Saturday, 26 January 2013

Lessons in abundance courtesy of Wilkins Micawber

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result: happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result: misery"

Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I've had this quote rolling around my head for a couple of weeks. I have been thinking a lot about abundance. It's a word that's thrown around sections of the blogging community with what seems like wild abandon. And I'm not really sure I know what it means. Or at least what it means to me. I'm pretty sure that when I'm vision boarding or asking the universe for stuff that I'm supposed to be requesting abundance. Along with the perfect pair of skinny jeans. And the perfect vintage leather jacket. And a never ending supply of Cadbury's mini eggs.

When my relationship imploded four years ago I had to move back home to my parents, finding my own place to live was an impossibility since I was at my over draft limit and my credit card was... well. Let's just say it wasn't good. It feels quite hard to admit that. I think a dysfunctional relationship with money is quite a modern problem and the shame surrounding it is something we don't discuss very often.

Anyway, I lived with mum and dad for a year and saved my arse off. I eventually found myself a fantastic flat as well as financially solvent and sensible. But it is reaaaaally hard at the moment. I have a full time job and I also teach five hours a week. The classes take about ten to fifteen hours of my own time to plan. I am also trying to justify calling myself an artist. If it gets to the end of the month and I have £20 left in my account it feels like an Olympic games sized victory. If I'm £20 overdrawn I feel irresponsible, frivolous and lacking in all areas. The shoulds start to crowd in.

I Should have a better paid job by now
I Should have a fabulous boyfriend to help me out with all this stuff
Should I even still be renting at my age?
I should be able to manage my finances so that my mum isn't gifting me care packages of Persil and Cilit Bang at the end of the month

Oh, it's really fun in my head right now.

The thing is, the difference between victory and failure is roughly £40. A mere forty quid. That's quite a small margin. And it's the same with the my perception of time and how much I have for my own work. I've been thinking over the last couple of weeks that if I could just claw back my Thursday evenings for painting that would make a massive difference. That's three hours. Just three hours. When I have to get up for work my alarm is set for 7.30am. It's a Herculean effort to schlep my way across cold Victorian tiles to the shower. I'm grumpy most of the morning and tend to take it out on the Tesco's self service machine ("Please take your items" "Yes! I know! Give me a fucking chance!"). On a day off I naturally sleep until about 8am and it feels like the biggest luxury in the world. So the difference between swearing in supermarkets and approaching the day with a zen-like attitude of calm and acceptance comes down to thirty minutes. Thirty minutes people.

I'm not sure if it makes me feel frustrated or hopeful that I'm dealing with such small margins. Apparently abundance isn't about a luxury cruises, although it can be I suppose. I just need to find thirty minutes extra sleep a day, £40 a month and three hours a week. And that's it. It's about having enough. And a little bit left over. And it's about being hopeful too. As Micawber himself says something will turn up.


  1. I'm here from susannah conway's blog. this is really honest and powerful and exactly what I needed to hear today. thank you :)

  2. Hi Fiona, thank you for stopping by and commenting! I've just been reading your blog and your writing is very beautiful and evocative :)

  3. It’s good to know that you learned a lot from living a frugal life and that you were able to be free from debt. I think that it is better to remain being frugal once you have started it because it is healthier and also it would be good to have money saved and set aside which you could spend some time in the future when you need it.

    Hershel Duffey