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Money Is Like A River

It’s a random title, I know, however, money really is like a river.

Think about the part of your life you’re in now and your financial situation. It’s probably different to how it was 10 years ago and how it will be 10 years from now.

The changes that come during your mid-twenties to mid-thirties are possibly some of the trickiest you go through life. The freedom of spending your cash on nights out and whatever clothes you fancy whilst at university (once you’ve covered your fees) changes for rent on a flat or bedsit, then mortgage payments, then nappies.

There are times in your life when you are flooded with cash, then other times the river is running dry and you’re in an almost drought-like situation.

Suddenly, in a few short years, you’ve gone through the mill of priorities changing and instead of buying takeaways, you’re watching the pennies.

This is the situation I’m in.

I’m self-employed.

That was difficult in the first place.

Going from a regular & pretty decent wage to chasing up payments was hard.

Even without being self-employed, transitioning through events in life is difficult.

When I was in my late teens, I worked hard during school holidays and saved for a car. I had no real outgoings, Nokia 3310 bill aside, so putting everything into my ‘fund’ was easy.

The time for uni came and that’s when my film collection went from 20 to 200 in about a month. After rent & fees, it was expendable cash, especially as I worked during university, at a pub & then at a radio station. Beer, post-beer food and clothes were purchased, and purchased well! At this stage, the river was flooded.

After uni I think there is a bit of a shock. The river suddenly stops being fed and turns into somewhat of a trickle. What to do now? There’s no more cash coming your way and you have to start paying back what you borrowed for the last 3 or more years. I don’t think I’ll ever pay my student loan off, I don’t earn enough.

The full time ‘corporate’ 9-5 job allowed some frivolous spending, but not too much. We were wading along in our boots.

An inheritance came along – FLOOD – but this was spent on a deposit for a house.

With a house comes so much more expenditure. Buying furniture, buying white goods, doing home improvements, the list is endless and that list doesn’t include council tax and other bills.

Kids arrive next. A car change had to happen, farewell my beloved first car, hello family station waggon! Setting yourself up for the first child is an expensive time. Fortunately, our second born is the same sex and was born in the same month, so all the clothes we already had are the right size for the right season.

Throughout all of that, the river becomes less and less flowing.

I’d say we’re currently in a stage of just below a steady flow. There is no real steady flow when you add self-employment into the equation, as the upstream dam could close things off at any time, however, we’re stable.

These days, my clothes are always bought on sale.

Nights out are very rare – though that isn’t only down to money, it’s down to me rather sitting in and watching the TV. Getting old! Give me beer for birthdays, Fathers Day & Christmas and I’m set!

Food out is usually on some sort of 2 for 1 offer or purchased with upscaled Tesco vouchers. Food bought for consumption at home is healthier than pasta-and-cheese, but bought on a budget! Things are batch cooked and leftovers frozen, not only for the sake of cash but for the easiness for family life.

Our two kids already probably have more expendable income to their names than we do, but that’s hopefully going to set them up for the future.

I know some people who are regularly putting into a pension. I have no idea what we’ll do once (if!) we reach retirement age. It will be a struggle, but whilst part of me thinks a pension pot would be a great idea, it would mean doing something else with my life to be able to afford that. I love what I do and whilst it doesn’t pay me millions of pounds, I wouldn’t change it. Whilst I want to be stable in the future, I might not be here tomorrow!

It’s easy to look back on those days where money was seen as a little bit more expendable and perhaps wish for that again, I have something for my money now. We own a house (which brings up another question (for another day!) of property being better than a pension?!), we pay the mortgage every month but it’s ours. We have a car. I am in the fortunate position of being able to work from home which means more family time and I also own nice things, like the camera I took the header photo with.

If I could tell my 15-year-old self what to do, I’d say to start a business earlier on a side of a part time job and not to worry about the pressures of education. If I could speak to my 22-year-old self I’d tell him to start putting some ‘future’ cash aside before kids come along.

Who knows what my 40-year-old self would tell the current me?

It’s kind of exciting though, isn’t it?!

You can’t always plan for things and you have to spend your time living in the moment. If your child needs a new pair of shoes, they need a new pair of shoes. If you lose your job, you’re thrown into a situation you don’t want to be in. We can plan and plan and try to have the foresight to steer our way through, but things change. Yes, money is like a river, but I suppose life is like a river too. We’ve just got to stay in the dingy and hold onto that paddle!

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2 Responses to “Money Is Like A River”

  1. Christine Vickers

    A very thought provoking post. I was born into an extremely poor family, but my Mum and Nan were brilliant at making money stretch. My Nan was physically disabled and sometimes Mum had 3 part time jobs. I can remember grumbling, the one time we had jam butties for tea. Mum said half the street eats them at least once a week. I still feel guilty about my lack of appreciation. Mum must have had a difficult time money-wise that week.
    I trained as a teacher, and always appreciated never having to scramble for money.
    I became a Deputy Head Teacher and had some fantastic holidays, mainly exploring the American western and south western states.
    I loved my job, but retired fairly recently, mainly because I wasn’t up to the physicality of working with teenagers with a wide range of special needs, including some with behaviours which were very challenging.
    I saved a small, regular amount towards a pension almost all of my working life. I know I am so much better off than most in my position, but it is hard having to think, ‘Do I need this?’ when I’m not used to it. Your blog has reminded me of my early life and how I should consider myself so lucky, even now, as a retiree. Expensive holidays may have gone, but we can still have holidays!
    Thank you.

    Like

    Reply

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