Today we are going to get a little "real", and perhaps a little uncouth in the fact that we are going to discuss money. Yes, I said it. Money money money! It's not one of the nicest things to cover, but something that must be discussed and respected in equal measure lest it control us.
There are many aspects of life that I approached in my book, Ladies Like Us. Born out of a want to help to boost self-esteem and discuss the ways in which we ladies can look differently at the world and positively impact it, but there is one thing I plainly realise now that I didn't discuss in great detail, and that is the subject of money. Or moreover, the subject of relationship with and attitude toward money.
You see, I have a track record of being rather naff with money.
Money is something I have always subconsciously feared. Having never had a good relationship with it, or good example of how to manage it, I got myself into debt from an early age. A high interest credit card landed on my doormat at 18 years old and from then on I borrowed what I didn't have. I worked to get money, as much as I could, and never thought for a moment that "work" could be something enjoyable. Work was simply a way to get more. More of what?
I only ever looked at what employers could pay me so that I could fund a fast-living lifestyle. Most of my money was spent Friday through to Sunday on things that do not exist in my life today.
A decade later and I have nothing to show for 120 payslips and the 240,000k or so that I earned in that period of time. £240,000! Not much to some, an incredible amount to many, and for me, at this period in time, I'd be happy to have just 1% of that sitting around in my current account today.
If I'd had saved just 10% of my earnings I'd be sitting on a handsome sum of £24,000. A figure not to be sniffed at by a stay-at-home-mum and author.
**I just discussed this revelation with my husband and he agreed, we were stupid. We were more than capable of saving my entire salary over the past 10 years. Foolish doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. I honestly think that high schools need to teach less algebra or soldering bits of iron and invest more time teaching how to manage finances and personal relationships!**
Like me, it might be time to wake up from your financial slumber, pull your head out from the sand and release yourself from your cultural spending habits!
Could you do with a refreshing new approach to personal finance management? Do you want a lifestyle free from the trappings of modern culture and trends?
So what did I do with all that money I worked for? Well, stupid question Alena, you know what you did with it. You spent it to show off.
I won't go into great detail, but having lived in a seemingly "wealthy" neighbourhood during my latter childhood and early adult years I know first hand that most people who seem to "have it all" spend on what people can see, rather than invest and live frugally in order to have any sort of relaxed, sustainable lifestyle for the future. All around me people worked for money to keep up with the Joneses and this, my darling, is anything but chic.
All it creates is a sense of unease, discord and dissatisfaction among families and neighbourhoods.
The blind culture I was wrapped up in all those years ago kept money in a place that it stays for many millions of people - on a pedestal and not in savings accounts, retirement funds or anywhere even vaguely useful.
Enter one of the best lifestyle books I have read in a long time.
The Old Money Book by Byron Tully.
I am an avid collector of books on etiquette and lighthearted anthropological studies. Particularly lifestyle books on "how the other half live", and when I say other half, I don't mean your nouveau riche footballer's wives, but your landed and titled gentry. Those who have managed to preserve their wealth, income and lifestyles for generations. As a society we have a fascination with this rare breed.
Do I really need to spell it out? Downton Abbey, Jilly Cooper novels, the Bystander pages of Tatler. Particular admiration and fascination with royalty is also a telling clue. How about those National Trust properties - what makes someone's "pile of bricks" worthy of a day out and our gawping?
We want to know how they do it! How they afford to live like they do...
Living an old money lifestyle.
Truly I am enamoured with what makes people tick and what makes people succeed over others. Especially when it comes to the management of money. (Please note: I don't think that living off your boyfriend's salary or winning the lotto makes you a success). What makes someone get off their behind and start managing what they have in a considered, structured and sustainable way? Moreover how do they go about it? In explicit detail. I'm itching to know.
Subtlety vs. squander.
I had the two frightfully mixed up for a very long time.
I've been very honest in my book in telling you that I have always had this aching desire to feel "stable" in life. Both in my personal situation and financially so what with turning over a new leaf in many ways I thought it high time I approached the elephant in the room. My finances. I have already taken a less is more approach to my wardrobe. An experience I am very happy with and am enjoying immensely, but I still really needed guidance in the area of daily finances and how to sensibly shoehorn the life I wish to lead into a sustainable, realistic budget.
It's no use dreaming about what could-be and relying on the lottery anymore. I need to make my life happen with a sensible, well-thought out approach.
If I want a life that is stable, to a point where I no longer worry about money, (even if that means paring back now in order to secure a peaceful and assured future), then I need to create that reality myself.
Having grown up during and after the economic boom of the 1980's & 90s where "more was more", it's not hard to put your finger on why my generation in particular find finances and the sheer lack of them now rather baffling and depressing. We don't know how to save or live frugally because we've never really had to experience it! We don't want to deal with the nasty side of financial planning or saving for retirement. We are the generation that will never age, right?
So many of my peers expected to leave University and land the well-paid jobs we were all promised. "You can be anything. The world is waiting to give it to you on a plate. Take that student loan and spend it freely, don't worry, we'll sort it out later".... Eeek. Not that easy, fun or glamorous after all, was it?
I know many political parties still promise wealth in return for ticks in boxes. It's what everyone wants. Be it for freedom, power, glory, stability. Money gets you places. It gets you things.
A timely read.
Coincidentally after all this thought about money and how I can better handle myself with and around it, Byron Tully's The Old Money Book popped up on Amazon as a suggested read just before Christmas. After looking at a few other reviews and poring over his blog from back to front I snapped it up.
Devoured in a weekend and promptly passed on to my husband, I found so many answers in this book and very clear guidelines and instruction on how to live the life I have always dreamt of.
Where many women my age want to sparkle like a diamond, I think I'd rather glow like a pearl. I wish to develop a countenance of reassurance, kindness, stability, discretion and ease. I don't want to make an entrance and have every eye on me, but I do want to feel comfortable in all situations and moreover make other people feel comfortable around me. I wish to speak delicately rather than shout. To be smart rather than sassy.
I want to be around for a long time. Steady, part of the furniture. To play the long game. Not be some fly-by-night starlet who's here today gone tomorrow.
I want steady wealth, in both monetary value and experiences. I want a wealthy, healthy life. Rich in experience, values and meaning. Not for it to all be about money grabbing and showing off.
Bam! After finishing this book it hit me. I realised that I wanted a life like a Queen! Or a Duchess, or a Lady. Yes, that's it! I want a life free from financial concern. Definitely to be so free of thinking about it that I don't have to feel like buying things proves my worth anymore.
Or that showing off my wealth in any way is classy. (It is not).
I want an "old money" lifestyle. I think many of you who share my love for period movies and historical romances hope for the same too. Those dreams we had of being swept off our feet and living happily ever after never had a plot twist that covered episodes of sweating for deadlines at work in order to buy the latest Choo's.
Just one, well made pair of glass slippers that match everything will do thank you - they have a heritage and a beauty nothing else can live up to.
I'd hate to spoil the book that Byron has written by detailing every part, but as a little teaser
The Old Money Book covers these areas and ways in which an "old money" guy or gal approaches life;
- Core Values: health, education, the work ethic, etiquette & manners, financial independence, family & marriage, privacy.
- How Old Money Does It: attire, diction & grammar, furnishings, reading, housing, socialising, cars, travel, staff vs. services.
In summary, how to act, think and behave like the truly rich in order to live a richer life.
More often than not, I think the reality of those who are actually in the "old money club" will surprise you, and the people you "thought" were rich really aren't. Byron's book will help you decipher the who's who and exactly who is worth paying attention to. Their countenence is a dead give away when you know what to look for.
The Old Money Book claims to reveal the "secrets of America's Upper Class", but I'd say that Byron should probably rename it to also include their Anglo counterparts.
Why the fascination with the Upper Class? Well, where they will barely bat an eyelid the next time a recession hits, as it currently stands I won't feel quite so at ease in comparison. That's enough to pique my interest and humble myself to admit that I am desperate to learn a thing or two from them.
The Old Money Book has really inspired me to live a more frugal, considered life that pares back on the unnecessary and to focus my attention on WRM (what really matters). If you want to know what that is, you'll have to pick up a copy. Trust me, it's more than worth it!
I enjoyed it so much, I instantly downloaded his second book on marriage.
2017 is the best time to put what Byron preaches into practice. It'll do you a wealth of good, old sport.