Tag Archives: personal finance

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

Skint Picks Six – And Makes the Top 25 Too (Just!)

2 Feb

Hiya Skint pals,

A nice bit of news just in. Skint in the City has been named as one of the UK’s top 25 personal finance blogs here. Just managed to squeeze in at number 25 but I’m not jealous of all my fellow bloggers further up the list, am I? Am I? Nah, just happy (and a bit bamboozled) to be included, frankly. 

Anything higher would just be vulgar.

Anyway, in the spirit of lists I’m kicking off a new feature here today, the first in an ongoing series – Skint Picks Six.

See, I read blogs all the time and I frequently come across some amazing stuff. When I do, I bookmark it or I start to follow the blog, but I’m not very good at sharing it. Now I’ve decided to spread the love. Skint Picks Six will take the six best blog posts I’ve read that week and share them with you, in the hope that you might love them too.

A new find this week is (1) Grand Per Month, a rich, generous blog about ways to make an extra grand every month. Nice, huh? As I’ve been mulling over ways to make my this site better I really enjoyed reading this post about how to make money from blogging – something I’ve never really tried to do: You can check it out here

In at (2) my favourite personal finance blogger, Budgets are Sexy. I love $J Money’s blog and the way he finds quirky yet incredibly useful things to write about every single day, the sort of stuff you never thought you wanted to read till it’s up there and you suddenly find yourself intrigued. For me that’s what blogs are all about – fresh ideas and a take on things which is quite different from my own yet gets me thinking.

(3) This post from Debt Consolidation Care really struck a  chord with me, as I take on the Skint 2012 money saving challenge (Hmm, I’ve a feeling that title makes it sounds a bit grander than it is!) I particularly like the idea of considering how you can rent rather than buy large purchases like cars. It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it – isn’t buying always the best option? But for those who live in the city and tend to bget around on public transport or by foot, owning a car is often an unneccessary expense. Cheaper often to rent one via a car club when needed and to shell out for occasional taxis. I tread the middle ground by owning a car that’s fast approaching pensionable age – hardly ever using a car for anything other than titchy journeys means spending on it just isn’t a priority. 

(4) This post from helpmetosave.com got me thinking about what motivates us all to spend and, especially, to splurge. I’ve read before about fear being at the root of most people’s spending decisions – fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, fear of looking unfashionable, fear of some disaster  as yet unknown. So, why do you spend? Do you agree with this post’s assertion that it’s down to either greed or fear?

(5) Meanwhile, over at Curb your Consumerism, there’s a debate on whether we’re more dishonest as a nation now than we were us 2000. Whaddya think?

(6) And lastly, news just in from another planet. I was fascinated by this blog post, showing that America’s top 1% of earners are really concerned they can’t make ends meet. From struggling to maintain two or three houses, to feeling inferior to their wealthier pals, turns out keeping up with the Joneses never, ever ends. Ah, you’ve got to feel sorry for them, don’t you??

Hope you find something good from reading these. What are your favourite blogs? Just hit the Comments box below to share them, Skint pals.

To get Skint emails or updates every time I post just hit the Follow button or the RSS button  at the top of the page. That’s all you need to do – it’s like magic. 

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