Money can be both your enemy and your best friend depending on how your view it. On one hand, money is the line between success and failure, and whether you have little or a lot of it, it can change your entire perception of a situation. A rich man can be greedy and spoilt, a poor man can be immoral and selfish. A rich man can also be generous and kind, a poor man can also be humble and appreciative. Money is one of the biggest drives, hungers and motivations in the world – and for June, it is my goal to finally get control of it.
Ever since moving into my new flat, I’ve been spending more than I’m used to. New furniture, higher rent, bigger bills, one person food shops and solo responsibility for household neccesities means that money seems to flow out of my bank account like water. My salary hasn’t increased, but my outgoings certainly have, and I’m struggling to stay afloat. But I’m also fully aware that, when it comes to money, I’m my own worst enemy. I’m an impulse shopper, an emotive shopper – I’m a ‘I’ve had a bad day, let’s buy something’ and a ‘I’ve had a great day, let’s buy something’ shopper. I live in a tricky part of a city, where public transport is infrequent, and not easily accessible…yet I live far too close to a shopping cenre for my own good.
So this June, I’m going to take control of my budget. I want to break it down, be honest with myself about why I spend, and to take a little bit more responsibility about my finances – in the hopes that next month, there might be a little bit more in my savings pots for a rainy day!
My biggest budget killers:
Everyone has them; budget killers. The main source of our lack of funds. For some people it can be expensive clothes, jewellery, takeaways, festivals, events…For me, it’s this:
- UBERS – I’m addicted to Ubers. Living just a touch too far out of town for the nearest bus to reach, and a little bit too far from anything else to walk, I rely on Ubers far more than I should. Don’t get me wrong, my star rating is great, but with about 40% of my monthly outgoings heading straight into the Uber accounts, my bank balance is less great.
- Online shopping – My new flat has come with a lot of new changes. A new style, new hobbies, new interests and a new approach to myself. But change costs money, and recently I feel like I’ve invested more money into Amazon delivery charges than I have into my pension. Slogan t-shirts, skincare, poetry books, plant pots, prints and fairylights might seem pretty low budget, but unfortunately they all add up to a big gaping hole in my purse.
- Apartment decor – Similarly, furnishing my new flat is an ongoing process, one that I honestly think I’ll never stop working on. There are so many gaps to fill, so many new features I want to add, so much I still want to change, even though it looks great as it is. It feels like a constant project to work on, and one that is costing me a lot to continue.
- Coffee – This one hurts me. I’m definitely living that coffee-life. I drink at least two cups a day, and whilst one of them is usually at the office, the others are either from my own personal pod machine or bought in a coffee shop. I feel my most inspired by coffee shops, and I love working in them, so I don’t want to let go of that lifestyle, but it’s certainly having a detrimental impact of my budget to keep it up.
Things that I should be spending my money on:
There are definitely things that my money can go towards that serve a large interest than just material. I’m so aware that the amount I spend on things like clothing, decor and beauty products could always be spent on more important and valuable expenses instead. Things such as:
- Travelling to see people I care about – I want to explore more of the country, and with so many of my university friends scattered across the UK, it would be great to have enough to head out and catch up with them again!
- Savings – I need to start seeing my savings fund as an actual long term budget plan, rather than just an emergency fund – a difficult task when your current account is always Out of Order.
- Groceries – I really struggle to buy groceries. Without having the means to carry heavy bags back from the city centre all the time, I’ll need to invest in getting some groceries delivered – which of course, costs money. Having the funds to do that would be a very positive thing for my empty kitchen cupboards!
- Charity – One of my biggest goals is to have enough money to comfortably donate to charity. Without bleeding myself dry, I would love to find a charity I really care about and happily donate a portion of my salary to it.
- Getting my damn phone fixed – My phone is dying. Slowly and painfully, it’s reaching it’s end, and I’m desperately trying to put off getting it fixed. But as much as I can argue ‘I’m waiting until the next big problem or crack’, it’s something that I’m inevitably going to have to fork out for. But the longer I leave it, the more likely it is that I’ll be needing a new phone before the month is out!
- Getting my damn laptop charger fixed – This one is more of a low key problem – but it certainly is affecting my life. Problematic, unpredictable and a little bit grubby, my poor laptop charger has been through a hell of a time, and it’s also struggling to keep my laptop afloat. So one of my big goals for June is just to get the thing fixed, and to start taking better care of my electrics in future!
Why do I spend money?
Everyone has a shopaholic demon inside of them; some secret devil that points them towards shiny shop fronts and online sales. But to truly understand how to budget, I also need to understand my own shopping demon, and what forces me to spend spend spend!
- That damn aesthetic – I’m a sucker for a Pinterest board, and my Instagram feed is full of that ‘boho chic girlboss’ lifestyle I so desperately crave. I want to feel powerful and put together, and in my head, I automatically connect that feeling to the ownership of certain objects, colours, fashion items and home decor. Perhaps this comes out of an insecurity, or the fear that I’m not living up to societal standards? Either way, whilst this aesthetic definitely boosts my mood, it has the opposite affect on my cashflow.
- Constant improvements – I’m a change-junkie. I like to update my styles, my approach and how I share my life with the world on the regular. When things get routine, I lose interest, and for me, shopping is a useful tool in discovering my new styles. But obviously this change comes at a cost – both in terms of the amount of clutter I bring into my home with each new look, and in the amount of money it’s costing me to achieve it.
- Social pressures – I think this is a common one. For many people, socialising costs money. Getting ubers to different events, buying new outfits for weddings, birthdays, parties and trips, shopping days out, meals out, etc… To keep up with your friends can be expensive, and no one wants that FOMO feeling come Monday morning.
- Addiction – I think I’m a little bit addicted. I love the rush of a new Amazon delivery, and the smell of new clothes and products. I enjoy how shopping makes me feel, even if I do feel a little bit sick every time I have to hand over my card at the register. Shopping for me makes me feel in control, as I’m the only one who can choose where my money goes and what it gets spent on. This, in it’s worst form, is an addiction.
But what can I do?
There are always ways to save, and sometimes it can be about making many small changes, rather than one large one. For my budget friendly June, I want to start small, by re-discovering the beauty in the things I already have, and finding new ways to get hold of the things I want. My missions are:
- Get the damn bus – Ignore the inconveinence, and just get up that little bit earlier for a longer commute. It might make me a little grumpier than the ease of an Uber, but it’ll be worth it to see those pennies stay right where they are in my purse.
- Take coffee to work with me – I’ve already invested in a cool, slick coffee travel cup, which should hopefully avoid me heading into Starbucks every 5 minutes whenever I’m out and in town.
- Use up vouchers that I have but forget – I got some great vouchers for my birthday, and have so many lying around at the bottom of my handbag, that I just forget to make use of. So I’m going to make a plan to find, remember and use these vouchers as much as I can throughout June, to see just how much money I could save.
- Do a clear out of clothes I don’t want – This is something everyone should do, whether they’re budgeting or not. But since moving into my flat, I have yet to do a big clearout of my wardrobe, and simply carried over every piece of clothing from my previous house into my new bedroom. So taking the time to sit down and actually remember how many great clothes I already have, that might fit with my new style, is a great way to prevent yourself from spending online.
- Plan nights in – I’ve spent so long making my new flat look great, why not show it off more? Inexpensive, cosy and fun nights spent on my sofa are a much easier way for me to enjoy seeing my friends, without indulging myself on pricey nights in the city.
Learn to budget doesn’t always have to be about putting restrictions on every spend avenue in your life. It can simply be about making yourself aware of what the biggest sources of your spending are, and finding the right ways to help yourself manage them. For me, giving myself an exact figure to stick to can only make me feel worse if I don’t hit, so I’d rather try and keep it vague, giving myself the room to make mistakes, but the determination to surprise myself at the end of the month too!
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