I’ve always placed a lot of value on money. Probably because I don’t always have it.
The times I have had it, it was only for some fleeting moment before it’d sunken into the abyss. Abyss in this case meaning holidays, ridiculous (but fun) activities, gin, and more holidays.
What I’m trying to say is, it didn’t last long.
But I’ve always associated money with being able to do these sorts of things. The things that make me tick, and quite frankly make my life worth living.
I would count down the days before pay day and spend the money before it’d even arrived. I’d deduct the funds I needed to spend on the important things that kept a roof over our heads, and then decide what nice things I could ‘treat’ myself too.
I never understood why my husband would have hundreds of pounds left the day before his next pay day, whilst I would be trying my hardest to make a tenner last throughout the final week.
But then, towards the end of last year, I decided to leave my comfortable office job, which afforded me to pay my bills, eat decent food, and go on nice holidays, to take the leap into the freelance world.
By complete fluke of course. It wasn’t planned, which considering I have a to-do lists for most things, was quite the revelation.
All of a sudden, I realised I might not be able to ‘treat myself’ anymore, and I might even struggle to pay the mortgage.
Luckily, and very unlike me, I had a very small savings pot I’d put aside to further my legal career. Thank God I’d decided not to go down that route and now instead had a bit of a buffer to see me through the next few months, whilst I tried to build up my client base.
By month four, I was getting there. I was just about paying all the bills and no longer having to dip into my savings pot.
And then what happened? The pandemic hit.
Within a few days, one of the agencies I had a few clients with contacted me to say that all of the clients I had, had given their notice. “Whoops”, I said to myself. It was one way of getting off my butt and trying to find my own clients.
I’d just started to show my husband that this freelancing lark could work and then Covid smacked us all in the face and laughed heartily. I still had my savings pot but it was a little more dwindled than it had been.
And then, whilst I was focusing on my current troubles, I realised that even if I was still metaphorically sat at that office desk, I could well be in the same position, if not worse.
There is no such thing as job security
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can never be certain of anything. We can never get too comfortable and nothing is ever guaranteed. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s scary as hell but it’s taught us that we all need a financial back-up plan, no matter what job we’re in and how much money we’re earning.
An emergency fund is probably a good idea
To ease the sweaty palms and sleepless nights, having a solid emergency fund is the solution to putting our minds at rest. We’re either too busy investing for the future with money we cannot touch, or living a little bit too much in the moment (myself included) and not putting anything aside for those ‘rainy days’. To protect yourself from a temporary loss of income, having funds to cover at least 6–12 months worth of fixed expenses is ideal.
We waste so much money on a day-to-day basis
All of a sudden, our normality was stripped away from us. The things we didn’t think twice about. Going out for a meal, grabbing a McDonald’s, going for a drink (or five), going on a day-trip, to the cinema, the theatre, crazy golf…(this list is non-exhaustive). The point is, when we had money, we spent it like there was no tomorrow. And of course tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, but it can be a good thing to suddenly become mindful of our spending habits and where we could make cuts in the future if we needed to.
You don’t have to spend money to have a good time
As someone who places a lot of value on the ‘fun-factor’ in life, I was devastated when it soon hit me that I wouldn’t be able to do the things I love to do anymore. But I’ve actually rediscovered some old passions of mine that don’t require a lot of money to do. You start to live within your means. I’m reading and writing again, going for walks (sometimes), and driving down to the beach at midnight to watch thunder and lightening.
“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” — Benjamin Franklin
Life is what you make it. Money isn’t the thing that makes you happy. Even if you had all the money in the world, it still wouldn’t be enough. Look around and smell the roses.
It’s the little things in life that make it all worthwhile.