Opinion pieces are hard to put together sometimes because the last thing I want to do is upset anyone or alienate people from reading my blog, and I would hate people to judge me from what I think about a particular topic. But I guess that’s the point of having a blog… you get to know me better, what I believe, what I love, what I’m wearing, and that’s all great and fun to write about, and it’s the sole reason I keep doing these posts – so you do get to know a bit more about me, and it’s the main reason I love blogging so much.
Today’s post is going to be a bit of a conversation starter I’m sure. It’s all about money. I’m sure this is already going to be a controversial topic for some, but mainly this is going to be my experience with money and how it has changed over the years, and how I value it now compared to when I was younger.
My Experience With Money
I’ve had a job since I was 14 working in a pub; I’ve done most things from working in a call centre to working in a shop to working in a bar to working in an office. Because of this, I’ve always had my own money: Yes, there were times where I’ve put my studies first or had the summer off, but mostly, I’ve always had a wage coming in month after month.
I’ve not always enjoyed working; I absolutely hated working in Topshop over Christmas, I didn’t really enjoy washing pots and having the chefs blow smoke in my face (this was pre-smoking-ban, but you still weren’t allowed to smoke in a kitchen… idiots) but I did really enjoy working in a call centre funnily enough, because I was surrounded by my friends, and the job was easy but I’ve always loved earning.
Since I’ve been working, I’ve also been saving. No one ever teaches you in school how important having savings are, but I always knew if I wanted to do all the responsible adult things when I was older, like buying a house, paying for a car, and heaven forbid, having children, then I would need to be clever with money, even from a young age.
Shopping around and using cashback websites is also a really good way of being ‘savings-savvy’ and there are loads on the market, including ones like sello which helps you find the best deals online.
At university, I lived at home which saved me an absolute ton, plus I did about 3-5 shifts a week in the call centre I worked at, so I was earning about £500-600 each month. I’d try my hardest to put some of this away, but I also wanted to enjoy being a student as much as possible, so getting a balance was something I found quite tricky at times and sometimes it became secondary.
When I finished studying and starting working full time, I opened up an ISA straight away and put money automatically into it on every payday which was one of the best ideas I ever had. I found that living at home and paying less rent than I would have if I’d moved out meant that I had more money each month to do the things that I wanted, which let’s face it, is why most of us go into full-time work anyway!
But then I moved in with my boyfriend and I found it reallllly hard to save money because everything was tied up by paying for food, extra for petrol, home insurance, bills, TV license etc. and after a long discussion when our lease was coming to an end, we decided to move back in with my parents to start saving to buy a house.
Being A Responsible Adult
When you get to your 20’s and start earning, all you want is to be frivolous and enjoy your life; to go on holiday, buy new clothes, try the latest beauty releases, but in reality, attempting to be responsible should come first. When you’re at university, you usually struggle for money, and most people I know had to learn to budget the hard way, picking up part-time jobs along the way… So when you do start earning a salary, it’s hard not to blow all your money in one go because you’ve not been able to before.
There’s of course been times where I haven’t been able to save anything because I’d rather go on holiday for three days, have a spa day with my friends or had someone’s hen do to pay for, and I try not to beat myself up because of this. At the end of the day, life is for living and enjoying yourself, and your money should help you to do so not hinder it.
I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to live on and off with my parents whilst we saved to get our deposit together, and in hindsight that has made it much easier to save our money. However, one of the things I have made sure that we do when we get our own place is put some money aside each month as a sort of ‘rainy day’ fund, because you never know when you might get a flat tyre, or need a new set of plates or a new Hoover (I know, I’m really living the dream…)
Do Material Things Equal Happiness?
This is the part of the post that I’ve been dreading writing, but it’s something that I wanted to touch on whilst we’re here. I’ll be honest and say that sometimes I do get jealous of people who seem to have their life together money-wise, I’m not going to lie. They know exactly what they want to be when they grow up, they have a good work-life balance, earn a decent wage and have enough money to brunch with their friends, go away for spontaneous weekends away with their boyfriend and still update their work wardrobe whenever they feel like it instead of sobbing at their credit card bill every month.
There’s a lot to be said that money doesn’t equal happiness, and yes, to some extent I agree, but it does enable you to do the things that make you happy: It allows you to go for a nice dinner with your other half, it allows you to explore new places, and it allows you to buy a new dress for your friend’s wedding.
To me, money is not the be all and end all, and I hope I’ve made that clear throughout this post, but I also can’t deny that sometimes buying new clothes or treating yourself to a new eyeshadow palette or having an impromptu facial does make me feel good and that working full-time is actually worth it.
I’ve never dipped into my savings unless I really needed to, but there have also been months where I’ve prioritised other things instead of putting money away and I guess that’s the beauty of having a steady salary coming in. Soon I’m about to go from having enough in my bank account to put down a deposit for a house, to having literally £0 for the first time ever and it’s already filling me with fear, but I knew it had to come at some point.
This does mean though that I am having to start this process all over again, but it also means I’ll be a homeowner with my boyfriend, and that’s what I need to focus on right now. For now, material things are having to take a back seat whilst I start a new chapter of my life, but I know it won’t be forever.
I’ve always been the kind of person who works to live not lives to work, and I don’t think that will ever change. Yes, money does help you do all of the things you want to, but it also offers you security and allows you to plan for the future – it’s one of the things that we can’t live without.
Because my priorities are changing right now, I’ve started to see money in a completely new light. I know it’s something that I need in order to live, but I can also cut back on some of the things I would buy in order to be able to afford to go away with friends later in the year, or go to a festival for a hen do, and buy new things for my home, because when I’m old and grey, that’s what I’ll remember.
I’m not saying don’t enjoy your life, actually, the complete opposite, but if you save a little here and there, you’ll be in such a better place months or years down the line and be able to experience all the things you really love. Yes, you need clothes to get by day to day, but experiencing new cities and spending time with your loved ones and having a roof over your head is way more important and satisfying at the end of the day.
I’ve had my days of spending £50 on nights out that I can’t remember, but now I’d much rather save towards something that is going to bring me much more happiness because when you think about, that’s what life is all about.