I chose to use the wording grow up without money here, because poverty is relative. I mean, so is money but words are also limited.
To offer up context, I’m basing this of my own experience and I grew up having very limited amount of money at my disposal, but I was never lacking in food or a roof or anything like that. But there are a couple of things I’ve done my entire life, still do, and I realised, not everybody does. So let’s talk about some of those stuff for writing sake.
1.- I am constantly comparing. When I got my first job at 16 (and I mean 16 and a week, I did not wait long), everything I wanted had to be worth the time. A computer? I would love one, a cheap but functional one is 200 euros, I earn 5 euros an hour so that’s about 40 hours of work. I’m going to use a computer for many, many hours so… worth it! I also compared things to donuts, because the four park of donuts was 1 euro so a computer would be 200 packs of donuts.
This is something I still do. Which is problematic because my current salary is 3 euros an hour, and I need to buy food. So I’ll be in the supermarket like, yeah, that’s cheap and all, but 3 euros is one hour of my work and I don’t take long to eat it, so… ya know.
My boyfriend has to constantly remind me, that’s a stupid way to think, but it’s hard and I don’t think I’m anywhere close to being able to turn it off.
2.- Over-analysing every single purchase. It’s okay for big things, it’s a small problem when you’re analysing phone chargers with a fifty cent price difference, the durability of face masks or watching twenty minute YouTube reviews about a cheap pack of scented candles because, going back to point one “one euro fifty is half my salary and if this candle doesn’t deliver the amount of hours it has promised I will regret it later”.
3.- Over-purchasing things on sale. It’s counterproductive to the goal, but I mean, come on, if the donuts cost 50 cents instead of a euro, how can I not buy it? What do you mean I don’t eat donuts? That’s because they’re expensive, so I best buy seven packs while they’re cheap. You do not need to know the amount of canned goods I have accumulated through sales. And yes, they last for ever. But yes, they also occupy space in my tiny kitchen.
4.- Anxiety from throwing things away. Literally anything, I have to find a use for it, I have boxes of literal rubbish, which, yes, I do use in crafts. I have food in my fridge (in closed containers obviously) that went out of date long ago but throwing it out causes so much anxiety that I just leave it there until my boyfriend can come up and get rid of it for me.
If I get free headphones with anything, do I need them? Not at all, will I hold on to them as though they were the best thing to ever enter my house? Yes.
5.- If you get the chance to get something for free, but it requires a choice, expect a lot of analysing. Even if it’s a stupidly small amount of money. I had a couple of euros in Google credit from doing surveys and I don’t know how many hours I spent analysing the PlayStore for the best choice of games. (I got the game threes for a euro, honestly, good investment, very enjoyable).
6.- Free is free. Are Google Surveys worth my time for the credit they give me? Yeah, actually, I’d recommend it if you are an android user. But I’ve also written 10k word stories on a subject I did not like for 4 dollars, not even euros. I’d say this was a low point, but I fear I’d still take the job today. I don’t actually have more money coming in then I do going out. Which is normal because I’m a student and my income comes from an internship that I do part time for practically no salary. I know it’s normal and I can make up for it later, but I feel as though if I don’t do the work I am offered, even if it’s not fair, by turning down any money, I become culpable of my situation. So, any offer for money, I’ll take. Even if that goes against my morals (minimum wage), against my health (waitressing jobs in the summer that push me to my limits) or just plain common sense.
I know a lot of people are like this. And, I have to point out you should value your time. But, if you can’t, if you need to do the job, at the very least, try not to feel guilty if you didn’t do that good of a job. That writing job for 10k, they asked me to rewrite it, claiming my quality wasn’t high enough (I’d already done several revisions and there was open communication, however the deal was for a first draft which is never going to be the highest quality). And I put my foot down, I explained that I was earning less then 50 cents an hour and I wasn’t going to put more hours into it. Thankfully they still paid my my well earned four dollars, but I think the ability to put foot down was more valuable than the money this time.
7.- When something breaks it can easily cause burn-out or emotional breakdowns. I’m living in an emotional breakdown this year, and part of that is because my ipad (which I am super proud of because I bought second hand years ago for next to nothing) is struggling. It’s very old now, the battery is on the way out, updates are done, and it has several glitches. I depend on my ipad for taking digital notes for university and I don’t think I could go back to using a pen and paper. But the idea of buying a new one is absolutely terrifying. To the point where if I actually stop to think about it, and realise it’s like a year of my income, well, I get physically ill.
In fact, money is probably the biggest cause of mental breakdowns for me. Even when I’m doing well financially. Because I know what it’s like to eat less than recommended portion sizes in an attempt to save a couple of coins. I know what it’s like to track every single cent.
8.- The fear of having nothing never really goes away. The fear that if I make the wrong financial decision, I will lose everything and somehow end up homeless or unable to buy food… it’s a stupid fear. It’s pretty much impossible because I have family, I have friends. But… it’s something I cannot shake. It’s fear that follows me everywhere. And I can’t say that this fear will never go away, because I’m a student, I have never truly grasped financial stability. But I can’t imagine a life without it. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to go to the supermarket without flinching at the prices, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly be at peace with money.
You know the expression: Money won’t buy happiness? Of course you do. Did you know studied have actually been done and it’s kind of true? It’s true over a certain point of money. Which, makes sense, obviously. But I always think about this expression, because people say it to me when I’m obsessing, and I get angry with them. Because I’ve always been beneath that line, more money has always meant more happiness, because it’s always meant further stability.
But it’s a stupid thing to be angry about. Because yes, they are being ignorant, but the truth is, people who say this, probably have never lived bellow that line. And that’s good. I think it’s good that there are people out there who get to grow up without that stress.
And it’s important to realise in today’s society, there are a lot of people who are rich in a way that is wrong. But there are also a lot of people who may feel rich to us (us being the people who are bellow this line), but they aren’t really the problem. The middle class isn’t the problem, even if they are comfortable. And if I truly start going on about financial inequality… well, we’d have a couple more posts because I study finances and am specialising in ethical finances including inequality, so, I’m going to leave it here.
I hope these eight observations are useful to your writing, or just interesting in general.
As usual, check out my book, stories I’ve written plus other social medias: here.
Also, if you find yourself lacking in money and don’t think you’re spending that much, please keep track of your money? Excel is a great tool and you will surprised!
If, money causes you a huge amount fo anxiety like me and you do not too much financial trouble, please stop keeping track of your money and just occasionally check your bank balance because the obsessive control is causing you more harm than good at this point.
Love you all and have a great day!