So this month is the MONEY MONTH. Do you think it’s telling that I’m running almost two weeks late in starting it?! In self-help land, I believe they call that ‘resistance.’
No doubt I will end up having to go into more sordid details over the next few weeks but suffice it to say, I am bad with money. I suspect it will take me much more than a month to get it sorted.
At the age of 36, I have no pension, no savings, no property. Instead I’m the proud owner of three ginormous overdrafts and one credit card.
Not only do I take absolutely no financial responsibility, I actively seem to throw money away. You could give me £100 and somehow I’d have spent it, lost it, drunk it or given it away within an hour.
I don’t open my bank statements and I live in dread of the tax-man. I actually dream about him – and not in a sexy way.
So how bad is my financial situation?
Well… deep breath… last night I totted up, for the first time, exactly how much I owe on overdrafts and my credit card and it came to…
That’s with no mortgage to pay, kids to look after etc. And while I’m in the middle of starting new ventures now, which means the money isn’t piling in, in the past I’ve earned good money. There’s no excuse. It’s gone on high heels, hangovers and endless, stupid coffees.
It makes me feel sick, embarrassed and quite ashamed.
But there you go. I’m sure there will be much self-flagellation in future posts, but at least I’m here, now, doing something about it.
In fact, it’s almost poetic that on the eve of Valentine’s Day, I’m about to start on ‘Money, A Love Story’ by Kate Northrup.
Tomorrow, while couples swamp kisses and roses, I will learn to fall in love with my bank statements.
Kate Northrup is one of the new generation of self-help gurus. She’s young, glam and got into a lot of credit card debt in her twenties – $20,000 which is about £12,000. Snap.
This book is about how she got out of it.
Her basic argument is that our money problems are never about how much money we have, they’re about our attitude to money – and to ourselves.
She says that we all think that if we just had more money then we’d be OK, but you only need to look at all the lottery winners who are penniless within a couple of years, to see that that’s not the case.
She agues that just as crash diets won’t work unless you understand why you overeat, no attempts at saving/budgeting will work unless you understand why you are the way you are with money.
A lot of it, she says, comes down to how we were brought up. If you grew up in house that said ‘money is the root of all evil,’ that’s going to play out your whole life.
But, more importantly, she says that our relationship with money is ‘a microcosm of the relationship with have with ourselves’.
So if you don’t value yourself, you’re unlikely to earn what you’re worth, if you think no man will love you, you might find yourself buying their affection, if you feel that you’re never good enough, you may hope a wardrobe full of designer clothes will make you feel better.
She says that only by loving ourselves and appreciating what we already have (even if you’re broke, there’s lots to be grateful for, she says) can things change.
For what it’s worth, I’m not usually big on the whole ‘love yourself and all will be well’ school of self-help (it’s so wishy washy, what does that actually mean? how do you do it?) but what I’ve read so far makes a lot of sense.
So this weekend I am going to finish the book and get stuck into the gazillion exercises in it. I’ve bought a new notebook to write it all in. Obviously. Heaven forbid I miss a spending opportunity.
Before I go here’s a little quiz about whether your relationship with money is a great love affair or a doomed romance. I think we all know which one mine has been. So far, at least…
THE MONEY LOVE QUIZ
CAN YOU BLAME YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS ON YOUR CHILDHOOD?
Also – here’s four questions Kate asks about the attitude you’ve inherited from your family.
1)What’s your number one financial frustration?
2) What did you hear about money as a child? (It doesn’t grow on trees etc)
3) What’s your first money memory (it doesn’t have to be the earliest, just the first one that comes to your mind)
4) Can you see a connection between this first memory of money and the financial situation you’re in now?Money, a Love Story: Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want