You think I’d be used to it after over seven years of young kids, but I am still not very good at being financially dependent. In fact, I pretty much suck at it at times. I’ve just never got the hang of earning peanuts and relying on someone else’s income. Much as I love bringing up my kids and having the luxury of being able to work part-time, I miss the independent life of my youth sometimes.
OK, so my breadwinner isn’t just ‘someone else’, he is my husband and the father of my kids. And I don’t con myself that we were ever in a financially equal relationship. I’ve always earned peanuts, comparatively. I just used to earn more than I do now and they were my peanuts to do with as I wished.
I still work but these days it has to fit around my family. Two days a week for a charity hardly brings home the bacon. In fact, after the childcare costs have been taken out, there isn’t a lot left.
Most of the time, I deal with spending the old man’s money pretty well, especially when it comes to things the kids need. I happily wave the joint account card around to buy all the family stuff but it never feels like it is my money. Oh, how I miss having my money! I miss feeling like I could blow a whole month’s salary on a trip to Spain if the mood took me, and only have myself to answer to. I’m often told off for not referring to the pot of money as ‘ours’ but when you aren’t the one earning it, it is hard to see it that way.
For a while recently I had a little stash of savings that I dipped into for totally unnecessary things that I just fancied buying, or to spoil the kids when the joint pot was low. It felt so delightful to have a bit of cash in my own reserve that I could use as and when I liked, I can’t tell you. But it went. Money always does.
I don’t mean to make my husband sound like he is mean or holding the purse strings. He absolutely isn’t and he see us as a totally equal partnership. And we are hardly on the breadline. But we have three expensive kids to bring up, lots of things to pay for and we have to save up for a bigger house at some point, before we burst out at the seams of this one.
I get to buy myself clothes when I need them and to have nights out when I want them. But that all fits into my little budget each month. What I really miss is being free to blow some cash on something crazy, just because I want to. We still do the crazy thing from time to time but it isn’t my call. I don’t have control or, I have to admit, even much knowledge of the details of our finances most of the time. That is entirely my fault, I know that. But he is just so good at all the money shit, and I am so crap at it. I’ve slowly opted out over the years. Yes, bad me. I have only my self to blame for feeling all at sea with it all.
Spending money is just different somehow when the money is entirely your own. I miss that feeling.
I went out last Saturday in London for a fantastically decadent day of eating and drinking with some good friends. It was basically 11 hours of boozing and stuffing my face which, at London prices, cost me half my monthly budget in one day. At the time, I didn’t give two hoots. The next day, with a hangover and a tendency to have boozer guilts, I did a quick tally and felt rubbish. Now I’m gonna have to sub myself from the joint account later in the month. I basically drank the money we could have been saving. Ugh. Bad, bad Mummy.
At better moments, I know I basically have to shut the fuck up and get over myself. Who cares who earns the money, right? It is all ours, as my husband says, and it doesn’t matter who earns it and who does the staying at home bit. Much as I love to hear all that, I still haven’t worked out how to feel it.
Most of my mates who work part-time or not at all seem to think I’m crazy for caring. But maybe it is not really about earning less and more about having something of my own back.
My life is all about my kids and my family, which is the life I chose and as it should be. But I can’t help really wanting that little nest egg of my own, something to stick a flag in and lay claim to, to use in emergencies, like an urgent need to buy a totally impractical frock I may wear just once but that looks divine.
I know my desire for my own pot of cash is horribly unfair as everything my man earns automatically becomes ‘ours’. But I want mine to be ‘mine’. Selfish? Maybe. But there isn’t a lot of selfishness in my life these days. Being Miss Independent was so much fun. Is it so bad to want some of that back?