Funny about money

Everyone my age (and sometimes younger...) seems to be talking about buying a house. Not a day goes by without a blogger on my instagram feed putting up a photo of themselves dangling a set of keys to their very own home. In my group of five friends, three now own houses. One is already married, one is engaged and one is pregnant. Natalie is a doctor so she has other things to be thinking about right now like saving actual human lives. 

And then there's me.

I'm 29 years old and I'm back living with my parents because of the temporary contract I'm on 130 miles away from the (rented) house I share with my boyfriend. If they keep me on, we've talked about him moving down to be with me but I don't know how long it would take for us to save up for a deposit, never mind furniture. And that's the deposit for a rented flat.

Mike bought a van last year in cash and the timing belt snapped within a month, writing it off, so another car had to be bought on credit. We have oil central heating, which is paid in a lump sum and always seems to need filling up when we don't have the money for it. My best friend ended up stuck in Adelaide when I went to Australia, which meant another last-minute grand on accommodation for Melbourne on the credit card. I moved jobs in April and didn't get paid for nine weeks. More credit. 

Money, and the talk of money, dominate my life. I have to note and monitor every pound spent to make sure I can last until pay day. I put money aside in envelopes labelled "petrol" and "bus" so at least I know I can get into work for the rest of the month after paying my credit card bills, a debt I'm determined to clear. It's so fucking boring thinking about it all the time.

The woman who sat next to me at work in my last job said, "You're almost 30! You need to get your skates on and think about getting a house!" as if the thought had never crossed my mind. Even if Mike and I saved up a deposit, we can't afford to run one. Our boiler broke down this year and it cost our landlord a thousand pounds to fix. If that had been mine and Mike's responsibility, we would have had to go without hot water for months. 

But.

My three friends I mentioned, who own their homes. The one who's married, married well. (Not just financially; he's an incredible husband to her.) But they've been on holiday abroad three times in the past year. The one who's pregnant; her dad died and left her enough inheritance for a house. (Of course, she would hand the house over in a second if it meant one more day with her dad.) And the one who's engaged had a helping hand from her parents. Most of my London/South East friends lived at home well into their 20s so they could save.

Talking about money is considered so rude and taboo that we never see these stories behind people's big purchases and so the perpetual myth of "work hard and you'll get there" dominates. My parents bought their house 18 years ago for £37,000. It's now worth at least three times that amount. I'm not making three times the salary my dad was on at the time. It's not like it was. 

Congratulations to the people who have, or will, become homeowners. To those who are living pay to pay like me, not owning a home is not a reflection on you personally, just a sign of the (financial) times. 

Lauren Aitchison