I have, how much I’d like to have, whether I can afford x, y and z. My dream would be to go into M&S Food and do a full shop without having small heart palpitations about how much it was going to cost at the end / not be able to eat for the rest of the month as a result. Not millionaire rich, just M&S food rich!

  • Fi Cooper

    Having no money is awful, AWFUL. I have been the person hiding from the knock at the door, not answering the phone etc for fear of what may be on the other end (like a baliff). Now we are pretty solvent, we only have one big debt (mortgage) and were able to survive a long period of my husband being out of work without it bankrupting us, we had to cut back on things yes, but we could pay the bills. I don’t long for huge piles of cash, but having enough to be comfortable, to not be worried all the time – as you say, its not about the shiny new car, it’s about getting the car you already have fixed if it needs it – that’s enormously liberating.

    • Yesyesyes. I still don’t answer unknown numbers on my phone from those years. Just nope. Liberating is the perfect word. It’s a special sort of freedom.

      • Fi Cooper

        And, I meant to say, It’s not something I take for granted. We are fairly careful, and we save (oh the luxury of being able to save!). I’m pretty sure no-one who’s gone from having none to some money *ever* takes it for granted.

  • Cora

    All of your observations are so true! I almost started crying reading them, especially the guilt one. I’m still at uni after changing my degree while all of the friends I made there are starting to work and earn money and one of the worst things at the moment for me is having to decline idea after idea, invitation after invitation (“We could travel over the weekend!”, “Want to go see this film with me?”, “A new spa opened, wanna check it out?”) even for things like a cup of coffee at a small café because I just can’t afford it, or because every euro I have is part of a specific budget I cannot change. I do support the statement that having money doesn’t instantly make you a happy person for the rest of your life but honestly – if all my financial worries and anxiety just disappeared, I would definitely be a good amount happier. Or at least relaxed, which is a big part of happiness for me.

    • Ah, kindred spirits! I hear you on all of this. And it’s true that there are always more worries to fill the spaces, and more problems however much you have, but in my experience there are no fears as huge and real as the ones being poor can throw up. Keep at it! Sounds like you’re nearly there, and it will ALL be worth it in the end! x

  • I think you’ve written about this as sensitively as you could, it’s still relatable. And congratulations!

    • thanks Bushra! I did worry about the wording, so it’s good to hear x

  • Paula Solar

    I am an adult living in her parents home because she can’t afford a little home, not even rented because landlords/ladies won’t trust her since she has no money, I mean, very little money. And I can see my future taking care of my parents which would be fine if I felt that this house was mine, but since I am not allowed to paint my room white… you get a picture. Sorry if I sound bitter, I’m not… I’m tired. Having no money is stressful and gives me a lot of anxiety. So this post here resonates with me a lot.

    And at the same time I am happy because people I love are succeeding in their endeavours, even if the way to that success was hard and took a lot of work and sleepless nights, now they’re safe and sound. And I’m happy for them. Like I am happy for you Sara. Because you are worth it. Because you’ve worked hard and now you see that the seeds you planted are growing. And I’m happy for Orla because she’ll get to see her mum and dad everyday and feel safe and secure with you two.

    Also I loved the line in which you said that success came the moment you started believing in yourself. It gives hope, although it’s the hardest part too… I mean, believing in oneself.

    xxx thank you for this post, I could go into more detail but it would be too boring to read. So for many reasons. thank you

  • AnnaInternational

    As someone who has lived through the eating plain spaghetti for days/weeks on end just to make amenity bills payable situation, and survived it, I absolutely relate to all of the above. After long years of a lot of hours of hard work (and freelance when not at my job) I finally paid my way out of debt (which felt incredible), and then almost immediately took the plunge and bought a house with my husband, which we are now renovating completely, and which is proving to be a bit of a money pit. However, it is all relative – I’m dealing with having to wait til payday to afford a new bathroom sink, rather than having to walk 1.5 hours to the office and back for a fortnight because my Oyster card ran out and I couldn’t top up! I feel incredibly privileged to be in the position I am now, and I try never to take it for granted, but there is always the thought in my mind that just a little more money would make things a lot easier. A lot of my anxiety is still money-related, and I hope one day to be in a position where it isn’t any more. For now, I’ll just keep working! x

  • Miriam Khamis

    Thank you so much for writing this, all of your points are spot on in my experience, particularly no.1. I am fed up of people pretending that money doesn’t help at all. There is a distinct difference between being unhappy and the bailiffs taking your furniture and being unhappy and having a fridge full of food. xxx

  • I grew up on borderline poverty and there were many times where my family and I just ate baked beans on toast for dinner for months. Growing up wasn’t any easier and I always worked minimum wage jobs and chose partners who always seemed to spend every last dollar we earned on frivolous things. I know what it’s like and I’ve been there, to have nothing, to almost go bankrupt, to have to move back home, to have a few dollars to my name each week after bills and hope nothing went wrong. I completely agree with you when you write, “… as my self worth grew, so did my financial value.” I put myself into therapy, removed myself from toxic relationships and family, moved to a new town, started a small side business, found my now husband (who is awesome with money) and I’m now receiving my first ever promotion at my job that pays the most I’ve ever been paid in my life! I’n by no means living the perfect life and swimming in cash, but we have almost paid off a car loan making us debt free, we have emergency money stashed away and then we have other savings, one account for a home deposit! Making the best decisions for yourself each day is my best advice, because none of this happened over night. It was just a slow, gradual ascension. Thank you for sharing such a personal and real post 🙂 Love your stuff!

  • Oh, I have definitely found that I am much more at ease with a more flexible budget. It’s incredibly stressful for me, as my Hubs is the main income in our home, & I feel incredibly guilty asking for more money than I absolutely NEED. He has often reminded me that I don’t have to scrimp on myself these days… it’s nice, but also scary. I totally identified with #3!

  • Jessica Wood

    I am constantly crapping myself when I pay for items (worrying- what if my card is declined?). I know my situation is short-term but it is tough when you have a little one who wants to do things that involve a car, going to the cinema etc. My husband is a medical student and it has been a bit of slog the last 4 years but we are almost there, Thank you for posting x

    • Oh YES, so hard! And as Mama you want those things too – because lets be honest, they keep us sane on the long days at home with little ones. I always used to think ‘I wish I could just borrow some cash from my future self!’.

  • I totally get the point about being less afraid. It’s the difference between sitting at home putting groceries into three different online supermarket baskets to compare which is cheapest, and just going to the shop. But it’s also the bravery to think that things are possible, to be able to afford to think ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’

    • THIS. Oh Kayte. You’ve put it perfectly.

      • And I was also thinking about this brushing my teeth this morning. I think it’s good to talk about money like you have. The amount of money we have becomes so normalised that we forget what it was like 2, 5, 10 years ago. We adapt so quickly to our current financial situation that even weeks after a pay rise your bank balance shows no sign of it. Thinking about money like this is good reminder to stop and think, appreciate how far you’ve come and how fortunate we are.

  • You’ve presented your side of the coin, as someone who didn’t have money to begin with and now has. Let me give you the other side.

    I come from a really rich family, the kind of high society gossip girl style. I don’t say this to brag but it is what it is, I am priviledged and blessed. But it’s not like money just rained on us, my grandpa has been working since he was five and my grandma since she was seven, she couldn’t be even afford basic education. Every single penny that qualifies us as rich has come from a dual lifetime of hardships, sacrifice and struggling just to get by.

    When my mom got divorced from my biological dad, he literally took every single thing in the house from us, and my mom had to sleep on a blanket with me because she was terrified of telling my grandpa who’s very conservative about marriage. On Christmas, my mom would have to wait hours in line to buy a single toy for me, whereas my dad bragged and bought me tons of gifts – in that sense I was a little bit of an ungrateful b**ch but I was 4 and didn’t know better.

    When my mom remarried – not for money, mind you, as some people thought – my dad (who I like to call my real dad) didn’t have a penny to his name and worked from morning to night of often seeing us for less than an hour a day. I needed at the time hormone growth, and each pack cost a million bolívares (Venezuelan coin) my parents spent all the money to help me get better, and we survived that time off of friends leftovers and the charity and help of a few.

    We learned from being rich to be first and foremost grateful for everything we had in life, and we weren’t unhappy back then, we knew that through hard work things would turn around. We weren’t greedy either, my mom and I went to geriatrics and spent time with the elderly, we helped at school, and if a friend was in need, we helped in every way we could.

    When we moved to Spain, my dad worked for six month completely free of charge in exchange for the company to provide us with a house to live in, once again, we weren’t the richest but we got by, and we weren’t unhappy or greedy, we still helped wherever we could.

    One of the biggest lessons you learn about money, is how little it matters when it comes to your loved ones, how easily you’d let it all go to save them. When my dad died, we found out some people had even celebrated, one woman even told my mom that it was about time something happened, that’s called envy.

    Money can get you nearby to happiness, but true fullfilment doesn’t come with it, having all the money in the world didn’t help save my dad, and I can assure you he was in the fanciest most expensive cancer specialist hospital in Spain, and you know what? I would have gladly given away every penny, in exchange for his life, I’ve been both rich and poor before, and it’s up to you how you decide to be, but you have to be willing to put in the effort it requires and be grateful.

    As to why rich people don’t stress about money, I have never once in my life worried about money – and I can tell this to you now, as the only person in my house in charge of providing an income – that I don’t have in steady periods of time.

    I believe in the law of attraction, so I send a message to the universe that money is abundant within us, that more money will come our way so we can give back, if I started seeing every price tag that’s only telling the universe that I’ll always need a reason to worry about lack of money. Of course it’s kinda like how you need to believe in fairies, if you question the method, it’ll fail, if you trust it, it’ll guide you towards everything you want.

    I’m incredibly sorry for the blogpost lengthy reply, but it seems like not a lot of people speak about this topic and so I wanted to show you my perspective on it, so thank you for allowing me to do so. Take care 🙂

  • Rachel Adnyana

    “£40 room service breakfast. Tastes of shame and regret” – I am crying with laughter! Thank you for such a lovely post, I’m never disappointed when I check your blog xx We’re still very much on the dark side of financials at the moment 🙁 hope one day soon we will cross through to the other side!

    • Haha! (it was also delicious, in fairness). Bah, sorry to hear you’re in the dark times – I know those feels so well. It feels impossible that it’ll ever change, I know, but I’m proof it really can! Just don’t check my credit rating for another couple of years… 😉 x

  • hmm, it’s interesting to think about. I don’t feel like I have ever been “poor” because I’ve always had money when I’ve needed it. Not because I’m wealthy by any means but because I only use money for what I need and very rarely for what I want. I’m a good saver, im not wealthy but I live within my means and budget..kind of. AND I’m a single mother who works in retail and gets government assistance. Yet I still don’t feel like I am poor. Then I hear other people (who clearly have more money than I) who complain about money ALL. THE. TIME. because they have spent there money unwisely. I think it all comes down to perspective to be honest. But I also think my country has a very generous welfare system so I think its hard to be poor in this country. I’m not sure what Britain is like in that regard!

    • Thanks for sharing Melanie! I’m in awe of your awesome money skills, and of anyone who is a single parent. You’re my idea of a superhero!
      I’ve learned to be less judgemental about how other spend their money, because we all just have the brains we have, you know? When we’re miserable or afraid we can make bad decisions, and with money those decisions can haunt us for a long time afterwards. Plus, we’re always being sold to, by massive, big-budget corporations whose whole job is to make us feel like we HAVE to buy stuff. It sounds like you’re great at tuning those messages out, but I know not everyone is, and I feel like that’s not really their fault. The bigger issue is that we live in a society that tells us that happiness can be bought, and neglects any sort of financial education.

      • Thanks for your reply. Completely agree with everything you said! I think I really need to stop being so judgemental of other people and how they spend their money. Sometimes I think I can be kinda arrogant about it. I think the hardest thing for me is listening to family/friends complain about their money problems and feeling like I could solve them if they only just listened to me. But I know, not everybody wants advice, they just want somebody to vent too. I wish everyone could be as brave as you and speak openly about money like this. Nobody really does. It’s a very sensitive topic for many people.

  • Claire Tucker

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said here! Having money isn’t everything but it gives you the space to care (and sometimes worry!) about the things that are really important.

  • Alison Ness

    Hmm interesting post, and kudos to you for being so candid. Money talk forever has a veil over it that is neither conducive to real talk nor informative for the generations we raise. I’ve experienced both sides of “having money” from more than I knew what to do with to very very VERY little and there is no doubt in my mind that the happiest I’ve been is when I’ve had very little money to my name. For me that was all in relation to the job I had while making the money so it makes me think; surely it’s not how much we have, but how we earn it.

  • Katerina Sulakova

    Hi Sara, it’s great to have money and it sucks when you don’t have it!! But for me it has always been a case of ‘what’s the point of money if you have nobody to share it with?? ‘ . When I was living in London I had a well-paid job and was completely independent. Money for me equals independence. But I was unhappy as I missed my family, friends and quiet life back home in Czech Republic. I am now a single mum living off maternity benefits, working 3 hours a week as an English teacher. But I have wonderful parents so I can stay with them, they help me take care of my son when I need and don’t make me feel like a burden on them or a failure. I always struggle with money but have so much support and love that money can’t give. But of course I would prefer to live with my own family in my own home and be independent again. I hope it’ll come one day.

  • I totally agree with what you have written. From the buying stuff in thinking it will make you feel better to worrying about getting to the end of the month. I am self employed & my husband my husband has a good job but with house repairs, car tyres needing replaced, car insurance etc all up for renewal it sometimes feels like we never get out that ‘rut’. We try to start saving & something else in the house breaks down.

    I know from experience that the folk that says money doesn’t matter have. It has to go without or really struggle. I do agree money is not everything but it certainly takes the stress of bills etc away. Something that would make life much easier for us.

  • Rachel Brown

    Wow – the family business from September! Congratulations x

  • My financial situation changed recently and I cannot begin to explain how much of a positive impact it has had on my anxiety. I do feel less afraid and I do feel like I can take that leap of faith that I’ve wanted to make for so many years.

    • I’m so happy for you! It’s wonderful to be in that place, and feel like you have enough of a safety net to take some risks. I’m rooting for you! xx

  • Isla

    This is so wonderful Sara, you deserve it all and shouldn’t feel guilty. Though I do understand how that feeling can come up. There can be a big societal stigma against it, which doesn’t help. More money affords us more love, bravery, freedom….and that’s such a huge life achievement. But it’s definitely hard to avoid the guilt when you see others struggling, and you’ve struggled yourself before. I’ve run my own business for 7 years and a couple of years ago it started to grow very quickly and I suddenly had more money than ever. What I noticed was two things…I received very judgemental attitudes from some people (a small number but still significant) who almost discouraged me from doing it…seeing it as ‘excessive’ in several ways – from the effort it took, to the money, to what I then started to accumulate in life. (Which was simply just my independence, the ability to rent my own home, and not to worry about a few supermarket shops….OK and maybe a couple too many Diptyque candles, but that was about it…oops!). An almost ‘calm down dear’ attitude. I ignored that of course, but found it very strange! The sudden business growth also highlighted to me that I didn’t have anyone to share it with. I had friends of course, but not the family of my own that I’d wanted to build by that point in life. It wasn’t necessarily because of my business that I didn’t have that, but the long hours and focus on the business certainly wasn’t going to lead me anywhere on the love front very quickly. I so wanted for it not to be just me who would benefit from what was happening. The whole thing lead to me taking a break for 18 months….I thought it was great, but also felt ‘not yet, not now’. It was a gut feeling and I just followed it. 18 months later and I found love and a new life (I fully think because of following my gut!). I’m now full of motivation to get to that peak again….to support the both of us, and to give us that space you speak of. My previous experience with earning money independently bought me the confidence to know I can do it again…which is priceless really isn’t it? I hope you’ve felt that too. Keep going, you’re doing all the right things and it’s truly inspirational to see xxx

    • I LOVE this story – so inspiring and so relatable – and I’m SO glad you chose to take that break and build up the other parts of your life. You’re totally right – now we’ve done it once, the mental framework is there to know we can do it again. That’s what I tell myself in the middle of the night when I panic about everyone unfollowing me, or instagram being shut down – that I could start from scratch doing something else, and I know I could still make it work. So excited to see and hear about what the next few years hold for you!

  • Paula Solar

    Things will change for the better, you’ll see. Be strong and don’t give up. There is an end to everything, even if you don’t see it, rough times will come to an end.

  • Tia Talula

    This is so lovely to read Sara, Im so happy for you. Your hard work is apparent, and I wish you every success. lots of love x

    • thank you, Tia! that’s so lovely of you to say x

  • Miri

    wow…It’s surprising to read this in this part of my life. I live in México and I’m finishing my master degree with a scholarship too. I realized that what I’ve studied is not for me even I dislike it. I had this money for studying but I didn’t save anything, I used to think “next mont is other pay” and now I live day by day, worry about the end of the month. And sometime i bought things like books, cloth that I didn’t need them. Read this post had made me think about my finalcial future and what I’ll be doing next.. I’m glad to read this post. And if I could say something for you, it’s enjoy what you have, you deserve it!
    Thanks for reading. Greetings from México

    • Thanks for sharing Miri! I can relate to where you’re at, and you’re not alone! You’re right – I need to relax and enjoy the good bits more. It’s hard because I’m such an over-thinker!

  • I really enjoyed reading this post for the fact you are being SO honest, and that it is a subject we just don’t talk about in Britain.

    You’ve navigated something that could have come across a bit wanky in a way that isn’t at all wanky, by the way, so hats off for that!

    And also, I think you’re a very honest and genuine person anyway – I felt genuinely pleased for you when you said how much money you made last year, and I’m not sure I’d feel that way for everyone. OK, I’ll be honest – I’d feel crappy if LOTS of people were doing so well, because (and here’s the bit we rarely write to end that sentence) I’m not doing that well myself. But for you? I was genuinely happy! And inspired!

    I heard a motivational speaker say something like “everyone says money won’t buy you happiness.. which is true, but it’s right up there with air to breathe, isn’t it!?”. I suppose what money really gives us is breathing room – like you said, not panicking about the car bill or the boiler breaking or your card being declined at the petrol station.

    Ironically, I’ve never had so much money in my bank (it’s not much, but enough for a small deposit on a house that needs work – my boyfriend and I are saving up to buy a home together this year), yet I’ve never felt more anxious about money than I do now. The more of it I have, the more I seem to need to have to feel the same sense of ‘safe’. What the frick is that all about?!

    I have to remind myself of how ‘safe’ I am, and how privileged I am too. My boyfriend and I share one car, and we can afford to repair if it breaks. I might not be able to afford a shopping spree to buy new clothes, but I eat a healthy and varied diet and don’t deny myself fruit and vegetables – even expensive ones, like blueberries! (luxury!). We haven’t ever been abroad together in the time we’ve been a couple, but we’re in our mid twenties and hopefully about to buy a safe home (of our own – what luck!), in a lovely town in the UK – we’re doing alright.

    So, I’m just trying to keep perspective and pick apart what financial ‘success’ looks like to me. I’d say that what you and Rory have built/are continuing to build is pretty close to my dream, and it’s a pleasure to read about the bits of that you share, and helpful too. So, thank you!



    • Beautifully and perfectly put Flora – and thank you for sharing. The blueberries stage is where we’ve been for the last couple of years, and that felt comfortable. My motivation in going self employed was never to make more money, not least because I didn’t think it was possible! So i understand everything you’re saying here- especially that need for a buffer for security! In fact the more money I make, the less I spend, because I now get a perverse sort of safety from seeing it sat in my bank!
      Which is probably one of the many reasons that capitalism is a bad idea! ?

  • Mirva

    Thank you for writing this! I feel liberated enough after reading your thoughts on the subject to write about our story, which I never ever talk about. For the same reasons, I guess, that you mention here.

    A few years ago, we were really struggling with money. We were both still students plus had a baby/toddler to take care of. Our parents were not in a position to help us financially. I actually remember a day when our daughter, recently diagnosed with a chronic disease, had to spend a day in the hospital and we were there with her. The last bits of our money paid for the parking (the car was a loaner from a friendly neighbour), and we didn’t eat the whole day because we couldn’t pay for the hospital lunches.

    A year after that we had both graduated, and started earning good money on our respective fields. We bought a house in the country that we painstakingly renovated for four years, with our own bare hands, during the weekends, while working the weeks in the city to pay for it. Meanwhile he was able to actually make progress in his career, and finally we decided it was time to make a change and move to the country. So I quit my job and that’s what we did, last summer.

    Now everybody keeps telling me how brave my decision was, to give up work and make a lifestyle change. For me it was a no-brainer. I didn’t really like my work though I made quite a bit of money doing it. Quitting was easy, because we have money now. It feels tacky and awkward to say it, to anyone, but he makes so much I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life anymore and we’d still be comfortable now that we’ve managed to pay off the debts that accumulated while we had no money. He loves his work, and will be paid even more as he gets older, so I am free to do nothing as long as i please (also he’s of this opinion). It feels like I am bragging writing about this. Why is that?

    Anyway, I completely agree with what you have written. I feel guilty even admitting we have money, even if it means that my first-grader always has a Mama to come home to and that we eat wholesome homemade dinner every night. Money makes that possible, and I for one am certainly happy about that. And I am so happy for you, Sara! So glad to hear you’ll be running a family business soon. ❤

  • oh thank you Krissy – I was SO anxious before pressing publish on this post, but I keep learning that those are the ones that are most important to talk about! Thanks so much for always being such a great supporter xx

  • thanks Katy! I feel like I can finally take my hands down from over my eyes and look my finances in the eye, so this sounds like a great recommendation for me!

  • Elisabeth

    This is an issue I wish a lot more business owners, well, and people in general would talk about. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding poverty but there’s also so much of it. I can only speak about my experience here in the U.S. But it sounds like there’s a lot of resistence to talking about money issues in your country too. I came from extreme poverty, lived in a million dollar home and been back to poverty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was back in poverty that I realized I was good enough and deserving enough to follow my dreams and start a business. It’s been a struggle and it’s frustrating when the people who seem successful in the online world around me talk about it like it’s no big deal to start up a business “properly” with loads of money to back it. There’s a lot of things I could be doing right now, tons in fact, that I’m not because of lack of resources. The days it gets to me most though are the days when I think about the likelyhood that I’ll never be able to afford to buy a home of my own, or even have a baby. Money is one of the single most influential factors in our lives. We need to be able to talk about it, especially so the ideas people have about getting out of poverty that just aren’t true can be understood properly.

  • I relate to this on so many levels! The spending to counterbalance unhappiness, right through to the anxiety at not having enough. I also totally believe my lack of earnings (right now) is one of the things holding me back creatively….as well as spurring me on to do the sh@t work I don’t wanna do so I can, one day, make enough money to take a day off mid-week and snuggle with my husband and dog.

    SO happy for your new family business! It’s inspirational as well as….well, just plan awesome.

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  • Patricia

    ” it’s certainly far easier to believe in your talents and work when other people are attributing a monetary value to it” – this is so so true. I feel like that’s kind of a societal sickness we’re all bound up in, you know? I used to have a lot of disposable income (when I was a senior associate at a big law firm) and although I became increasingly unhappy I could always afford takeout and Oxford Street. Now I have a minimal personal income and I struggle a lot with feeling a lack of legitimacy because of no longer having much money, even though rationally I know that caring for the kids (and, you know, not crying every day in my suit) *is* valuable. Letting go of the shopping and luxuries was far easier than letting go of prestige and legitimacy 😉 on the flip side to you, i feel a shame at voluntarily letting that go (there is always more guilt to be had!;) that said I’ve always had the massive privilege of not truly struggling to make ends meet – it’s easy to reject the hamster wheel of capitalism when you know your children will have food on the table. I hope you’re also very proud of what you’ve achieved – you really should be 🙂 xxx

  • Been sat here a while after reading, there’s so much honesty I want to give back in response to this post but don’t have the stomach to write it here publicly. Another time! Over wine maybe? I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gaby Dunn, she has a podcast called Bad With Money and it’s from a very heartfelt place like this. Amazing how so much of our self worth gets caught up with money. Anyway, I’ll pop it here in case you’re interested:


    Cheerio! Xxx

  • Oh, dear. I feel like crying now -Whats new, right? I’m a woman after all haha.

    I have to shamefully admit that I came here today for selfish reasons. Perhaps you know I’m working on building my own little business? well, as silly as it sounds I started it all backwards. Fortunately I realized my mistake and now I’m taking my time to do it well, so according to my recent learnings you my dear Sara qualify as my Dream Client.

    It’s difficult to explain but basically I feel like your whole self resonates with myself and for that reason I came here to perhaps notice things about you that I haven’t noticed before. Sounds stalk-ish? yes! I know, I know. I feel the shame haha.

    Anyway, I’m so thankful I end it up here reading this because it reminded me one more time why is it that I like you so much. Oh boy, your number 2… so on point and number 7 totally got my heart!

    Since we {me & husband} moved to PA we’ve struggled a lot with money and to be honest I hadn’t really noticed how many of my fears were related to the topic until now that I read your post. I just felt my heart clunch! —I dream with having a baby you know? even though I won’t let myself admit that openly, because I’m not getting any younger and don’t want to get fixated with the idea until the situation we are changes. So for now I’ll keep working on building the quiet-adventurous-fairytailish-life I dream with by pouring myself into creating a business that will serve and resonate with the people I love the most in hopes that someday, I’ll get to where you are today.

    I’m so happy for you, you know? you’ve worked so hard!

    Thank you my sweet & inspiring Sara, thank you for all.x

    • Oh my love <3. First up I'm so excited to be your dream client model! Haha! Stalk away, and feel free to ask me what I think about things it if helps? I know how helpful it is to get clear on these ideas.

      As to the rest – I feel you. It's so scary sometimes that we don't even let ourselves look it in the eye. I know I never did or could before – and thankfully I'm now in a place where I can afford to do that without fear, or else I probably never would have done. But you're on the right path! And just talking about and feeling all this stuff is a huge step, right?
      and I swear, before I wrote this post I felt like the only person on earth who had ever worried about money!

      • I’ll cry, thank you! –I’ll take you up on that once I have ready a small survey. I feel kind of embarrassed now admitting that you are one of my dream client model, I don’t even know why I confessed haha. I just discovered it myself recently.

        About the other topic, it does help talking about it. It really does. We are not alone in whichever journey we are at, nothing like a bit of chat with others to make us realize 🙂

        By the way, your latest Podcast really spoke to me, so loud & clear with things I’m just starting. It was so reassuring to hear you say ‘we just have to keep going, trusting the process’. Hands down to you! You my dear, have a knack for understanding & communicating with other entrepreneurs.x

  • Charlotte Tomlinson

    Love this! Great to talk about making it financially – inspirational. I have 3 kids and we have good jobs but childcare costs are crippling us so we’re basically working for nothing (we, I mean, my salary) but.. There is hope! We work hard and we follow what we think is right and one day we might make it like you guys to have he work life balance for our family and also the disposable! I was genuinely very happy to read this xxx

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  • Julia Williams

    Sara, I absolutely love this post. Honest and with humility and humour. I properly LOld at your caption on the breakfast photo. It’s also refreshing to see a post like this, because money whether we like it or not is at the crux of almost everything. Yesterday I spent £50 on books for Oscar, and I feel sick about it. I’ve had to justify it to myself by saying I’ll keep them for his birthday. Money whether we have it or not- which is a not at this end – does funny things to us, and I can imagine if I ever do have it, I’d be pretty much exactly as you are in terms of my feelings towards it xx

  • FinanceswithPurpose

    Love it that you’ve moved to financial security, and love your experiences. I grew up having little as well. Now the best thing we can do: give back to those who are still struggling, both financially, but, even more so: our time and talents – to help more of them cross this bridge.

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  • fashion for lunch

    Love this post Sara, money is hard to chat about and it can come across as showing off (which you didn’t). Guilt, fragility, all those things never really go away but at the same time you can’t cling onto it forever and as my grandad always said, money was made round to go around. £40 on a breakfast will always give you the guilts (I made my boyfriend eat cereal bars for breakfast in Iceland for this very reason) but you are right, if you have it, you don’t have to worry about it and that’s really the best place to be! So great to hear your husband is joining the business!

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  • Erin Wilson

    I’ll let you know how it feels when I get to your position! For now I still have all of the anxieties you’ve mentioned, minus those about the car because I can’t afford one or even the driving lessons to get my license. But hey! It sounds like its worth striving for and I’m going to keep pushing my own little business until I can expense a £40 room service! I just hope my husband and son are there to enjoy it with me.

  • I am not yet at the point where I can say that my financial struggles are behind me. I am working towards that, though. However, what I will say is that as a freelancer who has lived through both parts of the feast or famine cycle, I could really relate to #5.

    When I have been in famine mode, I would take on any writing work I could get – even if I knew going in that I would hate it. I couldn’t afford to be picky. However, when I have been in feast mode (in the sense of bills can be easily paid and I have plenty left over to not have to worry at all), I found that I was more selective. I didn’t offer to do jobs I know I don’t enjoy. I didn’t accept jobs that I felt would stress me. I didn’t work with clients who didn’t excite me. Having enough money afforded me that freedom of choice.

  • Thank you for this, Sara! I find it so, so helpful when we talk openly about money instead of giving each other side-eye and wondering how others aren’t scared witless about paying for fresh produce. I’m a freelance writer and make a fraction of what I used to make back when I earned a biweekly paycheck with commas and had company-sponsored health care coverage.

    But I can absolutely say that while having more money makes you less afraid, like you note in #2 above, it also, for me, made me less productive. I leaned on that steady income as some kind of proof that my creative work — the fulfilling, life-giving practice — was less pressing. I had all the time in the world for it.

    When that was swept away (I lost my job at a tech startup), I found myself forced into working really, really hard for every dollar. I look at taxes differently now, new clients make me nervous they won’t pay (it’s happened three times), my schedule is precious and I’m always questioning the balance between taking on projects that are nourishing and those that are lucrative.

    You’re spot-on that having enough money makes it easier to see your priorities — and it’s worth it to define that “enough” means, uniquely, for you.

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  • yablon28

    you’re amazing and it’s no surprise to me AT ALL that you’re doing so well. well done you. xxx

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  • Asunción Macián Ruiz (Medusa D

    I feel the same, and I feel so grateful for you posting this, because it’s so much comforting to know that this happens to people that struggled with money and now experience balance and stability, chasing dreams such as to buy our own home.

  • Lindsay Davison

    This is beautifully honest, and you’re right, it’s often the ones who have enough who say money can’t buy happiness. Piece of mind, stability, a sense of earned achievement – these are all things that make me very happy!

    Lindsay | http://www.lindsaydavison.co.uk