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.
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?