My former therapist used to say ‘when someone starts talking about money, food or sex, pay attention, because they’re really talking about love.
See what you think? I think it definitely tells us something about what we value and where we invest in ourselves and others.
I went on a splurge this week which is something I never do. I went clothes shopping. I can’t be alone in not really caring that much about clothes, but clearly they are a necessity. So I took out £100 and came back in £16 change and in a matter of 2 hours had bought 14 items of clothing, mainly for work> Not bad going! I love Chester charity shops, where else can you get a Laura Ashley silk skirt for under £5?
I went with Lovely Man who said ‘you can buy new stuff you know’. I did. And if there had been anything amazing in the ‘real’ shops, I would have bought more, but there wasn’t. One of his previous girl friends would have been completely grossed out by second hand anything, let alone clothes (I did wash them).
Contrast that with the fact that I’ve just paid for on line training and professional development for£800 for a year.
I invest in books, learning and travel. I buy second hand clothes ad furniture. I invest in internal change rather than external. No suprise then that I think that if you want to change the world, you have to start with you..it’s an inside job.
- What do you spend your money on?
- Do you invest or spend ?
- What does this tell you about how you see life ?
I also try to make sure the kids can go on every school trip and that we spend money ‘doing’ rather than ‘having’. I do this because I know that all I have of my mum are memories of times we spent together picking bluebells, watching Dallas and visiting the family. I do have some of her things, but she’s in my memories, not in the things. I want my kids to have memories, not loads of clutter to clear out when I die. I want them to have a full memory box and not a full jewelery box.
- How do you spend money on your kids?
- What does it tell you about what you value?
I’m not as good at saving as I used to be. As an older mum, when I’ve had spare cash it’s been spent on doing stuff, visiting people and going places, I’m only just beginning to look at savings again after the divorce finances did what they do for most people and take us back to basics.
When the financial stuff was going on in the divorce, I remember facing the possibility that I couldn’t afford to keep my home, the only home that the kids had ever known. The only way I could deal with it was to think that actually we’d be fine in a yurt as long as we were together. It didn’t come to that, but I would have chosen yurt living rather than a life of debt and working 80 hour s week. Time matters more to me than money.
- How do you balance the time/money conundrum?
- Is the balance right for you at the moment? If not, how can you change it?
Watching the boys last week at Harry Potter world (a birthday ‘doing’ treat), they spent over and hour in the gift shop, torturing themselves over how to spend their money, even though they’ve been going chores to earn money to buy themselves a wand. Selecting a wand is serious business. They have been talking about buying wands since January and yet when it came to it they looked at everything else as well.
At one point B picked up a toy rat and said he’d have that instead as it was a 3rd of the price of a wand. I asked; ‘if you get a home without a wand, how will you feel?’ ‘Disappointed’ he said. ‘If you get home with a wand, how will you feel?’ I asked again. ‘Excited’ he said.
So in the end, they both got wands. The wands that they had dreamed of, worked for and saved for for 5 months and then nearly didn’t buy.
- How often do we do that? settle for second best, or the more sensible option, and then regret it?
- Is there any way you really, really want to spend your money but are denying yourself?
Watching the boys do spell battles completely justifies their decision, their pleasure is great, even though it will surely pass.
Then of course, there’s money in our relationships. I would say that money has been a bone of contention in 2 of my long term relationships, so Lovely Man and I are being very explicit about how it will work with us.
I don’t think money is ever a neutral issue in relationships. LM earns more than me, so does that mean he should contribute more? The kids are mine and not his, so surely then I should contribute more? Some people think that not having a shared bank account is like admitting a relationship is on the rocks, other couples would never share a bank account and are happy. There are no ‘right answers’.
- How do you do money in your relationship?
- How clear are you with your partner about how you deal with it?
- When did you last review the situation?
- How clear are you on the reality of your finances?
I ask the last question as many people have no idea how much they spend, or what they spend money on. Without knowing where we are financially, we can’t focus on how we want things to be.
How often do you review your fiances? Your savings, your direct debits, your credit cards, your standing orders, who pays for what? Even though it’s so fundamental to our life, we are often very vague about our money…we often don’t like to talk about it.
I recently went on an amazing 2 day group coaching course and during on of the workshops a group of coaches were putting together a new business proposal. Every one talked around money, no one was talking about money, least of all about their money. Until I got the ball rolling and told them what I charged…and then they shared their pricing too.
We can talk about sex until the cows come home, but how honest and open are we about money? Do you know what your partner earns? What your sister earns? What your colleagues earn? Would you ask? Would you tell?
We have so many negative messages about money:
- Money doesn’t grow on trees
- neither a borrower or a lender be
- Money is the root of all evil (which is actually a misquote of Mark Twain’s words ‘ the lack of money is the root of all evil’
We talk about the filthy rich and the pure poor. We know that a fool and his money is easily parted and yet we also hear that money is power.
- What are your internal messages about money?
- Are they true?
- Are they useful?
My friend Teresa says that money is just energy being exchanged and that if we sit on it for too long we stop the flow and cause stagnation. B aged 7 today spent money trying to knock a coconut off the stand. He had 2 goes and didn’t win a coconut. ‘Oh well’, he said’ ‘at least someone else can use the money now’…
…which I rather liked..
- How could you think about money differently?
- How could you make money your friend?
I’d love to hear your ideas.
Ps…if you like these questions and want more to contemplate over the summer, then remember to buy Love Being Me now as it’s reduced to less than half price…£4 for a jolly good read. (And I can say that without feeling like a show off, because although I did write the book, it felt like it came from an older wiser me…so when I read it now for myself I find new things in it to learn!). Enjoy.