Oprah’s magazine has a column called ‘What I know for sure’, where people talk about their life truths.
(Now don’t even start hating on Oprah, because she is my total soul-sister). And the fact is, we all have our truths. Hard-earned insights that life teaches us.
So I don’t have any ‘education’ for you today, Fierce Girls. I just have some truths that I want to share. They may resonate with you now, one day in the future or maybe never. We all have our own truths to uncover, and they are different for each of us.
But the great thing is that sharing our truths can start a conversation – with ourselves and each other. We start to turn these truths over, bring them into the light, examine them, see if we like them or if we can discard them.
So here is what I know for sure about money. (And when I say for sure, I mean ‘right now’ – I might change my mind at some point, because that’s called growth).
Nobody cares how much your stuff cost.
You don’t need to buy a handbag with a label. You don’t need to buy expensive wine to take to your friend’s house. You don’t need a fancy European car.
You can buy these things because you like them, or because they are beautiful. I love looking at the one designer thing I own (a Longines watch).
But nobody else really cares – perhaps they give them a cursory thought. But they quickly move on to sizing up the quality of your soul, not the quality of your goods.
And the price of your possessions bears no relationship to the satisfaction you feel with your life.
Maybe this sounds obvious. And yet I see so many people live as though it’s not. Don’t you?
You need far less stuff than you think.
When my marriage ended, I left a 3-bedroom townhouse with a double garage, to end up with one room in an apartment and no garage.
The new place was already furnished, so I parted ways with a house full of furniture, appliances, books and kitchen gear. Left it, threw it out, donated it and squeezed a few boxes into mum’s garage.
Kept my (real) Tupperware though – that shit has a lifetime warranty!
So, I barely own any stuff now. And I am happier than I have been in years. Of course, correlation is not necessarily causation – I am happy for other, more fundamental reasons.
But this process of shedding things proved to me that beyond the basics (like containers for your epic food prep sessions), you don’t need heaps of stuff to be happy.
The more you earn, the more you spend.
I earn twice what I did back in my twenties. And yet, somehow, my life feels the same. It’s a curious thing.
I still shop at K Mart, still buy cheap wine, still drive the same car. Sure, I own more assets. But overall, my life feels very similar.
So it’s great to be ambitious and aim high, but don’t be fooled into the belief that reaching some magical salary will solve all of your money problems. We ratchet up our cost base in line with our payrises, then one day realise that having enough money is always just a little out of reach.
Side note: this is a good reason to put your payrises into extra super payments – because you will likely piss it away anyway.
Money is not about having things, it’s about having choices.
Nobody gets married thinking it will end. I didn’t think it would happen to me. But it does, and it did.
And if you’re the one who wants to leave, you have to deal with the emotional upheaval just as much as the practical shitstorm. Finding rent and bond for a new place is a big expense, for example.
I was able to do that because I had savings. I had an income. I could find a nice apartment in a nice area. I had choices.
That also meant I could focus all my attention on the essentials, like bursting into tears on the train every morning.
I heard a great term recently: the ‘fuck-off fund’. A stash of money for if you want to leave a relationship or a job. You stash some cash for those times when it’s all too much to deal with.
Those are the kinds of choices you buy yourself when you make good money decisions.
So these are some of my truths. Leave a comment if you have some to add. We’d love to hear them.