This weekend we were supposed to be in France, enjoying an anniversary getaway. I had picked out a cute vacation spot in a small village I had been to once before, on the sea. So much fantasy, indeed. Life is currently so very different from my aspirations when I booked that trip. While I managed to get the AirB&B refunded, I only got the airport tax back from British Airways. I cancelled way too early in advance when it became obvious that we were not going anywhere. So our anniversary getaway cost two flight tickets anyways, for nothing, because they won’t refund the tickets, just the tax.
Instead of a romantic holiday, I have moved into our second bedroom, my small office, as I struggle with my mental health realities of being solely with my partner (and with not very much time apart) for the last 5 weeks as well as the symptoms of perimenopause such as hot flashes, depression, and general feelings of confusion and hot-temperedness. Both of us have also failed to see the trainer for 5 weeks now and suck at self-imposed exercise. It’s a lot of structure to lose. This on top of concerns about my partner losing his job. Even my skin has become angry, breaking out in a sun allergy from the amazing spring weather we have been having. I just feel the pits.
Aspirational is such a heavy word. I looked it up in the dictionary and the dictionary suggests that aspirational is about social status and wealth. I think I am aspirationally “happy” as in aspiring to be it and disappointed when things aren’t perfect (as they inevitably won’t be). There are all sorts of things that I think will (finally) make me happy: trips to France, intimacy with my partner, attention, flowers, new clothes, music. Life shouldn’t also involve estrangement, fighting, dishes, uncertainty, rain, pandemics, the unknown.
And of course, despite the pursuit of trying to be frugal because of the uncertainty, I have also spent far too much money on discretionary items and things to keep us sane and entertained and to feel “better” this month. They include home and garden, clothing, and self-care items: puzzles, books, 2 pairs of leggings (because, lets face it, who wears clothes anymore?), 2 t-shirts, 1 pair of actual trousers (I use this term generically to refer to stretchy pants that are not leggings but they still have an elastic waistband) so that I can go and walk the dog in the park (my special outing clothes, god help me), essential oil for the diffuser so I don’t have to go to sleep to the smell of bedroom farts (mine, his, and the dog), some plants and seeds, a cover for the plants, some bathroom paint, and some potting soil, etc.. I am trying to preserve my middle class life in spite of all this.
Total = 596.38
And that friends, is how you have exactly the wrong kind of financial month when you are trying to save for the unknown. That could have paid off a big chunk of our credit card or it could help us plan a new, makeup vacation once this is all over, or it could have bought a bunch of groceries, maybe even 2/3 months of groceries. It could have also seen us marching over that positive net worth line. But alas, I am far from being perfect.
We’ve been talking a lot and thinking a lot about the relationship between emotions, behaviours, and money. For the most part, I think it’s something that is missing in general in the discussions on FIRE. I found one website that had some information about money and mental health. Here are a couple of suggestion that I though are worthwhile:
- It could help to keep a diary of your spending. Try and record what you spent and why. Keep a record of your mood too. This could help you work out any triggers or patterns. Mine are feeling ignored, bored, abandoned, unsettled, and unattractive.
- When you understand more about your behaviour you can think about what might help. Sometimes just being aware of these patterns can help you feel more in control. Probably going for a walk or getting away from the computer so I cant buy things online.
- What about your triggers? Is it boredom that makes you spend? Something to do?
Let me know what works for you and how you are. Now is a good time for conversation not just likes.