Tag Archives: money saving

What’s Your Biggest Money Eater?

7 May

Hello, skint pals and sorry it’s been a while since my last post: last week was spent as far out of the city as I could get, on a  family holiday on a farm. It was camp fires and sausages most lunchtimes, but this farm had a rather unique selling point –  its own beauty salon. Rather random I know, but somehow it worked: it certainly made getting a manicure feel more justifiable when I could tell the beauty therapist that the reason my hands need TLC was that I’d just been hauling wood. (It was small sticks actually, but I fudged the truth a little, out of shame for my neglected nails).

Salon beauty treatments are something I never normally bother with. By and large I consider them a waste of money, but having allowed myself a couple down on the farm I might just become a convert. I didn’t realise what a difference a proper pedicure would make, but if I’m going to start splashing the cash on beauty treatments I’ll need to find a way to rein in some other expenses. We’ve all got money eaters – things we regularly shell out on without thinking about how much benefit we’re getting in return. And as my bank balance is feeling that post-holiday pinch right now, I’ve just been taking a look at my biggest cash-guzzlers to see where I might make some savings. This is something I talked about a while back, but I’ve still got way more work to do if I want to shave off some of my superfluous spending. Here are some of my spending habits whose days in power are numbered:

Newspapers – I don’t know if these should be culled or not, because I enjoy them so much, but I am a total newspaper junkie. A day without buying a newspaper is almost inconceivable to me and I will often buy four on a Sunday. Yes, four. I love them, you see – the main sections, the supplements, the lot. But still that’s more than £8 a go some Sundays and a quid or two most other days, so we’re looking at £15 a week, easy. That’s £60 a month!!!! Oh Lord, I had no idea. Clearly something must be done.

newsprint nails

Here’s a genius way to get a manicure and my newspaper fix in one. One of the quirkiest BOGOFs I’ve seen.

Office lunches – As I outlined here, this was a big money eater (literally) for me, but it’s one I’ve gone some way to curbing. Still more to be done though – as with so many expenses, lack of time is the enemy and at 7am I don’t always feel like making sarnies.  

Illness/injury insurance– I pay out £35 a month for this policy, which covers my mortgage payments should I be struck down with any of several scary illnesses. At the time of taking out the mortgage it seemed like a good idea. I’m relatively risk-averse and was suitably scared by the advisor’s imaginary scenario of juggling mortgage payments with a life-threatening illness. Seven years and £3000 later, I’m not sure I need it; after all, I get sick pay for a decent time period via my employer. I’ve often thought about cancelling it, then chickened out for fear that two days later I’d be diagnosed with something horrendous.

Random Acts of Idiocy – Easy to spot after the fact, but harder to eliminate, these are the money eaters that occur due to lack of attention. Last time I went to London I was rushing to catch the Stansted Express and bought my return ticket in a hurry. Next day I realised that I was returning via Luton, not Stansted and had just wasted a pricey return ticket. I ended up giving it away. Library fines would also need to go in this category – my mental block about returning books on time is longstanding and has cost me a fair bit over the years. 

On the other hand, I spend very little on stuff that others go a bundle on. Since I really don’t give a damn about motors I’ve had the same car for ten years. The jalopy still drives and that’s all I want. And because the idea of spending a weekend or longer looking round garages for a new car strikes me as about as pleasant as root canal treatment, I just keep putting it off, (yep, for ten years).

Maybe it’s all about choices – my newspaper habit gives me far more pleasure than a new car could, but still I got a shock when I totted up the monthly cost. When I came across this article on the best budgeting apps I thought it was pretty interesting – see what you think. I might try one to keep track of spending for a month or so.

 What are your biggest regular money eaters? Or don’t you regret any of your spending habits? C’mon, let me know! x

Photo courtesy of Passion Nail Art.

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Why Having Guts is Key to Saving Money

14 Apr

It struck me today that in addition to the usual, more practical advice I write on this blog about saving money, there’s one other thing I think is crucial when it comes to living for less – and that’s having some guts.

I’ve been thinking about how so much money is spent and wasted because of a fear of what other people think – or from a desire to impress them, which is basically the same thing. Whether it’s buying the latest fashions, trading in car every couple of years or coveting our friends’ new kitchens, Keeping Up With The Joneses wastes a hell of a lot of our money, energy and headspace.

Years ago I worked in quite a swish PR company where, for some reason, it was frowned upon to bring your own lunch to work. The thinking – though it was never put quite as baldly as this – was that if you were bringing your own lunch you were struggling in some way. It meant that you couldn’t afford to go out and buy sandwiches, that you weren’t doing as well as you should be, and in that competitive culture where everyone wanted to look as if they were climbing the ladder, it wasn’t the done thing to be seen struggling. And so everyone went out and bought their lunch from expensive delis every day, even if they’d secretly have preferred to heat up the previous night’s leftovers in the office microwave.

In this workplace too, as in many streets all over the country, a LOT of money was spent on cars. They were a public display of wealth to colleagues and clients and I know that several people there were paying significantly more for their car every month than for their mortgage/rent, because they wanted to be seen as successful even if they were actually on a starter’s salary. It would have taken a lot of guts for someone to buck that trend and drive up in an old banger.

Keeping up appearances

One good thing that might have come out of this recession is that it’s more okay than it used to be to admit to being skint, to buy secondhand and to embrace thrift. And it’s somehow less embarrassing to be made redundant or be out of work or to admit that times are tight. The proliferation of  blogs and books embracing thrift, frugality and money-savviness is also a great thing in my view – signs that we’re becoming a bit less hung up on status, or at least allowing some other ideas in. But still it takes guts to ask for a discount in a posh shop, to pull up next to swanky cars in your old jalopy, to refuse to buy your lunch in the posh deli every day and instead bring your own sandwiches and coffee to work.

Saying no to the Joneses gets easier with practice though, till one day they’re just a couple of comical little flies buzzing round your head, trying to boast about how green their grass is, and you don’t care any more cos you’re out at a party with your real pals, drinking cheap, delicious cocktails and laughing about the bargains you just bagged.

If you’ve got any tips on how to avoid the fear of keeping up with the Joneses I’d love to hear them. Have a good weekend, x

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