Just as the next person, there are many things, concepts and ideas that make me uncomfortable or outright scared. Today I am going to share the big ones with you, in no particular order, and how they impact my financial life.
Becoming a parent, or not
The prospect of missing out on motherhood because I am 33, unmarried and without a solid plan or strong desire to have babies is a realistic one. And while I am not scared of having or not having children, I am in fact scared of spending my golden years thinking that I might have missed out on something important. There is a realistic chance that I’ll also be having too good of a time to ever think about it, but the unknown is the killer here. Paired with the ever-unwelcome societal pressure on women to get married and procreate, the whole concept makes for a reason to save some cash should I want to freeze my eggs (an intrusive, harrowing procedure if you ask me) in case I do end up desiring a biological offspring in the distant future. It’s not a cheap procedure which can only offer me one conclusion – if you want to take your time making big decisions, better be prepared to pay that waiting fee.
Do I, a financial blogger, think there is something wrong with people who have no money? Will I ever look down on a homeless person, a person working the minimal wage or a person who can’t secure their own financial future? No, because they deserve as much respect as you and me. But also no, I would not be willing to give up my lifestyle, freedom and comfort which my stable financial situation offers for a life where I have no such stability. While I am far from being rich, the mere concept of being situationally stuck, because that’s what poverty ultimately is, makes my spine crawl and not in a nice way. As I type this I am expecting somebody reading it only to yip about the white privilege, how I have no idea what poverty is blah blah blah so let me just say it. I am spending my waking hours dodging poverty because I know how it looks like up close and it looks remarkably like a prison. And if I don’t want to go to prison, I’d better have enough in my savings to pay the bail if I get into trouble.
How does that look like in quantifiable terms? Dave Ramsey will tell you to start with $1000. I’ll tell you to start with 3 months of your expenses. 6 months is better. A year might give you some peace of mind.
Us, humans made up the concept of time to help us. Well… holy sh*t was that a bad idea. Now we spend, pass and waste time and to make the exercise worse, we’re aware of it and the mere idea of ‘wasting’ my short life hounds me whenever I want to spend 5 minutes reclined in the sun. The cost to offset this fear it is simple – workaholism, unrealistic idealism, constant wanderlust and chase for more.
And the financial consequence…most of us spend our days trading our time for money, so that we can then spend the money enjoying the time where we don’t have to work. For some of us this means just chilling over a bbq (lucky bastards), for others it means chasing dreams, landscapes and experiences. I am in the later group and my average travel and experiences costs exceed £5k per year, and that’s travelling on budget. I therefore have no options other than to keep earning money to feed my lifestyle so that I don’t have to feel like I’m not living my life.
Overwhelming amount of physical possessions
Some people like stuff. Others like empty spaces. I am somewhere in between and live in constant battle between having too much and not enough. I don’t know exactly where this struggle stems from and why certain objects and the lack of certain objects can cause me angst or happiness, making the balance a little hard at times.
The financial side of this struggle is not too bad – I spend on certain items such as plants, but less so on physical objects such as clothes and decorations. If I need to move house, there is a limited number of possessions that needs carting around to wherever I am going and some I am happy to let go of. But even with the limited number, I am past the point where I could throw all my belongings into a single suitcase and not look back. The possessions I now find necessary to live comfortably and pleasantly are also a dead weight which could potentially keep me back from an adventure like moving abroad again. I’m not sure whether having to be responsible for objects is something I really wanted for myself when I was going into adult life (with a single suitcase and a passport). But regardless, responsible I am and it costs me just over £1000 per month to pay for the storage space known as my home.
The inevitability of losing my parents
If you thought moving out of your family home was scary, the mere thought of losing one or both of my parents in my mind can be equated to a face-off with a black hole. Not something that’s easy to prepare for, and it’s definitely going to hurt for a long time.
My parents live in a different country than I do. This means that if I want to spend time with them, somebody is getting on a plane. Even though planes are fairly affordable, the days of £12.99 return tickets are far gone and on average it costs me, all in around £200 in just transportation every time I want to see them. If I want them to see me, the costs double.
Aside from the obvious desire to spend time with my parents because one day they will be no more, there are other practicalities to consider – will they need long term care when they turn senile? If so, will their retirement income be enough or is there a need for me to contribute? Can they afford all the medication they might need, and at home care if that becomes a necessity in the future? How often will I want to visit them and for how long at the time?
The answer is ‘I don’t know’. And without knowing I prefer to have some savings for the occasion, even if they might be insufficient to cover all these potential costs.
I am scared of the numerous aspects of the climate change. But honestly the one that drives it home for me are the Asian hornets. Can somebody please tell me why these are now in Europe? I’m already uneasy about the local venomous insects, I don’t need another one in the mix. But the truth is they’re here and they are surviving winters because winters are no longer cold. In short, we’re f*cked.
Despite the simple fact that the climate change is caused by human activity (if you don’t believe this statement, you may exit this blog post now), our destructive activity does not stop just because we’re aware of it. So to limit at least some of the damage that my mere existence causes I opt for consumerism with limited impact – public instead of private transport, bio- degradable packaging, ethical clothing and accessories brands, tap water instead of bottled, dietary choices, moderation. And while certain choices, including a choice to forgo some things altogether, are a money saver, the ‘ethical’ label on a variety of everyday goods comes with a premium price tag leaving me in a balancing act.
Seeing myself as unattractive
I’m not particularly vain (I hope), but the truth is, I like to like myself. And this means that I want to like how I look, how I speak and what I know.
This comes at a price – when I hated the way I looked in glasses, I had a laser eye surgery. When I realised my smile is even worse than it used to be, I got invisalign. When I am unhappy with my body, I pay a nutritionist and a coach to help me get back to my happy shape. When my skin is dull, I get a facial. If I speak to people, I like to have things to talk about – this includes reading books, attending ticketed events and shows and generally keeping up with the culture. And all these expenses are necessary to keep me who I am, not counting the more trivial things like clothing and make-up. How much does this all cost? It’s hard for me to calculate a year-on-year, but in the last 5 years I spent well in excess of £25k on just feeling like myself. For some it’s nothing, but for others it’s a ridiculous chunk of money. I’ll leave the judgement to you.
That’s my list of the big fears concluded.
On the positive, there is also a bunch of things which don’t make me think that the world is about to cave in on me and they include, controversially, dying, taking serious risks, telling the truth bluntly (this will win me no friends in the English culture) and saying no to people.