I now have £5.24 left in my purse, all in coins. There isn’t a single note left from the pile that I withdrew on 28th July. Admittedly, I am still waiting to get some back from other people, but even so I have pretty much spent up. The last bit of spending was giving £2 to my cousin’s little boy for popcorn at the cinema and then about £10 at our meeting house’s garden party yesterday afternoon (I lost count after all the cakes, games and stalls, but I do know that I came home with several pairs of 1960s stockings, two vintage glasses for my collection and a box of Maltesers – the prize for winning the ping pong game).
Keeping track of my spending for the last few weeks has revealed a lot of things. I have actually seen where my money has trickled away to: lunches, odd groceries, presents & collections, charity boxes, a coat, my beauty appointment.
I’ve also realised a lot about my wider relationship with money, even though I haven’t been actively counting every single penny that my wage packet goes on. I’ve noticed how ungenerous, how mean, I feel when I don’t give more to charity. The odd few pence in a collection tin gangle away in my conscience: I want to pledge more. One of my few goals in life is to give 10% of my income to charity every year. At the moment, I give 2.5% – I have a long way to go. I’ve learnt that I can do a lot more and, more crucially, that I want to do a lot more; giving feels hugely important – more important that £5 on some pasta for lunch when I could be more organised and take something from home. I know that I need to have a long, hard look at all my finances and re-jig, re-organise and – most importantly – re-prioritise.
Closely linked to this revelation is the sense that the money I spend bears very little relation to my priorities and values. Lots of what I do, lots of what means the most to me, doesn’t cost any money. The majority of my socialising this month hasn’t involved spending cash. Today I’ve been to morning meeting & I’m off to a tea party this afternoon; my idea of a perfect day, yet it has no relationship to the monetary value of such events. This is a good thing, although it has been a shock to discover. Despite my desire for simplicity, I still equate money spent = good time had. This clearly isn’t the case and August 2011 has been the month in which I fully realised this lesson. And it’s still only the 21st.