Archive | April 2014

# 25 (2014) My First World Problem

Urban Dictionary describes ‘First World Problems’ as:

Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that

third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.

First world problems are the stuff of jokes. Of problems that aren’t really problems but minor inconveniences to people who have too much time on their hands. The things that the ‘rich’ apparently get wound up about are often petty are self gratuitous.

I live in the first world. My family history would describe me as middle class, although I currently identify as working class by my lifestyle and income. I’m planning to move house again, and as I always do, I am re-evaluating my finances. This is my OCD. And as I’ll be shopping for one I am reviewing my monthly food bill.

I go to one place to buy the contents of my fridge / freezer / cupboards. Over the last few years I have successfully managed to beat into submission any weakness to impulse buy or purchase anything that goes over and above the budget. And since I started at Uni in 2009 I have been spending £35 on my food bill every month.

Somehow that figure has remained the same despite the recession and continuing price hikes and drops. The fact that my pre-student body remains the same I put entirely down to the fact that my job involves very little exercise. Because eating this every month should be doing me some harm and in years to come, it probably will.

My shopping list

My shopping list

You may not be able to see all this list. If you are observant you will notice certain things.

No prepacked meals

No eggs (I have hens for that)

Many carbs – cheap and slow burn

No fruit – fruit is a luxury

No booze

No snack food

This is how I make £35 last a month whilst providing potentially three meals a day. I bake my own bread, all dishes are made from scratch and eggs, another luxury, come from the hens I keep which means costly foods like cakes, omlettes and quiche are not off the menu.

The point I am making is that some first world problems can also be third world problems. Not in the same way obviously, but there are millions of families in the first world who can’t afford to eat every day, or heat their homes like a lot of third world inhabitants.

I am stretching myself to certain limits but I know there are worse off than me. It’s all relative to the place you live.

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# 24 (2014) Space

The problem with being a live alone, home business, start up entrepreneur is finding somewhere to live. Those of us who can’t afford our own properties are crushed into fit to burst houseshares so that landlords can feather their nests and home owners can pay their spiralling mortgage costs. Finding a room big enough to fit a double bed, let alone work from, is a challenge.

Many of you might be thinking ‘well go out and get a proper job and then you could afford something bigger’. This may be true but having a ‘proper job’ is why I am now stuck here in my early forties desperately trying to do something more constructive with my life.

Because for all the money I made working in offices, my life wasn’t one long piss up strung together by a bunch of paychecks. I wanted to be remembered for something more than being a payroll number. I never wanted kids, or to get married. I wanted a business of my own, to be something more than just a worker in the hive.

I know that for a lot of people anything that pays the bills is enough, and that’s certainly true when you’re in your twenties and all you want is your own income. But when you hit your thirties, if you have any hint of individuality and expectation in your life, you start to wonder what it’s all about.

By then you are set in your ways and your spending habits and breaking the routine is difficult and scary though possible. But you pay a price. And it takes longer to get back up to where you were before, which is where I am now.

Whilst everything else slowly seems to be falling into place, space to work is a whole other issue that needs sorting. And in a town obsessed with houseshares and student accommodation, this isn’t an easy thing to solve.

# 23 (2014) Advice

Always keep spare change in your car.

Speak your mind. Keeping silent is more damaging than people knowing where they stand.

No matter how bad it feels now, it will pass and at some point you won’t quite be able to remember how bad you felt.

If in doubt, double check.

Don’t leave anything open to interpretation.

Keep three months wages safe in the bank at all times.

You are number one. Never be made to feel like you are at the bottom of the pile. If someone makes you feel like that, ditch their sorry asses.

Never be afraid to admit you were wrong or made a mistake. Learning from it is the bigger thing.

Use spreadsheets.

Know your bank balance.

# 22 (2014) Debt Free

Being debt free is not a status many of us can boast about. But it doesn’t necessary mean you’re quids in. And it’s not always a financial status you can enjoy.

What lengths do you go to to stay out of debt? What sacrifices have you made short or long term? Holidays, clothes, food, friends, a place you can call your own? I’m debt free but I’ve sacrificed everything for it and if I’m honest, I’m pretty sick of it.

But would I rather be spending and enjoying it. Probably not. Because at some point it catches up with you.