I am delighted to say that it is just a month until my first book all about money matters – Spare Change – is published by Hardie Grant.
In the five years that I’ve been keeping this blog, I’ve come to realise that money is involved with almost every decision we make in life. So you would think that people of all ages – but especially young people starting out in their adult lives – would want to get their heads around the whole topic. In a perfect world, everybody would learn all the basics about personal finance so that they knew how to spend and save intelligently. We’d all take time to actively develop a healthy perspective on money, knowing exactly what we needed it for, guarding whatever we had earned and realising the futility of chasing any more than is really necessary.
Sadly, all too often we make money into a whacking great albatross that permanently hangs around our neck. Earning it becomes the underlying obsession that drives us forward in demanding careers that bring us no happiness. Spending it becomes the all-encompassing substitute for having real meaning, relationships and purpose in life. Squandering it becomes the reason we stay awake at night, ignoring our bills and final demands like they are computer viruses that we daren’t open.
But we aren’t entirely to blame for this miserable state of affairs, of course. There are constant forces around us working against decent (and I believe innate) notions of frugality, responsibility and simplicity. The list of pernicious influences on our money is endless but what I have particularly chosen to focus on in my book are the 21st century phenomena of a) FOMO-induced spending and b) debt as a lifestyle choice.
To the best of my knowledge, no other book (or indeed media outlet) has quite exposed the frenetic atmosphere of commercial temptation created by the modern media, social and otherwise. It amounts to a 24 hour stream of little nudges, little pushes on the shoulder to spend our money in order (we think) to reach a higher state of being. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, websites, magazines…mostly we see a better way of doing things (far better than how we’re doing it) and most of it can be bought for a price, sometimes very obviously displayed but at other times almost imperceptibly working on our subconscious, our most primal desires.
Never mind that what we see can be the tip of a rather ugly iceberg that threatens to sink our finances.
Then there are the alluring offers dropping on our mats and into our inboxes positively goading us into taking out debt (it’s no coincidence that George Osborne now fears a setback in the economy partly due to rocketing household debt).
When I started writing about money back in 2011, I was a near-clueless graduate trying to make a living in the toughest recession ever seen in this country. All that meant I had to get on a learning curve – fast.
I could have very easily succumbed to pessimism about my prospects. I could have thought “What’s the point in being good with money? It’s too late to learn now – I may as well live for today.” Many young people around me wish that things could be different – if only wages were higher, house prices were lower and water could actually be turned into wine…
But in the absence of quick and easy fixes, either politically or economically, the biggest difference we can make is going back to basics and becoming smart about money. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned since starting this blog and one I can hopefully share in this new book.
I’m really touched that Hardie Grant gave me an opportunity to write the book the way I wanted. It’s personal, light-hearted in places, more serious in others, but (I think) never boring, intimidating or preachy. It sets out to help YOU decide where you can make realistic changes that won’t doom you to nights in with the cat, rather helping you towards a fuller, financially sound life, free from worries about debt and snake oil salesmen trying to sell you unsuitable products.
Sounds good? If so, join my Spare Change campaign as your last New Year’s Resolution (if you can fit one more – or just the one! – on your list). I will be publishing extracts from the book over the next month until publication and keeping you up-to-date with all my appearances in the media, talking about this most important (and fascinating ) of subjects.
In return, why don’t you share your journey to financial harmony with me, right here on the blog, throughout 2016? I’m looking for your stories of financial improvement this year, whether it’s based on learning to budget for the first time or perhaps embracing minimalism, experientialism or one of the many new alternative lifestyle choices that doesn’t revolve around excessive spending.
I hope to offer prizes, shout-outs and general solidarity to anyone who gets in touch as a result of joining the Spare Change campaign. You can tweet about the difference it has made to your life using the hashtag #sparechange or you can email me at ionabain(at)hotmail.com.
So stay tuned and let’s make 2016 the year of your spare change…