In my role as parent, role-model, and all-around knower-of-everything, I’ve talked to the child about my concept of free money. “Free money” is of course an immediate misnomer as money is never free…not for the likes of you and me. In this case, the free part means it doesn’t belong to anything. It is as a leaf on a breeze, as it were.

Free money is money that is unallocated. It is the money you can spend on whatever you want. It is money as impulse. This money exists, like the rarest of particle, only sometimes, if at all.

This is how I do things. The money you earn, first you pay bills – including groceries and rent. Then you pay debt. Then you allocate a fixed amount (or a percentage) to savings – preferably more than one kind of savings. Then you apportion money to necessities such as a clothing budget, say, or to get something done on the car. Not urgent, but important.

Once all that is out of the way, whatever you have left, if anything, is free money. Buy a graphic novel, some photo-editing software, a Batmobile to add to the shelf that is absolutely not a collection of toys because you’re 47 goddammit. Anything. It’s free.

Which brings us nicely to now: 6am on a Sunday morning. I used to be a 7am kind of man. I would wake at 7, my alarm would go off, and I would be just about ready to start the day.

2019 has seen a change in this cosy routine. I am no long 7am man; now, for reasons I cannot fathom but are almost certainly linked to Brexit, the American presidential situation, the loss of the Mars rover, and controversies over the Oscars, I am a 6.30am man. It’s a change; a significant, unwanted change. It means that by 9pm, I am ready to go to bed. By 10pm, the world must struggle on without me. Because in 7.5 hours, I am going to be awake again.

But, I am adapting. I have come up with a new idea: Free time. This is the time between 6am and 8am. On a weekday, I spend more time with the dogs before inevitably coming into my office and starting work. But I get a lot off my plate Before The Meetings Start. At weekends, I can absolutely do what I want. I can sit, drink coffee, and read…I can FIFA…or I can do what I’m doing now. I can write. Get the morning off to a good, constructive start. Because this is free time that doesn’t impact on the rest of my day. I can still clean up; I can still run errands; I can still show up at social events. But between 6am and 8am, this is my time. No one else is awake. It’s free. 

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