Hi lovelies! Today I thought I’d write about how to be more aware of your cash flow and save some dough.
I live in London which is one of the most expensive cities on the planet, so obviously this is a recurring issue in my everyday life. Although I’ve got a stable job it’s still quite hard for me to be able to put money aside every month (especially now that we are moving to New Zealand, and trust me that costs a fortune).
So if you also struggle to balance being a responsible bunny but still enjoying all the amenities that your city offers, here’s a brief guide that might help you manage your finances so you don’t have to spend the last week before pay day living on beans on toast.
- Keep track of every single penny you spend
The best thing to do this is to write everything down.
I used to have an Excel spread-sheet where I would keep track of my cash flow. However, because it was hidden away in a dusty folder on my computer, I would often forget to update it. What works for me is something that I can constantly see. I now use a big piece of paper stuck to my wardrobe. It’s divided into categories (food, commuting, nights out, books…) where I keep track of how much I spend on what. This is very effective because I can see it every day and it’s a constant reminder of how I’m doing.
- Put money in your saving account the same day you get paid
This way you know you’re done for the month, and what you have in your account is what you can actually spend. If you wait till the end of the month before putting money in your saving account, by the time next payday comes you’re more likely to have spent it all. But you won’t be tempted to spend it if it’s simply not there.
- Set yourself a monthly budget
Decide how much money you’re allowed to spend and on what and try to stick to it. Be realistic though! Set yourself realistic goals and don’t be too stingy, otherwise it can be frustrating to see you can’t stick to what you’d planned but this might only be because your original plan was too ambitious.
- Plan your meals
Obviously one of the things you need to consider in your monthly budget is food.
With food, what I found really works for me is meal planning. I tend to cook all my meals myself for various reasons (not only because it’s cheaper, but also because this way I know exactly what I’m eating), so this is what I do: on the weekend I sit down and plan what I’m going to eat throughout the week. If I can I plan every single meal Monday to Friday, but sometimes I’ll leave a couple of meals out and I’ll have lunch at work (we have an amazing café in the office and the salad bar is pretty much all vegan, it’s very cheap and healthy but this is my only exception, I don’t really eat out for lunch other than that). Then I would go grocery shopping and buy only the things I need to cook for the week.
I can easily get by for a whole week with no more than £20 on food, sometimes even less. (Obviously this is based on a vegan diet.) Remember being vegan doesn’t have to be expensive. Most of my diet is based on potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, legumes, and lots of fruits and vegetables. I would advise to buy in bulks if you can, and don’t forget fruits and vegs can be frozen (without losing any nutritional value) and they’ll last you for a very long time.
- Can you do it yourself?
Everything you do, think whether you can do it at home. If you get Starbucks every single day on your way to work, this can cost you up to £15 per week –only on plain black Americanos. That’s £80 per month, excluding weekends. Why don’t you get yourself a reusable thermos, and enjoy a cheaper caffeine experience by making coffee yourself? This will save you money, avoid queues, be more environmental friendly, and your coffee will never ever come with your name spelled horribly wrong.
- Carry cash
Carrying cash instead of paying by card is also a good idea. I’m not very good at it because I tend to spend cash if I have it but also with cash you know exactly how much you have so it’s easier to keep track of what you’re spending.
- Have free days
We all know how hard it is to go even one day without spending a single penny, especially if you live in a big city. But it’s very satisfying when you manage to. Giac and I often have free weekends, when we don’t allow ourselves to spend anything at all. (This doesn’t mean we never leave the house for two days. There are plenty of things you can do in London for free –I’ll write a separate post on this.)
I’m also a proud survivor of a whole free week –I managed to not spend anything from Monday to Friday a couple of weeks ago. I promise I’m not this stingy normally, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it (also I bought a wedding dress on Saturday so I pretty much spent in one morning what I would have spent in an entire week anyway).
- Don’t be fooled by the brand
Being a little woman myself, when it comes to makeup or beauty products I know how easy it is to buy something just because the packaging looks pretty. But remember that more often than not expensive products contains exactly the same ingredients as their cheaper counterpart, although they come in a more fancy-looking box. Don’t be fooled by the packaging! Expensive products often are not worth the money, you can have the same benefits with a dupes.
Alright guys, this is it! I hope you found this helpful, stay tuned and speak soon!