I realise that I’ve made this all sound very easy. I’ve written about all the new experiences I’ve had, from the mundane (writing a shopping list) to the more exciting (becoming a mystery shopper, “upcycling” my desk).
Perhaps I glamorise “being poor” because, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not. What’s more, I expect to earn more, and not less, in the future. So, ultimately, I’m play-acting.
I’m not skipping meals for lack of money. When the boiler or fridge break, they are fixed. I’m not shivering with hypothermia through winter as a result of having no more money to feed the meter.
I hope I haven’t offended people as a result of my flippant references to not “having enough”. I’m only too aware that I am very lucky to earn as much as I do, and that I only have such a well-paid, professional-level job as a result of my upbringing. My parents prioritised my education at every stage, and supported and pushed me to the best of my abilities. If they had not, I would not be where I am today.
I’m also lucky enough that when I was stupid and irresponsible enough to get into debt, my parents were able to bail me out.
If I told you that I have struggled with this budget-slimming, you’d have every right to be totally unsympathetic. I struggle with not buying overpriced caffeine. I struggle not walking into a shop when I see something beautiful in the window. I struggle not meeting my friends for drinks or meals out. I struggle not to buy theatre tickets, especially when I see a great review, or a favourite actor starring.
So what? Get over it!
That “we’re all in this together” slogan is utter nonsense. Boo-hoo, I can’t see Simon Callow or Hedda Gabler. Alas, one shall have to cut down on caviar and champagne for breakfast. To argue that the impact of this recession is equal across the social classes is absurd. Our difficulties are simply not on the same scale.
Nevertheless, the hurdles that I’m confronting, while minute trifles to most, are difficult for me.
I am of the opinion that I must do two things to avoid being a risible figure here.
One; never lose sight of what most people have (and do not have). Be it by giving to the South Wimbledon food bank, volunteering with Crisis at Christmas and the Holy Trinity Church Winter night shelter for the homeless, or simply by lending an ear to lonely people at church, who just need someone to listen.
Two; by taking on a personal challenge, to be less materialistic and to spend less. In the first instance, it doesn’t matter too much if my spending levels are still relatively high, so long as I attempt something that is difficult for me. In time I can work on beating down my expenses further. For now, though, I’m satisfied that I’m trying. When the going gets tough…
Wow, 30 days already! Thank you so much for reading (almost 2,000 views in the first month!!)