Life’s Riches by Nicky Morgan
Starting a new business – for the first time – brings with it many new experiences; coming up with a name for the business, registering the business, selling your first product (the joy!) and (almost certainly at first), not taking a monthly salary.
In early 2018, my two colleagues and I set out on our start-up adventure. Our pledge to each other was to bring enough personal money along to support our individual financial situations for a year. After that, we would need to be able to see a financial return from the business to at least partly fund our lifestyles. A huge leap of faith that involved borrowing money from various different sources – and a huge step out of each of our comfort zones.
18 months on (as I write this) and I couldn’t be happier that we are still here to tell the tale. We have learnt so much. But perhaps one of the most surprising lessons of all has been how our relationship with money has transformed along the way.
We made an agreement from the start that whilst we wouldn’t be paying ourselves a salary straight away, we did want to feel the benefits of running our own business in other areas of our lives. We run a wellbeing business and our mission is to help people to “stress less and smile more”. It was important to us that this applied to ourselves first and foremost.
Like the concept or not, money is a necessity for life. And according to a recent study by Every Day Health, 52% of people said financial issues regularly stressed them out. I have seen first hand the devastating impact financial lack or insecurity can bring – to mental and physical health, relationships and lives. There’s no getting away from the fact that we are living in a society where money matters.
But how much money really matters is down to individual interpretation. Undoubtedly having shelter, food and hygiene tools are a basic human right and need (don’t get me going on the “pink tax”).
Beyond this, if we really stop to think about it, what we value most dearly, may not necessarily come with a price tag.
Here’s just a few things I’ve learned in a year of earning no money:
- Where I previously had a healthy salary, I lacked time. I was working long hours and being fairly compensated financially for that. But money could never buy me back the luxury of time.
- The luxury of time – if invested wisely – can be the greatest treasure on earth. Time spent with loved ones, on my own personal development and wellbeing, on day dreaming and simply “being”.
- My new business brings me so much fulfilment. I just don’t feel the need to be filled up with other “stuff” (that generally costs money!).
- Saving money and saving the planet go hand in hand – reusable water bottles, coffee cups, bags for life and second hand books and toys to name a few…
- I do, as it turns out, have plenty of clothes in my wardrobe and don’t need any more. Sewing buttons back on, learning how to properly get stains out and making more time for ironing opens up a whole “new” wardrobe.
- There are plenty of fun, free activities on my doorstep that also have the added bonus of keeping my mind and body healthy – I have never done so much walking and talking in my life!
- When I do spend money – I make it count. I like the concept of money being like a “vote” – you choose who you are voting for every time you make a purchase. What does that brand / product / service stand for? Is it a good match with who I am and what I believe in? The rise in purpose-led brands is no coincidence. Make your vote count!
- Money can’t buy you happiness – but how you spend your money can. Studies show us that spending money on experiences, time with loved ones and ultimately “memories” that feed our passions and interests, will leave us with a lasting happiness legacy.
- If there’s a story to be had from an investment – it’s probably worth it. If there’s no story to be had from an investment – it might not be.
- The need to wash my hair every day is a myth. Probably brought about by the beauty industry. Washing my hair 2 – 3 times a week is more than adequate – saving time, money and the environment 🙂
- As the song goes – the best things in life (really are) free. The smile of a loved one, birdsong, a beautiful sunset, laughter, imagination – to name but a few. We sometimes just need the time – and life change – to realise this.
So what has a year earning no money taught me? To realise what I really value… continuously invest in those things and to count my riches every single day.