What Katy Louise Did...

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Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.

Friday 14 February 2014

Love your money (and yourself) this Valentine's

Happy finance Friday! Yes, it's also Valentine's day but I want to talk about cash, and why I've made Fridays my day to appreciate and care for my finances, both incoming and outgoing.

This all came out of the book I read over Christmas and New Year, called Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (Kate Northrup), which really got me thinking hard about my financial life up to this point.
Having just recently gone self-employed as a journalist and dance aerobics instructor teaching FitSteps, the new Latin and ballroom workout inspired by Strictly Come Dancing, my income has decreased rather rapidly. The savings I had in an ISA have dwindled faster than I expected, and so I've had to make major cut backs to my outgoings. However, I'm probably taking more care of my finances now than I ever have. Last year when I was earning around £2K a month, I thought nothing of buying shoes, holidays and clothes whenever I wanted. My outgoings were relatively low (sharing a home and bills), so I had lots of expendable income. If I wanted to join a salsa dancing group in London, I could. If I wanted to train with a professional dancer and perform in a showcase at Karen Hardy's prestige studio in west London, I could (and did! ) And while I don't regret a penny of the money I spent on dancing, it pains me to think of all the income wasted on things I didn't really need: salsa shoes I liked the look of but already had loads of; eating out when I could have prepared my own lunches; the bills I could have cut down drastically with just a few hours of research (i.e phone bill and dental insurance).
Having now been forced to be careful with my money, I've managed to cut down at least £150 a month, which I could have done last year but didn't because, well, it didn't' matter so much as I knew I'd be getting a nice juicy pay cheque again very soon.

Kate Northrup's book also gets you to look at your values around money and yourself. I completely identified with her when she spoke about not wanting to cut down on her spending to live within her means, as she viewed doing so as some sort of deprivation. I too felt that saving was 'boring' and I wanted to 'live in the now'. But I also realise a lot of that was coming out of the pain I felt back in 2011 at the sudden breakup of a fledgling relationship, which plunged me headlong into activities to take my mind and heart off the pain. I decided then and there that I had spent too much time, money and emotions on men, and it was time to do things for me. So, that is when I began my dancing adventures in London. However, I went OTT and tried to cram in too much, and spent pretty much all my disposable income on dancing whenever and wherever I could. I wasn't saving anything, or attempting to lower my £2K credit card debt. Kate showed me that actually, it's an act of self-care to live within your means. She came to the realisation that she was just trying to show off and live to a level that would make others think she was successful and happy, when all along she was plunging headlong into more debt.

Always putting things no credit...
When I looked at my own finances, though I wasn't heading more into debt, I certainly hadn't managed to get myself into the black. The £2K I put on a credit card TEN YEARS AGO to buy furniture for my first flat, was STILL THERE! OK, the original debt was paid off, but it got replaced with something else that cost £2K. Then as soon as that was almost paid off, I found a reason to add another £2K! So it was always the same. This was despite that fact that over those ten years, my income doubled and my outgoings reduced, as I went from living along to sharing a flat. So, there really ought to have been no excuse not to have paid off the debt. So why didn't I? Like Kate said, it was the feeling of not wanting to 'go without' and to enjoy myself doing what I wanted, however much it cost. Trip to Australia? No problem. Expensive holiday in Ibiza? You bet. Handbag for £300? Just stick it on the Amex and pay it later. I did this for years. And I've only stopped now because I'm self-employed, my ISA has almost run out, and thanks to prompting from Kate's book (Money a Love Story)

Finance Fridays!!!
So, why Finance Friday? This is Kate's suggestion, as when she first started to turn her life around from a £20K debt (mine pails in comparison), the very first action she took every day was to check her account balances. In the end she dedicated Friday to managing all her finances, so this is now what I do too. I log on to all my accounts, and write down the balances in a red diary, which I've saved just for financial matters. I give thanks for all the gifts that come my way, and pay my invoices with love. Being grateful for what we have, no matter how large or small, is one way to value ourselves, says Kate.

Why not show some love to yourself this Valentine's Day and give some special attention to your finances? Unlike the saying about 'the love of money being the route of all evil', it's the contrary: if you appreciate and show respect for money, it will show respect for you. Throw it away like there is no tomorrow, and one day it might run out. But, nurture it and appreciate it, like you would a plant, and it will hopefully grow and increase in size and value.

Katy xxx