So I saw a meme on Facebook about Tory Britain. Here it is:
Now, I am no friend to the Tories but something about this just did not sit well with me. I’m going to explain why.
According to gov.uk, the national minimum wage for those aged over 25 is £7.83p/h. Over a 40 hour week this comes to £313.20p/w, or a basic salary of £16,286p/a.
Assuming that this person has a standard tax code then they will take home, after tax, just over £1,200pcm. So, two incomes at minimum wage would be £2,400 net.
What are the standard living expenses?
Using Sheffield as an example….
What are people spending their money on?
I’ve worked in banking on and off for roughly ten years. I think I have a decent handle on what the average person spends their money on, and for the most part it’s on luxuries that people believe are necessities. For example; in the above calculations I talk about mobile phones. There was a time when people did not have mobiles phones and it was not that long ago. Today, a top of the range smartphone could set you back over £1,000 if you buy it without a contract. If you get this type of phone on contract then you can easily spend £40 a month or more on top of an upfront cost which, many but not all people, will stick on a credit card. This is where the cycle starts.
I don’t have Sky, Virgin or BT TV packages. I pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime and occasionally get a pass for Now TV. In my mind, these are luxuries. They don’t cost much in the grand scheme of things, maybe an average of £20 a month, but I would cancel them without a second thought if keeping them meant I would slowly sink into debt.
The National Lottery. What a rip off. It is a tax which occasionally might pay off but you could play it for decade after decade and only lose money. I just checked the cost of the tickets; £2 for the National Lottery and £2.5 for the Euromillions. One ticket per play each week will set you back around £26 per month. Whenever anyone wins on the lottery and I see a post like “I just won £100!”, I ask a few questions; “When did you last win?” and “How much have you spent to win that £100?” It’s like the person who throws £20 at a fruit machine and wins £10 and walks away feeling smug.
I went out for a few drinks with my girlfriend the other week. We don’t drink much. Not because we are militant about anything, it’s just we don’t generally like the hustle and bustle of busy nights out. We had maybe six drinks between us. This came to over £20. Many of my friends will go out a minimum of once a week and have twice as many drinks and the obligatory takeaway after. That £20 I spent could easily be spent two or three times over.
On top of this is the lunches, takeaway coffee each day, foreign holidays, day trips, cinema, clubbing, new TVs, new computers, games consoles and so on, and so on. The Tory government is crap. Labour is not much better. But please, stop blaming other people for your lack of basic money management. Yes, I know, there are people that are unlucky and get into a spiral of debt through no fault of their own. People who manage their money very well but have circumstances beyond their control. This post is not aimed at those people. It is aimed at the ones who will spend and spend and spend money that they don’t have, on things that they don’t need, and then complain that they have no money.
I mentioned before that paying for those things on credit card is where it all starts. Credit cards are great when used correctly. They should not be used for long term debt. The rates of interest are high and getting into that mentality just means that you are more likely to keep adding to the debt rather than manage your money in the here and now. If you add £50 to your credit card debt each month from the age of twenty-one and only pay the minimum payment each month then it is entirely possible you will have thousands in credit card debt by the time you are thirty. The sting in the tail is that by the time the debt snowballs to that level, the minimum payment will be much higher which means you might then be running at a monthly deficit. This leads to more credit card debt or worse; payday loans.
It’s absurd that money management is not taught at a young age in this country. It should be a basic part of schooling from an early age. There also needs to be a shift in attitudes towards what is a necessity and what is a luxury. Of course we all want nice things but to state that “40 hours a week is barely enough to pay rent and utilities even with dual incomes” is just false in many cases. Perhaps what is more accurate is that “40 hours a week is barely enough to pay rent and utilities even with dual incomes when we also go abroad twice a year and watch Sky Sports on our 50 inch flatscreen whilst scrolling through Facebook on our brand new smartphones which replaced the ones that still worked but were no longer considered cool.”
In the internet age there is a wealth of information freely available. There is no excuse for not educating oneself and checking the accuracy of claims posted by other people.
If you are interested in learning more about money there are several books I can recommend. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Money by Rob Moore. I’ve included links to them on Amazon below.
Edit - if you are struggling financially I would strongly advise that you seek help from at least one of the following sources:
The Money Advice Service
Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.