More money stuff…

Hello all, how’s everyone? I’m very sorry for the silence… Since my television excitement (and it really was exciting, thank you to everyone for the good feedback), I’ve been busy doing paid work (thank you, editors) and wading through my finances.

Last week I discovered that Barclays has introduced new fees which mean I am now paying £3 a day for my giant overdraft. That’s £92 a month. The good news is that a) I actually noticed this  – before I wouldn’t have been looking at my statements and that b) – it’s yet another wake up call.

Mum also pointed out, quite rightly, that I would spend that on coffee most day without even thinking about it. She’s right. So the trips to the coffee shop have stopped. So has eating out and drinking out. I had cut down but it’s not been enough. I am not going to buy another overpriced gastro-pub burger until I’m out of this hole. There, that’s my public promise.

My friend Claire sat down and took me through my expenses this weekend – asking me how much I spend on travel, food, phone, going out – I had no idea for any of it. I know my phone bills have got high again despite having changed tariffs during my money month in Feb, I need to call them to find out why. That’s my next job after putting up this post. Then second call is to Barclays to see if there are any ways to reduce those charges, then the credit card peeps to see if anything can be done about the mega interest I pay.

Then… well, then I just need to start earning some more money.  I look back at this last year and it’s been fantastic but it was like I went into a little naval gazing bubble. I have not done nearly enough paid work which is why I’m still in two massive overdrafts and facing an ever-growing credit card bill. I also owe my family money. It’s stressing me out.

I’ve spent a good part of the last few weeks berating myself, crying and waking up in the middle of the night but the truth is that I had to push it to this stage to learn the lessons I need to learn about money.

When I started this year I had no idea what a huge thing money is for me – and actually it isn’t even that connected with how much of it I have or don’t have. Even when I was working hard and earning good money I never saved, I was always overdrawn and I was always worried. I am scared of handling money and have always felt out of control with it. It’s not like I was out buying Prada handbags every day – I just blew it on rubbish, all the time.

Kate Northrup’s book, Money A Love Story, gave me a good sense of how I got that way – in terms of how money was in our house growing up – but it takes longer than a month to undo a life time of habits. Money isn’t just a matter of spending, it goes so deep.

A few more things I’ve realised over the last month:

a) I use money as a way of avoiding confrontation or difficult conversations – if I think someone is unhappy, with me in particular, or even in general – my first instinct is to buy them something to fix it. This is cowardice and the easy way out – and ultimately not helpful.

b) I use money as a way of people pleasing/over-compensating – the other week I found myself buying lunch for a new friend. It was ridiculous for me to insist on paying, given my current situation, and even when I was handing over my card and wondering if it would be accepted, I was thinking ‘why are you doing this?’. I wanted her to like me, I wanted to be nice.  But you don’t need to pay for stuff in order to be nice. I am nice (mostly).

c) I have always thought that people who don’t actively throw their money around in the same way are mean but I really don’t think that anymore. Because of the way I’ve thrown my money around I am now in a situation where I am relying on friends and family more than I should be. That’s not right. When it comes to money I play the ‘poor me’ card, I want someone else to sweep in and sort it out. I have been irresponsible and immature.

d)I have thought that coffees and eating out are just a staple of life – almost like they come free, don’t count. Which is ridiculous, of course. I will pay £30 for a dinner and think nothing of it, but I will think carefully about paying £30 for a top.

My friend Rebecca (who has taught me so much this year about being generous while respecting money) says that this is like the moment in a Nick Hornby book when the man has his moment of realisation that actually he’s been an immature d*ckhead all this life (she didn’t put it like that) and he has to grow up. I guess that’s true. I just wish I didn’t have to go through the painful bit and could skip to the happy ending. Actually do Nick Hornby books have happy endings? I can’t remember.

Anyway there is no choice now but to feel the pain and sort it.

So off I go to phone Barclays, and EE and to have a few more tears and cups of tea (made at home).

But before I go I’d like to ‘practice gratitude’.

I don’t have it in me to get into another self-help book this month but I think gratitude will be my loose theme for August. As I’ve mentioned, this is one of the biggest components of all self-help books – especially at the moment. Some of you have probably seen that great exercise on Facebook , which encourages you to list 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

Self-help tells you that you have to appreciate what you’ve got before anything more comes your way – and I’ve been doing the opposite the last few weeks. I’ve been focussing on what I don’t have and how I’ve messed up. This is a really negative way to approach things – and is self-defeating. Despite the mess I’ve created I have more than a million blessings to count – today I’d like to say thanks to Rebecca, to Claire, to Sheila, to my lovely colleagues who give me work and weirdly, thanks for this mess which I really hope will change the way I am with money, once and for all.



15 thoughts on “More money stuff…

  1. Marianne, please keep writing posts, I’ve never stuck with one blog for so long, and I’m enjoying reading yours very much. I did wonder if you’ve ever heard of Quidco, which is a ‘cashback’ site. It’s fairly straightforward and if you tend to buy stuff online, you can do this via Quidco, and you not only get offers, but cashback in return. It’s only small amounts usually but it does add up, and as you know every little helps. So far, I’ve clocked up £1,600 in cashback since joining.

    Things like house, or car insurance tend to pay particularly well. Another thing I wondered is if you have a 0% interest credit card? If not is it worth investigating to see if you could transfer your credit card balance to a one that gives you 0% for a set period of time. I did just have a very quick look and it seems the post office do a credit card, which if you are accepted you would get £40 cashback (but you have to do via Quido to get this) and you can do a balance transfer which is saying 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 18 months (even though you do it seems have to pay a 2.98% balance transfer fee this might be worth considering.)

    Try not to berate yourself. At least now you’re starting to take back control. I wish there was more I could do to help (I too, am a people-pleaser, and fixer…I can’t help it!) as I hate to think of you worrying (I feel like I know you already!) You have tons of support on here, and people sending you good wishes. If the Universe is listening in any little way to this, it will hopefully ease your path a little. I guess everything is as it’s meant to be, and maybe you are here, now, in this situation for a reason. My Dad’s favourite saying is “This too shall pass”

    Keep smiling (or crying, it’s good for you, you know – better out than holding all those emotions in!) I look forward to the next update and in the meantime wish you well.

    Sarah x

  2. I’ve always been the opposite with money, and I know it sounds all ‘oh good for you, you have money’ it’s not all roses on the other side either. I wish I could spend money on things, but I can’t, I find it physically makes me feel queasy with worry about the future just over a coffee… There’s a fine balance, I hope we both find it! Good luck you’ll be fine 🙂

  3. I am beginning to realise that I shouldn’t have made that comment about you in heels on one of your recent DM stories.
    However, the blog made some fascinating reading and it’ll actually be good to put into practice some of your learned lessons.

  4. Even though you’re still worrying, you sound much more happy and hopeful. HOORAY! You can ride on hope for a great distance – I think you’re doing really well. I’ve got myself in and out of debt several times over the last few years and have some work of my own to do yet again. Your posts are reminding me that, with me at least, my finances will be a lifelong battle of learning not to slip back into bad habits. I’m so glad you’re putting yourself out there. You’re not just helping yourself; you’re helping a lot of complete strangers all over the world. Thank you.

  5. I see navel gazing as ultimately a search for truth. At least that is what it can be, and in searching for truth you gradually become stronger at facing it. This includes your finances and the state of your life as compared to how you would like it to be. One gradually becomes more honest with one’s self about one’s intentions, motives and real goals. I see this as a good thing, and I think you’ve been doing incredibly well. If you’re like me, you probably wish the problems would hurry up and disappear into thin air. Now. However, as you see yourself getting a handle on things with work and saving, you’ll probably feel a determined pride as you gain the upper hand in this rather emotional battle. For me, it has taken longer than I care to think, and this goes to show how far above my means I was living. Still, there is one thing I make sure to do, as I really love coffee. I have a special coffee maker at home (not a machine), and I buy expensive roasted beans from a special coffee store to make delicious coffee at home. The overpriced dishwater you can get on the run simply cannot compare. It is my only luxury, besides dark chocolate and reasonably good ingredients for food. Perhaps you have something to tie you over until you feel good about spending again?

    • Arthur, sorry for the slow reply. Thanks for this great comment – you’re right about buying the good coffee for home, I always buy what’s on special offer which is stupid given that I then go out and buy a cup for more than the price of a full bag of coffee. Penny wise pound foolish. You’re right about the emotional battle too but I feel like things are changing, slowly. How are you with your spending these days?

      • How am I with my spending? There is a prayer, “…and lead us not into temptation…”. Now that I have paid my credit card debt, I can see more clearly how I was using it to add “abundance” to my life (that lovely self-help buzzword). Returned to financial reality, I find there are many things I must say no to. However, I’m doing remarkably well and have even managed to retain my sanity!!!!!! (Dry note to self: must see doctor about those extra exclams.) I can see it’s a long road signposted with advice like “appreciate what you have”. To me, this doesn’t mean just sit there and count my blessings, but actually to more actively work with the skills I already possess, and search for answers in books I have already bought, and enjoy friendships more that I already am blessed with, instead of forever longing for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Before I start sounding like I’ve got it made, I’ll admit freely that if I had the money, I’d be dining at expensive restaurants every day of the week. Come hell or high water. Saving is one thing. Self-deprivation is another, and if you save too much you might end up overspending to compensate, like on a yoyo diet. I do go out to a nice restaurant every once in a while, preferably for something I cannot cook better myself. It’s great you have a friend to help you with this. Battling temptation by oneself in a world financed by credit can be a real tough and lonely task. Try to remember that not all the glitz and glamour you see around you is actually paid for.

      • I love this comment, Arthur, thank you. You are absolutely right about using/enjoying/appreciating what you already have. The book thing is a great example – I’m always buying new ones and they pile up unread. The new thing is always better… but of course, it’s not really. What we have right now is more than enough.

      • “The new thing is always better… but of course, it’s not really. What we have right now is more than enough.”

        Yes. That lesson seems to be the hardest to learn.

        “All that glitters is not gold” was something I learned as a kid, but I still go “Ooh, shiny!”

  6. Lots to mull over here. I like your friend’s views on ‘respecting’ money. Without going into detail here, a few months ago I came into a modest sum of money (nothing life changing: a redundancy payment). Since then, I can’t bear to look at my bank account details. Back when I was trying to maintain some discipline over my spending, I loved checking my bank’s app every day to figure out how I was going to eke out four days, a week, 10 days – whatever! – from of the dwindling balance. With a bigger sum of money in there, I feel that I don’t have the skills to manage it.
    This must be why I don’t play the lottery… 😉

    • That’s so interesting Dublin Follies – I have a friend in a similar situation. She inherited a small amount but the money has been in account for years and she is paralysed when it comes to using it. Has the larger sum made you spend more?

  7. HAve you looked on JobServe for Technical Author jobs, you’re a journalist, so you’re used to writing, editing etc etc. Ok you don’t have the technical IT skills, but still, there must be something around.

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