Living Without Money

Just back from a week away with my three girls; a much needed break. We’ve been at a Marriott in Spain, which I’ve been to previously and, despite renting a car for the week (to facilitate the transport of suitcases, prams etc to and from the airport) we’ve bumbled about on-site for virtually the entire period.

In the past I’ve always eschewed the notion of putting living expenses on my room, whether on a family holiday or a business trip, preferring to budget as I go and thereby to keep a tight handle on things. This time, partly accidentally but partly I suspect out of a desire to abdicate financial responsibility for a while as part of the process of getting away from work completely, everything went on the room – from breakfast to nightcaps and all in between. It was only about three days in that I realised that I could actually leave the room without money – or indeed a wallet, taking only the room key and whatever was required to keep the little people happy pool/beach-side.

The whole process has been highly strange and made me think about how I live with money – particularly on a personal basis, outside work – on a day to day/hour by hour basis. Indeed, having just undergone such a reversal, it occurs to me that the process of managing, monitoring, analysing and indeed agonising over funds and purchases is actually a far larger drain on my mental resources than I had ever realised.

Indeed it’s not the sums involved – almost the contrary in fact, in that I suspect it’s the number of transactions that are the issue, given that each is actually small and relatively insignificant. The ability to be able to pool smallish payments together and pay on (ie) a weekly basis, was a huge relief from having the constant hassle of money – not least because we still managed to stick to the broad budget that we’d had in mind beforehand. Obviously it’s (currently) only possible to do so if in a finite environment – but as someone that has been careful with money throughout life, this has been an eye-opening, influential experience in terms of how I think about cash.

If someone had said to me at the start of the week: “If you give me £x, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, all week.”, I would have thought that ‘x’ (the cost of perennial contentedness?) would have been at least three times and perhaps even five times the sum that we ended up paying, if not more. In other words, I think I need more than I actually do to be highly content – which is, in itself, a revelation.

On a different note, delighted to report that Flashman was on good form but disappointed in the first half of Dawkins’ The God Delusion which is, most definitely, not a holiday book.