Work. Play. Eat. Sleep. Spend. Party. This is literally how I’ve lived my life since moving to the big smoke more than three years ago. Living for the weekend, counting down the days till payday to splurge on clothes, and converting paycheques into rotten hangovers. I’ve had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories, but soon I began to feel like my hard work wasn’t amounting to anything. So back in March Larzy and I decided we want to save all of our pennies for a super-duper adventure …. Travelling! We want to jet off to new lands, meet new people and immerse ourselves in unfamiliar cultures.
Once the decision was made – with the intention of hopefully leaving in Spring 2013 – we began planning, saving and budgeting immediately. We are currently three months into it, and whilst we have learnt that saving so much money is a challenge, particularly in London, we have more importantly learnt that saving doesn’t mean sacrificing everything in your life. I’ve discovered ways to maintain some of my pre-SWS lifestyle (if you will) without spending a fortune.
When I originally sat down and assesed my outgoings I was sickened with just how much money I was throwing away; I was using my debit card as if it was a stolen credit card, most evenings involved racking up a £10 bill on junk food I didn’t need, and during the week I was splashing cash I didn’t have on Sushi lunches and Starbucks coffee’s. I was not benefitting from this expensive and no doubt unhealthy lifestyle. So after evaluating everything, my incomings, outgoings, my lifestyle, I came up with the below tips/steps to help me save as much cash as possible for our adventure, whilst avoiding turning into a complete and utter bore who stays in doing crossword puzzles every evening.
Anyone saving, whether it’s for a holiday, a Wedding, or even just saving up for those fab new shoes, I advise you to try and follow at least one of my SWS steps.
HOW TO DO SWS:
- THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
If your worried about your social life (like I was) enter as many competitions as you can for whatever is you’re interested in – gigs/festivals/film screenings. Or try and swindle as many freebies as possible to replace whatever your missing out on now that your saving. I just got back from Beach Break Live, the UK’s biggest student camping festival, because my best friend won two tickets on Facebook, despite neither of us being students!! And last week Larzy and I went to see ‘Rock of Ages – The Musical’ on the West End because I managed to blag two free tickets. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Also, try to remember that not everything has to cost money, there are plenty of free things to do, especially if you’re in London. Check out Timeout or ViewLondon to find out what exactly in London is free. You’ll be surprised but there are so many free things to do. Most of the museums and galleries in London are free to get in.
- SWAP SHOP
I swapped Sainsbury’s for ALDI. A lot of people assume that ALDI is a low-quality store because of its low prices, but I can promise you ALDI goods are not low-quality. It’s basically a paupers dream; high quality food with a lovely low price tag. I now do one monthly shop at ALDI every payday and it normally costs around £45, but never more than £50, and that’s including alcohol. ALDI booze is super-duper cheap, I’m talking £3 bottles of wine, decent crates of beer for a few bob, and bottles of sprits priced between £5 and £10. Of all my steps, this has been the most effective. I advise anyone trying to save, to swap your Supermarket to ALDI.
- WINE & DINE … (at home!)
This is one of the hardest steps, trying to swap going out for staying in. But it doesn’t have to be dull. Invite some friends round, or have a gathering with the rule of BYOB. Do some themed nights, or keep it real cheap and just have a good old fashioned sleepover. Maybe just enjoy some quality time staying in with your partner. I’m not saying quit going out completely, we all need to let our hair down, but if you just give up one of your nights out … let’s say swap you swap your Saturday night out for a Saturday night in; each week your attempting to do something different in your own home, therefore saving you loads of dosh. You can still treat yourself, but trust me buying a bottle of wine or two to drink in your own home, will cost a lot less than the paying for the two bottles at a club, after you’ve paid for a cab, plus an over-priced entry fee.
Or you and your friends could even try having dinner parties, a friend of mine has just started up a Lesbian ‘Come Dine With Me’ club – Be adventurous.
- BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
I love clothes, shoes, bags, make-up, the works. But I had to get it into my head there will be no more mad shopping. I allow myself one treat a month, and it’s never more than £15. I know people think that’s not a lot, but it’s plenty if you go down to New Look, H&M, Primark or Pull and Bear, you can find some lovely bits for that price and under. New Look sales in particular are fantastic.
Although you are giving up your normal clothes allowance, you will appreciate that one item so much more and no doubt select it more carefully. I love my bargains of the month. My current everyday bag was my first BOTM back in March – a £9.99 cute little backpack from Primark. Love it.
- CASH IN THE ATTACK
Dig out anything you don’t need, use, wear or want and sell it. You’ll be surprised, but whatever it is, I bet you someone out there is browsing Ebay for it right now. And it can become quite a fun (slightly addictive) hobbie.
- FIND YOUR WEAKNESS
It’s shocking how much we spend on little bits and bobs we don’t need, yet love. My weakness is coffee. I know how to boil a kettle, I know how to make a hot drink, my office even has coffee beans and tea bags. But for some crazy reason I was obsessed with purchasing Starbucks coffees, or any takweaway coffees for that matter. A) I love milky lattes, and they’re just not as good if make it yourself, and B) I’m a bit of a poser and quite like pretending I’m some sort of Carrie Bradshaw, strutting through the city with a coffee in my hand.
But I worked out that if I bought one of those £2.30 coffee’s every single weekday, I could be spending up to £598 on coffee a year. Shocking (I finally realised why it’s called Starbucks). Add that to my bad habit of “forgetting my lunch” every day and therefore buying it from expensive cafes in central London, let’s say £5 per day, I worked out that on coffees on lunches alone I’d be spending a total of £1,898 a year. That money could pay for an entitre trip to Thailand! So I bought myself a very cute Audrey Hepburn Carry-Coffee-Cup for my own hot drinks, so there’s no need to give all my money Starbucks, yet I can still pose!
And I now make sure I take my own lunch to work with me everyday.
- AVOID THE MACHINES
Going to a cash point – predominantly to take out money for YOUR WEAKNESS – should be avoided. Have you noticed that once you break into a tenner to pay for something small, the rest of the tenner disappears? Lose change is very easy to spend!
So those my chums are my seven little shards of advice to Saving Without Sacrifice, maybe give them a go. They have really helped me, so if they help you, let me know :)