A Little Aside Which Every Woman Should Know About

September 1, 2017

They say that money makes the world go around. But that said, money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. My mother always said it was made flat to stack and yes, if it was all that easy, and flippant, us girls would be permanently on a lilo, wearing shades, somewhere warm.

I’ve always earned my own money. I first experienced the joy of being recompensed for my labours as a 14 year old girl. Getting that cash was a motivator; the inspiration to turn up again and again to be rewarded with the stuff that could buy me the things which were then important. The headbands, the Madonna tube skirt, hoop earrings and other truly vital things a girl of that age requires. The work didn’t generate too much stress. It was an easy transaction in those days. Do the manual jobs and get the cash. All quite satisfactory.

Then you get a bit older and you can see that you are going to end up like your mum and dad where you actually need to choose to DO something, for a long time (maybe even the rest of your life) and for that you will get paid something. Parents and other close relatives constantly remind you to choose something which earns you a lot of money and, in the absence of doing that, perhaps it would be wise to marry well, they joked. Those were views of the last century of course, the 80s and 90s. Maybe not so different now in some quarters. But in truth, the women in my family were always keen to send another message about making it yourself. And while conversations around the
importance of being financially independent came from my mother, it was my grandfather, in his infinite wisdom and guided by his deep heart, who pulled me aside quietly to remind me, “Always have some of your own put away.”

I could write of the wage disparity women face which ranges in its financial treachery from utterly dreadful to the mansplaining explanation of “What are you women complaining about?” But this is not my message right now. Nor is my message about doing what you love, but can I tell you working each day, following your passion, makes the whole thing a lot easier. I was reminded recently, by a very astute and esoterically genius woman I have the pleasure of knowing, of the quote by Virginia Woolf regarding the need of money and a room of one’s own in order for a woman to be able to write fiction. I think this sentiment rings true in a broader sense. As women, we find ourselves as part of the cogs of the economy. The rest of the world is thus designed around the fact that women are required in the workforce. But within that design no one thought of the unpaid work that us women carry, which in turn carries the world. That of the family, the community, the household. What does that mean?

After our day’s work, it is still mainly the women who are making the dinner, getting the clothes washed, folded and put away, while bringing the household to a hush at the end of the night, children tucked up, lights off, falling into the fresh sheets that we put on the bed earlier.

And through all the noise of that, that busy stuff we do as women, those crowded hours, I am reminded of my grandfather’s words. About having some put away. “For what?” I used to ask him. And he would tell me, explain to me, little examples of where it would prove beneficial to have a ‘take off fund’ either to flee a situation that was no longer suitable, or to just take a holiday, or to purchase the thing which was important.

Since those words I have always subscribed to the ‘Piss Off Fund’ (my words, not his). A little money aside which could save the day, which could change everything. But for many it’s so hard. Some need to be able to hide it or go without the basic things just to set it aside for a rainy day. Then where to put it? In a pocket of a jacket in a wardrobe? Given to a friend for safe keeping? A separate bank account?

A little each time, as much as you can possibly afford, for the purpose of knowing you can use it to bring change, allow yourself a new start, change jobs, whatever.

We pay more for our clothes, our hair and other services yet get paid less despite our capabilities. if we can just pause for long enough to put away even a dollar, more if able, to keep ourselves in the game, it would make a difference. I implore you to get cosy with your money, even if you have little.

Put effort into making it work for you instead of the other way around. Be attentive, scrimp sometimes, or often, or whenever, but get your head around it and get good at it. Commence your runaway fund, your special thing account or your sabbatical to start that ‘new career’ nest egg. Just ensure you make that start to set it aside; quietly and with purpose. Simply because you can.

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