Joy in…having ‘no money’

I recently started a theme of blogs to consider topics where others may only perceive a lack of joy. I started with Joy in Winter and for my second instalment, am turning my attention to money. My partner and I live on a narrow boat and our joint income doesn’t equal enough for one person to pay any tax – but it hasn’t always been like this for me.

Money is a strange thing. It rules the world, causes arguments amoung loved ones and makes most of us spend most of our lives doing something we dislike – most of the time. Money filters into so many aspects of our lives that this blog is, in fact, quite difficult to write. The joy I want to describe is in compromise, and it is one most people cannot experience because untangling themselves from the lives they are already living seems impossible. 

A big part of the reason I have less money is because of my chronic illness. Although this change has given me more time, it’s not the same joy in the way I would have chosen in my ‘old life’ – but I may never have made the choice without it. The impossible untangling was made possible. 

Becoming a charity shop addict is just one of the many ways I am not only finding joy but also fulfilling the cliche of becoming like my mother. The kick I get out of finding nearly-new branded jeans or a scarf as a gift is like nothing else. These items would have cost me so much more money – money which I don’t have – as well as supporting charity and the climate crisis. When I then wear these jeans I will happily brag to anyone who will listen about how much – little! – they cost me and I will feel joy every time I do that too. 

I admit, I do sometimes feel I would like to go out to a cafe or similar more often, especially when there are canal-side eateries dotted along the way on our travels afloat. They tempt me in with warm smells and cakes covered with domed glass covers, glinting expectantly at you. However much I have to mentally pull myself away from these places, the times we do go out (about once a month) feels extra special. If we went out several times a week, I think there would be hardly any joy to it because it would be so everyday. 

All of the above creates habits which have enabled me to not only get along with less money, but want it less, too. It has helped my mind feel more free, and less cluttered with what money can do for me, allowing me to think what I can do without it. I can also appreciate gifts of words, homemade items, books people and have read and passed onto me and the like. In return I can find joy in reciprocating and there are plenty of folk who appreciate these gifts.

Have you made a choice of time, or money, or have you let the choice happen to you? For some, ‘no money’ also comes with very little spare time and is also compounded by poor health. I am definitely not trying to gloss over extremely difficult situations that exist in our societies. My personal joy is just that – personal. If you are inspired by any of my joys, or would like to add any of yours to the comments – please do as I’d love to hear more ideas!


  1. Your comment about becoming like your mother made me laugh out loud. But you are so right about not making money your goal in life, which so many people do. I suppose it’s understandable, as that’s the way the world goes. But it’s not good for the soul. Just a shame that you have had to learn this the hard way. Those of us on a pension also have to cut our coats according to the available cloth, but not in such an extreme way, of course. Charity shops are a wonderful resource, and a trove of serendipitous finds. I usually get my jigsaws there (and chuck them out, rather than pass them on) if I find pieces missing.

    Liked by 1 person

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