Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Skint, Brassic and Broke in Blighty

Sometimes I dream of a world without money, where one could barter with services, exchange goods and do favours for friends. In my mind, it's a beautiful place. Of course, if on Saturday I win the lottery I'll change my tune completely. The moment the money hit my account I'd be prancing round like Liza Minnelli in Cabaret: "Money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round..." It would not be a pretty picture. Besides my lack of it, my biggest issue with money is that I don't understand it. Gold standards, exchange rates, inflation; these are all things that go straight over my head.

And then there are The Markets. What are The Markets, exactly? And how do they manage to buffet the little people around according to their evil whim? I physically can't comprehend how something that must have at one time been created by mankind, now rules over it. I hold my hands up and admit the there's much I don't understand, and I don't want to sound like I'm rubbishing the economic systems I know nothing about, but this is the full extent of my knowledge on the subject.

I'm writing this on the tube as I speed (I mean trundle painfully slowly) beneath the City of London, where the streets are paved with gold and a banker's bonus would pay off my parents' mortgage. Where dreams are made and payout records are broken.

I've read a lot recently about how deregulation of the bankers led to the economic crash in 2009 and, in a way, I sympathise with them. Perhaps, if when I first started on a regular salary I had saved some money, or at least budgeted, I would not be in the dire economic straits I am in today. But I was young, irresponsible and - as already demonstrated - completely and utterly financially naive. How could I say no when the bank offered to increase my overdraft? I thought it was free money. And when they sent me a credit card - the one that screamed USE ME every time I opened my wallet, how was I to resist? Other people did and do manage to resist though - and I envy their intelligence. I don't want to blame anyone but myself, but somewhere along the line I failed to grasp the true value of the coins in my pocket and the numbers on my bank statements. And, as with the banks, there was nobody there to regulate my epic spending levels.

Unfortunately, the taxpayer steadfastly refuses to bail me out; yet even so I am clawing my way slowly, but steadily, back into the black. It was a lesson I needed to learn, and part of me is pleased I went about learning it the hard way. I was ill-equipped to make any sort of financial decision and while I still don't understand the bigger economic picture, at least I've finally figured out my own.

Funnily enough, when I held my wallet upside down for the photo above, I found £1.46 I didn't know I had, and €0.20. So thanks TASG, for coming to my aid yet again!

Next instalment: Lauren vs The Dollar Bill


  1. You're not alone! I don't fully understand the world of high finance either. I just have my tiny investments and I just let them do what they do - I'm not that involved.

    Your wallet is hilariously awesome! Glad we could help you find some spare change! Is that even enough for the bus in London?

    ALSO! I got your letter today! So lovely! Thanks Tom!

  2. I don't understand the markets either.. or exchange rates.
    Every time I buy a lottery ticket my imagination goes into overdrive about what I would do if I won a huge jackpot. I need to check my tickets ASAP to stop my crazy mind and come back to reality. I get very discouraged when I do not win. Luckily, I only buy lotto tickets maybe 4 times a year.
    In reality if I won, I'd probably get crazy and paranoid... but it would solve all other problems :P

    Great topic this week TSG!

  3. Allison - no, it wouldn't even pay for the bus. But it was still a good find. Every little helps - it's but the first rung on the ladder towards being able to afford a bus journey! Sorry the letter was so late, and that my handwriting was so bad!

    Amanda - I think I'd get paranoid too. I definitely wouldn't have my picture taken for the papers. I'd rather slink off into a cave and wrap myself around my fortune like the dragon in The Hobbit.