Thursday ego blog: Money patterns

Posted on: 26/05/2011

Money. It’s the source of great happiness, great despair and perennial conflict if you share your little pot of money with a loved one.

In my case, loved one is very responsible with his money.  He’s careful to keep an eye on his bank balance, saves regularly, doesn’t over spend, and so on.

When I am vaguely in control of my life, I am the same.  I check the bank balance daily, reconcile cheque books, keep receipts, stay within budget, put it all in my little blue book and confer with loved one about one-off stuff.

But, quite frequently life overwhelms me.  I have days when I’m knuckled down with studies, or I’m away and have to catch up on housework when I’m back, or baby is screaming all day for a solid week, or I’m focussing on an issue with a child that needs my undivided attention. Et cetera.

When life starts to overwhelm me, somehow my daily habit of checking the bank balance falls apart. Even worse, I have an irresistible urge to spend money.  Generally I spend money on stuff we do actually need, but it tends to happen in concentrated bursts so the bank balance suffers dramatically.  I also tend to bury my head in the sand, doing my normal grocery shopping as if there were no quiet pleas from my debit card trying to tell me to tighten the belt and see if I can save a little here or there.

I slowly become aware that I need to address the increasingly scary money-demon, so I then set a time when I expect I can cope with the bad news, dreading what I will see the moment I log on.   I then catch up on the weeks – occasionally months – of ignoring the situation, fill in my little blue book until it’s up to date, vow never to let it slide again, and we are fine.  For months at a time.

Then another stressful time arrives, and it all slithers back into a money hell.

I appreciate that this in general isn’t too bad; we have never spent more than we earn, we have never been late on a bill payment (though if there were no such thing as direct debit, that could easily happen), we are always up-to-date with our mortgage.  This is minor in a country who has racked up £56 billion in credit card debt alone (based on 2005 statistics).  But the fact remains that any kind of money issues, big or small, can cause emotional turmoil.

This article from the BBC highlights this, as well as putting us into various money personality categories.  There’s even a test you can take to work yours out, with Martin Lewis telling how well you handle your money and decisions relating to money.  It’s very interesting.

I’ve realised that my best hope for remaining in control of my money is to avoid periods of stress.  Ha! If life were that simple I would probably be bored stiff anyway. But, the more aware I am that keeping track of my money is the key to staying in control, the less likely I am to over-spend.

Let’s hope so, anyway…


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