I used to have it all: a nice house, a reliable car and everything I wanted. I’d save money here and there sure, but I was about enjoying the money while I had it.
I always wanted the best for my children – I wanted them to go to a good school and have all the best things. We had good quality furniture but there were some times when we didn’t have enough money to put good food on the table. Looking back, I was more concerned with how my family looked to others, rather than how well-nourished they were or how much I put away for their future. I had credit cards and debts, sure, but I felt on top of things and even took on some part time work during the day.
Fast forward to me now at 67 and I have nothing to show for those years of work and collection of “things”. I ended up bankrupt at 40 and I still have no real clue how that occurred or how I could be so stupid. I just was a fool with my money and like I said before, material things were what I thought was important. Now, I live off the pension and have no car, no house and barely enough to get myself by. My super I did have I gave to my son to get by and I’m kicking myself. It’s almost as if I was going through life with blinkers on – I had no idea what I was doing and had no guidance money-wise.
The pension is barely enough to get by week to week let alone for the next however many years. I dread to think of my 70s and 80s where the cost of living will just get higher and higher and I’ll barely have 5c to rub together.
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My epiphany about money didn’t come until my daughter gave me a real wake up call. When I asked her why she didn’t have a nicer couch, she said “this one is fine!”. I remarked that it looked about 10 years old and she said “if anyone has a problem with how old my couch is, they’re no friend of mine”. I mused that perhaps a friend could comment on it merely because they didn’t like it but she stood firm and said that it didn’t matter in the slightest. It was a trivial conversation but I remember having a meltdown 20 years ago when some neighbours came for a Tupperware party and said my sofa lounge matched their curtains. I made my children’s father go out and buy another before our next party. It sounds stupid now but at the time, keeping up appearances was crucial. If you wanted to look the part, you had to play it… and pay it. I was basically poor behind closed doors but my God, I looked good!
My daughter came to visit last week and said she wished I could drive to her. It made me very upset because not only is it impossible for me to purchase a car now, public transport to visit her 30km away is the difference between dinner for me. If only I had saved my damn money instead of making inane purchases. I’m hoping that the younger generation can wake up to their spending habits before it is too late…. like it is for me.
Tell us, do you wish you had been more savvy with your money when you were younger? Is it hard to live off just a pension now?