Rory and his mum tighten their belts.

The next few weeks Rory and his mum tightened their belts as much as they could. They knew that they had one more pay packet coming in a months’ time and then they didn’t know when or where any more money was coming. They had never been big spenders but it’s so easy these days to spend money and not realise. The first thing they did was cut up their credit card. They are easy to get so they knew they could get another one when they were OK again.  Its too easy to spend when you don’t see the money as you spend it.

‘Do you remember that coat I bought mum? £60.00 in three payments interest free.  Much as I love the coat, I wouldn’t have bought it for £0.00 if I had seen it in a shop.’

Mum smiled. She suggested deleting their amazon account. Again, very easy to spend lots of money without realising it.  Rory agreed. They exchanged a look and smiled.

There had been an online series with a fella called Simon, he ran a series called Wednesday Wisdom. One of his videos had talked about waiting for 24 hours before making any important decisions. That would work with money too.  It would stop emotional impulse buying.  If you still want it after 24, or even 48 hours then you might actually need it.  Then, and only then, consider buying it.

Talking and supporting each other and celebrating ‘not spending money’ will make the hardship a success. We all like to feel appreciated.

Isn’t that called ‘reframing’. Making a negative a positive. Bit like saying ‘I just don’t smoke anymore’, rather than saying ‘I’m giving up smoking’. Giving up is hard to do.

Make a positive out of a negative.

Rory had also seen a you tube video that had suggested keeping a record of everything you spend can also help you spend less. He suggested it to his mum and she agreed to that too. She went and found a notebook. She had a stash in a cupboard, always a favourite present if you don’t know what to get for someone.

There’s little to be done about essential living expenses, rent or mortgages and food and bills just have to be paid, however limiting the ‘extras’ can make a massive difference.

Mum got a little edgy as her last day at work approached, but she had also watched the progress she and Rory had made since they sat down and decided to take control their expenditure.  They had spent 30% less in the last three weeks. With what they already had saved, which wasn’t much, they would last for at least 6 weeks from the day her last pay packet came in. Knowing exactly how much it cost to live was comforting.  

And she and Rory had got closer than they had ever been.

They had a common goal, survival. They shared their progress at the end of each day. They both looked forward to their ‘meeting’ after dinner.  They celebrated everything they hadn’t spent, monitored everything they had to spend and looked for any other ways to cut costs. Rory went through the jobs section on the internet diligently, and they discussed any job that they thought they could apply for, discussing each other’s skills as they went.  We are all often better at recognising other people skills rather than our own. 

Rory had never really job searched before, he wasn’t sure he would have enjoyed doing it on his own, but as a shared activity with mum it was fun, as was filling out application forms.

‘Hey fam’, said Rory.

‘Mum’, said mum. ‘Mum’. She smiled. Even our favourite people are annoying sometimes.

‘Mum’, said Rory, ‘how do you fancy being a posty? They’re looking for more Xmas is coming?’

‘You could apply too Rory’, said mum.

‘Wow, do you think we could work together?’  He said laughing.

Mum smiled and held his hand. Rory smiled back.

This was tough, that nagging worry never completely went away, but they were loving meeting the challenge head on together.

They had kept up this routine, checking the pennies and searching for jobs they thought they could do for a fortnight when Rory almost summersaulted on the spot in the room.

‘Mum’, he went to shout, but when he opened his mouth, nothing came out at first. ‘m……..’

Mum felt her heart miss a beat and try to do cartwheels in sympathy.

‘Mum, I got one, I got one, I got one.’

A few minutes later, he had managed to sit down, mum held both his hands in her lap and looked him in the eyes. ‘Which one Rory?’

‘Tumbledown Foundation. Working with kids…’.

Hope is huge…

Simon Pollard     Urban Countryman          November 2023

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