My parents were never very good with money, and throughout my life they have been in some serious debt. An overdraft was something that was normal, my dad having a wallet full of credit cards was normal. I knew from an early age that they were in debt, and the stress and misery that it caused.
As a child, I remember thinking my presents at Christmas were bought with more debt. I was grateful for my presents, and it was more than likely I got a few things from my list. I never wanted for anything as a child, but at the expense of my mum and dad’s happiness. Stress, anger and anxiety were commonplace.
My Dad declared himself bankrupt a few weeks before I started my nursing course. To get myself through university, debt was the only way I was going to get through it. I had to get a credit card in my first year of uni, because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get home for Christmas. It was sheer necessity that led me to take out another 2 cards, and overdrafts on 2 current accounts. 3 years later, I had around £5,000 debt of my own. But I vowed that it was the last time I would get into that situation.
It was hard, but I paid back my overdraft monthly, paid off the credit Cards the same way. I even paid off my small student loan. I did it from the moment I started my job, so I never missed the money I paid back, as the wages I got were much more than my measly nursing bursary. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. But I had a plan, and I stuck to it. By the time I had been qualified 3 years, my debt was paid off.
I don’t have an overdraft now, and I am so glad. The money I spend is mine. I do keep a credit card open for emergencies, and since I’ve been on maternity leave, I have only used it a few times. Having only just gone back to work, and this being Bubs’ first Christmas, the temptation to go mad is there. To be honest, I go mad nearly every year, but I don’t want to go completely over the top. I want Bubs to appreciate things, I want her to see us using money wisely. I don’t want her to see us stressed about money, like I had to witness my whole life.
Yes, I do make mistakes, and yes sometimes I go mad and buy too much, or buy something on the credit card. But I know I have my limit. I can’t lose my mind and just go on a spending spree.
I understand that for some people, debt is still a necessity for survival. I’ve been there. I don’t mean to make people feel bad by writing this post, it’s just now I have got out of debt, I never want to go there again, and I don’t want Bubs to follow that path either.
I have bought Bubs a few presents, some stocking fillers and a main present. And that’s it. I don’t want her to be spoilt, and I am not going to buy things I can’t afford. This year, I have even pulled myself back from spending so much on my whole family. I am making a lot of presents myself.
Yet I know that other people (my mum and dad, my partners parents) will buy her lots of things. And in a way, I don’t want her to have so much. It makes me feel uneasy – especially as I know my parents are still in some financial difficulty. I have told family that from her birthday next year, she is not going to have any toys outside of her birthday and Christmas. I don’t want family buying her toys and gifts every other week – she won’t realise or appreciate them this way. I want her to realise that you can’t just get things, and yes I will reward her with activities, days out, and perhaps some toys in the future if she has done well at school, or behaved well for example. I just don’t want her thinking she can have it all, as everything comes at a price in this world.
I also want family to realise that spending time together, being together as a family, is worth so much more than stuffed toys and games. That’s what I craved from my parents. My whole life they bought us things as they felt guilty about not spending time with us. I just wish they knew they didn’t have to do this, for me or Bubs.
Maybe I sound like a grinch writing this, but I really do appreciate everything my family does for me, and the presents and gifts they get for Bubs. I just don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and I want her to learn about money, and being sensible with it, from an early age. I don’t want to put myself in debt to make her happy for just one day of the year – I want to make her happy 365 days a year, and the way to do that is to stay as much as I can, in the black. Im not saying I’m perfect, I know that circumstances can change so quickly, who knows what the future will bring. But I’m going to try and do this as much as I can.