Well, spring is here and I’m well and truly ready for it.
The only thing is, when there’s a change in season, I get massively tempted to go shopping. Especially in nice weather – I get this kind of gleeful, ‘Champagne for everyone!’ perspective on life, the inevitable consequence of which is a sorry-looking bank balance.
So it seems appropriate that March is the month where I’m re-examining my finances.
This is a really important lesson for me to learn this year, as I’m getting married and that is EX-pensive.
My fiancé and I want to pay for quite a bit of the wedding ourselves, and so we’re madly saving, but also still trying to have lives as well. Poor Ben’s been selling his old music equipment and guitars to raise some extra cash – a fact I love and hate, in equal parts.
Anyway, this month I figured that I would do the following (very grown-up) things:
- Create a budget
I used to work for debt-counselling charity, CAP. As a staff member, I had to do their amazing CAP Money courses, which helps you figure out a really accurate budget, and helps you save. I’m going to look into doing another one with my fiancé, but in the meantime, I’m going to apply some of the principles I learned from CAP Money, when I did it all those years ago, sitting down with my fiance and creating a detailed budget.
- Open three bank accounts
This might seem a little excessive, but it’s something that CAP recommend in their CAP Money system. One is for your bills and monthly expenses to come out of, one is for your savings, and the third is your expenditure. I already have a savings account (with the grand total of one penny in it, I kid you not), plus my regular account which my pay goes into. As my bills are already set up to go out of this one, I am going to set up one further account, with a card linked to it, which will be for my monthly spending. When I get paid, I’ll have two standing orders set up to go out on my payday: one to the saving account and the other to my spending. That way, I know exactly how much I have available for coffees, clothes etc each month – and my savings will be automatic.
- Start saving
Obviously this is linked to the two above, but is worth it’s own point. I used to be able to save, but haven’t really since being moving to London four and a half years ago. I know that this is partly the consequence of living in what is officially the most expensive city in the world, but I refused to accept that I can’t save even a little, as I know that I have less than careful spending habits. So, here’s the thing: I’m going to try, throughout this month, to not spend any money at least half the week (so, 3-4 days a week). I find it really hard to go one day without spending, so this is going to require both some self-control and some forward planning on my part.
- Read up on simple living
Ironically for someone who loves to shop as much as I do, living simply really does hold some appeal for me. I know in my heart, that a lot of what I buy I can do without, and that I’m emotionally dependent upon buying nice stuff, in a way that I really don’t feel is healthy. It might seem innocent enough, and I rarely buy anything that would break the bank, but it’s the subtle assumptions behind these quiet accumulations that are beginning to worry me. But I need some motivation. I just picked up a review copy from my work of a book called Just Living by Ruth Valerio, and I’m keen to see what she has to say: it’s a book about faith, consumerism and living more mindfully, and I’m really hungry for a mindset-change. I’m also going to hunt out some other book recommendations on similar topics – anything from ethical consuming to (lite) economics and cultural surveys on materialism. I’ll keep you posted on what I find and what I read!