Years ago, in my wild and foolish youth, I had a friend called Candice. She was very pretty, exotic-looking, with a fun personality. We used to hang out and have adventures. She was such fun to be around. We also met boys! She was very attractive and lots of guys wanted to try their luck with her. But Candice had one prerequisite: ” Can he pay?”
This was one of those hilarious in-jokes that cracked me up every time. I understood where it was coming from. Her family was not well-off. She had 5 (loud) sisters. They shared bedrooms and clothes. They were tough, and fought for whatever they had. I got it.
But I didn’t agree with it. My money history was different. I grew up not lacking anything essential, materially. The only thing I had to fight for was that Ronald Sassoon jeans with the panel on the side – and that was not because we couldn’t afford it, but because my mother didn’t approve of it, or thought it was too expensive. She had the money, and so she had the POWER.
She wielded that power with impunity. It was a way to control me. Whenever I did something she didn’t approve of (like smoking lol) she would cut my pocket money. And I thank her.
She forced me to be independent. No ” but can he pay?” for me. I started looking for a part-time job. I worked at the bakery in Grand Bazaars, wearing a cloth shower cap (a la Polly put the kettle on) and looked ridiculous. I worked at the tote, handling grubby money poor old women had taken out of their bras. But I could pay.
I married a man who came from a home where his father made all the money decisions. He saved and cut corners on everything. No frills. In his retirement, he and my mother-in-law travelled the world on cruise ships. They’ve been practically everywhere! He died leaving his family very well taken care of because of his saving and the investments he made. He also left a son whose favourite words to me when I wanted something were “We can’t afford it”.
These money lessons have, perhaps, stood me in good stead. I am fiercely independent when it comes to money. I work hard for the extras. I spent years doing extra marking at the end of the year, tutoring on weeknights and Saturday mornings to make the money for the things that were not in the family budget. I even tried working overseas when my children went to university – we were part of the “missing middle” – to pay for their accommodation. I started my side hustle in 2017 and worked weekends and into the night, after doing my day job.
When my children were younger, all the extra money went into the house.
Until I had an epiphany. I was the one doing the work. I had the power! So I should also have the benefit. I started seeing the extra money as my money, to spend as I chose. Granted, I spent a lot of it on my family, happy to give them what they needed without restrictions. When we shop, they say, ” No, Mom, it’s too expensive”. It felt good to say, “No, it’s fine, take it,” when it came to shopping for them.
But I’ve also travelled! I’ve put aside money and been on amazing holidays, with and without my husband and children! I’ve always wanted to travel, ever since I got bitten by the bug when I finished studying. I went to Israel, Greece, and Turkey. For years I tried to get McG to go on an adventure with me, but you can guess what his standard response was…
When I took back my power, it all became possible. I decided, and left it up to him to decide whether he wanted to tag along or not. In 2012, I took the kids to Bangkok and Phuket. He preferred to get divorced.
The next year we celebrated the first anniversary of our second marriage at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, after a European trip which included London, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy.
And he got bitten by the bug. The next year we took a cruise to Mozambique with the kids. Then we did Zanzibar. I went to the UAE. Our last trip was to Phuket last year – where, as usual, the ex-reluctant traveller had the time of his life.
Every year I set an intention as to where I want to go. I announce it to everyone, and it happens. ( Damn you, Covid! I was meant to go to Spain at the end of the year!!)
It’s important for a woman to have her own money. Money=value. I feel valuable and powerful when I have my own money. Even if you don’t work outside the home, you need to be valued for your contribution in a physical, fiscal way. Have a conversation with your husband and get him to give you some pocket-money! If you work, set aside money from your own budget, just for you. You shouldn’t t have to explain or ask for everything you want or need. Or take a tip from the housewives of the fifties and skim some money off the top of your grocery budget! There are ways and means :).
But how do you do it, you ask…
Right now, I am not working. Due to lockdown, my regular work has dried up, so the last time I was paid was in April. I’m technically broke. But I live with an abundance mindset.
There have been times when there has been no work for me, which equates to no income (December last year), but I’ve survived because of a few money tricks:
- Save. The most important money tip I can give anyone is to open a dedicated automated savings account. I use the FNB Flexi-save account linked to my current account. It’s a 32-day notice account. Every month an amount is automatically deducted from my current account. I don’t even see the money until I decide I need it.
- I operate 2 bank accounts. My salary gets paid into my Capitec account. It varies every month, so I put the money I need to pay bills, debit orders, etc. into my FNB account. I overestimate the amount, so there’s always a little bit left at the end of the month.
- I round off the remaining money into a “living expenses” amount and put the extra money into one of my Capitec sub-accounts. I only go into these accounts when I really need to.
- I pay extra into my utilities every month. For example, my phone bill varies between R200 and R230 every month. I pay 250. I do the same with my rates and water account, and the amount of electricity I buy. In December last year, I got no salary, but my utilities were in credit, so no worries. One account is specifically marked “travel”.
- When I worked full-time and got an annual bonus, I always put it away. It always came in handy a little further down the line. Frivolous spending just because I had a full bank account has never worked for me. The thrill of a moment cannot compare to a holiday overseas or a new kitchen.
- I never buy anything I don’t have the money for at the time of purchase. I do have a credit card because life happens…it rarely gets used, except for emergencies and with a plan to pay back the money before the interest kicks in.
I think the most important thing is to have an abundance mindset. I am not focusing on the lack or scarcity of money – I am grateful for everything that I do have. I am grateful for the blessing of a husband who still has a job in these trying times when people are losing their livelihoods due to the economic lockdown.
Money is fluid. It flows in and out of our lives. Being generous in my small way has brought in a little windfall from my company for unclaimed work!
I have FAITH and believe that somehow, an opportunity will come my way and I will be able to meet my obligations. And if not – there’s enough money tucked away to cover the bases.
I’ve learned another tip from my Mindvalley guru, Vishen Lakhiani. It’s called the “Arigato money technique” (watch it here). It’s a Japanese way of ensuring abundance. Whenever you have to use your money to pay for something, thank it. Money loves being appreciated. When you show people appreciation or love, they respond to you more positively. Money does the same.
I love money. I love what it gives me – freedom and independence. I’m not frugal, but I know where I want to spend it – on experiences and things that enhance my life. It is mine to invest in myself.
And if I want to do something foolish with it, that’s okay. I earned it. I’ve got the power!
Love and light