Sit down, get a pen and paper ready, and make a list of all the things you have spent money on in the last month that you could have done without. I bet there are some things you can’t even remember, but it all adds up to suddenly being at the bottom of your pay check in week 2 of 4 (and being shocked about it every month if you’re me).
Usually, by the end of week 2 I’m pulling the couple of hundred I put away out of my savings and back into my current account to see me through to the end of the month. This cycle has been going on for YEARS. Let’s take a look at some of the things I have been doing wrong, and why I just can’t seem to save!
- A new outfit for every occasion
“It’s ok though right? Because I just got paid, and it’s [insert reason here] so I must get a new top to go with those jeans I got last month / a dress because I have some great knee high boots to go with it… Anyway I worked REALLY hard this month and deserve a treat.”
Eh-hem… I need to stop kidding myself. My wardrobe is bursting at the seams, but I am very good at convincing myself of things that I need. I’m a liar.
Commandment: Thou shalt not make excuses to buy new clothes!
- Making purchases on my Credit Card
“Well I know I can’t afford it right now but I will just to pay it off next month…”
I tell myself this porker all the time. A new lipstick, a round of drinks, dinner with friends, it all adds up and you end up with a stonking bill which means that money you wanted to put in your savings is going towards paying off your frivolous mid-month splurges. Not cool man.
Commandment: Thou shalt only use credit card in absolute EMERGENCIES.
- Splashing the cash on nights out
“Tequila for everyone, I’ll get this round!”
My ultimate beer fear is checking my purse for receipts after a night out. Or if sneaky drunk me has thrown them away, waiting for my bank balance to restore itself after the weekend. Oh the money wasted on alcohol makes my eyes water! At least I probably wasn’t spending money the day after due to being bound to the sofa with a hangover.
Apart from binge drinking being super bad for you, I could save so much money by ACTUALLY only staying for one or two drinks when that’s what I claim at the start of the night.
Mid-week commandment: Limit oneself to one drink after work no more than once a week.
Weekend commandment: Thou shalt only drink on special nights out and one shall budget for such an occasion!
- Two thirds of my disposable income goes on food
“Shall I pick something up for dinner on the way home?”
No! There is food in the house, or if there isn’t food in the house, pick up a bargain! Don’t spend £10 on a meal deal for 2 with a bottle of wine. It just isn’t necessary. And stop being lazy and take your lunch to work so you don’t have to spend £5 – £8 a day to sustain yourself for 8 hours… these are all things I am trying to tell myself from now on. But that little voice in my head (my own voice, to clarify) says ‘wouldn’t it be nice to make a night of it though’… of course it would dear, but think ‘HOUSE’, there are other ways to make a night of it.
Commandment: Thou shalt live from the kitchen, not the convenience store.
- Wracking up too many outgoings
I thought I needed a new car. I thought signing up to this Gym membership was a good idea. I thought I needed the latest phone. And I thought getting a loan to pay for my Masters Degree was a swell idea.
To be fair, I love all those things and have no regrets, but unfortunately topped with rent, household bills, an undergraduate student loan and credit card transfer loan I have a lot outgoing before I even get to save anything each month. And unfortunately for me, these things have a few years until they are paid off (apart from the phone contract, which I am going to hunt down a bargain for when I upgrade in a month’s time!).
I own these decisions though and take responsibility for them now by paying them off and never missing a payment. But if I had my time again, I probably would have considered the future before diving into these big financial decisions.
Commandment: Thou shalt not sign up to unbreakable contracts without FULL consideration of future financial situations.
You know what, writing this down has been cathartic. Hopefully, if only by trying not to be a total hypocrite, I will succeed in following my new commandments for saving. I’ll be sure to own up to it on Instagram or Twitter if I do, because I would only be cheating myself if I didn’t!
I know I am very fortunate to be able to afford these luxuries in life, clothes, eating out, a car, a lovely apartment with my partner so please don’t think I am whinging about my life. I LOVE my life. But it is time to get real, be sensible, and start thinking about the future. That’s what is important to me now, and that’s why this process is so important to me. I hope this has struck a few cords with you and maybe given you a few initial thoughts on how to save those pennies. If not then maybe just a laugh at my expense, I’m ok with that!