I’m finding it hard to write about money at the moment.
Every attempt seems wrong. If I write about investment, it feels insensitive to the many people who have lost their incomes.
If I write about saving money and creating emergency funds, I’m telling you how to shut the gate after the horse has bolted.
So when I get like this, I remind myself of what Freddie tells Don Draper: “Just do the work Don”.
When you’re a writer, your work is to write.
So here’s what I’m thinking about at the moment.
Dislocation is a chance to do things differently
I wrote this note in my phone the other day with no further context, so I can’t remember what sparked it.
But it’s a about breaking routines and discovering what’s on the other side of that.
One thing I’m doing differently is letting my grey hair grow out. I have a streak at the front which has stalked me for five years. Every year it gets worse, and every few months I ask my hairdresser Millie how we can hide it.
I missed my chance to see Millie before the shutdown, and yet, I now find myself totally at peace with this spun silver.
The first time I saw this grey hair was just after my marriage dissolved. Whether it was stress or just the price of being in my late 30s, I felt more upset than I probably should have. I saw it symbolically: a sign of fading youth.
It’s hard being a woman sometimes, and being a single, divorced woman brings its own challenges. In the dating pool, I’m thrown up against 20-somethings with no wrinkles, high metabolisms and far more inclination to accept the bad behaviour of men.
It creates enormous pressure to look young. My feminist principles reject society’s fetishisation of youth, and its demands that we nip and tuck ourselves into oblivion.
But it crashes up against my deep need to feel seen and desired and loved – a need that exists in all of us. And it’s easy to think that if I give up and show my age, gain a little weight, reveal my greys, I lose that opportunity.
If I don’t show up every single day as the best version of myself, then maybe I will become invisible, unworthy.
I must do the work to prove my worth: this is the mantra of modern patriarchy.
I think most women feel this in some way. It manifests differently, but it’s the same result. It’s what keeps us in the gym, at the salon, in the stores, at the beauty counters.
I’ve definitely said the words, ‘I wear make-up for myself’. This is a lie. I have been shut away for weeks and not so much as picked up a bottle of foundation. The only time I’ve worn any make-up is to film Fierce Girl videos (because my vanity still has a say in all this).
And so, what I’m really hoping to gain from this period is a new level of self-acceptance. To say nothing of the potential gains to be made from six months of enforced celibacy! Not being able to date removes all potential for rejection, disappointment and despair.
Resetting my spending
I see this dislocation/opportunity paradigm playing out with money as well.
I was going through my bank statements with some level of incredulity yesterday. I’ve spent so little in recent weeks. Everything is just groceries and coffees and wine. (Or does wine count as groceries? Asking for a friend).
I have no intention of returning to this life of penury once isolation is over. However, it’s quite illuminating to see how much life costs when you whittle it down to the basics.
It’s like an elimination diet, but for your money.
This crisis is a reset in many ways. For society as a whole, but for us as individuals too. When we strip it all back to basics, it’s easier to see what matters.
When we remove the busy-ness of modern life, we can learn things in the stillness.
And what matters are Zoom calls with friends. Picking up the phone to people we care about. Giving money to causes that matter. Having time for long chats, because we aren’t rushing anywhere.
And respecting our true quarantine hero – activewear. Leggings matter a lot in this crisis. I despair of ever wearing pants again.
So, maybe I’ll write about money again soon. For instance, I have a burning desire to explain mean reversion in markets, but first I need to understand it more.
We are all just trying to make the best of a strange situation. And I hope if we can do anything, it’s improve the relationship we have with ourselves, while we are removed from the judgement of the world and all that entails.
Stay safe, and stay fierce ladies.
Oh, and follow me on Instagram if you don’t already: @fiercegirlfinance