When our lives undergo a drastic change, particularly bereavement or separation, we are sometimes knocked sideways not only emotionally but on a practical level as well. This can mean increased workload, leading to lack of spare time and in cases where you find yourself sailing the good ship of life single handed, living costs increase.

At these times, tightening one’s belt is a necessity. A review of where your cash goes each month could reveal where you are wasting money and allows you to get a feel for where you might be able to make some savings.

But it can be immensely depressing to do. You are already feeling completely off kilter and just when a little retail therapy could cheer you up no end, you have to start cutting back.

When my life went askew, I immediately retreated to the little ‘panic room’ in my head. I hit the phones to cancel anything I thought not absolutely essential and vowed to shop only at discount stores. But as the weeks passed, I relaxed it all a little. I took a different approach.

This new thinking was partly thanks to an old, long dead British bulldog of a man.

Winston Churchill, according to his biography by the late Roy Jenkins, had another way of looking at issues of what he would probably have termed ‘temporary cash flow problems’.

Churchill was faced with financial difficulties at several points in his life. Now of course, we are talking about the man who owned a beautiful property in Kent, Chartwell (now owned by the National Trust and well worth a visit by the way) which by today’s standard would be worth millions and millions of pounds. So his financial problems were hardly in the same league as the vast majority of people. But, I don’t doubt he would have felt the same. It’s all relative and he would have wanted to maintain the lifestyle he was used to just as you or I would like the same. No one wants to step backwards.

Winston’s attitude was that rather than cut back on spending, he would tackle the problem by earning more.

This was illustrated in the film ‘The Gathering Storm’. Winston and Clemmie are served afternoon tea. As the table is set, Winston’s face grows dark and he bellows at the girl serving him,

‘Where’s my Dundee Cake?!’

He is horrified as Clemmie gently explains that the lack of his favourite cake is due to cut backs. He finds this unacceptable, and did whatever he could to ensure that income increased and his beloved Dundee Cake was back in the larder. But then, we know he was not a man to give up what he believed to be the right way to live.

So I have tried to apply the same principle to my own life. I’m not there yet, I’m a long way off. I still make savings where I can but I’m spending money on better quality food again now and allow myself the odd treat. Last month’s credit card bill is testament to the way I have relaxed my spending and mocks me from my in tray. I did feel slightly sick logging on to make the payment this morning but I just use that as a kick up the rear to ensure I investigate new methods of optimising my earnings. It’s not easy and some months I feel like I’m taking two steps back, but I’d rather increase my incomings than reduce my outgoings any more than I have to.

Have you had to make changes to your spending habits? Did you cut back and find yourself happier with the simpler way of life? Or are you Churchillian in your approach, trying to earn more and proud to be a go getter?

© 2016 Linny Bartlett/Karma’s Footsteps

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