“Get a new table & decorate will you, the house has been like this for 10 years!?” A statement by my wife’s Uncle to her mother.
It happened almost 5 years ago. We were enjoying a cup of coffee and some lunch when Ian, my wife’s Uncle arrived. He had recently sold his shares in a manufacturing company and purchased a £3 million mansion with money to spare. He often “said it how it was” and he thought this was the best approach to life. Ian was a large, bullish man with a large status car to help cart his large frame from point A to point B. As he entered the house he brought with him his usual sarcastic, moody self.
Ian’s financial success was a direct result of closing one multi-million pound business and opening another by transferring the clients to a fresh company. In truth, I’ve heard the story a hundred times and I can’t explain how it happened. I just know somebody got screwed.
You see, my wife’s mother lived, and still lives, on a low income; £9,000 per annum to be exact. But, would you believe she has managed to save £30,000 in the bank? She’s a super-saver but she’s had to be. A timid character remained after her husband (my father-in-law) died, when my wife was just a child. This meant my mother-in-law was left to rear children and on a very small salary. Thankfully, they had life insurance and the house was repaid, but feeding, clothing, heating and supporting a family of four was a struggle.
As a result, she wouldn’t ‘stand-up’ to Uncle Ian and let the comment pass. Out of respect, I wouldn’t say anything because it would make my mother-in-law uncomfortable.
Ian failed to realise that people couldn’t just upgrade their house and that saving was required. My mother-in-law works still into her 70’s because she has to. She’ll undoubtedly die with money in the bank, because that’s who she is. When I had my money problems she offered me the money to pay it off. I couldn’t take it. What if I couldn’t pay her back and used her pension money to pay back debts? I would struggle to live with myself. But I appreciated the gift.
Money Isn’t Everything
I write this blog as a reminder to myself that my money management once ruined my life. But, also, that I survived through something I thought would ruin me. On further investigation, it turns out thousands of people are made bankrupt every year in the UK and millions are struggling with debt in silence.
Ian knew about my money worries but wouldn’t offer a penny. I wouldn’t have taken it anyway. I remind myself frequently that money isn’t everything and I would rather have my family and friends than all of the money in the world if it meant changing who I was.
Ian died at the weekend.
You may think I’m heartless to write the way I do, especially when it’s so close to the event, but it’s the truth. He was a successful man but cared for nobody but himself. He had the money, the cars and the power but in the end he died at just 57 because of a heart problem.
If you spend your life consumed by money then it’s easier to miss the bigger picture. We’re here on this planet for 80 – 100 years if we’re very lucky. We can choose exactly how we want to spend it. Ian chose his life, so out of respect I won’t mourn him. Money was of greater value than his family. I won’t ever make that mistake.