Read below as our Tenancy Sustainability Coach, Mel, shares her story about her struggles with money and how she has started saving.
Money, money, money! Always needing it, never having enough, and of course saving for a rainy day. Ha! That’s for people who actually have money surely……. Or is it?
I have been struggling for most of my adult life, a skill I learned as a child. I learned lots of things when I was young about money and the lack of it. Mainly that there wasn’t much of it and it didn’t last long. The negative learning and limiting beliefs I have carried with me for decades.
When I first lived on my own at the age of sixteen, I had no-one and nothing. I was in receipt of Income Support and never made it through the fortnight with money left over. When I got my payment I would treat myself to a steaming hot corned beef pie from Ferrari’s on Wellfield Road then I would go and get a sack of potatoes and a few other bits and try and make that sack of spuds last me until I had money again. Definitely had no thoughts of saving money then.
I started working a while later and had a bit more money, but then I had more to pay out; clothes, travel, lunches, socialising with friends. It wasn’t long before I was living payday to payday again. I was still not thinking about saving and if anything the opposite was true as credit became an option and the debts grew instead of my bank balance.
Then in my early thirties, I had a spate of ill health. I had to claim for Employment and Support Allowance and struggled fortnight to fortnight. Different benefit, different decade, same struggle…. only this time no corned beef pies for me as Ferrari’s has long since shut and I live in a different town.
It took a while but I slowly recovered, got back into work and now I am on the familiar climb out of my own financial black hole. And I find myself again earning more but still financially stressed out as I am still living month to month with no security and no growing balance. Then I read this:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Ooh la la…… that’s me! I’m trying to wish more money into my account but not doing anything different from what I have always done. Living for today and then stressed about tomorrow!
So this year, I am changing how I do things, step by step.
One of those grown-up things I did at the beginning of the year was visit my bank manager. I must admit it did feel a little bit like going to the headmaster’s office on the way in, but on the way out I felt a little like I had just started to become an actual adult, instead of pretending to be one.
In there we discussed savings and I decided why not, let’s open an account. Probably won’t use it but good to have one. Then she asked, “How much would you like to save each month?” Options of £20, £30, £40 and £50 were thrown out there. Honestly, I wondered what was wrong with a tenner? In the end, I decided to go with £50 and well, why not I think? I can just take it straight back out.
But something has changed. I want freedom and one of the freedoms I want is financial freedom. I no longer want to feel stress at the thought of something breaking or when my car needs an MOT, or if I get an invitation to go somewhere I want to say yes without breaking into a cold sweat and having to mentally check my bank account.
So I am changing some of my life habits and implementing some new ones as well as getting myself some new beliefs. Before I thought you didn’t save if you owed money, but now I can see that saving regularly is about creating a new habit, a healthy habit. One that over time will enable me to no longer stress about money. This is one of those small steps that will change the shape of my future for the better.