Monday, 19 June 2017

Money Can't Buy You Happiness, But.....



This is another subject many people have said I should avoid talking about publicly. This tells me that people still view money issues as something you should feel shame or embarrassment about and ONE thing I said I would always do with my blog is to talk about those ‘unmentionable’ topics. So here goes…..

I’m not in the position where I’m getting intimidating knocks on the door from debt collectors, or bills stamped in angry red letters through the letterbox, in fact U don’t allow myself to use a credit card,  but I’m definitely in a poor financial position compared to that of the majority of my friends, and that difference can lead to lots of tense or frustrating scenarios that I want to touch upon today.

I’m very lucky that I have support of my family, so that I know I’d never be left in a position of danger or malnourishment, but not being able to look after yourself and being so reliant on others feels like a precarious position.

Tensions

In the last few years I’ve realised how a lack of money can impact a relationship. Neither Si or I are superficial, or feel the need to  be drowning in designer goods and five star holidays. We’ve never been rich nor feel a huge desire to be, but we’d both love to be simply comfortable. The soul destroying realisation that even after the hardest of working weeks you only just about cover your direct debits, and you don’t have anything left over just to have some frivolous fun, inevitably effects the mood. We are in the situation where both of us struggle, so we can’t act as a buffer for each other and compensate for our other-half’s lack of comfort in the financial department. If one of us suggests that we might treat ourselves it can create tension because it feels like such a guilt- ridden or foolish thing to do. The fact that are financial situation means that we have to live with my parents, which in turn means a lack of privacy or independence only compounds this friction too.

Regression

Being forced to live with you parents at age you’d imagined you’d be living a full adult life can undoubtedly stunt your personal evolution.When they’re asking you if you’ve got any washing, questioning what time you’re going to get home, and even criticise your outfit choices, it feels like your a frustrated teenager again. The whole living with parents thing will be covered in a blog post soon….



Lack of Confidence

Even if you don’t put a huge emphasis on money and things, money is still a symbol of acknowledgment of hard work and effort. So if you’re busting a gut and not getting any money it’s pretty demoralising. Feeling unappreciated and unrewarded can really affect your confidence and you can help but to start to wonder what you’ve done to deserve it, or wonder why you aren’t able to bring in the cash and provide yourself with a stable life. I’ve also noticed that the males in my life have also felt emasculated because they haven’t been able to fulfil that stereotype of ‘the provider’ too, which is an added pressure on top of worrying about merely looking after yourself. Then of course your inability to keep up with your contemporaries in terms of the things they can afford to buy (whether it be clothes, a car, a haircut, or a holiday) can knock your confidence, or make you worry about certain conversations arising. Ive often tried to avert a looming conversation topic to avoid having to admit to not having something.

Shattering the Illusion

You success in the age of social media can be impacted greatly by your social media persona. Although relatable content definitely has a vital place today, being aspirational definitely encourages a following. People love to live out a luxury life through others. Maybe they hope by watching them they may gain the tools to get there themselves and get to live that life for themselves. If I’m honest about my lack of funds I’m not exactly going to be a role model for others, they’re not going to want to emulate my career/life are they?!

Positives Attract

You’ll notice a lot of the successful bloggers/YouTubers will post regularly about their achievements. Whether that be that they’re going on another press trip, won an award, got sent some freebies, got to meet a celeb, simply doing well in one way or another. While some just enjoy patting themselves on the back, for some it’s an integral part of the game.

Bloggers that have reached a certain level of success are very savvy. It’s almost unnerving at times. They’ll know what to do tweet to make them attractive to the watching brands. If brands or PR’s see that they are doing well and getting opportunities with other brands, they are going to see them as an attractive commodity that they will also want to utilise. Seeing that they frequently tweet about the opportunities makes them feel a collaboration with them will be beneficial too.

My point here is that in tweeting or blogging about my lack of money I instantly become a less attractive potential influencer to work with. By saying I’m struggling money wise, it rightly or wrongly gives off the impression that I’m not doing well career wise and therefore their sponsorship money would be better used elsewhere. The reality is that even when things are going quite well, the nature of freelance life is that you are constantly chasing payments, I still have hundreds of pounds owed from six months ago and more. Then there’s the fact I live in the most expensive place in the UK, so earnings don’t last as long as they would elsewhere. Then there’s the lost earnings due to ill health.

It’s an age thing

Right now I’m in that stage of life where weekends are consumed by weddings, baby showers and hen do’s. The gifting element alone is expensive, factor in travel costs, contributions to group kitties, drink funds and more, and before you know it the total costs have eaten away all of your earnings.

Ahead of a baby shower or hen do there will invariably be a group chat where shared gifts, surprises and itineraries will be discussed. Eventually there will be a discussion of how much we should all donate to the overall fund. What if the majority agree on a number that isn’t affordable(or sensible) for your personal cashflow? Should you be honest and say it’s too much, in turn revealing that you aren’t as flush as them? Should you just agree to it and find a way to earn some extra money (or make extra cut backs), just to avoid awkwardness?

The big problem these days is that everything is more elaborate, because we are in a social media age where you feel you have to show everyone what you are doing, and everything you do has to be as impressive as possible. You feel a pressure to not only keep up with the Jones’ you want to completely trump them. Presents are meant to be instagrammable, events should be aspirational, and you should be sourcing incredible details from pinterest to ensure it’s talked about and envied.

Thanks to bloggers and celebrities we follow, excess has been normalised. It's common place to expect people to get on a plane for a hen do/wedding and get involved in more purse draining activities once you’ve reached the destination.

What if you have a lot of dear friends that would expect you to attend their event? Do you sacrifice your quality of life so you don’t let any of them down? Do you limit yourself to a certain number per year? Do you decide which ones to do according to how your finances are that month or do you choose the people you consider better friends?

Some people are very understanding and would never hold a grudge if you truly felt you were unable to take part in the festivities due to financial reasons. Others will take it extremely personal, they won’t see the bigger picture and won’t understand why you can’t find a way to make it work, you know, for them.

So in summary once you reach late twenties/early thirties if you’re not raking it in your constantly making decisions about whether to overstretch yourself, or risk upsetting people you love. It’s tricky.


Resentment

On the whole I don’t resent people for enjoying their riches. Of course there are pangs of jealousy but if I like the person and they work hard I think well done you, and even find their lush lifestyle  motivational. What I find harder is those that aren’t sympathetic to other people’s situations.In my opinion you should never make anyone feel less than, and that applies to people who may have less money than you. Some people seem completely oblivious to other people’s situations . My current peeve is the tweeters that complain that they’re not on holiday, even though they’ve been away numerous times thus year already.

Eating Out

I try and accept invites to dinner when I can because if life is stressful it’s important to have these windows of joy - they help you to keep trooping on and punctuates what sometimes feels like relentless misery, with some light. That said I’ll make some purposeful decisions if I know it’s a time when I shouldn’t really be spending money on going out. Maybe I’ll have less courses, find the cheapest dish, or ask for tap water (which the waiters usually greet with an inner eye-roll). In the meantime your dinner mates might be getting through bottles of wine and salivating over their fillet Steaks. You’ve carefully calculated how much your meal has costs and start counting out the money utilising the shrapnel at the bottom of your handbag (which are covered in crumbs and melted chocolate in my case). Then someone suggests that it would be easier to split the bill. When this happens I desperately try to hide the fact that I've gone into full on panic mode and just prey to god that someone empathetic soul with speak up and point out that ‘Soph hasn’t had any alcohol though.’ The last few times that has happened (thank you to those angels) but I’d much rather it didn’t get the point where someone had to draw attention to my inability to be carefree about the situation.

But what do you do when no one speaks up, even worse if someone points out that it’s ‘insert name’ birthday and we should pay for her/him too?

Judgement

Sometimes you’ll decline an invitation citing lack of money for the decision. From that point onwards people will think they have a right to an opinion on how you spend your money. I’ve heard numerous friends slag off other friends because they’ve noticed they’ve bought a new pair of shoes  (for example) after backing out of their social arrangement. What I wish people kept in mind is the things they don’t know about the way that person’s managing their budget. Perhaps they sensibly divide their incomings allocating a certain figures to bills, going out, food shopping etc and therefore perhaps in this case reached the allocation for ‘going out’ for that month. Perhaps they were able to get those shoes because they’d be putting money aside for them each month, had a voucher, or found a really good deal. Maybe they needed to have that impulse purchase and in turn that temporary high, to get them through a really tough day….and that’s important.

Inappropriate questioning.

Some days I feel quite prepared to talk about the ups and downs of my career and the resulting financial lackings, but on a bad day when it’s a struggle to stop of my chin from wobbling it’s enough to tip me over the edge.

I was brought up not to ask about earnings and how much people money have, but some of my friends/family members clearly were not. They’d don’t even give it a thought when they probe how much I got paid for a certain job, or how much money I make a year. When my reaction let’s them know that I’m uncomfortable talking about it or that they shouldn’t ask it then creates an uncomfortable vibe, which I hate.

Like I said most days, and with my close friends I’m happy to divulge the frankly embarrassing figures, but with people that fall under the acquaintance bracket I’d really rather not share. That said I’m an inherent people pleaser and try to avoid awkward moments where possible so the likelihood is that I’d still tell the nosey parkers the information they’d like to know, sacrificing my happiness in the process. Let’s face it, sharing something that makes you feel crap about yourself with someone who doesn't understand you well enough to fully understand the reasons why your in that position, is hardly mood booster. You feel like you’ve been forced to admit failure.


 
So that’s just a few ways a lack of money effects my life. Can any of you relate to any of these things, please leave me a comment below!
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