…I’d buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress, that’s cruel)…
But seriously. I marvel every day at celebrities throwing their cash away on ridiculous things. Why is it always that those who are wealthy have no idea what to do with it?
The feeling of unrestricted possibility must make you go a little crazy. But I really feel that if I had £1,000,000 come into my bank account from one thing or another, I’d do my best to be sensible with it. Because this ‘credit crunch’ thing? this ‘recession’? Has turned me into an honest-to-god poor person.
I have a job that doesn’t pay me peanuts, but it’s not a high salary by any means. Dave works ridiculous hours, and is given paid time off, but not any more money.
We have a nice, if not a little bit small, place to live. I have a lovely, lovely man and am very glad to have him. But every month we struggle to juggle our finances (Dave being on monthly pay, myself on weekly) to make sure there is enough money in our bank account to pay our bills. We’re fighting currently with the Edinburgh Council, trying to appeal them taking us to a debt collector for our year’s council tax and water costs (long story, but basically they sent no correspondence for 4 months despite many attempts to contact them, and then sent us a ‘final warning, we’re sending this to a debt collector’ notice). We get by with our internet/phone bill by not making any local calls whatsoever: I only use it to call home for 3p a minute and to receive calls. Dave has 1200 minutes on his mobile phone, so we use that if we need to phone out.
Our TV license has gratefully dropped down to £11/month, now that we’ve basically settled the biggest chunk of the fee (though in all honesty, I would much rather not pay, and have commercials, because trying to find a moment to pee in a fantastic BBC show is agony), and our power/gas seems to stay fairly steady, but it’s getting so much colder, so the gas fire is on all the time…
I’ve been saving pretty much since I arrived to be able to buy a digital piano. After much research, I chose the Yamaha P-85. Standard RRP is £600+ but I have found one for £483. It isn’t top of the line, but it’s not cheap crap that I’ll want to replace in a few years. It’s an investment for at least 5, and I think I owe it to myself and my career to take that leap. It’s just taken an awfully long time to save money, as 2 or 3 times I have had to use it to pay a bill. But I’m getting there. And now that we’re so close to Christmas, I’m probably going to end up waiting for sales.. so that pushes it another few weeks. But yes! It’s coming. It’s a light in the dark.
And of course there’s the debt at home. When I moved over here I had eliminated 60% of my credit card debt. I worked really hard to do that – long hours, several 4am shifts, swaps, depriving myself of any spending money each week. I was incredibly proud. Now, unfortunately, due to the move, I’m back at 9% paid off. 9%. It makes me sad, but I have to ignore it most of the time, and send a payment each month, always more than I need to pay. Each month’s interest takes a big hit. But slowly, and surely, I’ll get that off my back.
I’d really, really, really, just once, love to buy myself something. Some new trousers for work. A warm coat that goes past my knees. I feel that my piano is enough of a purchase to fill up my ‘spoiling myself’ quota, but it’s been a long, hard 9 months.
SO. Here is what I would do with £1,000,000…
1. Buy a flat. It doesn’t have to be amazing. It doesn’t have to be in the middle of town. Hell, I couldn’t get one for the money. But it could be a nice, 2-bedroom place, with a kitchen that’s more than a box so Dave could have room to move when he cooks, and the spare bedroom could just be for guests. I could decorate a little more, with some more pieces around the place, which in our current place would just make it look more cluttered. And I’m sure I could sell it on if we move away. It would be nice to eliminate rent every month.
2. Buy a wee car. Maybe the coveted classic mini. Or a little Swift. A nice little weekend run-around that we can get Dave’s cricket gear in and can take a few trips in.
3. Wii + Wii Fit. Ever since I moved from NZ, I have missed my little Wii Fit. It was an excellent way to get me exercising, and definitely helped me with my 7kg weight loss (which I think 50% has come back by now). If I had a shift in the morning, I could do it after work. If it was a later shift, nice wee morning workout! Unfortunately, in Scotland, after work is dark. Dark dark black dark. And cold. Cause the sun has been gone since 3.30. And wet. And it’s going to snow. I ain’t runnin’.
4. Quit full-time work. I’m tired. I like my job, but I work long hours to get a little extra cash and get things done so it doesn’t get on top of me. I’d love to work part-time. A few days a week, even. I’d use the rest of the time to write and keep our place clean. We get so behind on the cleaning, because we come home from work exhausted every day.
5. Travel. Not too much. I think Dave would still want to work (if he gets The Job he really wants), but if he can get some time off every now and then, I’d like us to go places. Around the UK, around Europe bit by bit. And I’d really like to go home every now and then.
6. Pay all of our bills up front. Say to the power/virgin/council/insurance, and everyone: Here. Have your money. If any other costs arise, let us know. And then they can just stop mailing us.
7. Send £150,000 home. While this would pay off my debts many many times over, it’d also prepare us for when we leave the UK. I’d really like a house. A house that isn’t too flash, but isn’t falling apart. Maybe somewhere in the suburbs. How boring. But it’d be nice.
8. Save. While the idea of earning a whole lot of interest right now is a bit laughable, I’d put that money in the bank. Hell, I’m not demanding. By the looks of things, I’d have a whooole lot left.
Huh. Maybe this post should have been, if I had £500,000. Or even less. Because really, it’s just the little things. I’d be happy if £10,000 dropped into my lap. It’d cover most things. I can keep working. I don’t need a flat or a house. I’m incredibly grateful for my family, for my home, for my faith, for my Dave. I’m definitely not a greedy person, nor am I wanting to splash out on Fendi bags.
I just want to live month to month without the anxiety, the 45 minute walks on the weekend to places the buses can’t get us, the mess, the exhaustion and the ever-growing belly.
But there are so many people much worse off than we are. I struggle to bring myself to complain about my life when every day I walk past people without a place to sleep, without a job, without hope. I give them coins from my pocket, but sometimes that’s all I have left.
I just wish the world didn’t revolve around money and bills, debt collectors and interest. I’d love to be a kid again. I’d love to go on Deal or No Deal. I’d love to get my shit together.