With 2020 putting us all in lockdown, my spending habits changed drastically. Being in New York, I not only had money at the end of the month for a change, but I was also able to *gasps* save.
If you imagine living in New York earning less than minimum wage, then you can imagine what it was like for myself, living and overspending my way through the Big Apple.
However, returning to the UK, there were still lockdowns and still reasons for me to not spend as much money and can you believe it, save.
Lockdown taught me a lot of things, namely, that I can read a lot of books when I have nowhere to go, that I don’t need to buy new clothes every week and that I don’t want to waste money on things I don’t actually need.
So I sat down at the end of 2020 and thought about my financial goals for 2021 and how I wanted to change my spending habits to achieve them. This is what I came up with:
1. Less spending on clothes
While at university, I used to order clothes like they were going out of fashion – which in my mind, they were. I had so many items of clothing in my wardrobe that still had the tag and were never going to see the light of day from me wearing them.
All of that wasted money that I thought at the time was smart spending as I had something to wear at the weekend.
Fast forward to now and I’m wearing the same three outfits in my house for no one to see or care about (except my team on Zoom who probably think I only own the same three pieces of clothing).
So why did I go to the bother of spending so much money on clothes I either never wore or only wore once? Because of photographs? Because I couldn’t be seen dead in the same thing twice? Because new fashion trends were coming before I could even wear what was already in my wardrobe?
I’ve finally come to the realisation that I can wear things more than once, it doesn’t matter if I am photographer wearing the same thing on two different occasions and as with the seasons, fashion trends always return.
2. Only buying second-hand books
This is probably one of my favourite new spending habits. I read a lot of books, and so I go through a lot of books, constantly searching for my next. New books cost around £10 today and if I was to spend £10 on every book I read last year, that would have cost me £780.
Instead, I discovered these magical things called Little Free Libraries while I lived in America (they’re not so popular here). The concept is to take a book, while leaving a book for someone else – aka free books!
I picked up a lot of great books in Little Free Libraries across America and it saved me a lot of money and also fuelled my reading hobby.
Back here in the UK, I’ve stuck to buying only second-hand books either from charity shops or online at World of Books or the used section on Amazon. So much cheaper and basically good as new!
3. Spending more on experiences
My value of money has changed a lot recently. Instead of spending a lot of money on an item of clothing, I think what kind of experience I could buy for that amount of money instead.
Rather than spending a few hundred pounds on something designer, that could pay for a few meals out with my boyfriend, it could pay for a flight for a holiday or it could pay for something like mini-golf or going to a play.
I’ve really decided that experiences are more valuable to me than material objects and that’s what I’m going to be spending my money on in the future.
So yes, it may look like I’m always out for dinner or brunch, but really it’s because I don’t spend money on other things like clothes, shoes or things I don’t need.
4. No more permanent address
Luckily, I’m in the position that I’m no longer in an office and am working from home and have been since March 2020. I’ve realised that this means I no longer need a permanent address.
Instead of worrying about things like council tax, electric bills, water bills, TV licences etc. I can find somewhere on AirBnB for a little cheaper than I would be paying monthly for one place.
Also meaning that I can travel around while working – something I’ve always dreamed of being able to do. I can pick up my one suitcase and move around England, Scotland, or even Ireland and who knows, maybe even further afield in the future.
Budgeting was something I always attempted but was never any good at. However, with a steady income coming in, I’ve mapped out where my money needs to go as soon as it comes in.
A certain amount goes aside for bills, another amount for groceries and of course rent comes out as usual. Every Sunday, we plan our meals out for the week and buy in what we need – nothing much more.
Usually we put more into our pots for bills and the like each month, but we like to be over the bill rather than caught out when it comes in at a lot more than we expected.
I’ve even started tracking my expenses for January which has so far been a post office stamp and a takeaway coffee. Lockdown means we’re saving a lot more but it will be interesting to see where my money is going, even if it is only a few pounds here and there, it does add up.