Cut your cloth according to your means

There are two issues in this post and the first is the alarming rate at which political bloggers of our kind are either hanging up their boots or going into skeleton mode, just when there is more naughtiness than ever to expose and highlight.

Knowledge spreads only through dissemination and so all you ladies and gentlemen are needed, not just to read what we say here but to write about issues at your own place, to get about and keep the blogosphere alive, to keep linking to one another, instead of going into our cocoons.

Issues such as payday loans need writing on.

Let’s make it clear straight away that it’s not only women. As one who was in debt some years ago and rapidly going further into the red, the effect on the spirit is bad in the extreme and that spills over into health and into all the nasty little habits we adopt to cope – like going further into debt and pretending we’re not.

Yet payday loan sharks appear to be particularly targetting the new woman in a job, realizing she can’t cope and the question is – why can’t she cope?

My answer is 1. aspirations, 2. actually/reality.

Our shop on Saturday is fuelled by the women’s wear section, much of the High Street is and though there’s a certain level of Hyacinth Bucket to maintain, in most cases, it seems to me, there’s nothing snobbish – it’s just a taste for good things and to look good. There’s definitely a comfort zone below which British men and women refuse to fall, no matter what it takes but I’d suggest that when today’s reality finally gets through to the brain, men generally accept this more quickly.

For example, I have no fridge or TV and the electricity powers the combi, the laptop, the oven at mealtimes and one new-bulb on a timer which allows a certain amount of light in the evening and that’s it. I challenge any woman to come in and live this way, with no trappings whatever. Yet the flat is warm [I’m typing this in a t-shirt on our coldest day behind the triple-glazing] and the food on the kitchen bench [there’s no dining table] is quality, for the sake of health and wellbeing. I’d rather a better cut of meat than a new ornament to impress the neighbours.

There’s the philosophical point that we shouldn’t have to live this way. No – the whole workplace scene is utterly knackered, weighed down by ridiculous statutes and PC adherence, greedy councils and HMRC does the rest. Blogs are forever going on about where the fake charity money goes and so on.

Let’s face it – many are not middle-class anymore. We are the new poor. We really should possess no credit card, no mortgage but why do we? Because our aspirations won’t let us live in a shed or under a tarpaulin and council by-laws won’t let us do anything but get a crippling loan for a vastly overpriced house – stratosphere stuff for anyone trying to get on the ladder. The moneys are not coming in in sufficient quantities and the card is the lifeline. This is sad. It’s impossible to maintain this forever.

In our shop or in ASDA or Tescos, everywhere you go, you see people paying by card, even for minor things. This is ridiculous and the rentals of houses and flats are near criminal, given the true state of our wealth, which is closing in on zero. It don’t work, matey.

And so to:

Bar manager Laurie Smith, 25, from Norfolk, knows all about the lure of the payday lenders, and how dangerous their apparently tempting offers can be. She took out a £300 loan with a rate of more than 2,000 per cent with Quickquid after falling short on her rent and being refused a bank overdraft in July last year.

The process was quick and frighteningly simple: she went to the Quickquid website, submitted her name, address and bank account details and minutes later the money appeared in her account.

And of course, the bottom line:

She intended to pay back the loan after her next pay cheque but found her debt had increased to £450. When she wasn’t able to pay back the £450 she claims the firm started to hound her, and even rang her employer. ‘I didn’t have a credit card or overdraft and family and friends couldn’t help me out financially,’ she says. ‘I kept telling the company they would definitely get their cash as soon as I was paid, but they still kept leaving me up to eight voicemails a day.

As one commenter wrote:

It’s time to use common sense and do it the way my parents did, if you can’t afford it then save up for it. This type of lending has been happening on doorsteps for hundreds of years; just because it is now on the high-street and glamoured up a bit doesn’t change the nature of a loan shark. If people didn’t borrow money from them they wouldn’t exist. Credit cards are the same.

There were three parts which struck me. 1. “Bar manager Laurie Smith, 25” She is a bar manager and at 25? How? 2. As a manager, she arranges her finances using payday loans? [See other posts by me on parachutees and women managers]. 3. “She intended to pay back the loan after her next pay cheque” and “2000 percent”, taken together.

She is where I once was – letting 1. aspirations, 2. wanting to be someone people looked up to and 3. incompetence in financial management rule her life. I bet she talks the talk very slickly, I bet she comes over as quite rational and hard-headed but the bottom line is, once again – the numbers simply don’t add up and yet they have to. The owners of that bar need to do a radical reappraisal.

Then there is Macheath‘s point I simply must put in here [it was on the topic of young children being drugged by mothers]:

The increased focus on ‘early years’ education has seen vast numbers of children in structured daycare from as young as two – fuelled by policies designed to get mothers of young children into the workplace.

Toddlers are, by nature, boisterous and active; place them in an enclosed environment and group supervision and deprive them of individual attention and it’s hardly surprising that some demonstrate what could be described as ‘symptoms’.

We all need to do a radical reappraisal. We have to take an enormous blow to our pride and realize just where we are. As you’re reading this, you have an internet connection and therefore you’re not yet destitute but look at the signs, people – look at the signs. Time to cut the cloth according to our projected means in the next two financial years.

7 comments for “Cut your cloth according to your means

  1. February 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

    “In our shop or in ASDA or Tescos, everywhere you go, you see people paying by card, even for minor things.”

    Are they always CREDIT cards, though? Or could they be DEBIT cards?

    Since shops started putting these in (even McDonalds!) I’ve not carried much cash. It’s just safer.

    • February 1, 2012 at 8:44 am

      It’s a good question – seemed credit card. Hang on, I’ll check my debit card now … OK, mine does say “debit” in the corner but I’ll look more closely from now on at customers’ cards.

  2. Jack Savage
    February 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Interesting post.
    I gave up a reasonably well-paying job once the mortgage was paid off and money started piling up in the bank account.Now I amliving off casual work, lodgers and small savings.
    Much much poorer,but unstressed but feeling much better about a non-“consumer” lifestyle.
    The pursuit of more and more material things into middle age once you have “launched” your children seems to me to be pointless.
    Learning what constitutes “enough” and discovering it does not have to be that much was a revelation.
    Do not buy the fancy car or the hugely expensive holiday…put it towards the mortgage, stay healthy and get debt free.
    A “liberation” indeed.

    • February 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

      Seems to me, Jack, that whatever they’re angling for us to do, we should do the opposite. Sometimes it’s hard to know what they’re up to but if we’re being urged to do something, as I shall be at 10:30 this morning [a difficult time], then we need to go the opposite way. Frankly, I don’t trust them at all.

  3. February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Like Macheath’s point about children being naturally boisterous and active. It’s human nature to want kids but if you don’t want what comes with them then best not to have any rather than have them plus a repeat prescription of Rytalin. Get cats instead, and if they’re too much trouble get a fish tank. And if that’s too much trouble don’t even put any fish in it.

  4. Paul
    February 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    James, do you work for the government? No, I know you don’t, I’m only kidding, but your suggestion of ‘cutting our cloth according to our means’ could have come straight out of David Cameron’s mouth, or indeed from the mouth of any politician, and without a hint of irony or hypocrisy as those self same politicians are reducing our means rather than cutting their own cloth.

  5. Lord T
    February 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm


    What does that mean? It worked for thousands of years. Most people live day to day. Now they have debts that exceed their yearly income.

    Maybe Cameron should say it. It would be the first thing he said that was sensible and true. It would open his entry in the common sense section of his speeches.

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