This post has taken me a lot longer to write than I had initially intended (three weeks overdue haha). Mainly because it's a probably one of the only topics I don't feel confident discussing. Ask me to talk about mental health, sex, anything else is really no problem for me to open up about. But money has always been an awkward topic for me.
All through my childhood I was very insecure about this, sometimes still actually (though I'm really trying to work on it.) It was never something I wanted to discuss. I know there's plenty of people that don't like to admit to their social status and that's pretty normal but we really shouldn't have to fear bad pre-judgements about it.
What I specifically want to pay attention to are families on benefits.
Have you watched those shows on channel 4 or 5 that are all about Britain on benefits? The ones where they get to know specific families and find out what their lives are like. They really only show a specific type of family, the parents like to spend money on drink and takeaways, the kids aren't doing great in school. The parents aren't interested in finding work and they're bad at parenting. I have witnessed a lot of people automatically make assumptions like 'people on benefits are uneducated', they're 'lazy' and 'draining our money' and therefore I never wanted to talk about my background. It's easy to see that some people genuinely view people on benefits as scum. It's fucked up and it's hurtful. People seem to think that many people on benefits actually enjoy this lifestyle when in reality, they are bored and would give anything to work and have some kind of purpose. Why the fuck would people want to live a restricted life, with restricted money in constant worry that their VERY SMALL source of income will be taken away from them. Their might be a small handful of people that fit your assumptions but wise up and realise that this is not the desired life style of anyone. Instead of putting blame on the people that are taking close to fuck-all money from our country why don't we look at the filthy rich that are avoiding tax and making dirty money. I think that's where our anger should really be centred.
When making new friends, I was always so paranoid for the day when they would ask me what my Mum and Dad work as. Not at all because I should be embarrassed but because of all the pre-judgement already out there.
The reality is, yes I do come from a family on benefits. However, I have had a great upbringing and I have fantastic, caring parents.
Both my parents don't work due to illness. My Dad is really intelligent, he has a first class honours in computer science and my mum is so talented and creative in so many things. We are a totally normal family, my parents are wonderful parents and have raised me and my brother well. Don't get me wrong, I have never experienced real poverty, there has always been food on the table and a safe home but I adept this to my family being really smart with money. My parents don't drink or smoke and because my Dad isn't in a physical state to actually go outside and do things, so we do manage to save money and live fairly normally. My mum has always been able to prioritise what's genuinely important and she is the reason I am so good at budgeting and thrifting today. I used to feel so embarrassed having half of my wardrobe previously owned by others, but now I pride myself in it.
I've spent all of my life being 'less fortunate' than the people I grew up with but I'm beginning to find my appreciation for this. I would not be the person I am today if my background and upbringing had been different and thanks to my parents I'm appreciative of everything.
I spend my money wisely and get so excited that , thanks to being able to work, I can buy the things I need and want and I'm still a super big kid when it comes to going on a plane because it wasn't a norm for me at all. I am probably the best person I know at saving (saving up that EMA money for WEEKS to save up for my first camera taught me some serious patience) and I think my background will also help me avoid future money troubles (...touch wood). I didn't get the yearly family holiday to France (can't fault Craig Tara's Caravan park though) but who knows if I would have the same love for travelling if I'd been so familiar with it.
Try your best not have pre-conceived opinions about people regarding money, that works the other way around too. Just because that girl has designer labels, don't assume she's stuck up or that she doesn't work hard. We have absolutely no right to make those kinds of assumptions just as people have zero rights to think that my family are any less important than others. We are all people and we all deserve to be looked at for our personalities and not our social status.