The Diary of a BindiBabe—Series 2: Part 2
Series 2 - Entry 2: BindiBabe’s shortcoming in finance. Descending into debt.
I was 10% reluctant to hand it over straight away, and gave 90% in action: slowly but surely passing over what was a very sleek and shiny reminder of my life before September 2017, over to the dressing room attendant. It wasn’t the pair of Christian Louboutin peep-toe heels or the Mink DKNY fur hanging, coincidentally hanging in front of me on my clothes rail. And despite the disparity between each item that hung freely in front of me in my bedroom on this Summer evening, these only two luxury items left, that I owned currently, because I had finally reached the realisation that I had terrible troubles with money and my spending habits (which to my positive outlook, brought many interesting stories) had spiralled me into DEBT. A four letter word I did not love.
But I loved Luxury goods. Like the time I went shopping for shoes in Harrods and couldn’t find it in my heart to leave without a pair of Jimmy Choos stiletto heels in ALL 3 colours. Same design. And it didn’t stop there. I knew I had more cash to splash. It just wouldn’t make sense for me to go without spending all of what I had. I knew my next payday and how I could survive until it arrived and I NEEDED those Balenciaga boots, Chanel Purse and a very nice lunch at The Shard. That Saturday was about me spending hard. And I justified it too. No man, all bills currently covered. What else could I do - spend time in my flat, cooking, watching TV, tidying up ALONE? NO. I had capital to spend on items that I’d value more. It’s time well spent. The irony of having this style of money management would send other people’s souls spinning because how would I manage to exceed my overdraft but plan and budget my spending on that day. I’d account for all the items I needed and what I needed to do, but on days where I'd need to pay my phone bill I’d ignore it. Call me ignorant. I was. I’ve had times where I’d not been able to afford my water and gas bills and resorted to taking time off work as a holiday to go back and stay at my parents' home JUST to live with them and have myself covered. Shower, eat and live for a week at theirs until the next payslip arrives. Problem solved.
As a young Indian woman who been brought up by parents strict in all aspects, I should have really known better, but I did pinpoint my spending to be some form of rebellion in some small way. If I were to break it down and say that my spending was a reflection of my parents giving me no freedom in buying clothes I'd liked or truly indulging in exciting gifts on birthdays, I'd say I might be drunk when reading it back, purely because at the age of 33 you'd think one would have at least mastered this skill by now. To save and then spend. I'd be trying to justify a way of living based on an upbringing out of my control and my parents have instilled some decency in me in other ways. But no one ever suspects the good Indian girl working in Media to have money issues. That's only for the bad Indian boys and my problems should really be finding a husband to marry and whether I could cook for him. But my interests were so far away from the traditions of my culture. I couldn't tie a knot where something felt missing in my life so I created an avenue to spend lavishly, building a fixation I wasn't aware could ruin my existence as an independent female. Something that I now realize is way more important, especially if it kept me living alone and free.
I’d felt the burn though. On those days where I’d spent and went home satisfied for the day I’d survived. It’s always worse when your card declines however. At the tube station, local Tesco for food shopping or even buying toilet paper at the corner shop. But one time my card declined in a very expensive lingerie store and the horror of the lady at the till was more or less a reflection of my face because the two customers behind me could clearly sense I had no reason to be shopping with such a high brand on low funds. Of course no one is psychic but you can always spot a phoney and that’s what I was when I’d picked 4 items (Lace french knickers priced at £495) with only £480 in my account. I made the mistake of overspending at lunch didn’t quite keep track of what was left. An error I’d never want to make again.
To take you through that day at Harrods and up until paying at the till and maxing out my overdraft, which I just managed to cover from my last payslip, would have maybe been how it should of been. Balanced.
I decided to seek help from the bank who finally helped me through advice and support to manage my finances as well as passing my details onto a Money Anonymous group that I joined. They helped me understand how to budget and give the right attention to what was needed in a room full of people going through the same things or worse. I’ve just finished my last class and will be attending the graduation of finally becoming a MA successor, which means I’ve passed the initial stages of learning how to avoid falling into serious debt again. It’s been interesting to understand my spending habits as well as speak about it to others. I also got to know more about shops and how they lure you in too. And where I had the backing from friends I had left, without any judgement, I’d take it. Backing meaning help paying bills that would bring me back into the red. I guess I felt the trust from certain peers because I wasn’t some scammer who was spending to never return. I didn’t grow up this way so this little part of my friends thinking was my sanctity. My solitude at times.
So. That platinum black bank card, staring up at me whilst I was scanning the marble floor in this designer store, with what felt like it was strategically placed there, was not mine. And if the attendant hadn't come into the entrance area and called for anyone to see if there was a bank card missing - 5 years prior, at the start of my stint to skint, I’d have potentially picked it up and put it in my purse and acted below the line (A term I’d coined at my Money Anonymous classes). I say this because I was in so much debt I was on the verge of losing my flat as I couldn’t afford to pay the rent and even manage certain bills. The descent into the black was real.
It was that bad then and only got worse because of my craving for clothes and hook on shoes, accessories - expensive items I couldn’t help but buy. Unnecessary, but quite clearly desperate times on reflection; however, this was where I was at, fortunately I’d heard the assistant at the universe's perfect timing.
Looking at that card. Any card, whether it were debit or credit, I knew there was value, especially in the power of spending. Those thoughts mixed, brought back this nostalgia similar to my feeling of betting or playing the machines. A period of time I won’t disclose, but when it came to playing and most importantly spending money, my mission was clear: investing in seeking a thrill no higher than a prideful win. I was considered a humble player for my ability to leave with a high win, but it was those days I should of reminded myself that, on those occasions, it was hours later I’d experience such lows after spending all of my takings, sometimes in hours, and there wouldn’t be a penny left to my name.
So. Back to me and the stare-off myself and platinum were having.
I used my newly found basic instinct in money management to help me get a grip of my finances. Desperate times had called for money saving measures that were larger than I could handle. And I had no choice but to conform my spending to my brand new lifestyle. Money couldn’t buy this attitude either...
It was life or debt anyway.
I’d spotted a blouse and skirt along with the trouser suit, that I’d just finished trying on. All work wear of course. I was going to start a new role and nevertheless with what felt like the DeJa Vu I was having, I carefully lifted the plastic and considerately handed it over to the lady.
It was time to leave this designer store. Although my spending habits have dramatically improved, I've felt the tease and wiggled out the tantrum when staring at things I would truly like to buy but genuinely cannot afford. These battles are ones that I don't pick...
I’d finished trying on the suit anyway.