Why money matters to most of us

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
1:00 AM

Nearly one in three of us are in debt because our salary isn’t enough to live on and only 20pc of us stick to a budget and don’t overspend each month.

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Never let it be said that I’m not here to cheer you up.

Research shows that most people in Britain would be happier if they earned up to £1,000 more a week – this is, of course, in direct opposition to the usual surveys which claim that despite our mobile phones, microwaves and foreign holidays we’re a miserable bunch who long for the good old days of the 1940s and 1950s where the sighting of a banana was cause for a national holiday and a washing machine was your mother and the sink.

Ah, the era when flashing your plastic meant boasting about your Bakelite and Tupperware collection, the sepia-tinted time when couples jolly well saved up until they could afford extravagances like walls and front doors for their houses.

This is, incidentally, why your selfish parents have nothing worthwhile to hand down to you when they peg it: it took them 11 years to save up for the three-piece suite which they still own. By the time they could afford a cot, you were 24.

We, of course, will be able to hand down a vast treasure trove of heirlooms to our children because we’ve been paying for things we can’t afford since the moment a bank or building society spotted our potential as rabid, indiscriminate consumers.

Everything that isn’t repossessed in the event of our demise will be theirs to continue paying the instalments on – if they’re really lucky, they may even own the foot-spa outright.

Foot-spas are another reason that the country is on its knees. Britain’s homes are groaning with shelves full of unused gadgets worth countless billions and the top most popular item gathering dust is the foot spa. I bought my mum one the other year, so I am part of the problem rather than the solution. Generally, foot spas are the kind of present a man buys a woman when they are trying to be “thoughtful”: the gift that suggests to his woman that she should take some time out to pamper herself and relax. The clear implication is that the woman in question should have first worn herself out by cooking dinner, ironing shirts, warming slippers, packing pipes and then washing up – after that, she can have free reign with the foot spa, the gift that says “I should have bought you jewellery”. Given our desire to spend and live a Champagne lifestyle on a Special Brew salary, it’s unsurprising to learn that we’d all feel happier if we had another grand in our pockets every week.

Anyone who claims that money can’t buy you happiness is an unimaginative cretin who deserves to have the bailiffs round because they can’t afford the repayments on the helipad they’ve had installed on their council house roof.

And while we’re at it, money most definitely can buy you love, as anyone with children will attest – my children love me more when I act like a walking ATM: they are teenagers and have no use for me other than the access I grant them to my bank account (this is unfair – they also love me because I have a car). In fact, the terrible truth is that a great deal of money wouldn’t just make you happy, it’d make you positively ecstatic, and if it didn’t, you could always pay someone to be happy on your behalf or pay everyone else to be miserable so your unhappiness looked less pronounced.

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