Tag Archives: £0 challenge

Interesting Parenting Idea To Teach Kids About Money / My non-mis-spent youth

Pocket_money_640x360-600x360My parents did a very unusual thing when I was 12. They decided they were going to give me an allowance, but it was a different kind of allowance. Instead of giving me a certain amount of money to buy what I liked with, they sat down and worked out exactly how much money they were currently spending on me, and then gave me that money on the first of each month. This didn’t include groceries or family meals out, school clothes or textbooks, but it did include other clothing, recreational books, magazines, movies, art materials, school lunch money and school bus fare.

Amazingly, as a 12 year old I took to this idea straightaway and began to budget. I never had a month in which I ran out of money, probably because I took my parents totally at face value. It was implied that the allowance would be taken from me if I failed to buy the essentials with it. I didn’t want that to happen, because I knew that if I could get that stuff cheaper than my parents could, I would have more money to spend on what I really wanted.

One reason this worked so well was that my parents were quite inefficient with money. Before they gave me an allowance they used to buy my non-school clothes quickly on a busy Saturday, without shopping around. They were also hooked consumerists, and insisted on replacing things more often than I thought necessary. With a bit of thought, it would be easy to get things cheaper, and spend the extra money on sweets.

The first thing I did was shop around for clothes. I was amazed to find that a t-shirt in M&S cost the same as a Red Dwarf T-shirt mail ordered from leaflet in the back of the video. No contest! I bought a few of those (too big so I wouldn’t grow out of them) and wore them to death. I refused to replace them when they got holey from tree climbing. This bothered my mother but she kept quiet. I used the cash saved to buy books, magazines and art materials. An instant winner – now I had clothes I really loved, and money left over for entertainment!

Soon it became like a game – the more aspects of my spending I could cut down on, the more I’d have left for what was important to me. False economy quickly showed itself too. My first t-shirt purchase had taught me that buying something that lasted two years instead of one, meant I could spend twice as much on pens. It also meant I took really good care of my stuff to make it last longer.

A few years later I had discovered charity shops, and was making my own clothes with my mother’s sewing machine. I suspected that my parents would cut the allowance if they noticed me skipping lunch to save money, so I never tried that. Instead I started secretly cycling an old beat-up bike to school, leaving the house after my parents so they wouldn’t notice. Yet I was still being given bus fare!

I used some of the extra money to maintain the bike, but now I was saving up for musical instruments. In retrospect, I my parents must have realised I was ripping them off at this point, but kept quiet. Why? Because it was a win-win situation. They were giving me bus fare even though I cycled to school, but at least I wasn’t pestering them to buy me musical instruments, or in fact, to buy me anything at all. Overall, they were still making a saving, whilst teaching me important lessons about budgeting. My parents showed restraint by never making a judgement on what I bought, even when at times, I wasted money on tat. They just let me learn the lessons.

I still got Christmas and birthday presents of course, but because of this scheme, for my entire teenage-hood, my parents and I didn’t argue about money. Not only that – my allowance never raised and I never asked for it to be. By the time I finished school it was the same as it had been when I was 12, even though by that time I was also using it to buy school clothes, and for days out to Oxford and London.

Over the years I have hugely underestimated the value of this leap of faith my parents took, letting a 12year old handle money in this way. By the time I left home I was excellent with money. During university I watched my friends splurge on nights out and then struggle to pay bills. But I’d having already had 6 years of practice taking care of the essentials before buying the fun stuff.

I’ve often wondered what made me conceive of the £0 Challenge which I took in 2014, and hugely added value to my life. In a sense, I was refreshing and deepening the ideas that I learned about as a teenager. My parents hadn’t needed to be good with money to teach me about it – their allowance idea was all the teaching I’d needed. I’m not saying every parent should try this – maybe I was an unusual kid… but it’s worth a thought…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Running out of money was such an anti-climax, I just had to go to Harrods

Because the idea of running out of money held so much fear for me, I decided to deliberately let my bank account run to £0 and then work my way up from zero. It was almost as though I thought I would die if I ran out of money and had no work planned. At the very least, I imagined myself abandoning all else to stand in the street and sing for my supper, then going home to the van and hatching plans to tout myself around for as much work as possible.

Would Harrods be a good place to busk? This Big Issue seller seems to think it's a great spot.

Would Harrods be a good place to busk? This Big Issue seller seems to think it’s a great spot.

The reality was much less dramatic – almost disappointingly so. On June 18th I ran out of money, spending my final pennies at the sweet shop in order to get to exactly £0. I still had some groceries left and some fuel in the tank. Would more money come in before those supplies ran out?

Well…Yes.

It was very easy. That same day, someone contacted me about doing enabling/care work for them so I booked couple of days at the end of the week. Rather bizarrely, later that day someone else contacted me about the same thing, so I booked a day with them for the following week. With a little busking to top it up, I realised that’s all I need for now.

So there you have it… the anti-climax.

Quite profound don’t you think? My attempts to put myself in a desperate situation have failed. It’s proved impossible for me to do so. I’ve learned that living abundantly is not about money but resources – it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to believe that money is the only resource.

Since running out of money 2 weeks ago, I have been working my way up slowly, but funds are still low at best. A highlight of my week was singing in Chichester market square with a sign saying “Busking for tickets to the opera”. The experiment has changed me permanently in ways I could never have predicted, and how I make a living from now on will be totally different. I won’t give too much away, but lets just say that I have exciting plans to create my future as business failure.

I put on my most expensive outfit so as to blend in, although I felt a little conspicuous getting changed in the street outside harrods and tying a tie using Starbucks' window as a mirror.

I put on my most expensive outfit so as to blend in, although I felt a little conspicuous getting changed in the street outside harrods and tying a tie using Starbucks’ window as a mirror.

In my last post, I showed my reaction to going to M&Ms World – a wildly consumerist shop in Leicester Square. How then, having recently gone to £0, would I respond to being in Harrods?

I had to try it.

In Harrods, pricetags are hidden. In Harrods, the staff wear suits. In Harrods, the toilets provide free perfume as well as soap. In Harrods, there are many expensive things, like a rucksack for £900 or a chair for £4000, or even a box of tea for £7 or a plastic biro for £5. I was appalled by M&Ms world, but I surprised to find that Harrods did not appal me.

IMG_2400

A £175 shirt… I have one that looks quite similar, but of course you can tell the difference at a glance because mine is blue.

Why? Well, in Harrods it seemed like there was no trickery or coercion. Stuff was for sale and you could buy it if you wanted to – isn’t that how shops should be? Items were on display, but prices were hidden, so you had to take a liking to something based on what it was, not on its price. Everything expensive that I saw seemed well made. Even where things were clearly overpriced (£175 for a shirt – well beyond the cost of its materials and labour), it seemed as though this was very plainly declared. M&Ms World, by contrast, was laid out to try and milk as many purchases as possible out of each customer, regardless of whether they would get good use out of them. Someone could of course buy a £175 shirt from Harrods, and consign it to the bin after 3 months. But being well made, it could also last them for 10 years or more, or be worn 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand for years to come. Products from M&Ms World on the other hand, were so cheaply made that they would quickly break, have no 2nd hand value so would soon end up in a landfill for sure.

 

Take part in Kimwei’s Music Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNDwS7wUwE

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What to do in the meantime? Shoot videos, make websites, build kickstarter, but I’ll need your help…

Although I started this £0 Challenge on May 20th, the actual date that I stopped earning money was May 9th (about a month ago). I gave up all my remaining private guitar students to go adventuring in my van. After filling the tank with diesel I had £200-300 in the bank. A month later, I have been to the coast, to Oxford and London and somehow my bank balance still reads £200-300. I don’t know exactly what’s going on. When I started my challenge, I thought my remaining money would last me a week or two. A whole month later, I’ve still got the same amount as when I started?! ( https://symphonyforhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/im-taking-the-0-challenge/ )

So essentially I’m getting bored. A month of holiday was great – travelling around the country, seeing friends and not worrying about having to look for income. But now, I want to release the acoustic album I finished at the end of April, seek gigs, go busking and all that other singer-songwriter/independent musician stuff. But according to my £0 Challenge I can’t do any of those things until my money runs out, because they count as “seeking work”. I suppose I could just make it run out today by buying something I don’t need, or give it to charity, but as already discussed in previous posts, that defeats the point of the exercise.

Ninja Video Standing On The Edge

Stills from my “test shoot” for the upcoming music video shoot on June 14th. Thanks to Abi Crisp for giving up her time to film me standing on the edge of stuff.

Here are some of the things I can do in the meantime however:

  • Make music videos – I’ve got a great idea for a music video that you yourself could be in! It’s for the song “Standing On The Edge”, from the album Refraction & Redemption which I’m due to release this year. Be a part of the filmshoot in Exeter on June 14th. Alternatively, you can send in your own footage from anywhere in the world. See the event page for more details  ( https://www.facebook.com/events/1458751301038571 ) or facebook PM me if you’d like to contribute remotely.
  • Make a CD of acoustic covers that I could sell when I do go busking later this summer.
  • Update my website (kimwei.com) which I’ve just stripped down. I might even replace the section about my recording studio and production services with a whole new “Goldflower Studios” website, since it was getting a bit to big as my production portfolio has grown over the years.
  • Design album cover for my new album, soon to be released.
  • Write (but not launch) my Kickstarter page in order to release said album. For those of you who don’t know what kickstarter.com is, it’s a website which provides a great framework for an independent album release (among other things). Basically, you sponsor me as an artist by donating money – any amount. For a small donation you’ll be sent the new album as a thankyou. Sounds just like buying the album online right? Not quite. Because you can pledge any amount and there are many rewards to choose from. For example, a signed original lyric sheet (complete with crossing outs, missing verses etc), or a £100 might gain you a living room gig with the artist, in which you can pick your favourite songs. Some bands even include the guitar strings that were used to record the album, as a reward for a certain donation. I’ve still got mine on the guitar so that’s easily done. The artist uses the kickstarter money, either for a specific music project, or simply to keep on making music.

What rewards would you like to see on my Kickstarter page? Do comment / write to me with suggestions. The album is called Refraction & Redemption and the taster tracks can be downloaded from reverbnation.com/kimwei

Kimwei x

 

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized