Okay, it’s time to get real. As February is finance month for my Happiness Project I thought it was time to tell you this story. Disclaimer before I start, this post involves my being honest about my finances. So, if you’re British, you might get offended.
A friend (who, incidentally, writes a great blog over here) recently advised me to share this story. She said people might be wondering why I have been able to leave my job, and pursue my dreams and change my life in the way I have. I thought about it and decided she’s right, I would probably be wondering that too. So I’m going to tell you the reason why I’ve been able to make these changes and, yes, as you’ve probably gathered it has to do with money.
How I got money
A year ago I received an email from a solicitor telling me I would be receiving a cheque. This was part of an inheritance thing that I’d been aware of for a number of years. I knew I had been left something in this relative’s will, I was expecting a few hundred – maybe £1000 if I was lucky. So the email I received telling me I would be getting a much more substantial sum than that was totally unexpected.
I don’t think it’s necessary to reveal specifically the amount I got. I’m not against talking about it with family and friends, but I do feel a bit strange about putting it out on the Internet. What you do need to know is it wasn’t a hugely life-changing sum, but enough to enable me to start changing my life. I wasn’t about to run off on a private jet for a round-the-world tour, but I was able to leave my job; pay for my yoga teacher training course; and I can put a deposit on a house.
When I got the money I froze
I do not come from money, and I have never had more than £5000 in my savings account at any one time. I know that’s not doing badly, but I had never envisaged being able to afford a fairly decent deposit on a house (not in the South, because house prices are INSANE). When I got the money I was initially really excited about all the things I could do. Then I started to panic.
I could see how I could easily spend the money on something, or a few things, and then it’d be gone. I’m not talking a few shopping sprees, I’m talking an MA, or 6 months travelling. That kind of thing. Both valid things to spend my money on, but how would I know what the right thing was?
I didn’t do anything with it for months, then I realised I was slowly spending it. Gradually, if I just kept on like I was the money would slowly disappear on the costs of everyday living and I’d be back to square one. So that’s when I decided to leap.
I still worry about money
You might wonder why, then, I need to spend a whole month focusing on my relationship with my finances when clearly I’m doing okay. Actually, I still worry about money basically everyday. There’s always the fear of running out of it within me. This is why I want to get my financial systems in place, so I can keep track and have goals and know I’m doing okay.
Why I was scared to share this story
You might wonder why I didn’t share this information from the off. Why isn’t it in my About page? I guess because I’m British and, as much as I dislike that money is a taboo – it is. Also, I was too scared.
I once read a story in the Guardian weekend magazine written by the novelist Harper Lee. It was a story about her life, and how she had been able to spend dedicated time to write thanks to being gifted money by some friends. She went on to write Go Set a Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird.
When I read it I thought, “wow that’s so generous, and she was so lucky”. I wish I could be that lucky. I hate that so much opportunity comes from privilege and being moneyed. That so many people in the arts only become successful because they can afford not to work for a living. I don’t want to be one of those people, but I have to admit my position and that, yes, I am privileged.
So that’s my money story
I’m so grateful for the opportunity this inheritance has granted me. Would I still be writing this blog without it? I’d like to think I would still be working to change my life and writing about it. Neither the impetus to change or to write can be swayed by money. But I wouldn’t be doing my yoga teacher training, and I wouldn’t be taking steps towards buying a home. For the ability to do those two things, I am hugely grateful. And for the time I have been afforded to take changing my life at my own pace.
I want this blog, and the changes I’m making to be relatable to a wide spectrum of people. With money and without. But one of the changes I want to see happen in society is a move towards honesty and authenticity. So I had to share my story, because I have to be authentic.