Originally published February 21st 2010

Not enough moneyA recent survey revealed that the biggest concern for one in three people was, they didn’t have enough money.

Previously it had been considered ‘how to lose weight’ was the major worry. Fifteen percent of the men who were asked felt their partners wanted them to slim. A cynic might ask, — why not correct the shortfall in your budget by buying less food and drink and so have more cash in hand.

Did You Know?

Although there was much more poverty among people in years gone by with adults and children undernourished and starving, never before has there been such an outcry from people over their inability to make ends meet. That is often with both partners in the family working whereas it used to be just the man who provided.

Of course the changes in our Society and the Law that helped to accelerate Women’s Liberation have to accept some responsibility for this but many other things have also contributed. The banks made money easy to borrow, especially through credit cards.

The media never cease to advise everyone they can have what they want even if they haven’t enough money to pay for it. There is always money available from the Lottery or other such sources and your turn will come if you continue to buy a ticket. What made it worse, they lowered the age limit for taking part in games of chance so younger people are more quickly caught in the net.

Money was originally adopted as a more flexible way of bartering. Before coins were exchanged for goods you would have to take what you could get when your produce was in season or trust someone to honour the transaction. Money was no more than an IOU that could be passed on. In fact, although circumstances are very different now, our bank notes still carry the words — ‘BANK of ENGLAND’ I PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER ON DEMAND THE SUM OF ……. ! So what has changed?

Those of us born since the last Great War have grown up in a much more affluent society than their parents. When we speak of recessions, those through the late 1900’s bear no relation to the suffering and poverty experienced by many of the working classes in the 1920-30’s.

Imagine how frustrating it must have been for them to see more and more households getting electricity, running water laid on and flush toilets [even if they were across the yard] while they struggled to earn enough to feed their families living in a tithe or rented house. Average wage for those with a job in the 30’s was around Twenty-Five Shillings a week and there were no extras to be had like child allowances or other benefits.

There is no doubt that such conditions had a major effect on the children. They had to help with the chores and often take a part-time job at an early age to contribute to the family budget. Many of the toys they had were home made and like their clothes they were often ‘hand-me-downs’.

It was not unusual to see young boys on their way to school with the backside worn out of their trousers. None had long trousers before they were fifteen, by which time most had left school. It was expensive to have shoes mended and it was common practice to put a piece of thick cardboard inside them to cover a hole in the sole. Most footware had leather soles that seemed to wear out quickly. To give them longer life, fathers sometimes hammered hob nails into the boy’s boots while he was doing his own. The women folk had to use all their knitting and sewing skills in their efforts to keep their children well clad.

It is not possible to compare people’s circumstances in those times with the way we live today. It would seem they had very few of the pleasures we enjoy. Many very rarely left their community and a ride on a train or bus was probably equal to us having a week-end abroad. They did however have the cinema where they learned all about Hollywood and the Stars. Somehow, even the poorest of families managed an occasional trip to the Pictures and of course, there was always the Twopenny Matinee for children on Saturday afternoons where they enjoyed an ongoing serial and were reminded that it was ‘NOT TO BE MISSED NEXT WEEK’.

Why then, if our grandparents and great grandparents had such a poor livelihood, are they reported to have been far more contented than we are today? Of course they didn’t have the temptations with everyone telling them they can have almost anything they want.

Most important there wasn’t the communication. We are all now easily accessible in so many ways, whereas in those days it had to be a knock on the door. Our forebears knew they could never have many of the things they saw so they just dreamed about them and made the most of what they had. In so doing they had no envy of those better off financially than themselves and because their prospects were so bad they had few expectations and consequently very little greed.

Money has become the most important part of many peoples lives with greed and envy the two sins that seem to predominate in our Society today. Considering all we have we should at least be content even if we are not totally satisfied.

Unfortunately all of those things that contribute to the way we live today have forced something else on us to make life even more difficult. – It is called Stress! – Everything has speeded up so there are never enough hours in a day and we find ourselves pressured to accomplish even half what we set out to do.

How often do we stop and sit down as a family to make decisions and perhaps analyse our routine to see if we can make things easier? Would that help? I don’t know but there seems to be a lot of questions that have to be answered. — And the sooner they are, the better it will be for us all!

valley lad – [SEVENTY-EIGHT]