Being a scrimper with no money or decent income has its uses. One becomes most industrious in the ways of avoiding the dolla.
This is no uni baked-bean diet my friends, this is the working life of a post-graduate graduate, and it is no mean feat! By ways of hard-and-fast learning, good times....and the bad, I can share with you my (lack of) wealth, and knowledge on all things 'money', or 'not spending of'...'said'....'money'. Anyways...
Avoid macdonalds AT ALL COSTS. It's easy to think on the oh-so-chep 99p cheese burger or £1.29 small fries (yes, they're over a pound, I was like 'wtf' too), but don't go there!
Every. penny. counts. Say this quote to yourself until you're convinced it would look good as a tattoo.
Ok, so if you work in town, you're bound to walk past Maccy D's at some point, and it really was a long, frustrating shift at work, so why not treat yourself? I find the best tactic would be to gain some momentum just before the culprit in question, and especially just after, to carry you well and truly past your point. If this doesn't work, think about how you were considering turning vegetarian.... or imagine the gym and the sickly-sweet, sweaty people inside much better off than you. If all this fails, and try not to let it get to this point, let yourself go in, and pray beyond hope that the queue in there is MASSIVE. So massive in fact, that it really isn't worth your time standing there.
Put it back on the rail
Clothes are a luxury. Say this until your bum starts to look like a shopping list of tattooed quotes. You don't really need that jumper, do you? You have one quite similar at home. I promise. You have massive charity-shop clear outs every 6 months, yet used to spend £(undisclosed amount) on clothes every month. Why? Why why why why?
So lets walk through the scenario:
You find yourself in a shop. How the frick did you get here? Who knows. We think it might be because you found one of your socks with a hole in today and, of course, socks are a necessity, so we should buy some more, yep.
Ok, well, have your fun. Pick up that jumper, that's also a nice shirt. Take it to the changing room. Try them on. Convince yourself it's worth buying. Step outside and take a look around, just once more. Think about it one more time. Do you reeealllllllyyyyy need them?
Not really. I don't think so. Put them back. There you go. Much better. Now walk out, chip chop! Fast as you can! Scarper, I tell you, scarper!!
Another promise here, but 10 mins later, you'll feel good about yourself. Shopping is an addiction, it sets off an adrenaline and hormonal reaction in the brain throughout the experience, making you feel you need something you don't. The only way to calm it down is a good few minutes outside of the shopping environment. Your rational brain is back, and so is your bank account.
Honest, I'm drinking!
The hardest part of having no money is trying to convince your friends of your penniless situation. Socialising is one of the most expensive past times, and no matter how sympathetic your friends are, somehow they don't quite understand. Even if their budget is not the biggest, they're not waking up at night worrying, or thinking about their bank account every time they buy a sandwich. Most likely, they are sensible enough to be working full time, not working two part time jobs. But at the end of the day, your friends just want to spend time with you, and if you do nothing with your life, it just gets too darn depressing!
On a night out, don't drink alcohol! Try your hands at a water. Ask the barman to put ice and a slice o' lemon in it, the World and it's kitchen sink wouldn't know any better!! You can be sure of that.....usually, anyway, moving on, DON'T DRINK. DRIVE. Drive, and you save yourself an expensive taxi ride and that one drink too many.
You don't need alcohol, you really don't. And what's more, you're the one that's probably going to come off looking like an elegant, intellectual wiz-kid from all this so what's the bad side!? Drinking alcohol doesn't facilitate your ability to dance either, not drinking it merely makes you more able to negotiate your heels, therefore, more effective concentration required, ergo less hip wiggling.
For meals out, hopefully you can come to an arrangement with your friends to pick somewhere with a decent price range. If you find yourself tricked into an expensive joint, get a starter, order a tap water, just keep your input to a minimum. Your friends can't ask you to split even on an uneven bill, it's just not fair to pay for their extra starter and glass of wine! It sucks to be stingy, but if you don't have the budget, you don't. It should be your company friends are after, not your wallet.
And on that note, I've started arranging movie nights in rather than boozy nights out. You get your friends round, pop on a few films and all eat pizza. Pizza being five quid, bobs your uncle, you have a cheap date night!
The little things
Having written this post, people have come up to me with extra suggestions, all of which are doable and something else to consider depending on your lifestyle:
- get a friend to cut your hair,
- you cut your hair,
- don't cut your hair,
- ride your bike more,
- make a packed lunch,
- don't date (coffee is more expensive than you realise),
- libraries have a great vintage movie selection usually at very cheap rental prices,
- libraries have free books,
- museums and galleries are free, usually,
- cook in bulk, freeze it, and you have dinner for a week.
Just say 'no'
The only method I find keeps you off the spending drug, is to just say 'no'. It's like 'breaking the seal' on a night out (god, I hope you know what I mean...), once you've gone, you just keep needing to go! Once you've let yourself slip, all your mental strength just goes and you start justifying it with "oh well, spent too much already anyway".
Don't. Just don't let yourself get there. Turn around and walk away!
It's so hard, and you will let yourself slip at some point. I have already, and probably will do in the future. Just make sure you know you can get back on track and keep yourself there. I find it usually helps if you have something to save for, a goal. Whether it's a holiday, new clothes, night out, new car, whatever the weather, having that target makes all the pains and stresses of saving worthwhile and also more achievable. It's all about perspective.
So if you're on a budget, don't give in, just give up. Give up all that excess consumer twaddle you used to depend on, and you'll probably surprise yourself with the alternatives you can come up with.
Thinking of you x