If we were to talk about money I might say; We don’t have enough.
I believe that if I were to say this, some people may agree but I don’t think really understand what I meant by it. And I believe that others just wouldn’t believe me. But generally most people would seem quite uncomfortable at the subject and the comment.
We don’t do talking about money do we? Well not in a personal sense anyway. We will protest the lack of funds to public services, we will admonish that families needing to use food banks is at an all time high but talking about how much money we do or don’t have personally is generally not done.
If I were to continue talking about money I would state; We are not as poor as many.
Our children eat 3 meals a day and not from a food bank. We are paying our rent and bills each month and so don’t t have bailiffs knocking at the door. We have a car that we can manage.
In many ways we are ok.
But in other ways?
Well, it’s a daily struggle. We work out how and when to do food shops to ensure we’ll fit enough in before each pay day. We shop at Aldi happily but because it savings means there’s no other options. We recently tried to use some delivery shops to break the monotonous cycle of fitting the food shop in to the week but the cost was eye wateringly high.
We cannot do school lunches, however much pain packed lunches may cause in the mornings. With 3 of our kids at school that cost a week? No way!
Whilst we manage to pay the bills and rent it is always a panic as to whether the money will be in the right place at the right time. This kind of panic is pretty hard to live through so often. Our recent eviction saw us move locally but with a £250 monthly increase in rent. To say this has wiped us out would be an understatement and whilst we stand by staying local so that the kids lives didn’t have to change we don’t know how we will continue.
We are in constant dread that the car will need yet more work or the washing machine will break because we cannot see how we will cover it.
Our children do not struggle, I don’t think. They take part in many after school activities just like their peers because luckily their school has a great range of free clubs. We pay for swimming because its a life skill. Drama was a recent foray into something new. The kids were really eager and so we gave it a go but it’s a paying club and finding a spare £60 for a term was hard. I wonder if we nudged their decision to stop because we knew we couldn’t afford it. I worry that as the kids get older they will want and need more that needs to be finanaced and I’m not sure how we can budget for that. So far we do not have to pay out pocket money but we’re probably not far off. I feel we say “no, that’s money we don’t have” a lot.
Our lack of money means that, despite me wanting to be generous, in reality it sees me calculating how much food is needed for the weeks meals/ packed lunches before trying subtly not to offer it out to friends and neighbours.
Our lack of money means that there is nothing spare, at all. Saving is an amusing joke. We spent 3 months with broken tv. It could work, it’s just that it chose when it would switch on. Sometimes it was the first time but usually it was 30 minutes of pressing the button and wiating. The kids came up with a chant “we do believe In tv, we do, we do” in the hope it would make it work. It was funny. But not always. I spent 2 months with a filling that had fallen out so that I could best time having to pay for it to be mended.
Because despite our poverty we can’t claim the kind of benefits that would help with prescriptions or dental. But we don’t earn enough to pay for them either.
Our lack of money means both of us working is not a choice, but a must. And the reality now is both working full time. This isn’t the life balance any family needs.
We do spend. The kids and I love the charity shops. It’s a great way to shop, better for the environment and giving to good causes.
We have to do a food shop each week and so we’ll make the most of it; we’ll pay a little extra to have ingredients so that the kids can bake. It provides them with a free activity and gives us sweet treats throughout the week that we don’t have to pay for.
Work can be hard. If you have a workplace then you will recognise the constant call to contribute to someone’s gift, to sponsor a good deed, to be part of an expensive night out. You find ways of avoiding these moments or risk looking like the ungiving individual.
As a family we have always had 2 working parents. One of us part time to be around for the children. So I don’t believe we should be struggling quite so much. We have fallen into the growing bracket of families not being entitled to much help, despite the growing cost of living . And that cost of living is scarily high. I can recall 7 years ago living on very little and it being possible. I can still remember the cost of food and utility bills going up literally over night.
But, my biggest issue with having a lack of money is the lack we feel able to talk about it. I feel it’s rather like mental health. If we talked about it more, and with honesty, then we may break the stigma around poverty and it’s effects. The not talking is hard. It creates a real wall between people; friends and family included. When you can’t admit money restrictions it can lead to a defensive or anxious demeanour because you are preoccupied. It leads to feelings of anger or resentment against your loved ones. Hearing about random significant purchases can hurt. You carry around a personal sense of failure and as a parent, a sense of guilt.
Life can feel very unfair.
Because it shouldn’t be like this, should it? We should be able to live more comfortably than this.
We are incredibly lucky in many ways. We get holidays every year because we have family in both Sussex and Yorkshire who we can go and stay with and this doesn’t cost us anything more than petrol.
Our kids live in an incredible community that isn’t, as yet, a materialistic one. They don’t demand the latest gadgets or clothes and aren’t really aware of this side of the world.
But again I return to the question; can we talk about money? I feel that if we could live in a time where being able to state “I can’t afford that plan for so and so’s birthday” or “yes, my kids get their clothes from charity shops” without apology or embarrassment then the world could begin to be a more equal place. More people would have a better understanding of the financial pressures on some, and we would not feel so emotionally effected by financial struggles because it wouldn’t be a secret.
So here I am talking and I’m saying this:
We have less money than others (but more than some). We cannot afford quite a lot of things and it’s a constant pre-occupation.
We work hard within our limitations. The state of the country and the rising cost of living is not our fault. Our way of life means our kids have a great idea about the value of money.
What about you?