Lately I’ve been slowly learning the hard way what everyone has been telling me for years – they tell you with a sigh in their breath, a look of defeat in their eyes, as they throw up their hands in the air:
“Sydney is unaffordable”.
It’s true. The stats show it as the 14th most expensive city in the world. I’m finally seeing it for myself. And it is very discouraging. Boomers can say what they want about avocados, life in Sydney is challenging, especially if you are a low income earner.
Take me as an example. When I moved out of home 2 months ago, I knew I would need to work harder to cover the new bills. So I did – I budgeted tight and cut my living expenses as much as I could, prayed like crazy, and I increased my hours at work.
And what was the fruit of my labour?
All Centrelink support ended, and I entered the next tax bracket.
This meant that for every hour I flogged it at work, only a much smaller chunk of that was now making it to my bank account – to cover the rent, the food, the car insurance, the electricity. And I was barely scraping even in the first place. Talk about demoralising.
It feels like I’m toiling for “the man”.
Maybe I’m just a whinging millennial, but I’ll be honest, it has been getting me down lately.
I know that from a global perspective, this is ridiculous. Me feeling the pinch is nothing compared to the many single parent families across Sydney, those who have kids with disabilities, or those living in true poverty. This is to say nothing about the majority of the world that lives in poverty that I couldn’t imagine.
That may be true – but it doesn’t stop me feeling the blues. If anything, it will just make me feel more guilty.
Maybe you are like me and struggling to get by, and it is getting you down. So what do we do? How should we think about this?
Here’s a few points that have helped me as I’ve wrestled with these questions:
Firstly, we are not powerless. We always have choices we can make, and there are options. I can move to a new area, I can work overtime, I can change jobs, I can ask for help. I can get creative. I can make decisions. I have a choice. The minute you stop believing that is the minute depression will set in, I guarantee it.
Secondly, we aren’t ultimately in control of our lives. We are in God’s hands – we’ll go where he wants us to, and live where he wants us to. And trusting and following Him is so much more important than any “worries of this world”.
Thirdly, we can hold on to the things that really matter – relationships. God. Friends. Loved ones. Community.
I strongly believe that relationships really are what life is all about – with God, and with other people, because really, they are the only things that will last forever. Relationships – and memories. Everything else is just vapour – here for a second and then it’s gone.
That might sound a little dark, but it should have the opposite effect. It should inspire you to stop toiling for things that won’t last. Even if the coin is tight, don’t spend your life working so hard that you forget what life is really about in the first place.
One of the great things about friends is that, really, your real friends don’t care how much you earn. Some of my closest friends earn probably 4 times what I earn in a year. And you know what? I genuinely couldn’t care less, because one day we’ll both stand before God and give an account for how we lived our lives. And ultimately, all that will matter is if we trusted in Jesus, and how we loved other people in the short time we had on earth.
If you’re doing it tough paying the bills in Sydney, or anywhere really, don’t lose heart. Reach out for help, and keep focussed on the things that really matter. It won’t last forever, and if you can stay focussed on the bigger picture, then you’ll know that, with Jesus, you’re going to be OK.
Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle to encourage and inspire those who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.
*Update – Since writing this post, I’ve been reminded that my situation really isn’t as bad as I thought. My solution has been to work overtime, which has made a significant difference and allowed me to easily cover all of my bills. Like I said, there are always options!