|"Solvency feels better than anything you can spend money on"|
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Peace and Plenty is the latest book from Sarah Ban Breathnach, one of my favourite inspirational authors. Her writing style is gentle and calming; nurturing and encouraging. In this book she explores the relationship between women and money. Yes, money.
It can be a scary word sometimes, causing many a sleepless night to the overspent. It is not a book about stocks and bonds or financial planning as such - this is a book which looks at how women really handle their cash. SBB mentions the ingenuity of the 'envelope system' which is something I've used myself for years and plenty of women I know also use it, so it must be quite effective. Apparently it stems from the war years and rationing, when housewives had to stretch their income as far as possible.
But what can a millionairess author know of everyday money troubles? Isn't SBB loaded? Well, yes she was, but due to overspending on frivolous luxuries (Marilyn Monroe's furs, among other items listed in the book! WTF???) and a bad marriage/divorce to a fortune hunter, she is now broke and nearly broken by the experience. She's had to sell her English writing retreat Newton's Cottage and set up home all over again in a small apartment in the States. So far, so fallen.
She writes with honesty and humility about the financial mistakes she's made in the past and how she has learnt to pick herself up and take better care of the pennies, now that she's been reduced to rubbing two together and counting every one! You just know as a reader, that this is a writer who really lived the authorial dream, who had it all and who is now kicking herself for letting it slip right through her fingers. I like her even better for her candor. It makes her even easier to relate to, for in the wake of the longest and deepest global recession ever, haven't we all had to tighten our belts and felt the pinch now and then?
Peace and Plenty is full of reassurance though. All tides turn - those who were once well off and secure can become poor, while those who were poor can look forward to better days ahead. The book offers advice on how to find peace of mind when money worries keep you awake at night, how to stay calm in the face of debt collectors and where to create small moments of comfort for yourself so that you can feel truly enriched no matter how much money you have in the bank.
Although I don't have a debt problem to manage (my student debt not being due in for a few years yet), Peace and Plenty has made me look closely at how I spend my money, and why. I do believe that women are emotional spenders and I include myself in this. A quick shopping trip can perk up a low mood and make pms seems more bearable; a new dress soothes a jilted spirit; while a shiny new stash of make-up can be just what you need to put your best face forward. Retail therapy is good for you, providing you can afford it - that is with cash left over after all the bills are paid, the groceries are in, the car is paid for and the savings account has been topped up by its regular monthly amount. But if you're spending on credit cards, catalogs or bank loans, you're heading for trouble. And the more money you have, the more debt you can accumulate, so more money isn't really the answer - it's learning how to handle the money you do have, in a responsible manner, that will make all the difference.
Peace and Plenty is a great self-help book for any woman who wishes she was a little bit smarter about money. It aims to leave the reader with tools for creating a sense of financial serenity and solvency, and provides lots of anecdotes along the way. One thing SBB is good at is putting the laughter into a tragic tale and you will chuckle along with her as she recalls some of her more outrageous money missteps!
This book isn't remotely depressing. Quite the contrary. It is an uplifting tome of feisty feminine spirit in the face of financial adversity - and in the current economic climate, with more cuts to come, who doesn't need a dose of that?