Confession Time: I Didn’t Bother Paying off my Debt Because I Had This Dumb Notion A Man Would Come and Do It For Me

I know, I KNOW. I’m a total dumbass. I’m cringing with embarrassment as I write this.
Publish date:
November 21, 2012
money, feminism, credit cards, debt show us your debt

Hey, it’s time for another post loosely based on the treasure trove of shit press releases I’ve been sent this week.

This time round, I’m gazing, glassy-eyed in non-amazement at the news that men are better at managing money than women. Or, to be more specific, that men ‘take the lead on all aspects of finance and dominate decision making by 3:1.’

In case you were interested, today’s sweeping statement comes from a survey by Callcredit Information Group (me neither).

The survey found that twice as many men pay into a pension, and that men are five times more likely to make investments and three times more likely to put money in a savings account than women.

The press release does concede that this could, in part, be down to the gender pay gap. However, it doesn’t specify the age range or wage brackets of the people asked, or which industries they work in, so we’ll never know.

Making crass, gender-based generalisations is disingenuous at best. However, this press release popped into my inbox just as I was having a good hard think about my finances, and general attitude to money, so I decided it was time to commit something to paper.

You may have noticed that I didn’t participate in or comment on the US site's Show Us Your Debt feature. That’s because although I don’t mind telling you about the time Ricky Gervais told me to piss off for taking a picture of him coming out of a portaloo, I really, really, really can’t bring myself to write down how much debt I have.

In fact, I couldn’t even bring myself to write ‘how much debt I’m in,’ just then – for some reason it sounds worse.

I'm not writing the total figure down, but it’s two credit cards, a loan that I took out years ago that seems to stretch into infinity, and the terrifyingly big overdraft I managed to procure in my first term at university and almost always live in (this was back in the glory days when banks were falling over themselves to give students credit they couldn’t pay back – hey I’m not blaming the bank, it was definitely my own fault).

The stupid thing is, on paper, I’ve got a good thing going on. I earn a good wage (which means I’ve, ironically, paid off my student loan), and thanks to some heavy intervention from my mother (the form-filling kind, as well as financial), I own my flat, and rent out the spare room.

Basically, all my debt is the ‘bad’ kind, and I’ve got no excuse whatsoever for my predicament.

Actually it’s not even really a predicament. I’ve worked out that if I grow the fuck up, get organised, and stop essentially just jizzing money everywhere, I should be able to pay the lot off in 12-18 months. Really, in the grand scheme of things, I’m incredibly lucky to be in this position. I just need to sort it out before it gets worse, and be done with it.

But the question still remains, why didn’t I do it before? Why am I getting the night bus home aged nearly 30, instead of doing it when I was 24 and whacking taxis my credit card? How on earth did I think I was going to pay it back?

Well, that brings me back to this press release. I suspect, on a subconscious level that I’m profoundly uncomfortable with, I was waiting for a man to come and do it for me. I’m as embarrassed writing that down now as I was at admitting to the debt in the first place.

Who knows where I got this idea from. My mother has always been the main breadwinner in our family, and probably takes more control of the family finances than my dad. Not because he can’t or won’t, but just because she’s organised and efficient and good at it.

As I said, I think this was a fairly unconscious thought. I’ve always prided myself on being independent – both emotionally and financially. I like telling a new boyfriend that I own my place, and seeing that he looks impressed (or intimidated – whatever, I’ll take either).

Of course, I don’t admit that organising my mortgage was absolutely none of my own doing, because then I sound less like a shit-hot independent woman and more like a pampered princess.

But every month, when I opened another unfeasibly large credit card bill, I’d just push it to the back of my mind. Because I always had the vague idea that money worries would just sort of… disappear into the ether when I met the right man.

In my Meet The Right Man fantasies, my pretend Mr Right certainly isn’t setting me up with ISAs and getting me on pension schemes, while I sit there, slack jawed in admiration and awe at his amazingly clever brain, wot understands spreadsheets and everything.

I’m not that stupid. Ok, I’m a bit stupid.

But everything’s fine, because we miraculously have enough money for everything we want or need. Because that’s what happens when you’re in a couple. Debt is a single woman’s affliction.

I know, I KNOW, it’s ridiculous. And I’ve only recently cottoned on to where my subconscious has been going with this one. I also know full well that I can’t call myself a feminist who wants to be treated equally, have equal pay and everything else that goes with it if I’m willing to hand control of my finances to the first man who comes along for no good reason.

The good news is, I think I’ve shocked my brain into rewiring itself. In the past month or so, I’ve become determined to sort my life out. Admittedly, this might have something to do with the fact that no-one’s shown the slightest interest in a) marrying me or b) setting me up with a pension scheme recently. But progress is progress.

Four weeks into into my new, frugal, organised regime, and I’m doing pretty well. I’ve even done my budget for December – in advance! Plus! Night buses!

Lets just hope I can stick at it. After all, everyone knows (from Eastenders) that no good can come from marrying a man for his money:


Rebecca will be Tweeting the pros and cons of marrying a (non-destitute) Ian Beale character @rebecca_hol.