About eight weeks ago my boyfriend sat me down in bed and explained that he was about to change my life, to open my eyes up to a whole new world and to give me something I’ve never had before… A savings account.
My relationship with money has been progressively getting better since my University days where my student loan would be gone in the first two weeks and I’d be begging my parents for printer credits and glue sticks for the rest of the term. Even when I left University and bagged my first job in digital marketing, Friday night cocktails and daily Pret porridge were still my priority over saving for the future.
A colleague once worked out I was spending roughly £60 a month just on breakfast and even then I did a shrug and felt a strange sense of accomplishment.
Like a lot of women my age, I didn’t have a grasp on the importance of money and preferred to see it hanging in my wardrobe than racking up in an ISA. And to some extent, that’s still very true. But I’m slowly learning that eating jelly cubes and stale bread for dinner for the last four days of the month isn’t worth the LBD hanging up in my wardrobe (you know, the one that looks identical to the rest)
So when my boyfriend worked out every penny I’d spent over a two month period, I came to a startling realisation- I don’t spend as much on clothes as I thought I did but I do get loose and wild with my card in the pub on a Friday night. And all those weekday Wagas and Nandos with friends? They add up to the cost of a Smeg fridge very quickly.
My Starbucks “treat” certainly wasn’t a treat when it was an almost three figure sum over eight weeks and the “odd”Chinese take-out was costing me more than three new Mac lipsticks- and I know what gives me more satisfaction!
Of course, all wasn’t lost and it didn’t mean I’d have to stop eating out, stop that much-needed glass of wine or hand in my membership card for the Official Space NK Addicts Club… It just meant I had to reconsider my priorities, which seems perfectly normal for some people but for someone who spent 20-odd years of her life believing money actually did grow on trees somewhere, it wasn’t a hard thing to hear.
So why now? As well as living in the most expensive city in the world, the boyfriend and I are intending to buy a flat in London in the next twelve months which is both terrifying and exciting. On one hand, I’ll get a balcony to blog from but on the other we’ll be paying a silly sum for a tiny one bed flat in zone two.
I don’t want to make the wild claim that I am a fully changed woman because my savings account has 8p in it right now. But I do have a bigger sense of awareness and I’ve realised what’s important to me and what isn’t. For example, I refuse to give up on my £3 avocado and poached egg on toast every morning from the work canteen but I can live without Netflix, yet another pair of cheap flats from Primark and mid-week £2.50 cupcakes. I have absolutely seen a noticeable change in my bank balance, although I’ll still be eating cereal for dinner towards the end of the month.
Here are my top three tips for saving money without skimping on the important stuff:
- Coffee: Daily Starbucks? Or a habit for an afternoon caffeine hit? See if you can get it cheaper elsewhere- a cappuncino from my work canteen costs me half as much as a Costa one and tastes just as good. Or better still, swap caffeine for water. I know it sounds dull but a pint of cold water often gives me the same energy hit as an espresso.
- Shop Your Stash: It’s not a blogger chliche for no reason, shopping your current wardrobe/beauty collection more often than not unearths some absolutely gems you’d totally forgotten about. That floral dress you bought two summers ago? Give it an iron (shock horror) and update it with new accessories. And if you’re a palette addict like me, dust them off and embrace your old love for the original Naked shadows… Without spending a penny!
- Grocery Shopping: I’m really bad for getting off the tube and dashing into Sainsbury’s for a quick dinner but it had its advantages- not only do I often land bargain bin beauties but I take advantage of when my favourite meal staples are on offer (trust me, I went wild when the jars of red pesto were on offer for 75p). I also look out for offers on cereal bars and the like, they make sure I’m not tempted by the office bake sale in the afternoon!
Now I’ve reached that stage of awareness and I’m considering
most all of my purchases, the next plan is to try and put away £100 per month. And who knows, I might save enough for that Mulberry purse I’ve got my eye on!
How do you save money? Or, like me, does a new Essie polish always jump into your Boots basket? Let me know in the comments below.