I have this daily ritual. Every morning, one of the first things I do when I wake up is pick up my phone, look at my social media (I can’t be the only one that does that?), but then, and this is every … single … morning, I go onto my banking app and pray that money has miraculously appeared in my bank account overnight. As the balance loads, I say out loud, “Make it £10,000, make it £10,000,” knowing that, of course, that’s not going to happen and, realistically, I’m just praying I’m not overdrawn.

 

Christmas took its toll on my bank account, and this way of living is exhausting. I live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, like most families (even if they’re two wage families), just about getting by.

 

January is a notoriously difficult month to survive until payday, and it’s also my son’s birthday month, so it’s a bit … spendy. Scottish Friendly recently got in touch and challenged me to save money this month, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect and I was really excited to see how well I’d fare. OK, maybe not excited, but I was interested to see if I could challenge myself to spend less this month. Granted, I’m not a massive spender, you can’t spend what you don’t have, but there were some small changes I could make that I hoped would make a big difference overall.

 

My plan was to save £100 during the month of January.

 

The first thing that had to go were café coffees.

 

 

Nooooo! I love working from cafes during the week, the white noise strangely helps me concentrate and just being around actual humans is lovely for a billy-no-mates like me, but you can’t sit in a café and nurse one coffee for 8 hours. I should know, I’ve tried. I normally buy one coffee at £2.30, and make that last an hour and a half – I then either buy a fresh one or go home. Based on three coffees a week (minimum):

 

£2.30 x 3 = £6.90 per week

£6.90 x 4 = £27.60 per month

 

Whoa. I didn’t realise I was spending that much! So that’s a quick saving of £30 or so. £70 to go.

 

I’m not a big drinker, so couldn’t cut down on alcohol. I’ve also cut down already on eating junk food – we have one takeaway a week (I have a healthier version of whatever Dexter wants) and it gives me something to look forward to, so that stayed. Life is too short not to have a little bit of something you fancy, am I right?

 

Which brings me onto clothes. Ah yes. Buying new clothes is my Kryptonite, as followers of my Facebook page will know as I keep posting photos of myself wearing new dresses I don’t need! I just can’t seem to help myself, especially as my body keeps changing … up and down like a yo-yo at the moment. (But hopefully more down than up.) So this was one way I could definitely save money. I could just not buy anything – but where’s the fun in that!? And I never buy high-end clothes anyway, because they just don’t cater for someone of my … stature. So I turned to eBay.

 

The trouble with eBay is that most people are lurkers. They bid at the last second (I used to do it when I had more time), and it IS fun doing it that way, but I just don’t have the time these day, or the inclination to be honest, to hang around waiting to put my bid in at the last minute. So inadvertently, the lurkers were actually helping me out by getting in that sneaky bid at the last minute. But I did manage to buy one mint green wrap top this month, for the princely sum of £2.80 (with postage, coming to around £7.) The wrap tops I liked online were circa £25, so I saved £18.

 

I mean I hate the top and will be re-selling it on eBay at some point, but y’know, you win some, you lose some.

 

The penultimate way I saved money this month is by dyeing my own hair. I usually buy dye at Superdrug, and take it to my hairdresser who puts the dye on for me. He only charges £10, but it’s still £10 I managed to save. And to be honest, it was much quicker doing it myself … if somewhat messier. If you’ve ever dyed your hair red, you know what your bathroom looks like afterwards. Personally, I think I look great!

 

 

Current saving – £58.

 

And finally, in the last year, I’ve begun having my nails professionally painted with gels every three weeks. That’s toenails and fingernails, at a cost of around £40. I’ve loved it! Honestly, knowing my nails will always look pretty and that they’ll never chip has been a revelation and, as costly as it is, it was just one part of self-care I was loathe to stop. But I was also aware my nails could do with a breather and when a few nails started to peel off at the end of their life-cycle, I just didn’t go back this month. My toenails look awful … the gel only remains on my big and little toes, and my fingernails have either been bare or look like the photo below. I feel constantly unkempt, and it’s probably the one thing I’ve found hardest about this Payday challenge. But I did save £40. (They do look grim though.)

 

 

In total, during January, I saved £98 … but we’ll call it a round £100.

 

I’m really proud of myself because as much as what I’ve cut back on aren’t essentials, they did make me happy, but I CAN do without them. Whether I will or not come next month, is another matter, but the Scottish Friendly challenge has shown me that with a little thought and effort, I can make some significant savings.

 

kate sutton

 

*  This post is in collaboration with Scottish Friendly

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