What are you missing during this lockdown? Going out for drinks with your friends? Days out? Wandering around your local high street, looking to see if anything catches your eye?
Y’know what these have in common? They all cost money, whether it’s £5 or £50. Money allows us access to opportunities and experiences, whether they’re mundane and daily, or exciting and new. But some of us now have a different situation – we have more money now because our daily expenses have suddenly disappeared. For me, this means no more Costa iced latte every other day, no off-hand purchases in the St Pancras Accessorize, and no Kindle bills so I can keep myself amused on the Underground.
In the situation we’re in, I think you can approach it one of two ways – take advantage of this surplus money and spend wisely, or save your pretty pennies for the future. I’ve kinda done a mix of the two.
Mindless spending isn’t really a good thing. Sure, it might help the high street economy, or help local business, but it isn’t going to help you. Remember: Your money should help you first.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself to something to cheer yourself – there’s actual psychological evidence to show that it works. I like to buy myself a scented candle, or a new Kindle book, when I’m feeling a little down. However, when you find yourself doing it pretty regularly with basically no excuse, you need to take a step back and think if what you’re buying is actually serving a purpose, or you’re looking for any old excuse to get that capitalist dopamine rush. You have to ask yourself, “Are those earrings going to survive daily wear for months or years to come? Those shoes – do I have anything they actually go with in my wardrobe? Do you really need another potted plant?” (In the case of the potted plant, the answer is always yes, obviously.)
Its not always the case that the more expensive something is, the better it is, but generally high-priced items are of a higher quality. I mean, you’re not going to pay £15 for a pair of real leather boots that could last you ten years, are you?
Take stock of all the things you’ve been meaning to buy or replace – maybe your smart black blazer is getting a little threadbare? What about some good quality boots you’ll wear every day during A/W? How about a versatile bag you can use for work and on the weekend? Also, think about the future. Christmas and birthdays can be a real money drain if we let them get on top of us, but if you see a cute handbag in a mid-seasonal sale you think your bestie will love, and you’ve got the spare funds, put that bitch in your shopping cart and save yourself the stress in six months time.
The things on my list to buy wisely are: a classic cut black blazer, large floor mirror, gold Missoma layered bracelets, slip-on black Vans, and earphones.
Saving Your Pennies
Saving is always a good thing to do, whether or not we’re in the middle of a pandemic. There’s no downside to putting pennies aside for the future or for a rainy day. It’s something I’ve always been taught to do, and touching your savings, in my family, without a good reason is pretty frowned upon. As long as you keep your regular spending in check, and you understand your finances, you shouldn’t have a problem being able to put a little aside every month and keeping away from it.
The easiest way for me is to incorporate my savings into my monthly spending budget. Treating my savings as a non-negotiable monthly spend, like my travel card for work or Netflix fee, keeps it as a priority in my mind, and means I’ll always put some aside. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been able to put more or less away than the month before – the fact I’ve put some away is a win.
I have a three-month spreadsheet that I use to forecast my spending for those three months, as well as record my daily card and cash spending. It helps me keep a close eye on my spending habits, as well as acting as an up-to-date record where bank records take a few days to update with purchases. When I can see what my monthly spending is going to be for the next quarter, I have a better idea of how much I can put aside each month.
Now that I’m in a salary-paying job, I’m really hoping to boost my savings after the hit they’ve taken in the last six months. I’m also hoping to do some travelling once this is all over, so that’s also something for me to save towards. Keeping these two savings separate, and keeping track of them on my spreadsheet, helps me figure out how much I can put towards it, and if I can prioritise one over the other one month.
Make list of all the things you want/need to have/to do, and order them. Whether you do it by price or time-until or importance, this should help you prioritise and form a saving plan to make it happen.
One thing you should take away from this blog post is that money shouldn’t be complicated, and there are things you can do to make it easy for you to manage. Whatever you want to do with your money is up to you, and only you. To have a healthy relationship with money is to acknowledge that you need it, whether it’s to just spend on the basics, or to treat yourself and invest in something, or to save for the future. There is no wrong way to use your money during this time – I’ve just shown you two options. I hope I imparted some of my wisdom to you, and that it helps you out.
Talk to you later,