Maybe it’s because we’re nearing the end of a loooong month. Maybe it’s because, as summers go, this year’s weather has been a 3 out of 10 and the sun has only come out when I’ve been at work. Or maybe it’s because I’ve not been on holiday for a couple of years and the thought of lying by a pool with a book in hand is fast becoming a distant memory. Whatever the reason I’ve been thinking a lot about my finances recently, or, more importantly, my lack of. Money, career, happiness, a life well lived- these unique aspects are all intrinsically connected and, let’s face it, as adults we will spend our entire lives trying to get the balance right.
I can’t help but feel- whether I’m right or wrong- that money is at the heart of this. Money can’t buy you happiness but it can open up a plethora of opportunities. I’m going to try reign myself in- as I know that P will be wincing behind-the-scenes if I reveal too much- but I’m going to talk fairly candidly about money. We can be candid, right? Candid is good.
When I was in my teens I had a life plan. Well, an 18-30’s plan at least. (Life beyond 30 is totes boring to a 15 year old.) I wanted to go to university and have the time of my life. I wanted to move out and live with friends after university and be living with a boy by 25. I wanted to be marrying said boy at 28 and having babies by 30. And I fully expected to be starting my thirties on a salary of at least £30k, which, with inflation would be more like £41,400 today, according to this inflation calculator.
Excuse me whilst I laugh uproariously in to my laptop.
Ohhhh, it was all going so well. I did have the time of my life at university and I did flat share with both friends and strangers through my early 20’s. The boyfriend and I were a bit behind and moved in together at 26, but we have caught up and I shall be getting married in my last month of being 28. And, all fingers crossed, I don’t see why I can’t at least be pregnant by 30 if that’s what we decide to do. But the salary thing…? Yeah, I have massively flunked that particular life goal. The Sama ship is sailing miles wide of the pre-inflation destination, let alone the post!
Nope, I am 28 years old, I have a first class degree and was a straight A-grade student at school… and I have never earnt over £20k. Now is something wrong with that equation, or am I in fact living a better life for it? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
It’s important to point out that I am here through choice. With my A-level results I could have gone on to do a degree in Maths and become an accountant as my Mum so desperately wanted. Or I could have expanded on my writing skills (and my work experience at Bliss magazine, oh yes) and become a journalist perhaps. But no, it was drama and creativity that had stolen my heart and it was as an actor that I wanted to earn a living- always knowing that it was going to be a struggle but harbouring a secret fantasy that for me it would all work out.
A struggle it most certainly has been- with the most amazing highs and acting experiences being equalled by the most devastating lows (oh, the roles I have almost got). It’s an addictive business and easy to see why people remain as struggling actors for their entire careers… but it’s not for me. It’s taken five years but I’ve realised now that I don’t want to struggle forever; I want to succeed in what I do.
Which finds me here- in my late twenties and effectively ‘starting again’. The wedding industry was what excited me so last year I left the call-centre I was slowly rotting away in and got a job in one of the best bridal boutiques in the country. I have undertaken an incredibly inspiring training course with the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and have started this blog to make contacts, gain knowledge and find my voice- all of which I am achieving in abundance. Behind the scenes there is re-branding and technical wizardry going on and soon I will be ‘open for business’ as Utterly Wow Wedding Planning & Design. I know that success is not going to be instant, but I’m willing to take the risk. Well, I’ve been doing it for most of my working life.
But enough of the self-indulgent drivel and back to money. I am under no illusion that I am going to earn a lot of money from being a wedding planner, and do you know what? I think that’s ok. I say think, because it’s been rammed in to my head from an early age that I have to have a good job and earn lots of money. Not by my parents, but by my high-achieving girls school, by politicians, by the media. Women are equal, women should be earning just as much as men. You must go to a good university and get a good job and earn good money. The Suffragettes! Oh good lord, think of the Suffragettes.
Now, of course, without the Suffragettes we would be nowhere- we have a lot to thank for those incredible women- but is it really so bad to want to be the lesser-earning partner in a marriage? To opt to take the financial hit in order to be and enjoy being a good ‘home-maker’ and eventually a good Mum? I’m starting to think not. And although I would never want to be ‘kept’ (I couldn’t imagine not being able to contribute financially), I like the fact that Paul picks up most of the bills when we go out for dinner. And he likes the fact that I do most of all the laundry.
So where does Paul come in to all this and how does he feel about what I earn? Well, I’m pleased to say he has always been completely supportive of my career choices- first with the acting and now with the wedding planning. Friends since we were 16 we really have become adults together, and I, in turn, have been completely supportive of his goals and am unbelievably proud to have watched him go from a ‘not quite sure what to do with himself’ boy to a brilliant teacher and wonderful, well-rounded, ambitious man.
Would he rather I earned more money? Yes, he would, of course he would- we’d be able to go on holiday more often, for one! But would he rather I did something I didn’t want to do in order to earn more money? No, thank god, he wouldn’t. I asked him about this yesterday when I’d started to formulate this post in my head and he said ‘as long as you’re happy’, before contemplating this a moment and changing to ‘as long as we’re happy’. In other words, as long as together we are earning enough to eat nice food and live in a nice home and drive nice cars, then all is good. The day he has to sell his beloved Mitsubishi Evo to support my dream though, is the day that I can do one. And I think that’s fair enough.
Having said that, I’m at the beginning of a new journey, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope to earn more in the future than I do now. I like buying things far too much. But to believe that I’d be at my financial peak by the age of thirty is surely the ideology of a naive 15 year old, is it not? The future is bright, the future is
orange coral, and 40 is surely the new 30… or so I’m told any way 🙂