Monday, 8 November 2010

Thought for the Day: Subjectively Rich

I've been thinking about money a bit lately and will share the produce of my rambling mind in posts over the next few weeks. Part of this mental activity has been geared towards our goal of paying off the mortgage. (a subject of a very early post). Now, with 4 years 144 days to go, and despite the naturally pessimistic Mr Lovelygrey's doubts, I think we're right on target to achieve a totally debt free lifestyle by my 50th birthday!

Now, in my own eyes and the majority of people's too, our family unit are well off so I feel a bit of an imposter when reading other people's blogs on thrift and frugality.  We are both in full time employment and can afford a great house and a motorhome too. There are savings in our offset accounts which means that the interest payments on our mortgage are at the measly all time low of £43. And I don't have to worry too much if we want to treat ourselves. But I've come across other people with similar or higher incomes who certainly don't hold the view that they're rather wealthy and indeed struggle to live on what's coming into the household pot. The most extreme case was a bloke, whom I came across during my days as a tax consultant. He believed that he was poor on an annual income £250,000.

Of course, wealth is subjective and our perception of how much money is enough is almost certainly affected by our views on what we think we need and deserve. I would be strapped for cash if I had a penchant for Birkin bags or Jimmy Choo shoes. Likewise, my NHS salary would be severely stretched if I'd caught the sailing bug and decided that I needed my own craft but fortunately, its not quite my bag. I'm also aware that my own spending habits might be seen as profligate by others and will admit that four holidays a year is rather extravagant.

So, my thinking has focused on what it means to be thrifty and 'rich' and the responsibility that comes with this to strike the right balance and spend money wisely. Is it right to be tight when I'm well off? What's the difference between thrifty and frugal? And were the government right to advocate personal spending as a way out of the recession? I'm still pondering these ideas and will let you know what I come up with!

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