“We’re going to be rich Jen!” he said, from the driver’s seat, his eyes excited behind his thrice-bent Primani sunglasses. We were sat there, on our way to the Forest, in our unironed, buttons-missing scruffs… The kids asleep in the back in their £5 ebay bargain flappy-hooded baby carrier and cheap sweaty upright plastic car seat… In our tatty Peugeot with the panel in my footwell hanging off… With a beat up freecycled ‘offroad’ pushchair in the boot.
We were imagining having cash to flash in the faces of disbelievers. More recently we’ve had a prickly convo about what Ben is prepared to work to pay for before he becomes a full-time writer. He thinks the holiday let/tea garden/whateverelsewedo business should fund anything over and above the minimum required to have us set up in the house with the business up and running. This does not extend to soft furnishings for the new house, or any new clothes for the kids. Two things top of my list of ‘things to buy while we have plenty of guaranteed money coming in before we are in a tight, tight, tight situation for the foreseeable future’.
All Ben needs to feel like he’s won the lottery is to write full-time. But because my need is not to write but to make special, part of my dream move involves nice things for the home and for us all to have comfortable lives. I’m not materialistic in a disposable consumerist way. I’d like good-quality, durable, reuseable, meaningful, crafted, beautiful things for my family to enjoy. I want these things to be few, just enough, I want no more possessions than we need. But I want what possessions we have to have been chosen by me. I’d like everything in our home to look and feel like ‘us’. I want the second hand and old things we have to belong with us because we love them, not because they were all we could afford.
I enjoy living frugally, I like being conscious of the value of things. But if we’re moving I want us to be moving up in the world in every sense. If we move to a bigger house with more land but couldn’t add to or upgrade the furniture we have made do with for the past three years, I wouldn’t feel we had benefited from the move as much as we deserve. I am realistic about what we will get for our money, and open to the possibility of moving to a smaller house, with less land than we have now. And I’ll be ok with that because we’ll be getting a business, and the freedom from a mortgage.
I know Ben wants to feel rich. He has said as much. He would love it if we could buy what we wanted when we wanted it. When I ask him what he’d spend big bucks book advance or prize money on it’s a Porsche, some tailor-made Liberty print shirts. I’d just like some tartan lampshades, a few cushions, and a rug. We’d both like to be able to shop at Waitrose. It’s my kids I want to be able to spend money on. They’ve lived without carpeted stairs, without a bedroom of their own, with hand-me-down, clearance and charity shop clothes, uncomfortable car seats. They haven’t noticed of course, so it’s a matter of pride on their behalf I suppose.
We’ve now looked at ‘the competition’ – other holiday cottages in the area we’re looking to buy, and are feeling confident of making a healthy profit each year. We’ve even agreed how this will be split between the three of us, because Moms will be helping run the place. There are modest riches to look forward to. Because when you’re mortgage free, every bit of extra money is all yours, so £5-£10,000 a year would make us feel like millionaires.