I don’t mind admitting that I’ve always been hopeless with money. I was brought up with parents who owed their own businesses. My dad was an antiques dealer (along with selling second hand junk) and my mum was the manager of Yorkshire Bank, yet she often launched businesses on my dad’s behalf.
Ice cream shops, fruit and veg shops, car dealerships, basically whatever produced a profit at the time. We swung from very rich to very poor in a matter of months and the poor times are some of the happiest memories of my life.
We sat on banana crates one Christmas after dad sold the sofa on Christmas Eve just to buy us some toys and a chicken for our Christmas feast.
So I’ve never really viewed money as real, as my father taught me that it isn’t. It’s the people around you that are real. Your health, your family, your life. Needless to say with this attitude I got into a lot of debt and my parents bailed me out without complaint again and again.
Their philosophy was: “If we have it, you can have it, if we don’t, we’ll find a way to make it.” Although Dad passed away, at 34 I still ring my mum occasionally for a two-day loan when I’ve not managed my finances properly.
So when my children began to earn and spend money, I decided to take a different approach. I wanted them to know that although it wasn’t the be all and end all, it was quite crucial for a good quality of life, that if they managed it well they’d reduce any stress associated with it.
As a freelance writer, I have always worked incredible hours to make sure I fulfill my dreams. Happy where I am right now, I still work more than 40 a week as I need to meet the costs of everyday living. I’m lucky as I can be flexible, I can be very productive one day ensuring a half day the next. I can work the evenings to ensure I make it to Sports Days and so on. I can also get good tax relief with the help of a good account. I highly recommend the online tax calculators from tax rebate services.
I’m also fortunate as my children love spending time with me. We call Saturdays and Sundays mummy days. We all adore them. It’s taken years to ensure that I take every weekend off and it’s a habit I’m not going to change.
Yet my children, 16, 12 and 5 would still like to see more of me. They want me to pick them up from school (I have a househusband who is great at all of this), they want me to join them for dinner and they want to be able to scream and shout without disturbing mum in the office.
So when my eldest son broke his laptop through carelessness (hitting the keyboard in frustration when it wouldn’t load) instead of telling him how much money it would cost to replace, I told him how many extra hours I’d have to spend at work to meet the cost.
Suddenly this applied to many things, such as my daughter wanting a new puppy, sneaking in Lego as we did the weekly shop, losing a pair of Nike trainers at school. Everything was measured in “mummy work hours” and the message seems to have hit home.
Now not only do they have a lot more respect for their own belongings, they are also determined to follow their own dreams.