When I first started thinking ‘oh God, I could really do with a
lot little more cash in my life’, my mind initially jumped to wondering how I could mange to earn more money, without either compromising my PhD, or losing too much of my precious free time. After a few swift Googles, I found (shockingly), that it’s actually pretty difficult to earn quick and easy money with minimal effort, so I closed down my laptop and hoped for some cash to just fall into my hands.
Unbelievably, what I didn’t really think about, was how the amount of money I have available to me is down to two factors – what I earn, but also what I spend.
It’s easy to wish for a bigger income, but maybe (particularly in the short-term), it’s actually easier to try and reduce your outgoings a little bit.
London is so great. London is also so expensive.
Even so, when I thought about what I spend on a weekly basis, I came to realise that so much of what I was spending my money on was just totally not necessary, and really didn’t line up with my priorities.
So, the first thing I did, and the first thing I would recommend anyone else to do who is trying to survive as a broke Londoner (or a broke anywhere-else-er, really), was to think about where my precious $$$ get spent.
For me, this is what the breakdown looked like;
- Rent. Oh my God, renting in London is so expensive. But everyone does need a place to live. In the short term, there’s not a lot you can change about this, but in the longer-term, it’s more than possible to find somewhere that suits you in terms of money and location, if you’re willing to put the effort in.
- Travel. Getting around London is actually really easy (totally not what I thought when I first moved here, but it’s actually one of the best-connected cities in the world), and not too expensive for a pretty decent service. However, I did notice that I was spending quite a bit on tubes / buses / Ubers, and planned to work on this.
- Food. I. Love. Food. However, I don’t really love cooking (or even preparing – I’m just too impatient), so I do have a slight tendency to grab my food on the go (I am such a meal-deal fiend), which definitely works out as more expensive than if I home-made more often.
- Eating Out. Again, I love to go out for food. If I could, I think I would eat out for every meal. However, it goes without saying that this involves a lot of cash.
- Alcohol. Oh alcohol. I do adore a cocktail (glass of wine / champagne / fruity cider) or several. Drinking is expensive everywhere, but London takes it to another level.
- Nights Out. As well as paying for drinks, you have club entry, Uber / taxi money, and most likely some kind of food before
orand after. Ideally pizza-related.
- ‘Fun’. In this category I decided to count all the fun ‘activities’ I do around London. Yoga classes, galleries, gigs, festivals, various pop-ups, parties, cinema / theatre tickets, bowling, the list goes on…
- Clothes. I don’t spend huge amounts on clothes, however, I do like to feel ‘myself’ in the way that I dress, and struggle to resist an interestingly-patterned shirt or any kind of silver jewellery.
- Holidays. Another thing I adore is travelling. I want to see everything, which obviously involves spending hella money.
- Miscellaneous. Here, I counted anything not covered by the above categories; gifts, bath products (oh, Lush), necessities (toothpaste, shampoo, etc), stationary, and anything else that I buy that I really don’t need, but just can’t resist for whatever reason.
Thinking about this really was incredibly eye-opening. No, I don’t have a lot of money right now, but equally, I spend a lot of it on either things I don’t want, or don’t need. In my future posts, I’m going to go into more detail about how I streamlined what I spent in each of these categories, without compromising my happiness levels.
If you’re broke in London (or even just want to be smarter with your spending), I would definitely recommend establishing where you spend your money as the first step, before thinking about what is necessary to keep you happy, and what really isn’t.