It’s quite a strange and insecure feeling to watch your bank balance drop continually, and to know that no more money is going to appear anytime soon.
In my adult working life, it’s not something I’ve experienced. Until now.
Not for the first time since I was made redundant in April, I’m feeling grateful that I grew up in a relatively poor family.
Among other things, it’s taught me some powerful lessons about making things go further and only buying what you know you can afford. My parents loved to warn us about the perils of “fly now, pay later.”
There’s certainly a confidence that comes with knowing you can live on very little if needed, because you’ve done it before.
But it also gives you a strong drive to work hard to avoid ever having to go without. It’s not the money that motivates, but rather the need for financial security. So you live well within your means and create a buffer to get you through a rainy day.
It’s because of that buffer that I didn’t have to panic when my job was cut, but that’s not to say this career break is without financial worry.
My redundancy in the 10th month of a financial year couldn’t have been timed much worse for me, or better for the tax man.
Then an online security scare in Spain forced me to cancel my credit card and shut down internet banking which, coupled with some poor service from a bank, later left me down to my last $20 or so with a couple of days to go in London.
Faced with decisions about how I might get by, it felt like a very small taste of what some people live with everyday. A friend in Australia helped bail me out and I know she will be reading this, so again: thank you!
Back home when I tried to fix this by getting a back-up credit card for future travel, I had another bite of reality. I don’t qualify for a credit because I’m unemployed!
This changed relationship with money came up in conversation when I caught up with two friends from Sydney in the past week. Coincidentally, they’ve both been made redundant in recent months.
One friend was under some pressure to find a job quickly so that she wouldn’t be forced to sell her house. Happily, she started a great new job this week.
Like me, the other friend grew up with little and had built enough of a buffer to be off work for a period. But she tells me that didn’t stop her from getting paranoid about money and going overboard trying to cut costs at home.
We all have different financial commitments and thresholds for feeling secure.
I wouldn’t wish redundancy on anyone, but it’s good to be reminded to fully appreciate your family, friends and good fortune in life, and not take anything for granted.
I will share more about this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mauritius soon. It’s with some special people who feel like family to me. I had planned to take leave without pay so that I could join them and in the end, that’s exactly what it will be!
I’ve also just confirmed plans to spend a month in Cambodia volunteering with a non-government agency that works to combat people trafficking and exploitation. Both the country and the cause mean a lot to me.
I am so grateful to two dear friends in Cambodia who have invited me to stay with them and helped make this possible.
Redundancy is definitely the rainy day I prepared for and I’m sure there will be further clouds ahead, but what I never would have anticipated were all the rays of sunshine.