Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London

I have no idea where my money went. I really haven’t. Looked in my wallet to buy a drink last night, and I was out. I must have spent a few quid celebrating Liverpool beating Bayer Laverkusen, but that does not account for the whole £50 I got out on Monday morning. Meetings all week, I guess I have bought lunch & tea out a few times, and maybe I bought people drinks too.
Bit of a shock though – just when I though this challenge was getting easier. I stopped thinking about what I was doing, and I have spent my £50 in three days.
We were talking about how we tend to be a bit delusional about how much money we actually spend, and imagine it is considerably less than it actually is. We forget to include the things we stick on the card, the one off things like shoes or clothes which actually come up far more than we imagine.
Actually I have just remembered a big chunk of cash has gone on food – had people round, no time to cook properly, got pizza in. Duh. Can’t do that on this budget. Still that is only part of the problem. Generally not thinking what I am doing is the major issue.
No cash for my day off tomorrow. Sounds like fun!

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6 thoughts on “I have no idea where my money went. I really haven…

  1. sjm says:

    Day 35 & 36 – Friday 25th & Saturday 26th March

    So here we are, it’s after midnight on Saturday (GMT and BST) which means the Lent poverty challenge is officially at an end. Although I must admit I’d stopped after Good Friday as I was off to Old Trafford today to watch England vs. Northern Ireland and couldn’t really fit that in budget. (I’ll let you decide if it was worth it when it cost approximately £20 per goal scored against us.)

    Didn’t quite do all I hoped this last week. Got the form to claim back the tube fare when I forgot my travelcard (actually it’s really easy to do, really should do it more often!) so the last week is looking even healthier than it was. In fact once I’ve claimed back the fare I can even afford to get that suit. But there’s a nice symmetry about that as I started the challenge with a suit at the dry cleaners and I’ve ended with it there. Everything as it was.

    But the one thing that I didn’t do (WARNING – RANT COMING) was to register with a library. As I said I tried before on a Saturday in Stoke Newington and went to try again on Good Friday at Essex Road. Even went so far as to get a bill with my address on it in case they proved to be as difficult to register for as Blockbuster. But guess what, it was shut all Easter weekend. What is that all about? I mean what is the point of offering a public service and then shutting it when those of us who work might actually want to use it? What’s the point of just opening these things 9-5 on Monday to Friday? Hello, some of us do have jobs, some of us can only do weekends and bank holidays. I ask you.

    Rant over.

    But 5 weeks (for me) of living on minimum wage later what exactly have I learnt? Probably the key things are:

    – I never really been poor, just pretending to be. I’ve had two holidays in the middle, had the opportunity to end it all whenever I wanted, was able to tell people about the challenge as it’s not as embarrassing as admitting that you’re really poor, and working means I get a lot of free perks anyway. Let’s be honest here I’ve done nothing like actually living on £50 a week and I shouldn’t pretend that I’ve really walked in another man’s shoes. Just the same shoes as always but with a slightly tighter fit.
    – Unexpected things are what get you. You can plan and budget all you like for food, going out, clothes etc. but what really gets you is the unexpected blips. Losing glasses, the car breaking down, bags breaking or whatever. They’re when things get difficult.
    – Generosity. What really helped me out was other people’s generosity. Buying drinks, lending me stuff, cooking me food etc. I’ve always been rubbish with this but if nothing else I’ll have to improve to pay back those who assisted me

    And this shouldn’t be the end. Now comes the hard bit of actually putting these learnings into practise. As we’ve said plenty of times before there’s no point doing all this if nothing changes. I’ve not really thought post-Lent what’s going to happen but if my behaviour doesn’t change this has all been just an exercise in self-discipline and ultimately a waste of time. So what should it lead to? I’m open to ideas but some initial thoughts are:

    – Giving. Most obvious. I don’t need all this money so can probably give more of it
    – Fasting. Maybe not full fasting but it might be interesting to see what I do spend on life’s luxuries (coffee, beer, eating out). If we ever need to raise money if we all just clubbed together and gave up, say, Lattes we probably could raise a bit from that
    – Action. Christians against poverty has featured large during Lent in my thinking and others as well. Is there more we can do in helping people and creating change in society?
    – Generosity. I’ve got stuff, why not share it around more?

    I’m putting these up there as initial thoughts and also to challenge me. Perhaps using the theory if I say them and put them out there then somebody can challenge me on them later.

    So we’re not the end but rather the start. God’ richly blessed me, and probably most of us. He’s called us to be a sharing community than help and care for each other. He’s also called us to reach out to those around us and help the poor and needy, to stand up for justice and righteousness. This has got to help shake me from my comfort zone and move more towards where God wants me to be.

    Let’s hope this blog is here in a few months time when I might need reminding again of what I’ve learnt.

  2. sjm says:

    Day 32 – Tuesday 22nd March

    Well thankfully my money has stayed firmly in my pocket this weekend. Partly due to us not winning a Grand Slam or a Championship (count yourself lucky Garmon you’ve only had to wait one lifetime between Slams, my dad can’t even remember the last Irish one). Partly due to the fact I was driving back after the Liverpool vs. Everton match so couldn’t celebrate that. But mainly due to the fact I was with my parents. They’re great, pretty much paid for everything over the weekend so it was very cheap indeed. Mind you did have to listen to tales of how little they lived off when they were kids and they lived through rationing so you can imagine they went on some time. Still a small price to pay, literally and metaphorically. However, can’t really count the weekend as part of the challenge as the petrol / tickets / hotel would have wiped out most of total Lent bidget never mind this week!

    And so we’ve come to the final hurdle. Feels a bit like the last week of Big Brother this week (hey I’m generation X and so all my references will be this futile). You know where all the interesting stuff is over and all everyone is really thinking about is when it will end.

    But there are a few pieces of unfinished business (no, not that suit at the dry cleaners – still there though):

    Tube ticket – like a muppet left my tube pass in the office over the weekend so had to pay the fare in on Monday morning. Ordinarily I’d think nothing off it and let it ride but there’s a pint in there if I claim it back. Must get on the case…

    Library – I remember thinking back in week 2 about joining one and still haven’t got as far as signing up. Tried the Stoke Newington one but it doesn’t open Saturdays. Come to think of it I’m not 100% sure it opens any other day now. Oh, Amazon is so much more convenient.

    Free London – One trip to the Natural History Museum and that’s it. Perhaps I can get a few more in over the bank holiday weekend.

    So perhaps there some things I’d still like to do. There are even maybe even some things I’d like to try beyond Sunday.

    And did I ever really answer the question satisfactorily as to how this will really help the poor once it’s over? Hmm.

  3. Garmon says:

    The Famous 3 Kings and Brains SA brewery have unfortunatley taken most of my spending money this week, but I don’t care! What price can you put on celebrating a Grand Slam? (It feels good, by the way Steve!). Now that we have waited 27 years for a Grand Slam, I’m now expecting several to come in quick succession… CYMRU AM BYTH!

  4. sjm says:

    Day 29 – Thursday 17th March

    Pay day bonanza

    We’re a stupid lot us humans aren’t we? We blow all our money which means we have to scrimp and save until the next pay day and what do we do then? We’re so grateful we’ve got some money, and are so fed up with saving, we go out and treat ourselves. Which means we go short, have to budget, get fed up, next pay day arrives… You see where I’m going with this.

    I remember doing it all the time as a student. Grant cheque arrives – everyone goes out. Even more so in the early days of the job, Friday after pay day everyone went down the pub. And now I realise the same thing is happening again. From Monday on it’s frugality, with cheese sarnies and tinned soup all the way. Then come the start of the Lent week it’s nice lunch from the canteen (yes, in the old days going out and beer was a treat now it’s a salad bowl and a Lamb Curry – beware you too will be 30 one day).

    Mind you it is dull to live off £7 a day. So is it better to live a life with peaks and troughs rather that a continuous treadmill?

  5. sjm says:

    My Day 28 – Wednesday 16th March

    Yes, I’m afraid your break (and mine) is over and I’m back on the Poverty Challenge. Actually I’ve been back on it since Sunday but a combination of feeling rubbish (about 70%, certainly not a 100% anyway) and that old favourite, work, have kept me away.

    So what is my musing this week? Well having had a sneak preview of the post-Easter experience I’m reminded off the old Waterboys lyric “If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor”. But in a positive light I also think if I hadn’t been so poor I wouldn’t have enjoyed the riches so much.

    Being allowed to forget about the challenge for a week really did make the holiday even more enjoyable. And I have to say the pleasure that some of life’s little luxuries bought me was slightly scary. (Think I was in the airport 10 minutes before I’d ordered my first Latte in over a month). The joy of being able to order a round of drinks without carefully working out the price of each drink first. The delight of being able to stop and get a crepe as a treat that you could later work off on the slope. The jubilation of eating out and getting what you wanted, not just what you could afford, from the menu. In short, not having to worry about the cost of every single thing for a whole, glorious week.

    But the downside was coming back to reality and having to re-learn how to be frugal. Also not helped as I had to finish of the week in which I’d spent a large chunk on a Mother’s Day present so it was more frugal than most! (Note – used the cheapest florist I could and the flowers in rubbish condition and arrived a week late. It is true what they say about getting what you pay for. Thankfully they’re sending a replacement bunch but my hopes aren’t high.).

    And just to rub salt in the wound I’d picked up a cold from a boarder on holiday (there really is nothing good about boarders). So that’s another few quid gone on Lemsips! Couldn’t even stretch to the flash Max Flu version which numbs all kinds of pain.

    I spent most of the first few days thinking I could just say I’ve failed it and go back to living normally. Or stretching my holiday period that little bit further. But as Mark said it’s not in the failing but starting over again. So in the end I knuckled down and got on with it. Even managed to resist the temptation of using my holiday period as an excuse to get my hair cut, buy new CDs and pick up the suit from the dry cleaners (yes it’s still there from week 2!).

    So here we are with the curtain down on another week and once more scraped under the bar – though only just this time. Only 84p to the good and even that was looking to be in peril until my boss decided to treat me to lunch today as it was my appraisal and we needed a discreet chat off-site. Hurrah! Spared from that old student meal of a Mars bar for lunch washed down with a bag of crisps.

    Now it’s onto the final full week and one last push. Except it’s all getting a bit disjointed again. Another couple of things booked pre-Lent in the shape of Liverpool vs. Everton this weekend and England vs. Northern Ireland the weekend after. The travel alone would wipe me out and the former is my dad’s birthday present so can’t really turn up as ask my parents to pay for everything! So looks like I’ll have to put it under the “learning to appreciate good things more during Lent” section. But of course I’ll be secretly grateful that it’ll give me a chance to break ranks once again.

  6. mark fletcher says:

    I actually had a really nice day off – not totally cash free – but pretty frugal. I took a couple of hours and sat in soho square and drew. Creative and inexpensive!

    “Shopping is not creating”
    Douglas Coupland

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