When I first announced my 30-day blogging challenge, I got several suggestions of topics. One suggestion has been playing on my mind and it’s taken me until now to feel ready to sit down and write a post on the subject. The suggestion came from a reader called Tom who asked me to write a post about money, the value of it to me and how I’ve overcome any fears I have around it.
I don’t for one second think I have the answers when it comes to money but I have definitely been on a journey with it that I’m happy to share. I also believe that money is an issue for many of us, if not all of us. The vast majority of people (with the exception of an inspirational few like Mark Boyle and Daniel Suelo) need it to survive and what importance we place on money can determine how we live our lives and our financial wealth can determine the quality of the life we live and the experiences we have.
Growing up, my family didn’t have very much money and as a child I remember doing everything in my power to cover up that fact. Any pocket-money or money gifted by family for birthdays and Christmas was spent on buying the best clothes I could afford, to avoid being outed at school as one of the poor kids. How funny that at such an early age, being poor felt to me like the worst insult you could have thrown at me.
As I grew up my relationship with money got even more complicated. Getting through university for me meant relying on grants, loans and part-time jobs to pay my way. This didn’t make me careful with my money as you might expect, instead I became a prolific spender and despite the fact that I went to university before student fees were introduced, received free grants and was never without a job, I still managed to come out of university with debts of around £18,000.
I quickly got my foot on the career ladder and whilst not immediately, I eventually realised that if I didn’t get a handle on my debt and take responsibility for my financial situation and quickly, I was in danger of seriously limiting my options in life. As a result of this realisation, I worked hard in my career and I always had my eye on the next promotion or pay rise. Whenever my salary increased, I used the extra money in my pay packet to pay off a bit more of my debt. It took some time, but in 2005, six years after graduating, I had paid all £18,000 back and found myself completely free of debt.
Since that point rather than someone who spends, I became someone who was always saving, usually for a trip of some sort and in 2008, I was able to take four months unpaid leave and travel around Central and South America. Over the last few years I saved again allowing me to quit my job and travel the world for at least a year, without the need to worry about money.
Whilst I’m sure that all this sounds great, achieving these things meant many years of depriving myself of the luxuries that many of my peers were enjoying, holidays, cars, houses etc. In order to fulfill my dreams of long-term travel, in some ways I know that I put my life on hold. Looking back from my current vantage point, it definitely feels worth it to me but there were undoubtedly times when I wondered if I would regret all the things I didn’t do or have because I was saving for what I would do and have in the future.
What I’ve learnt over the last eighteen months, in part from reading the inspirational stories of others, is that we can’t sacrifice our lives for money. Working 9-5, 5 days a week until we are 70, in the hope that we haven’t croaked it by then and can finally begin enjoying our lives, makes no sense to me at all. Just a few years ago, I would never have conceived of giving up a well-paid job without a better job to go on to but my attitude towards money has changed from feeling the need to scrimp, save and stockpile to one of trust. I trust that I will get the money I need in life without the need to sacrifice the best years of my life doing work that does not fulfil me.
My relationship with money has been intense over the years and there have undoubtedly been both highs and lows. I think I have learnt a lot about money and a crucial lesson has definitely been the need to take personal responsibility for my financial situation, but I’m still learning about money all the time.
I now find myself in a totally new financial situation. Having quit my job and now living on my savings until I can begin earning again, I’ve been through a period of huge insecurity about my ability to earn money working for myself. Ironically as time passes and my savings dwindle, I feel more and more relaxed about how and when I’ll start earning money. After years of proving it to myself, I now trust myself implicitly to take full responsibility for my financial situation.
I also know, as with many things in life, that the main thing that will limit my earning capability is my own self-doubt. So rather than worry about money, my focus is on overcoming my doubts about my ability to earn it and on taking the leap of faith necessary to allow my earning potential to be truly limitless.
What is your take on the value of money? Do you have fears about it that need to be overcome or do you feel that you’ve got this money thing cracked? Either way I would love to hear your thoughts and if you liked this post please don’t forget to share it by hitting one of the buttons below.