We welcome back A. L. Michaels who catches us up on how her money diet is going…
Numbers tell a story, and as a writer, that’s the only thing that’s getting me through this necessary reigning in of my spending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an extravagant spender by any means (though I’m sure if you ask my parents they will still be imprinted with a thirteen-year-old who spent all her savings at Claire’s Accessories).
When I’m embarked on this journey, it was out of absolute necessity- I’d taken on a lower paying job that might not work out, was eating into my time earning other money, and my partner was between jobs. At that point, there was no way not to panic about money. And I’ve actually impressed myself. If you don’t need it, you don’t get it. Now, I gave myself little ‘treats’ here and there, but they were absolutely pathetic in the grand scheme of things- spending a pound on a mango because I really wanted it, paying an extra two pounds for decent olive oil. Not ‘proper treats’, but these could lead down a slippery slope if happening too often. Learning to take joy in the little things however, always useful.
I’ll admit, good food is important to me, it’s an extension of creativity and the idea of going back to supernoodles was not an endearing one. So I took it as a challenge. How could I cook healthy, cheap meals? Luckily, that’s all anyone wants to know these days, and I’ve been having great fun getting creative with meals. Which is important, as we’re not eating out at restaurants. Or buying lunch. Or buying coffee.
Now here’s where the problem arises- Steven wrote a post about How much it costs to you be you, which I found really useful. It doesn’t cost a lot to be me. I have never been one for designer clothes or expensive jewellery. But there is a big gap between How much it costs to be me, and how much it costs to be a happy me. A happy me gets a little stir crazy being at home too much (especially a rented ‘not really my home’ home) so I’ve learnt that I need to arrange something to look forward to, an event, a proper treat. Then the sacrifices seem worth it. As such, groupon deals and free events have become my best friend. Spending forty quid on a show and dinner means I don’t mind having the same thing for dinner three nights in a row. But the danger of limiting yourself is that by demonising spending, you’re going to either get really depressed staying at home, having no fun, or you’re going to rebel.
If we originally called this a money diet, then let’s think of every diet that doesn’t work- completely cutting things out. If you’re not allowed carbs, the first thing you want is a jacket potato. If you do anything to an extreme, eventually you’re going to break. Good healthy eating plans allow for a little treat now and then, so you don’t feel so deprived. I think that’s an important lesson in a money diet. Maybe it’s just me, but I need to be out doing things, and anticipation of one night out can keep me surviving on cabbages for a good long time.
Things I’ve learnt this month:
-Pinterest is the best way to dream about things you may never have without getting depressed about not having them. Live the (day) dream!
- Allowing yourself small joys (occasionally) is okay, as long as they’re within reason. It is not possible to feel guilty about buying a bag of Tesco value midget gems for 25p. It’s just not.
- Find what makes you happy, and don’t deny yourself all the time, otherwise you’ll splurge.
- Don’t isolate yourself. You may find having to say ‘no’ to all those dinners and nights out with friends gets a bit depressing. Either allocate one of those dinners as your treat/event for the month (and choose somewhere with a deal) or make an extra effort to get in touch with friends.
Finally, watch the story unfold in your accounts book. After having finally found my lost accounts book after a few months and doing the hard work, I could have figured out way before I took on certain contracts/jobs that they weren’t going to work for me. This is what companies mean when they talk about projections. If you can see your travel costs and hours worked going up, but your wages going down, well, it’s time to cut the dead weight. Keep an eye on the numbers and they’ll start telling you the true story.
A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. Because you can never learn enough. She’s currently the Writer in Residence for Red Door Studios in East Ham, and her debut novel Wine Dark, Sea Blue is available to buy in hard copy, and on kindle. Not that she’s sick of talking about it or anything.
Thanks Andi for another great post – I like ‘watch the story unfold in your accounts book’. Look forward to seeing where this takes you.
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