>This is not a maudlin post about getting old, but it is a reflective post about growing up which, we all know, is not the same thing.
I started getting old some time ago, but I stared growing up really far more recently.
It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that finishing in education, getting a job, moving into your own place, getting a loan from the bank etc, that all these things are growing up. But they’re not. They’re just things which you develop rights for as you age. They’re things that you are able to do because various laws and institutions ascertain that you are financially and intellectually capable of handling them.
We know this not to be the case of course. Most people end up in some kind of debt, and many people stay in it. Sometimes indefinitely. Overdrafts, store cards, credit cards, loans, mortgages and the more dubious pawning and Cash Converting type debt afflict most people we know. Very few of us have any serious savings, and I bet that you can count the amount of people in your circle of friends with a pension, on the fingers of one hand.
We’re just not set up for the amount of financial dependency we’re offered, and this is mainly because no-one ever has been, so we never got warned.
Credit cards are new, such varied loans are all new, mortgages made available at such high percentages of value (although thankfully no longer) are pure madness. Our parents just couldn’t borrow money in the way that we could and still can. I got my first Barclaycard at 18. I surreptitiously filled out the insert that came in my NME, posted it in some bizarrely covert fashion so that my parents wouldn’t find out. I then panicked like mad that they’d get to it before me in the post and, more importantly, Barclays bloody gave me one!
Madness. I went straight to ASDA with my friends, bought a case of beer and asked for cashback. Thankfully you can’t get cashback on a credit card. I got a statement then next month which said I owed £300. I shat myself and cut it up, paid it back somehow and swore I’d never do it again. My current credit card is on about £1300.
Did I grow up through money handling? No, I didn’t. I did it through people management. I did it because other people needed me to. Getting a mortgage wasn’t a big thing, it was big because I did it for my partner. Buying a car wasn’t big, but getting an estate because we had a small child was. Did saving £10,000 make me a grown up? No, I don’t think that did either. But the fact I spent it all on clearing my partner’s debts was the grown up thing to do. Not because it was a proud or honourable thing to do. But because it was the right thing to do.
I hated it at the time of course.