Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Virtual Money

This very soggy morning I had to go into our next town and visit my bank.  It brought to mind how when I was a single parent for the first time, over 20 years ago now, I was on benefits and found it much easier to manage my money because everything was paid at the post office in cash.  I didn't have a bank account  until I started working and needed one to pay my wages into.  I was on benefits for a while until I got some work and towards the end of my time as a single parent was again on benefits as I had found working full time with a very unpleasant woman boss was not something I could cope with, the woman almost drove me to a nervous breakdown and life is far too short for that!!

Anyhow getting of my ranty box the point I was trying to make is that I used to go to the local village post office, cash my benefits, child benefit used to be paid weekly if you were a single parent and my little bit of income support and then come home and divide up the money.  I had a little wooden box with envelopes in, each one labelled for each household bill (council tax wasn't paid then if you were on income support), electric, water rates, telephone, food, and I used to put a certain amount into each envelope.  Then when the bill came due I had the money to pay it.

Today its a whole different story, finding myself a single parent again after my husband's death ten years ago.  The day after he died I rang the benefits agency and asked them what I had to do and what was I entitled to as being a full time mum of 2 and 4 year old children with no other means of income as my husband was self employed and had died leaving us with nothing.  So I had an interview and was helped to fill in various forms and then was given a very generous amount to pay for his funeral and allotted Bereavement benefit which will last until the girls are 17 based on my late husbands National Insurance payments.  This helps a lot, together with my widows pensions from his earlier career as a headteacher we get by.  But do I actually ever get to hold any of that money in my hand?  No!! 

Money is virtual today, all payments are made over the internet or using my debit card.  Rarely do I draw the money out of my bank account and go and buy things with it.  I still have to allow so much for each bill but most is now done on monthly direct debit so there are my little envelopes I suppose, but where is the satisfaction of knowing I have saved up for my bills as I cant see the money in front of me and the only people who benefit are the companies who are making huge amounts of interest on our money going in each month. 

I would be so happy to go back to having my money in my hand and choosing where it goes rather than being told you must pay us this amount each month by all the companies.  Yes my bills were always paid but now I must admit I find it difficult to budget each month with money being taken for all my bills each month there is very little spare for other things like clothes!!  Its all too easy for people to borrow money on credit cards because they cant see the money.

If I have ten pounds in my hand I know that I will have to use that carefully and its such a good feeling to hold real money but give someone a credit card and they can go out and spend money in ridiculous amounts and get themselves into trouble.

So Im wishing for money to go back to what it used to be when I was in control of it and I could hold it in my hand and feel good about my bills and have a sense of pride.

Other things we could used to do was to visit the electricity showroom and buy savings stamps towards our bills, where are all those gone now?  We could buy stamps at the post office to save towards our car tax etc, now no longer available, why?  What caused all the companies to stop doing these things?

Id be interested to know how many other people feel the same way.  Cash in hand as opposed to plastic and virtual banking!!


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