Why I’m secretly grateful for my recent financial worries
I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.
For many people, money worries are a way of life. There are people who spend every day worrying about their finances, being unsure about how they’re going to pay their rent/mortgage, feed their children, or keep the lights from shutting off. I’m extremely fortunate to have never been in that situation, I’ve always known that my paycheck would last me until the end of the month. Until recently.
Do You Have Another Method Of Payment?
Yesterday morning I was asked this question for the first time, amidst a wave of panic after my debit card was declined when I tried to make a purchase for £10 worth of diesel. I’ve had my card declined before, by mistakenly using the wrong card or a faulty card machine. But never before has my card been declined because I’ve genuinely run out of money. I know what you’re thinking, first world problems, right?
I come from a middle-class background. My parents both worked when I was growing up, and my brother and I always had what we needed. I want to stress the word ‘needed’ there because even though our household income was above average, my parents certainly didn’t always give us what we wanted. They aren’t secret millionaires (that I know of), but they earned enough that we had a more than comfortable lifestyle. That being said, they both tried to teach us the value of money, and that you can’t always get what you want.
Harry Potter And The Screaming Child
Of all the memories I have growing up, one in particular has always stuck with me. Did your parents ever drag you shopping as a kid when you were too young to be left at home alone? I’d try and get something out of it, to make it worth my while, to make the best of a bad situation. On this particular shopping trip, I begged them to buy me the Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone game on PC. And I mean begged. But they wouldn’t buy it for me, and I had an absolute meltdown in the middle of the shop. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t have it. ‘Don’t they love me enough to buy it for me?’ asked my child’s brain. No, they were trying to teach me the value of money, that you can’t always get what you want just because you want it.
Some Lessons Have To Be Experienced, Not Taught
They tried to instill in me the value of money, the importance of not taking the things I have for granted. The only problem with that is, as the saying goes, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’. My parents have always been willing and able to help me if I’ve found myself in a sticky situation, be it an unexpected bill, car repair, etc. I appreciate that more than I can say, but because I’ve always known subconsciously that they are there to fall back on, I’ve never been as responsible with money as I should have been.
I’ve always been very good at rationalising the wasteful purchases I make. Why not spend £20 on pizza from Papa John’s, it’s only £20 after all? Why not pay £8 a day to park my car close to work so I can stay in bed a little longer in the morning? Do you know how many times I’ve paid to park in the last month? Eight times. That’s £64 (around $80) that I’ve thrown away needlessly to stay in bed a little longer when if I left for work earlier, I’d be able to park for free. Using that money I could have paid for my fuel six times over! These are just a few examples of my reckless spending, so when my financial situation took a drastic turn last year and I lost the majority of my savings, I was completely unprepared for it.
I spent all of yesterday in a state of panic because I’d been unable to pay for £10 worth of diesel. I know that sounds crazy. I know that there are people out there in much worse financial situations who have a damn lot more to worry about than putting fuel in their car. But as someone who has never really had to worry about having money enough in the bank, to find myself completely unable to pay for something without resorting to a credit card was a nerve-wracking experience.
But it’s one that I’m grateful for because today I feel like I have a new-found appreciation for the things that I have, and I will (hopefully)no longer fritter money away. With more and more young people turning to their parents to get by, this is for you. Learn from my mistakes. Spend your money on the things and the people that make your life better. Don’t spend it for the sake of convenience, on things you don’t truly want or need. Because if the time comes when your Mum and Dad aren’t able to help you anymore, you’ll sure as hell wish you hadn’t thrown your money away on pizza and parking.
To my Mum and Dad,
Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do for me. Words can’t express how grateful I am.