It's getting harder to balance the books, isn't it? Harder to stay afloat, harder to save, harder to make contingency. At least, it is in my neck of the woods. I work in the public sector, so pay has been frozen, whilst all around other costs continue to rise like the flood waters of Katrina creeping into the back waters of New Orleans. Petrol, food, energy, all the basics continue to erode the bottom line. Even if you can budget and have some idea of monthly outgoings, there's always a hidden cost lurking out there during the course of the month.
Am I complaining? Actually, no. I'm just acknowledging what is, for many of us a very real fact about our lives right now. So whilst we struggle you'll be pleased to know that the bankers continue to make money hand over fist, whilst we continue to pay back what they gambled with for so long. If you're looking for a mental image to sum things up try out the following; picture a father going to his five year old daughter, whom receives 50pence pocket money a week, and asking for it back in order to pay off his own debts. Imaging taking that money out of a child's hand, smuggling it into your own pocket, turning and walking away. Is that really so different from what we're seeing in the wider world? We are repaying a massive debt, much of it accrued on the back of recklessness and folly. Now I'm not saying that we don't need to trim the state, which has become bloated and inefficient, yet it seems to me that we are being asked to carry an excessive burden.
By the way, I'm not just blaming the banks. I think our credit culture is equally culpable. The ease of borrowing and the lack of screening has surely also played a part, and as a culture we've played fast and loose with money we don't have for too long.
Anyway, back at ground level, every month seems to be getting just a bit trickier. The waters of expenditure keep rising, only the Dams of income aren't getting any higher. For many the waters have already spilled over, whilst for the rest of us we're busy hiring an army of Beavers to give us a helping hand.
These are tough times. And it's not going to get better anytime soon. I wonder then, whether we need to remind ourselves to take additional pleasure in the simple things life gives us for free? The love of family and friends, the beauty of this remarkable world, and time spent reflecting on the fact that no matter our economic status, we're still outrageously lucky to be here at all?
I'm an odd mix when it comes to these things. I'm a geek and I love the gadgets and the toys, but I also love the simple things; a walk with my family, a good chat amongst valued friends. Money is a massive issue for all of us, and given the current climate it's never far from our minds. But let's not allow ourselves to be robbed of the simple pleasures that being alive can bring, because that would be the greatest crime of all.