Friday, 10 October 2014

It's Good To Talk....Just Maybe Not To Me

Today is World Mental Health Day where many charities and organisations are trying to raise awareness of different mental health conditions and quash the stigmas that surround many of them.

It seems to me the recurring theme of advice surrounding mental health of a family or friend is 'have a conversation, ask them how they're doing, sit down with them with a cuppa' after all as the old BT ad used to say 'it's good to talk', I think they may have been on to something there......

Sometimes though it's not easy to talk, especially to those we are closest to; that's my experience anyway. We worry about what they might think of us, will we disappoint them, what if they can't take what I want to say? Maybe we blame those close to us for the way we are feeling, so in no way will we want to open up to them.

Looking back to when I was a teenager I think I felt that way, I learned to keep my feelings in and some things that I would've done good to talk about got bottled up and hidden away for years, the trouble with that is eventually they find a way out, no matter how well you think you've tidied them away and moved on with your life.

I suppose I may have started to think about this a bit when our children were younger, around the time you start imparting your wisdom to them and letting them know everything you think they need to know, whether they're interested or not. I said to each one of our four children the usual, "you know you can always tell me anything," and I always followed it with "but if you can't talk to me, it's okay for you to talk to someone else who you feel you can talk to." I know I was just stressing to them the importance of not bottling things up but recognising that I may not be the one they want to open up to, and that's okay; I won't be jealous, I won't feel offended, I will just be glad that they are talking to someone about what's on their mind.

I believe this could possibly the best advice I gave my children, they are now older and I know they have taken this on board and although I think our relationship and communication together is excellent, I also know that sometimes if they feel they need to they will find someone who isn't me, who isn't their Mum, to have a heat to heart with, and that's okay!

So on this World Mental Health Day, I would say yes, absolutely try to have a conversation with whoever you are concerned about, but also give your blessing for them to have that conversation with someone else if they want to.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Wonga Wipe Out

Wonga are writing off £220 million pounds worth of debt for 330,000 customers, who they realised actually couldn't afford their payday loans in the first place.  Earlier in the year Justin Welby declared a war on Wonga, and the C of E launched a new scheme to take on the payday lenders, the Church Credit Champions Network.  "The Church of England is the best branch network in the country," he said. "A major high street bank has at most 3000 branches, but the Church of England has 16,000! The purpose of the Champions Network is to harness that unparalleled presence in the community. The goal is both to help those afflicted by financial problems and equip us all to save and borrow in a responsible way."

You may think they were irresponsible loaning money to people who clearly weren't in a position to pay it back, but a certain amount of responsibility must also lie with the borrower.

Being in debt is a horrible, sad, frustrating place to be. You feel elated when you are able to cover a bill, but guilty when you treat yourself to something that isn't essential.  The generation before us were an 'if you can't afford it, you can't have it' generation. My generation have been fed a diet of credit cards, loans and store cards, and don't worry if you can't pay those off, here's a payday loan to tide you over.....that just grows and grows and grows.

Hopefully now it is turning around again and the next generation will be more frugal with their finances. I always wished that back in the early years of our marriage, someone would have taken the time to educate myself and my husband a bit more about credit cards etc...although our spending was firmly our responsibility, I do feel we were a bit blind about some of the debts we built up.  

Nowadays, you have the likes of Martin Lewis doing an excellent job of guiding the nation through the highs and lows of every financial situation you could possibly imagine. There are also a number of charities who are steering people towards living debt free such as CAP and StepChange who offer free advice; I still think more could be done to educate our young adults at school and at home though.

I am determined not to let our children share our experience, so much so, that our eldest daughter who is in full time work and can afford to buy pretty much what she wants, says I have ruined shopping for her because she's too scared to spend her money!  Imagine that, a world where a 19 year old girl doesn't buy a new pair of shoes or a different shade of lipstick each week.  That's kind of gone a bit too far the other way, but at least she'll be able to move out sooner..........won't she?.......Please?

Have Wonga done the right thing? I think so, but I really hope that those customers who have found their debt cleared do not end up repeating their mistakes and borrow what they can't afford again, I pray that this can be a fresh start for them.