Staring into the empty eyes of my fellow passengers on the central line this morning, I could barely stop myself from retching. Mum – before you frantically call me asking when my last period was, I can tell you that this sickness is coming from a different place. This wave of all-consuming nausea comes from, what I like to call, the money pit.
When I was 21 and desperate to escape home, I upped-and-left to Australia. I had this disillusioned pipe dream that I would carve my way as an esteemed journalist in Melbourne, as a trail of sun-kissed gentleman dropped to their knees each time I opened my very English mouth. In reality, I was unimaginably lonely, and probably very depressed, as I quickly accumulated a huge amount of credit card debt.
Three years later, and I’m still in debt. This morning, the money pit was regurgitating itself on me; I still owe Amy for those flights, and I’ve got to pay that standing order. When does the interest free rate on my credit card end? I need to top-up my Oyster card. I haven’t paid my bills yet, and I’ve hit my credit limit.
Shamefully repeating the figure of my looming debt, I could barely make eye-contact with Tom from Barclays, as I pleaded he help me find another interest free card to transfer my balance to; Tom, I promise, it’s not how it looks. Please, just give me 24 more months to subdue this feeling crawling up my oesophagus.
Living in London is supposedly a right of passage for any 20-something – if you’ve not lived in London, you don’t really know what living is. Bla, bla, bla. Cliché, cliché, cliché.
London can be an incredible place to live, but you pay a price – that price being your sanity and an entire month’s salary. I pay £760 for a room on the outskirts of Zone 2, living in a three-bedroom flat-share with one bathroom. That’s just the cost for a roof over my head, not accounting for the food I buy to survive. Then there’s my monthly £130 Oyster card, and the £150 I spend each month on physiotherapy for a fractured spine. Then I buy a pizza and an Aperol spritz, and before I know it I’ve bankrupted myself.
I read an article on the Sleeping Beauty Diet recently, a fad method where you essentially self-sedate to lessen the hours in which you can eat. Unable to get their hands on benzodiazepines, women turn to prescribed pain-killers with sedative effects in a plea to shed that winter weight. Thinking of the co-codamol scattered in my desk draw, I forget my waistline and instead wonder how much money I could be saving on central London lunch expenses.
I earn a good amount, and if I were still living in my parent’s house, I’d be sitting on a small fortune. However, living at home is not an option for me – not because my parents wouldn’t relish in telling me “I told you so“, but because I’ve outgrown it. London is where the jobs are, so London is where I will reside. Sure, I’ll desperately apply for market research initiatives, and I’ll need to pick up freelance jobs every month to afford that four-day weekend away in Barcelona, but freedom is overrated anyway.
I have friends that have no choice but to turn to soulless pay-day loan conglomerates just to make it through 31 days. Imagine being a single mother, or someone with no family to fall back on. If I feel sick, then they must spend 75% of their lives with their head hanging over a toilet bowl.
When people say money is a dirty word, it turns out they weren’t referring to the fecal matter and other potentially pathogenic organisms growing on that fiver in your wallet – they were referring to the way financial woes creep into your dreams at night, and how it can tear families apart.
“Think how much money you could be earning if you had a job like so-and-so. It’s not our fault you want to be a writer.” This is my anthem, playing on loop for eternity.
Anyway, that’s enough about my fragile mental state. Time for an Aperol.
Images via Giphy.