(Sometimes) we have nothing

“Hi honey, welcome home. I got the text today”

We’ve run out of money. ‘The text’ refers to the one from the bank telling us we’ve reached the end of the overdraft. I get paid on Monday. It’s Wednesday evening.

My plan had been to get the food shop done tomorrow and then it would be ok; any extra costs would be swallowed up over the weekend by my pay on Monday. But it’s half term, I had to take the car to the garage, the middle child’s feet suddenly grew. You know, life just happens and it generally costs money.

We’ve never had spare cash but this situation of no cash is getting all to familiar. The biggest issue being our high rent. We now live on a yearly income for our family of 5, that after tax, see’s half of it go on rent.

We have to work out out how to get through the few days of nothing or rearrange plans to suit the cash flow. I lost a filling a month ago and I’m waiting for another month to book into the dentist as the car needed fixing this month and last month I needed new glasses.

I have spent a long time carrying around this inbuilt shame/guilt about money and our lack of it. I can’t really put my finger on it but I used to want to cover up how much we struggle. It’s feeling like a child amongst adults perhaps? when you can’t afford things. And by things I mean food and bills. I think that perhaps it also ties in with what ‘poor’ looks like. We don’t fit into a stereotype and somehow this can make it hard to have people see it. I think this then adds to a feeling that this shouldn’t be my situation.

But when I evaluate this shame that I carry, it makes no sense. We work hard and always have. We may not have chosen professional careers or high paid roles but what we do matters and provides and we are good at it. I know that my wage could be much better but it’s more than the minimum, so why should I feel wrong about it. The fact that rent and bills and food prices are so astronomical is not my fault.

And in the realms of honesty it really gets me when people suggest they are in the same boat, that they understand when they are not and they don’t. Maybe it’s comes from more money induced awkward feelings; perhaps it’s easier to say “oh yeah I know, we’re finding it really hard too” than just sit with the difference. Just accept that some have more than others and that’s ok. Because it is.

We don’t want sympathy and we certainly don’t need pity. We get it, life is different for all of us. Some of us started a work path earlier than others and so now earn more, some of us had help to buy a house and so have lower payments, and some people trained hard for well paid professions, and that’s great. Really. But sometimes it can feel like the comments meant to empathise with our situation can actually come loaded with judgement. How have you got in this situation? Why didn’t you get on the property ladder when it was affordable?

Let me be clear that there are many who are sincere and supportive. To those, I thank you.

I guess I feel that if we were all a bit more honest about money then some of this awkwardness and feelings of judgement would disperse.

Anyway, for now we just have to manage, get through to Monday. And, for a few weeks of the next month, we’ll be ok.

I guess my overriding point is this: being poor/financially struggling (whatever we call it) takes many forms. Like any other stereotype it doesn’t always fit the mould.

I am a 37 year old married mother of 3 who works full time. We live on an income that used to be ok and now is too low and sometimes we have nothing. We’re ok with this (well, we manage) but sometimes it would good for others to accept this too.


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