Wednesday, 30 April 2014

115. Lifestyle // Last of the Big Spenders

Today I'm going to talk about something that, I'm sure, is a problem a big for many people: MONEY.

I live my life from payday to payday, having to keep track of every penny that I spend, and every month - without fail - dipping into my savings and maxing out my credit card. My spendaholic ways have led to me having around £4,000 worth of debt (including the student debt that mounted up during my six month stint with the Open University) at the tender age of 21. This fact makes me feel physically sick.

So how have I got myself into such a mess?! 1) I live well beyond my means - I earn a very modest amount, working a full-time admin/sales job, yet I spend as if I'm earning double the amount, 2) I love clothes, make-up, nice food and all of life's other little (but expensive) luxuries, 3) When I don't have money, I simply find another way to buy something... by which I mean taking out a credit card (hello £1,300 of instant debt) or a store-card (oh hi Littlewood's, Argos and Dorothy Perkins...) and, therefore, in the long-run spending about 20% as much on each purchase as I would have if I'd just saved up for it, or gone without (something that I can't seem to ever do).

For the last few months, I have been paying off my store-cards in chunks; just under £200 each month and therefore my debt is much smaller than it was this time last year, which is a start. I've also not used any of them in over 3 months. Success. 

But on the other hand, my credit card is consistently maxed out and my savings never manage to last as, by the end of the month (or, in all honesty, by half way through the month...) I'm having to dip into them just to buy basics such as food, bus tickets or a cup of tea with a friend. 

I'm now in a position where I understand that I can't continue this way if I want to be able to own my own home, have a family or save up for anything as substantial as a holiday or a car and with a big career change coming up it really is time to sort my sh*t out.

I'm setting myself some rules, a budget and a new mind-set and I'm hoping that I can stick rigidly to this. I'm not saying that I'll not be able to treat myself - sure I can, I placed a £65 ASOS order yesterday and picked up a bottle of wine on the way home from work tonight, that's fine. But I need to differentiate between treats and 'everyday' purchases; wine isn't a necessity so limiting it to a bottle or two a week is okay, I don't need to pop into Superdrug on every lunch break, and I definitely don't need to spend £3 on a sandwich everyday simply because I couldn't be bothered to make one at home for a fraction of the price.

Here are my rules:

1. Credit card and store cards are not to be touched. I read a tip somewhere (sorry, I can't remember where?!) that said you should put your credit cards in a plastic container, fill it with water and then stick it in the freezer - that way, when you're tempted to whap out the plastic, you can't. Well, you can, but you'd be waiting a while - and by the time it melted, the impulse to buy would have probably passed!

2. I'm setting myself a budget for food, drinks and cigarettes (also known as: the basics) each week and I am not going over this. I stay at home about 2/3 nights a week, and with S around 4/5 nights a week therefore I only need to buy my dinner 2 times a week (if S and I split it down the middle). I've got plenty of recipes for cheap, healthy and easy meals (such as the yummy chilli that I blogged about here) and I reckon £20 (to include food for breakfast as well as pasta, bread, etc, for lunches and the odd bottle of wine or bar of chocolate as a treat) is an ample allowance per week. I'm trying to cut down on smoking so I'll limit myself to 5 cigarettes per day, or about two packs of 20 per week (£15).

3.  I'll only buy a fashion or beauty item if it's a replacement, and it's wholly necessary. I've recently stocked up on primer, foundation and powder and I have a huge selection of mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks, nail polishes and all the rest of it in my collection, so I really don't need anything. The amount of face washes, moisturisers and body lotions that I have stored away is unreal, so in reality - the only thing that I can see myself needing to buy is a new concealer (which I can pick up for under a fiver) and deodorant and razors, when I run out. In terms of clothing, I'm saving my pennies for a big Primark haul a couple of days before S and I head off to Portugal in June, so I'll have to make do until then.

After bills, board, driving lessons and savings, I have £300 'disposable income' to play with this month. That's £75 a week, or £10 a day. Initially this sounds like a lot, but once I take out my basics (worked out to be £140 for the month) and travel (probably around £40), I'm left with £120 for any shopping and socialising that comes along... Baring in mind that it's the Bloggers Teaspoon next weekend, one of my best-friends and two of my siblings' birthdays this month, and several smaller meet-ups with friends, as well as days out with S, it's going to be tough. Really tough. But it needs to be done.

Do you think I can do it?
Do you have any tips or advice to help me?


  1. Good luck with it. I'd recommend taking out some cash at the start of the week and then spending no more than that, it's harder to spend if it's real cash (rather than on your debit card), put anything spare at the end of the week into a jar and watch the money in the jar mount up!

    1. That's a fab idea! I might separate a weekly allowance into food/drinks, cigarettes and shopping/socialising envelopes and give my dad my debit card to keep a hold of, hehe. xxx

  2. My friend has a money tin that you have to open with a tin opener. She bought me one from the local pound store & when it is full I buymyself a treat & then put the money into a savings account. Try this & you will reap the rewards. Also bulk make food then freeze it. Healthier meals & less outgoings. Good luck xx