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Image / Editorial

Know Your Number

by Jeanne Sutton
14th Apr 2014

Looks fun, feels awful when the bill comes through

We’re talking money, not men

When I was a young wan I would occasionally learn how sophisticated adult women behaved via shows such as Sex and the City. Taxis are a sustainable daily mode of transport! A career in journalism means eating out all of the time! Feign an interest in shoes despite living in knock-off Dubarrys! In these series, spending money was easy and talking about your sex life was cool and edgy, especially if you were really flippant about it, see Will and Grace.

I thought my twenties would be composed of sassy conversations in cocktail bars. When I reached said decade, I realized cocktails are actually expensive and conversations are difficult to accomplish when music is blaring that loud. Also, no one wants to talk about sex, really. I recently had to listen to a girl boast about her high-octane erotic past – she was 24 – and how she was ?wild? and would follow up a minimal amount of cocaine with a two girls and one guy threesome. ?I was wild, Jeanne.? ?Very modern,? was all I could say to that.

No, life isn’t a scripted show with flashy locations and bar tabs. And people walking the real life walk tend to talk about topics show runners won’t really touch – like debt. (2 Broke Girls notwithstanding.) Being genuinely broke and a paycheck away from researching how to sell your hair to a Russian wig maker is the new brunch.

However, there’s only so much complaining you can do and going on regular self-pity trips does not a tackling-the-red solution make.

There’s nothing as stone cold sobering as looking at your bank balance and acknowledging your debt. Say goodbye to quick moments of temporary joy when the banking website is banjaxed and you get to skip flinching at the computer screen. Get a grip and don’t shy away from the awful truth. Log on, and sit down. Then write it down, in your own handwriting, so you can take responsibility for the Frankenstein’s monster that is stalking your every guilty splurge. Now keep that figure where you will see it. In your diary, your wallet, or even a post?it on your desk. If anyone is being nosy say it’s the hospital extension number for your gynaecologist’s secretary.

When you start being brutally honest with yourself, then you can start a new chapter. One where letters from the bank don’t disappear under the bed.

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

For another dose of financial reality see this month’s IMAGE magazine where Sinead Ryan?@sinead_ryan writes about tackling debt.