Monday, December 29, 2008


Making the decision to live prudently - even, shock horror, to not make the getting and spending of money my main priority in life - was a refreshingly easy one to make and it's been a gloriously relaxed and enjoyable way to live. I've had time for my children, to be here for them and to cherish their early years which, let's face it, is an experience that money can't buy. Stepping off the money-go-round isn't difficult but the thing that surprises me even now, many years later, is other people's reaction to such a decision.

I've never cared what passing strangers thought, and friends come and go. The only friendships worth having come about from connections far deeper than money, position and convenience anyway and I make more than enough of those to keep me happy. The only reactions that have caused me problems have been those of some extended family members and neighbours.

One (affluent) neighbour in particular suddenly started talking to us again when he thought we'd got a new car - and stopped when it turned out to be a courtesy car! My mother was so worried that we'd inevitably become a drain on her (much more ample) resources that our relationship was often extremely strained. There were some other reasons for that, but I think money was a main one. Even my old dad, who lives almost as happily in relative poverty as we do, keeps wishing that we'd "win the lottery" - a difficult feat, since we don't buy tickets!

In general, it's a bit like the elephant in the room. It seems to make people feel uncomfortable, though it's taken me many years to empathise with the other person's point of view and realise to some extent why my decision might have caused so much general discomfort. I think people might have felt primarily bewildered by our refusal to follow the herd, which is similar to the reaction we get to our our off-grid plans and home education. There's a kind of glazing over of the eyes, and you can see them trying not to think about it until they've had enough time to process it. (Another neighbour, who'd blanked me for five years after I deregistered the children, excitedly knocked on my door one day to inform me that she'd just heard about home ed on Radio 4, "So it must be ok!")

I think, unhappily, that we invoke feelings of guilt in some relatives though, and possibly shame in others. I'm sorry about that, but I can't help it. We don't go about pushing ourselves in their faces though, so if they want to forget about us then they can - with impunity, as far as I'm concerned. It's been many years since I stopped hoping or even wishing for anything else. I still want to be part of a big, mutually supporting tribe but I think my best hope for that will come from the younger generation now, and/or from those deeper connections that always withstand the test of time.


Anonymous Riaz said...

What do you think of people who create and spend counterfeit money? I have received a number of forged coins and banknotes in my change and from cashpoints from time to time and I have always spent them despite it being illegal to do so.

I suspect there is going to be an increase in counterfeit money in circulation over the next few years in both sterling and foreign currency. How many British people know what genuine Euros or US Dollars really look like?

December 29, 2008 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Riaz. I don't really have any thoughts about it except that, like many other things it's a matter of balancing risk with benefit, isn't it? If a person is willing to take the risk and gambles that it's worth the benefit, then good luck to them.

I probably wouldn't be able to post a fake euro or US dollar from a real one. Would you? Nor have I knowingly ever received spent a forged note. I must admit to not checking too closely though.

December 29, 2008 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

Spot, not post. I keep typing things backwards..

December 29, 2008 at 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Riaz said...

There seems to have been a rise in fake pound coins. A month rarely goes by without me finding one in my pocket but I always spend them. If they're slipped in with other coins then nobody notices. I can recognise if a pound coin is fake but sometimes only find out when a machine won't accept one.

I'm wondering if this rise in fake pound coins is the result of banknotes being harder to forge now they have holograms on them.

December 29, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger mamacrow said...

hubby sometimes wishes to win the lottery.

the problem is, I've never really been very motivated by money. I'm sure I'd find lots to do with a big pile of it, but in the end it is just an illusion - just numbers on a piece of paper, or a bank screen.

i'm not trying to belittle the struggle and misery people experience, I hasten to add.

December 29, 2008 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Gill said...

How do you tell the difference between a fake and a real pound coin? We had some new ones the other day that were a touch thinner and lighter than the others, but we just assumed they'd changed the dimensions as well as the design. But I'm wondering now if they were fake?

Mamacrow - my sentiments exactly :-)

December 30, 2008 at 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Riaz said...

The following defects are giveaway signs that your pound coin is a fake.

1. Poor quality image reproduction such as lack of edge sharpness or positioned off centre.

2. Images on heads and tails sides not properly aligned with each other.

3. Wrong tails side image for the year or wrong inscription for the tails side image.

4. A missing or poor quality inscription around the edge.

Counterfeiters are getting cleverer and mistakes like these are becoming rarer. They are even beginning to use the right alloy of nickel brass so fake coins work in machines.

December 30, 2008 at 9:37 AM  

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