Tuesday 29 March 2011

What does your bank statement say about you?

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On the drive to work this morning I was listening to Premier Christian Radio and there was an interesting feature about the march which happened in London on Saturday and also about the strength of feeling in the UK that the average person is being treated unfairly with all the new funding and benefit cuts that are happening.

I am proud to know a friend who got off her bum and went to the march this weekend and stood up for what she felt is right. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not really have a full clear picture of what is going on in our economy.  I rely on my husband to keep me up to date with what I need to know and I also allow his opinions to help form my own.  This is not because he is controlling or this is his wish, I am just a bit out of the loop.  I rarely listen to the radio, read a paper or watch the news on the TV, I am normally busy doing something else. 

Anyway, this radio feature then went on to discuss that there has been a public outcry for new taxes, which some are naming the Robin Hood taxes, ie that the rich give to help the poor.  This of course led to discussion about the banks and how much some people are earning and how little the banks can be paying in corporation tax.  It was stated that Barclays made £60 million profit in 2006 but paid just 2.4% in corporation tax, due to all the loop holes that they can make use of.  How can that possibly be right when someone who earns £20,000 gives back approximately 22-25% of their earnings? 

What is it they say? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer but this is abysmal and actually just makes me want to sit down and cry  but I know that would not help anyone.  So what can I do?  an average mum of 3 who works part-time and does various other activities including charitable ones. A cash poor, tie poor Mum. What can I do to make a difference?  If you have an idea please do leave me a comment, I would appreciate it.

Surely this inequality is where the focus needs to be, lets start with the concept of fairness. It is not right that some people in the UK do not have a bed to sleep in or that they cannot remember their last hot meal yet others may have just earned £7million for a years work. I am not saying it is wrong to earn good money, if you do well, work hard, are talented, have been given a good break or similar then you will earn more than the average and well done to you but you have to apply the biblical concept of 'enough' surely? Once you have enough money to live comfortably then how can you justify stock piling more and more money?

I know that often I am dreaming of more: staying at home and not having to do paid work, just being able to volunteer; that kitchen re-fit; a second car; an abroad holiday.  All things that may come one day and things that I know are not essential but what about those people who are dreaming of the next car when the last one is only a couple of months old or having the bathroom refurbished when it was only done a year ago or having their 40th party on an exclusive Caribbean island for the cost of £400,000.  These things I just cannot see are right or OK.  The concept of enough has been well and truly forgotten there.

So today, why don't you take a look at your bank statement (and credit card statement or is that statements?) and see what it is telling you.  Where you actually spend your money is where your real priorities lie.  Looking at mine I can see most of our money goes on buying and running our house, feeding and clothing us all, giving to charities, having meals out or take aways, buying and running our car and saving for our children's future. If I wanted to cut down I could spend less on our food bill, clothing and meals out but actually none of them are done to excess so I feel quite happy we are spending wisely and being good stewards of what the Lord has provided us with.

I would have hated to look at that statement and know that money was being wasted on alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, excessive gadgets, crazy mobile phone bills, gaming systems and games, beauty products, glossy magazines or anything else in the same vein. Go back a few years though and you certainly would have found that many of those things featured on my statement in a disproportionate manner to the amount I earned.  I regularly over spent and bought unnecessary items.  It is great to realise how much things have changed for me in the last 10 years or so.

Don't get me wrong I am not telling you to stop spending on the things you enjoy, I am just saying take a look at your own spending habits and analyse where the money is going and you might just be surprised. 

Are you looking after the money you have or is it being frittered away?

Whether you decide to make any changes if entirely up to you.  In fact having sat and read this post a few times I might just have to make some changes to the amount I spend on clothes for the kids and myself.  A fabulous blog post I read a little while back has sat at the back of my mind niggling away at me and really I know I should be more cautious in this area.
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