I don’t know why but I’m still feeling a bit under the weather and my very scientific explanation to this is that the sky here in London has been mostly grey, we hadn’t had almost any rays of sun in the past week and that is having an impact on my mood. I do hope the skies will clear out very soon and that we will have a whole day of light before the month is over.
Weather-rumbling on the side, I have an important announcement to make: I bought fresh roses on Saturday 19th and… they are still alive!
Looking sad, but alive. So far, they’ve lasted more than one week and I’m very impressed! Flowers and plants in my hands usually develop a suicidal instinct and tend to die very quickly. However, these red roses are blooming and I’m so happy about that! To me, they represent my little corner of nature and teenage memories in this wild, careless city – not an easy task for a bunch of roses.
Now, as you could tell from the title, I wanted this post to be about budgeting so let’s get into it. I don’t usually write a lot about personal finance, but since this week has been all about that, I thought I would give it a try. I’ll align the text to the left now to keep it serious.
Last week I sat down at my desk and filled in my Google Spreadsheet with all the expenses of 2018. Every couple of months I download my bank statements and I write down everything L and I bought, dividing it into categories such as Taxes, Grocery, Work Lunches, E’s Extras, L’s Extras, Travel and Oyster. Last year I added an extra section, that is Wedding. This spreadsheet then tells me how much we spend on average for each category and how much we’ve saved of our salary each month.
As you can imagine, last year the Wedding column had quite an important weight in the overall balance of incomes and outcomes so this year we have to compensate by trying to save more. The problem is that for me it is quite difficult not to go shopping from time to time. I think it is something engrained in my subconscious in the feeling great and successful section. I feel rewarded by doing something that involves spending money, most of the time. I’m not talking about spending thousands of pounds, most times I’m happy with a coffee, a t-shirt, a new lipstick. However, in my mind, not spending anything for a long period of time undermines my self-esteem, which sounds ridiculous but in all those years of self-analyses, I think it’s quite accurate.
Once I accepted this side of my brain, I started to come up with new strategies to save money in a way that does not impact my happiness in 2019. It all sounds silly as I write it down, I feel like a spoilt child, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that relates spending money to self-satisfaction. I’m being honest, at least.
The strategies I came up with combine two main concepts. First of all, I need to find more hobbies that make me feel as happy and rewarded as going shopping. Secondly, I want to make sure that if I buy something, it will be either useful or extremely beautiful and will last for a very long time. Having said this, the ideas I came up with are as follow:
- LEARN MORE ABOUT MINIMALISM. I stumbled across a few videos about minimalism on YouTube and these guys seem to be quite happy without owning that much. I love clear, empty spaces where my brain is not constantly stimulated and can just relax. Focusing on turning my home into a place that feels comfortable and peaceful for my brain sounds like a task I’ll love. Also, I strongly believe that throwing away something I don’t need or like releases endorphins in my brain because it makes me feel so good, you have no idea.
- OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND. I recently got myself a debit card where I only load the amount of money I allow myself to spend each month for lunches and extras. This way I don’t even see the money I’m saving, I only see what I can spend. I followed this approach for years but never used a second card. Now that I do, I can tell it makes a difference.
- STAY CLASSY. Classy to me means quality items in a neutral colour. My next purchases will all need to follow that rule. Simple, quality items in grey, beige, white, gold or navy. That’s it. Those are the colours I’m sure I don’t get tired of using or seeing around the house.
- GO BACK TO… Rediscover old passions such as drawing, try to improve, read more, write more, keep going for a run once a week, listen to more music. I need to write down a list of all the activities I can do by myself when I feel the need to buy me something. That list should include a few reasons why I can be proud of myself and I don’t need to see it on ink on a receipt.
- STOP PLANNING SMALL, PLAN BIG INSTEAD. I keep planning my next purchases in my head and I normally plan small, such as a new coat or a new pair of shoes. I almost never include holidays, hotels or furniture. I always thought I would use my savings for that. Now I realise I’d better save my monthly allowance for holidays and furniture while keeping my savings for emergencies, mortgage and possibly retirement. Planning big is scary because it involves big figures, which is also why I should start thinking about it now.
I am quite proud of this list, it is very broad and provides a good starting point. Before writing this post, I watched a few videos and read some articles about savings and tips to save more. Those bullet points summarise the ideas I liked the most and that I find applicable to my lifestyle.
I hope you’ll find some inspiration as well here and if you have more tips, let me know!