I've lost count of the times people assume Paul and I are rolling in cash.
Yes. Paul has a great job that pays a decent wage and yes, at one point, so did I. However, take from that all the outgoings with rent, bills, child support, three children, a car and a rabbit, it doesn't leave us much to play with each month.
I'm never one to shy away from honesty and I don't mind admitting I met Paul with a lot of baggage, asides from being a single Mum with no womb, a lot of menopause and with a family history that would make the Royals look almost fully functional, I also came with a string of debts and bad credit history. Debts that I'm STILL paying off and a credit history I'm STILL trying to build up.
To much information maybe? Why should it be? I know for a fact I'm not alone and I'm just one in a large minority of people so I'd rather be honest about it. I was a single Mother for ten years who spent money I didn't have as a way of making myself feel better, took out mobile phone contracts, credit and store cards because it was there and put those brown letters in a drawer and forgot about them. It's happened, it's done, I can't change it, I can however, teach our children to be more responsible and savvy with their money.
Paul however, well he's always been good with his money. I take the piss out of him all the time because he whittles over money. Most men roll over after sex, not Paul, he checks his bank account and plays candy crush (maybe I'm slightly exaggering but you get the picture) Paul is a Martin Moneysaver only better looking and without a voice that runs at a ridiculous speed.
Together, we make a pretty good team. Each month, I take a portion from my wages and pay off my debts, the rest goes into Paul's account and we pay out everything from there. If I need money for anything, Paul transfers it back to me. Don't read this and assume I'm financially controlled. It's a far cry from it, I need Paul to manage the money or by the third day after payday, we'd have none left. He doesn't say no if I ask him for anything and if he thinks I'm spending recklessly, he will tell me. This is the way I choose it to be.
I wasn't really brought up to understand the value of money, however, I'm a 'council house' girl and to be honest, I'm proud of that. It's taught me to be humble and realise that not everyone is blessed to grow up in a big house and have the very best of everything. I see it far too often, people brought up in a council house (as they were called back then) grow up to have a big fat mortgage and turn their nose up at anyone they deem beneath them. All I can say is, your shit still stinks my dears, and one day, when you need NHS help or you need healthcare assistance in the future, it's probably the council kids like me that will be looking after you!
Eventually my Mum and StepDad were fortunate enough to go on to get a mortgage twenty odd years ago but I'm also fully aware that having a mortgage doesn't automatically assume you are loaded. And as much as I don't have contact with either of them and don't wish to keep talking about them, I always respected how hard my Stepdad would work to make sure he could always pay the mortgage, even if that meant going without.
Mortgages are hard work, you're lucky if you can get one, you're even luckier if you can pay it off before the age of 45 and you're even luckier if you never have to worry how your going to pay your monthly instalments. Mortgages are just as hard as paying the rent, only difference is, the property is yours.
Paul and I don't own our house. We rent a semi detached in the village he grew up in and to be honest, when we found our house, Paul was apprehensive because it's not the most reputable Street. But, it's all that we had on offer and it's big enough for us to run away from each other when we need space. It's not often you can find a four bedroom house as cheap as ours so we snapped it up.
I've never had a mortgage, poor credit history means I probably never will, renting is all I know and I'm fine with it. Although I know for Paul, it frustrates him having been on the property ladder for so long, he does still own a house with his ex wife and his priority has always been to ensure the children have stability. I respect his decision to keep the house going and appreciate he had a life before I came along.
Unfortunate for him, it just means it's harder for him to get back on the ladder with his name already tied to another property and having to go it alone this time. But you know what, we make the best of our situation and we have happiness.
Paul used to moan at me because I never seemed to worry about money, when he would talk about money, I would shut down and back away from the conversation. He can never understand why, the truth of it is, money makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel embarrassed and guilty because I put myself in such a crap situation, when you're ashamed of something, you don't want to discuss it and so for me, I shy away from it and try to pretend it's not there. But not today, today I confront it head on.
Lately, things have taken a turn. All I worry about is money. It's on my mind constantly. This is the first time since I was 14 that I've not had a job.
If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I'd had two and a half months of sick leave from my office job due to stress and anxiety, it was a well paid job but it caused me more stress than I needed so I decided not to go back and return to healthcare. I found a job, turned up last Monday only to not return on Tuesday because it was the absolute pits. I won't go into too much detail but let's just say, in healthcare, there's a list of 'bad practice codes' and this place broke the majority. I was going to continue working there until I found employment elsewhere but on finding that I would have been working unsafely, it was impossible to return. So now, here I am, on the hunt for a job. I feel guilty. I feel ashamed and I feel like a let down. I've always managed to support my daughter with no financial help and yet here I am, relying on Paul to provide for her until I can find a job. I know he doesn't see it that way, we're a team. But, if you've ever been in my position, you'll understand how difficult it is to shift that mindset of having to make sure you are the one providing for your child. It's not just that, it's the fact that Paul is having to be the only provider, it breaks my heart seeing him worry and stress over everything that we spend. Life was easier when we were both working, we could afford the little extras. As much as we know it's only temporary, it doesn't make it any easier when you have three children to feed, clothe, house and entertain.
I'm forever looking at the houses for sale in our village and wondering if we will ever own one, I look at the green velvet sofas online and imagine us dressing it with cushions, I flick through my Instagram feed living in hope that one day, we will have a roll top bath that I'll never use because I'm a shower kinda girl. But then I ask myself if I'm just being materialistic? Would all of that make me any happier really?
Yes, I maybe depressed but I'm a weird contradiction of the happiest depressed person you'll ever meet. How? Because I'm not depressed about the now, I'm depressed about the past. And that's hard for me to get my head around so I don't expect you guys to be able to. But I am happy with what I've got. I love our home, I love our life and I love and adore my perfect little family. No cottage with a thatched roof and a green velvet sofa is ever going to change that.
I'd be lying if I said we'd like a bit more money in our account, we'd all love that. It must be amazing to constantly buy new things that you don't need just because you can, but if you don't need it, is it going to add anything to your life? Will it really give you a sense of purpose? Money doesn't make the world a better place at all. It makes us envious of each other, it makes us feel like we bracket ourselves into social circles. It makes us dickheads at times.
Nothing pisses me off more than when I see people refer to themselves as 'middle class', in my opinion, it's a certified way of shoving a silver spoon down your throat and a wooden spoon up your arse, it just sounds arrogant, conceited and moronic. We are all the same. Some of the best people in this world have come from nothing. Putting yourself into a 'class' won't make you a better person. Not now, not ever.
The best happiness comes from nothing. It's the little things in life that don't cost a thing. It's the smile on your children's faces, it's the warmth from being in your partners arms, it's the feel of a home cooked dinner after a long day at work, it's the sound of laughter as the children chase each other. It's the little things that we take for granted. And, one day, when we do finally own our own home, it'll feel amazing because we will know just how hard we've hard to work to get there, it'll be a little corner of the world that we can call our own, and I know just how much we will deserve it. And no, I'm not slating anyone who already has a mortgage before I get virtual tomatoes pelted at me, remember, these are my personal feelings and how I personally feel. If you have a mortgage already then nobody is happy for you right now than me, I know how much it takes to keep one going and I seriously applaud you.
Today, my bank sent me a text to remind me that my funds are low, in fact, when I checked said funds, Barclays had lied to me, they said I had an extra £5.97 more than I do.
Listen Barclays, you made me feel shit for ten whole minutes, but then I had a hot shower, I walked around the house that we've made out home, looked at all the photos of the kids and Paul on the walls and in my phone, went to the full fridge, ate my breakfast, checked in the cupboards that I had all the ingredients for dinner tonight and reminded myself, we've got a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, the kids are content and the ridiculous washing pile tells me we have plenty of clothes to put on our backs, so therefore, I'm not skint this month, I'm freakin rich, in fact, I'm practically a millionaire.