Money is a funny thing; no matter how much you have it, there never seems to be enough. It’s one of the most addictive things on the planet, and even if it doesn’t kill you, like drugs or alcohol addiction might, it sure can break you mentally.
I come from a very fortunate background and am surrounded by people who would be classified as ‘rich’. I even know couple actual millionaires. And from listening to them talk about money, and seeing how having it has shaped their lives and way of thinking, I can tell you straight off that money really can’t buy happiness!
But then again, I myself have struggled extremely greatly throughout the past 3 years for not having any money. Lack of money causes constant stress because I couldn’t live a normal life, which meant missing out on seeing friends or even buying food. In addition to which something unexpected, like a visit to the dentist, could hurl me into the very deep pit of debt. Sleeping problems and depression ensued.
I’m finally getting to the point where I’m financially secure(-ish), and that allowed me some head space to think about my relationship with money overall.
You don’t need to scroll social media for long until you’ve come across dozen
influencer celebrities’ and bloggers’ posts advertising products that you HAVE TO HAVE. The message that social media is bombarding us with is that happiness, success and self worth is achieved by buying.
This worries me. Although I do believe that the kids in primary school right now are and will be much smarter than we or our parents’ generation in terms of consumerism, the fact is that the number of young people having incredible amounts of debt is growing.
And to some extent it’s due to social media spreading this completely false message of unattainable “life values”, which then creates actual mental problems because such “values” can’t be achieved.
Money is a sensitive subject to many people, but for me and my friends it’s never been a taboo. We talk about our salaries, spending habits and our relationship to money all the time. How could we ever reach financial equality between sexes if we don’t talk about money? Well, we can’t.
So, I’ll spill the beans to y’all and hopefully at least some of you can see that having, or not having money isn’t a reason to be embarrassed. Money is not our value, which I will prove to you at the end of this post.
My Relationship With Money
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ring | gifted
How I learned about money
I have to give sooo much credit for my parents here; they taught me and my brother about money in a manner that I will definitely be adopting if I ever have children of my own.
One of the easiest ways to make a child understand the worth of money is to make them earn it. Me and my brother would do little household chores, like mowing the lawn or vacuuming the house, to get money for the Candy Day, which was every Saturday.
As children the Candy Day was the ultimate necessity, comparable to something like pizza or shampoo as an adult: can’t live without them.
So, I learned to respect the process of acquiring money at an early age, and I also learned that if you didn’t work for it, there was no candy on Saturday. Simple, right?
How I use money
I’m quite diligent with money, always have been. I have two separate bank accounts, one for daily use and one for putting money aside, plus one credit card.
When the salary drops into my account I already know exactly how much of it will go on living costs, like rent, internet, phone bill, utilities, and student loan + credit card payments. So, I can easily calculate how much I have to spend on myself each month. If possible, I would also always transfer money into my savings account for the rainy day.
It’s a clear and functional system that has sustained me very well. Until the day came when I changed jobs and the salary I received didn’t correspond with the monthly living costs on any level.
But as a diligent Scandi, no matter how little money I had, I knew my place and prioritized the living costs from each salary. Often that meant that I would be living with very little money left for food and could only afford to go out with friends once a month. But I’d much rather be miserable at home alone than trapped in an endless debt.
How I save money
My parents taught me the importance of saving at a very young age. So, when I got the idea at the tender age of 12 that I would move out of Finland ASAP, I knew that first I needed to start saving.
Every Summer job I could get, every weekend and evening shift that I could secure, I did in order to get as much money in the bank as I could. I preferred to work to get more and more money for realizing that life goal, even if it meant missing out on some parties. It was okay, though, because all of my friends were working as well.
So, when the time came to pack my bags and move to Scotland I had a round 10.000€ on my savings account. Now that’s an achievement!
Since achieving all the big goals I’ve had so far, and settling down with a stable job, a boyfriend and all that, my saving goals have changed as well. I don’t have a certain goal towards which I’d be saving at the moment.
Instead, I transfer money from each salary to my savings account for whatever may come; whether it’s a surprise doctors appointment, a vacation in Asia, or a puppy, the balance on my savings account is my safety blanket; the more money I have there, the safer I feel.
One day I’d also like to start investing, but that time is not right at this moment.
My experience with debt
I absolutely hate owing money. It’s not so much the fact that I’d care what the people think of me owing them money. It’s more about the fact that I want to use that money on myself, but which I have to then give away because I owe it.
That’s why I’ve stayed as far away from any bank loans as I have been able. Unfortunately living in London took its toll on my finances and I had to take a bit of student loan. What a mistake!
At Uni you so naively think that your future is secured. I mean, what University graduate wouldn’t get a job?! Hah, the thing they don’t tell you about is the fact that you’re not the only bloody graduate applying for that dream job!
I graduated during recession and moved from student status to unemployed. The only way I could get a job was to move out of Finland, which I did. And everything was fine until the student loan payments started to go from my account.
In the situation that I described before, where my salary didn’t correspond with living costs, the student loan payment per month was a sum that I didn’t have. So, every single month I would run short of that amount of money that had been automatically deducted from my account for paying the debt.
It screwed up my life quite badly for couple years. But then again, I didn’t have a choice but to take that loan while in London. But the difficulties that those loan payments caused me for couple of years have left scars in me.
I don’t know if I will ever want to take a mortgage or any sort of a loan ever again… Remains to be seen.
Can Money Buy Happiness
The simple, and in my opinion obvious answer to this infinity-question is
obviously no, of course it can’t.
Happiness isn’t a tangible asset that one can claim. But money does make life much, MUCH easier and less stressful.
There’s a very straight-forward formula that showcases why money does not equal happiness. I found this on Pinterest and it’s so very spot on. So, the thing that you need to understand is that money can buy:
A bed but not sleep
A clock but not time
A book but not wisdom
A position but not respect (!!)
Medicine but not health
Entertainment but not happiness
Acquaintances but not friendship
A house but not a home.
Since this is such a difficult, and perhaps even personal, subject for many I would like to remind y’all that money really isn’t any sort of a measure of you as a human being. You can have millions but still be a person that nobody wants to be around.
Since this is a subject that is rarely talked about, I’d love to hear your opinions on it!
Do you like talking about money or is it something that you avoid as far as you can? What’s your opinion on people sharing their salary information with family and friends, perhaps even strangers in a discussion? Would you share such info?
Please comment below or hit me with an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ♥
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