In case you are unaware of the hip-hop reference C.R.E.A.M stands for Cash Rules Everything Around Me, which can often feel very true of this society we are living in currently. We need money to travel, eat, drink, live, enjoy and often our mental health and personal happiness can be greatly affected by our monetary limitations.
On a personal note I have found that in this capitalist society you can always feel like there are more things that you can buy, more clothes to wear, more things to financially invest in and this can make your budget feel consistently inadequate. However, the best way to deal with this is contentment. It is absolutely fair to have goals and to want to reach a great level of financial stability, but to prevent your personal happiness from being dependent on this you must go through a constant process of revaluation and contentment.
I can break this down further. Firstly, check in on yourself from time to time and think about what you have achieved financially perhaps this month that you didn’t last month. Even if it’s that you stayed within your travel budget this month or managed to save £50, this can really help you to feel like you are on the right track. Contentment then comes in to counterbalance the feelings you have when you haven’t achieved what you wanted financially that month. Appreciate the things you do have and that you have made it through another month with all the necessities in check. If the necessities are not in check, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether this is through government assistance, or by asking a family member for a loan. Don’t be super reliant on these aids, but if you need help desperately to get back on your feet – ask.
Nevertheless, wealth is about so much more than just money. Coco Chanel once said “There are people who have money and there are people who are rich”, and this quote sticks with me, as it highlights that if you have friends, talents, knowledge, these things can make you so wealthy in other ways (socially etc.). This can then lead to making you happier and more self-assured than money ever could.
In my anthology ‘And So She Saved Herself’, I wrote a poem titled ‘Live Now’ and it says:
“After school we run around the play ground
Then after work thoughts run around our minds
As we become bogged down with bills, men,
women, children and bills
Bills, bills, bills
Money, money, money
Must be funny
When capitalism becomes your
I was connecting to that emotion of getting caught in the slog of working in a job that you don’t enjoy and letting your world revolve around money. There is definitely more to life, which is short and precious, so don’t stay in a job you hate just for a wage, always search for areas that inspire you more.
In researching some ideas for financial management advice, I talked to some women about what they thought were key things they had learned about being responsible with their money. Here are some of the things they had to say:
DORCAS (in her twenties) – “I say to myself that there’s always a sale, you might think ‘oh that’s really nice and its on sale!’, but remember there’s always another sale.”
ALEX (in her twenties) – “I have four key tips. Firstly, definitely budget, in university I had a spreadsheet budget and I’d put everything in there (even buying softmints) and added everything up at the end of the week and then do the same thing for the whole month to make sure I was staying on track!
Separate your income (loan, money from parents, wage) and expenditure (costs), and try and stick to a weekly budget.
Secondly, invest in your savings. I use 80% of my pay-check to live off of, 10% is my tithes which I dedicate to God at church and the last 10% is for my savings, and I transfer it to my savings account.
Thirdly, think of other ways to earn money. Don’t just stick to my 9-5. I found that tutoring part time helped me to supplement my income. You can do odd jobs or do online surveys. I had four part-time, flexible jobs at university.
Finally, try and think long term, as women we need to not just look at that misguided dress and buy it, but think long term perhaps you want to save for something more worthwhile.”
TAIWO (in her forties) – “SAVE! Put some money aside and save and do it as consistently as possible. Set a sensible saving target per month and do your best to hit it.”
There are some great pieces of advice here and to summarise here’s some ideas for being financially responsible:
- Don’t just buy because there’s a sale, think rationally about your purchases.
- Budget! Get a spreadsheet, or there are phone apps such as ‘Wally’ or ‘Yolt’ which can help you to budget and look at your income and expenditures.
- Save! Get a savings account to help you and put a target amount of savings away each week or month etc.
- Think long term, what are your goals?
- Be content! There is more to life than money and so many other ways in which your life can be enriched. Focus on the positives.
Thanks for reading,
Zahrah (Author of ‘And So She Saved Herself’)