Ending a love affair with money

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life – unless I buy something” – Jackie Mason (comedian).

When I was a kid I loved watching ‘It’s in the Bag‘.

I would yell at the TV “the money, the money” or “the bag, the bag” and feel my excitement swelling as the contents of the bag were revealed.

That might just have been the start of my love affair with money – and all the good things money can buy.

My family wasn’t rich and we couldn’t afford fancy stuff. We had what we needed. There was always money for school trips, gymnastics, music, drama, but I still remember feeling anguish at not having ‘the right’ shoes or clothes.

I started earning money in my early teens. I did a pamphlet run, then a paper run at the same time, then served and mopped floors at the local dairy and rolled ice creams at the cinema. I filled up my hours after school and on weekends. The more I worked, the more I could earn. Bingo.

It didn’t matter what I needed the money for, or whether I needed money at all. It was exciting watching my bank balance grow. I still remember the pride at my $2,500 bank balance when I left school at 17.

At 18 I had my first full-time job as a junior reporter on a provincial newspaper – I was on the career ladder!  And I’ve largely defined my success by my job title, my pay packet, and my productivity, ever since.

I share this because my kinder life is the circuit breaker. I’ve made the confronting and unconventional choice to give up my job security, earn nothing and do less, for who knows how long, but let’s call it a year.

It’s not a decision I took lightly. And it’s not easy to explain. Since giving my notice at work, I’ve brushed off questions about how I’ll make ends meet. “I’ll be fine”

But there’s no escaping that people want to know. I was asked on social media today how I plan or budget for my living costs, how much I needed to save, and whether I intend to work part time to make ends meet.

The best answer I can give is that I’ve worked hard and I’ve saved hard for close to 30 years and can get by for a year.  I don’t need as much as I’ve been earning, as a single person receiving the same income as people with families to support. I’ve always spent more than necessary, and this year I will live on less.

I won’t be doing paid work but I will be thinking about the sort of contribution I want to make in the world, and how I can do that, and earn enough to live on at the same time. My vision is to create a social enterprise – a business with a purpose that is embedded in doing good, and that pays me what I need. I have lots of ideas for that, but no plan.

I think we can all create the kind of life we want without giving up work. I’m not encouraging anyone else to quit their jobs, but I do encourage you to think about what you want more of in life, and what it will take to achieve that.

Whenever I ask myself what I want more of, I want more time and freedom and I want to make more of a contribution. It’s never anything that money can buy.

Yet, I’ve kept working, kept building my career, kept earning, kept saving.

I save for holidays – but everything I want in a holiday is right here. Friends, yoga, reading, cinemas, great walks, my kayak, my bike.

I save for retirement – but why wait for retirement when I may never need or want to retire? If I could use this year to create the kind of life that I never want to retire from?

And what about the contribution I want to make? When would I move from having ideas to having a plan if I kept being too busy making money to create my kinder life?

The working, the earning, the saving… I can now see that it’s been an addiction for me. This year I’m going cold turkey.

For the first time in my life, I’ve chosen the bag. I’m so excited to see what’s inside.

And what if it’s a bag of lemons? I’ll make fantastic lemonade.

Yours with abundance,

Christine.

 

Afterword:

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Money is sooo addictive! I find it funny how it is really such a imagenary thing, get it has so much value placed in it. Time and money, made up and yet for most people they are their biggest concerns in life.

    1. Isn’t it fascinating how almost everything that we concern ourselves with the most is imaginary! Thank you for sharing such an insightful perspective Laurna 🙂

  2. I’ve thought of this blog several times since reading it yesterday. I also had a simple childhood that gave me a sense that money was precious, and as an adult, I’ve got a kick from paid work. I felt proud when I started paying tax; it meant I was supporting myself and contributing to buy the things that our community needs and uses everyday. I don’t feel guilty about buying nice things but I will always buy well because I like things that endure and I want to know that my purchase is enabling people to have good jobs so that they can pay tax and support themselves. But….! I’m aware that I’ve now got all that I need. I want to manage that by giving away more to organisations that I know will use it for good. I think the trick is to find the work that meets your needs of your finances and your soul.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply Vic! I am very inspired by the way that you think about your income from the perspective of what you are able to contribute to others with it. So awesome :-). Thank you!

  3. Great to catch up with what you are doing. I am going to work on turning I can’t into I can.

  4. Christine, of all my friends, I’ve always thought you were most similar to me financially. But where you are now is where I’ve been striving to be since giving up “work” 7 years ago. I’ve done well -and having reached my goal of passive income (albeit a modest one), I was hoping for more time for me and also community work. But do you think I have any time? No, because I’m still focused on making more money. Hopefully once I’ve completed my latest project I can focus on a kinder life for me. And you will be my inspiration. X

  5. Christine, what a fantastic journey you are on. It is wonderful that you are sharing it with us.

    Let me know if there is anything we can do to support your plans for a social enterprise. We have some great tools and workshops that might provide you a pathway.

    Ngā mihi nui, Lou

    1. Thank you Lou – I would definitely be keen to check out your tools and workshops for social enterprise. Thank you!

  6. Hi Christine , over xmas i decided that i had done my dash working and whilst by no means wealthy decided to try like you and like for a year or more on savings and a little passive income. I decided to play an active part in raising ny grandkids and went nack to university to finally learn something just for the sake of it and not to further my career. So far so good and I look forward to following your journey over the coming year

    1. That is so cool. Thank you for sharing Pete! It’s inspiring to hear from others making the same decision and I’m so pleased it’s going so well for you 🙂

  7. I love the bravery you have shown in doing this Christine. Could I do it? I don’t think so but you are certainly making me think that I wish I could!

  8. Hi Christine! I stumbled across your blog via a post on linked in.. its been many years since we last saw each other (40 Cuba St!).. Life is for living and enjoying and too often do we get caught up in the daily grind of work, earn, spend (repeat repeat)… I will be following your journey with interest (and admiration!), all the best 🙂 x

    1. So awesome to hear from you after all these years! The reconnections have been one of the coolest things about my kinder life so far :-). Thank you for your support – I’m stoked to have you with me! X