Money doesn’t buy happiness they say.
But when it comes to basics like making rent, eating and having a warm home, money makes your life much easier.
Don’t get me wrong, most of my life I’ve lived pretty comfortably.
I can’t speak from experience of fiscal struggles being a daily reality throughout my life, but it’s easy for things to happen in life, where shortage of money becomes an issue…
Paying the basics…
After graduation I made a serious attempt to kick start my career, moving to a shithole box room flat in a city where I knew no one.
My first mistake was seriously underestimating the cost of city living against the low paid graduate entry level salary.
This meant I was just making rent and relied on food parcel handouts to get by.
I had limited remaining capital, so took penny pinching actions on the utilities by showering at work and keeping the power off.
With the lack of available cash this limited my opportunities to socialise and meet people in the lonely city, so I was grateful when a couple of friends stayed over on a frosty January.
I’d got used to the cold nights sleeping with my coat wrapped over a dressing gown, so didn’t think anything of the heating being off.
The next morning, they complained how freezing it was, making comments that it probably would have been warmer out in the snow.
I had never been so embarrassed… they never came back.
One morning, I caught the leg on my only pair of work trousers.
A large tear could be seen on the ankle of the left leg. Buying a replacement wasn’t something I had the money for, so I always placed myself where the rip could not be noticed.
It wasn’t my trousers that got recognition. One day someone made a comment on the state of the watch I was wearing.
I hadn’t thought anything of it, it was something I had for years that still worked fine. Now it had been pointed out I realised how scuffed and discoloured it was.
I attribute the comment as nothing but harmless banter but started questioning what professional impression I was giving off.
If he had known how much I was struggling would he have said anything?
And looking for the next job…
After my graduate scheme came to an end, I returned home to live back with my parents.
My landlord had ripped me off in a dispute about furniture rental and my attempts to get a more lucrative position had failed, I was in debt, and needed work to get back on track.
One week I got a job interview and realised I didn’t have any available cash to pay for the bus. My parents had gone away so I couldn’t ask them for the money, so I scoured the house looking for any spare change.
My problem was resolved when I found a 10 euro note from a holiday long past and took it down to the travel agents, to get those precious pounds for the journey.
If anything with this experience, it taught me to never take small amounts of money for granted.
Does money make you happy?
I’m grateful how far I’ve come.
Since those days’ things have got better, but I don’t forget that time and how easy it is for anyone to fall into this trap.
I got by because of the kindness of others, so now I make the point of ensuring to return the favour. Recently I’ve got into the habit of buying a few extra cans on a supermarket visit, to donate to food banks.
Yes, money isn’t guaranteed to make you happy if you’re talking about shallow, luxury possessions, but everything is a lot easier when you don’t have to think through what necessity you’re going to sacrifice this month.
Those were tough times, that have influenced how I behave to this day – I often make a point of turning up the heating before the arrival of visitors so that when they walk in my home they feel warm.
I’m grateful there was a way out.
Wishing you the best success in whatever you choose to do.
James @Perfect Manifesto
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