Sprig's Pages

Friday, 17 August 2012

Money must be funny in a rich man's world

I'm very open about money. I never really thought about it but over recent years, through conversations both at work and in my personal life, I've realised that most people don't like to talk about it. Or, they'll talk about it, or around it, but no figures will be mentioned. 

I'm the kind of girl that will walk away from a cash point saying 'Fuck! I have maxed out my £800 overdraft'. My friends know what I earn. They know what I charge for my freelance work. It's on my website for god's sake. Anyone can see. I have post-its all over my walls at home, one of which has my outgoings listed for the month. Others have lists of how I would pay for a Macbook should I choose to finally get one (god, I need one). The list involves store credit, credit cards and overdrafts, in case you're wondering. 

So with money worries top of my worry list this month, I started to think (not that I ever stop) about my openness around money, and realised that it's probably because I am so used to talking about it. That, and the fact that I have a lack of it. My family have had more than their fair share, more than the UK's fair share, of money issues thanks to a screwed up endowment policy. Ever since that happened, and I can't even remember how many years or decades it's been, money has been the hot topic of our household. Everywhere I go, even when I left for uni, it was the issue. So now I'm used to talking about it, I'm used to people knowing we struggle, and I'm not proud or picky about who knows it. 

I think like a poor person. I use the word 'poor' loosely, there are people far worse off than me and I certainly don't go without food, clothes etc. But I don't expect big presents for birthdays or Christmas (I really hate the post-xmas 'what did you get' conversation - are we five?), I only replace coats and boots (expensive, you see) when they're knackered and I tend to only shop on ASOS when there's a big sale.  I don't understand why my flatmate suggested throwing away our old and tacky furniture when we move house - my question was, what would we sit on?

I have a theory that people who are better off are less likely to talk figures. Sure there are the show offs (I know way too  many) who flash their cash and say things like 'hey, it's on me, I can afford it' and start buying bubbles and posh food when all you want is a Pinot Grigio and some chips. But even then, they just want people to know they're loaded. Not *how* loaded. Then there are others I know who have been working for years, building up their career, own their own houses, have a car that isn't an old banger (this concept is foreign to me) yet stay tight lipped about how much they earn or whether they occasionally struggle to pay the water bill. No one knows, no one dares ask. 

I'm not sure which is the better way to be. Being open about wages is always risky particularly within a workplace, as someone will always feel slight resentment about something, and being open about it with friends isn't always the best idea. Sometimes they assume that you're better off than you are (because no matter how much you earn, they rarely ask your outgoings) and some feel awkward about being better off themselves. All I know is I feel more than comfortable talking about money and budgeting - it's just a shame I'm not very good at it.