If we want to be completly present in the time being, we have to talk about finances and money. Pesonally, I am very angry with my finances and complete system and I learn how to live in tham system with less headache day by day. But, there is a big economic crises coming. People are getting fired, salarys are reduced, for most of us, our revenue is decreasing, but not our expenses. Our expenses will mostly stay the same or even get bigger regardless of the reduced amount of money we will make in the coming months.

The thing you need to know about me, and I will be brutally honest, is that most of my life I lived in poor conditions. There was a time when I had neither electricity nor heating, but only cold water, and for food we depended on the kindness of neighbors who collected food every month and brought it to us in a box. There were months when I didn’t have money for food, so I depended on my loved ones to eat something, for example lunch. Of course, they didn’t know it because I was too proud to admit that I didn’t have food, because I had to take an internet subscription even though I knew I might not be able to pay for it. Or when I was tired of counting every kuna I spent, so I bought a shelf using credit card and I went shopping in the spring to reward myself for all the savings and restriction months, so within a few months of paying off that reward, I was left with only 200 kn for food.

Of course, I did not tell anyone even though my loved ones noticed that I was struggling so they helped me. To be precise, those closest to me are my boyfriend who finds all the ways to help me financially without touching my inflated ego so that I do not feel unable to support myself. The truth is, there were times when I had nothing and when I had everything. This was all bought on credit and has made it difficult for me in the coming months. What I want you to understand, as I had to, is that we have to spend money according to our possibilitys. Sometimes we will have more, sometimes less. It will always be tiresome unless you find a job that is very well paid, but as long as you receive a minimum wage or an average salary, it will be difficult, challenging and frustrating, but once you have mastered your finances it will be feasible.

Over the years I have developed a method of managing money. The method is always the same regardless of income.

First I take care of the roof over my head. Whether it’s a rent or home loan, it’s the same thing. The fact is, I love living in an interior space and I work for that space. That’s my haven, my starting point.

Second comes the directors. Depending on the incomings, these overheads are sometimes smaller or larger. If I know that I will be working for a reduced salary, I do not take an internet subscription because I honestly do not necessarily need it for a living. I know, you always need the internet, however, when it comes to food or the internet, I choose food because believe me, it’s not fun when you choose the other way around. Also when I have less money I choose my cellphone for vouchers. Then I know that if I don’t have a voucher, I don’t buy it. Unlike a subscription I can’t afford to pay every month. So these are expenditures for which, if we choose to have them, we bind for a minimum of two years, so if you decide to go for it, take a contract for internet and mobile for a subscription, you will have to calculate if you have money for it in your monthly budget.

Third, there are additional expenses that depend largely on your level of income. For example, when I had nothing, I didn’t have extra expenses because I couldn’t pay them at all. Now, when I know I can, I pay off a driving school, including gasoline.

Fourth, I always put money on the side for hygiene supplies for myself and my apartment and food. These amounts vary from month to month, making them last on the list. Sometimes I even have enough money left for my free time.

Fifth is, of course, leisure activities, which include going to coffee, cinema, theater, ice skating, picnicking, sea, clothing, footwear and other things that we don’t necessarily need. We need clothes and shoes, but only if you have absolutely nothing in your closet.

Sounds frustrating, right?

I know.

Unfortunately it is.

The fact is, we live in a world where we are overwhelmed with the message that we must and can have everything. Social pressure doesn’t help either.

We need to have internet everywhere we go in order to be present on social networks.

(You can have the Internet at any free wifi point. If you have to choose between the internet and basic necessities, choose basic necessities for life!)

We have to use that discount on makeup and perfume and all that wonderful stuff because now it’s the discount that was just waiting for us. There will never be such discount again.

(It’s not true that the discount will be gone. If you don’t have the money, choose the two eyeshadows that you adore and use them. You don’t need all these powders, mascara, highliter and similar cosmetic wonders if you have to put your basic necessities into crisis!)

If I wear the same pants three days in a row, others will think that I am poor and I cannot afford clothes, and I work and make money so there is no chance of that happening. I need to have these shoes and one more and one more because one goes with the dress, one with the pants and of course you have to have one festive.

(We all like to have more clothing options, however, if you are in a situation where you have no money, it is not a shame to shop at a second hand shop on discount and have a smaller selection of clothing and footwear. There will come a time when you will have more money for a larger closet!)

If I don’t go to vacation on seaside I will feel miserable and left out because everyone else is having fun and I am rotting home alone.

(When lot of people take vacations, a bunch of people stay home. It’s okay to stay home and find a vacation right where you are. Don’t wander around and you’ll find places that make you happy at home!)

If I go out with my friends and don’t buy them a drink, they will be angry with me and I will be excluded. Everybody goes to the movies and it just shouldn’t happen that I’m not going.

(Hanging out and buying drinks to others and yourself is sometimes great. But be aware that when you have no money, it is a luxury, and luxury is the first thing to be dismissed in financial crisis situations. Remember, this difficult period will not last forever!)

Uh, that lovely corner set is in discount now, and my home needs a change, I have to buy it. Well, I’m not going to lie on that uncomfortable and old one. All girls go do their nails, so what kind of person would I be if I didn’t go too.

You have to be responsible to yourself. In a world where most people have credit, it’s not a shame not to have something and admit it. I know many people don’t want to admit it, I’m one of them, but I admit it regularly. I admit that most of the furniture in my apartment was used and donated by people who thought it was better to give it to me than throw it away. I don’t like that fact, but I can’t change it. I still haven’t won the lottery, my people. I can feel the wind blowing through  my windows, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be changing them anytime soon. But that’s why I found ways to make them a little better. I was creative. I rarely buy clothes, I mostly wear used ones. I don’t mind because I wash it and it’s not torn. It’s new to me. What do you know where this comes from? I don’t  like having to deal with it in different ways, when it’s a lot easier to go to the store and buy a new one of my choice. The fact is that my financial situation does not allow me to do otherwise, even though I work and make money. 

P.S. Little tips on how to save on the essentials in everyday life.

  • I don’t usually use kitchen paper towels, though they are practical. The reason is that it is another expense and I can wipe it all with a dishtowel and wash it later. Where I put all the clothes I put that dishtowel as well.. It won’t take lot of room in the washing machine.
  • I use domestos for cleaning. It is good for the bathroom, the kitchen as well as the floors. I use it diluted because it is equally effective and makes no difference.
  • I wash the windows with dishwasher diluted in water and wipe them with newspaper. That’s how our grandmothers wash, so I wash when I have no money for a glassware.
  • I put less than half of the laundry powder in the dishwasher. I use the more expensive one because it is stronger, but since I put it less it is well washed.
  • I don’t always use a softener. Sometimes I just don’t have the money for it and that’s ok. Not necessarily needed. However, when I have it I only put it in half of the cap. I realized that the laundry smells just as good as it does when I put the whole cap on.
  • When the month is really heavy, I use soap instead of shower gel. I shower just as well as I do with gel.

Zeljka, croatian care leaver