When I made the decision that I was going to leave my job and devote every working hour to the blog, I had to rapidly come up with a new game plan. Not in terms of new content or where I would set up office. Nope, I’m talking about a new focus on my bank balance.
Living in London is typically like living in a bubble. House prices are through the roof, a restaurant bill can cost you a cool £100 for two and travel is a fortune. So given the fact that I’m an all-out foodie, planning a wedding, three years deep into a mortgage and considering upgrading to a new home, quitting my career after eight years was the most risky financial decision I’ve ever made. Yes I’ve gone to university, spent a bomb on my degree and rented in Bristol and London for ten years (I feel sick adding that up, note to all – buy as soon as you can). Yet on the flip side, I’ve worked every hour possible to try and ensure I was on track for promotion throughout my career in London too.
So delving into full time blogging meant that sensibly, I wanted to be covered for at least three months and be able to tide myself over the party season without having to scrimp. Remember, there’d be no more salary and no more bonus. Yes I’d put aside a little bit of money here and there but I needed to urgently add to my savings and change a few things.
Just like that time I sat with our mortgage advisor and painstakingly went through three months of bank statements (hoping that he didn’t know what Aqua Kyoto or Novikov was), I combed through my financial history to see where I could claw back some savings. The discoveries were magnificent.
Like any new goal, saving and making cuts requires a positive attitude. There’s no point complaining about public transport or feeling sad that you’re having to go without that new Tom Ford fragrance. Ultimately your final destination should be worth it.
For me, I chose not to go shopping on Regent Street during my months of saving. Girls, you know all too well how it feels seeing those to die for shoes in the window of Russell & Bromley (must have). I’d end up spending and feeling guilty. Either that or I’d feel so tormented I’d leave disappointed. When you start seriously debating if those £470 Gucci loafers really would make that much of a difference to your saving plan, remember the answer is always YES. Don’t even think about using a credit card as that’s a downward spiral.
Us girls do need some kind of retail therapy now and then. I set myself a weekly budget and ensured I never went over. You see, there will be times where you’ll offer to pick up that £40 take out bill, you’ll need a coat to keep you warm and essentially hello, no one wants to be deprived of that ‘feel-good, new-purchase’ joy.
It’s no secret that the high street is bursting full of designer dupes right now. From coats to shoes to bags, you’re guaranteed to find a designer double for a fraction of the price. I’m a huge shoe person so when I saw some Gucci loafer dupes in River Island for only £55, I knew they’d last me the season without making a huge dent in my savings. Making cost effective decision like this can ultimately save you hundreds in the long run. This bag from ASOS is a dead ringer for the Chanel Boy bag and the gold heeled loafers from River Island are more financially friendly than the Gucci metallics.
If you are a complete label fiend, don’t forget there are plenty of websites out there offering unworn designer pieces at significant discounts. A few of my favourites are Secret Sales , The Outnet, and TK Maxx. If you’ve got time to spend in London, there are some amazing charity shops where magazine editorial teams often donate new pieces by the van load. Just Google map the media houses and the distance from the charity shops et voila. Additionally, I’ve seen some amazing designer pieces in charity shops near footballers houses – their wives have to donate somewhere you know. I’m lucky enough to live near North London’s Bishops Avenue (£30 million house anyone?) and have spent some time in Alderly Edge, Cheshire. All of the charity shops in these areas are filled with still-tagged designer pieces.
Now if you’re really saving every penny, this does make a significant difference.
By investing in larger sized toiletries, you reduce the cost per use. Deodorants, creams, hair care… things you always need and will replace. It’s worth paying for larger sized versions as in the long run, it can save you hundreds of pounds in a year.
Additionally, buying good quality products count. The amount of times I used to buy lip-glosses without trying them, buy rubbish foundation that I knew would never be as good as my usual. It’s worth buying right and investing in good quality to save you having to throw out. Like this Remescar Eye Bags and Dark Circles cream (£29.95) for instance, it’s a good product that works and ultimately saves you on expensive eye creams, under eye concealers and as you only need to use an amount the same size a grain of rice, it’ll last for a long time.
Similarly, a good hair cut and colour (Sassoon is my personal favourite) can help your hair goals long term without the need to frequently use random hairdressers. You wear your hair everyday so on a cost per wear it’s worth it.
Before saving, this was by far my most unnecessary extravagance. Every morning on my way into Vogue House I’d stop at Starbucks for a Grande Chai Tea Latte, mineral water, a banana and a muffin. That’s £8 a day, £40 a week, £160 a month. I couldn’t omit my morning treat everyday so instead I stripped back the food (yoghurt at home) and used the filter tap at work. I switched the Chai Tea Latte to a tall filter and ultimately ended up spending £1.55 a day, £7.75 a week, £31 a month. Within four months I’d already saved £516 on my morning treats.
Some afternoons I’d think nothing of nipping to one of the many fresh juice shops in London and pick one up for around £5 a pop. I invested in a juicer and saved £5 a day; £25 a week; £100 a month. Wine was another way I saved money. Luckily I had an expense account in my day job so had the chance to take clients to some lovely restaurants but when saving and dining with friends, I’d opt for the house wine. In a week this could save around £20, £80 a month. So in four months of saving, I’d already put aside £320.
Eating out with friends in London is one of my favourite past times. So after enjoying a delicious two course meal, I’d choose a cup of mint tea to finish in lieu of a dessert. Not only saving calories but doing this once a week saved me about £5, £20 a month. In four months, almost £100. So all in all, this could have saved me a good £1,300 in four months. Of course I caved a few times but it puts things into perspective.
Frequent readers will know I’ve been super fortunate to enjoy some incredible travels this year. From Cornwall to Venice, North Africa to Rome, through to Vegas and a variety of hot spots in the UK. Granted many of these were prior to my saving but it’s still possible to do those precious getaways with loved ones without going crazy. They were well thought out with every moment relished not wasted.
Staycations are the new vacations and all over the UK hotels are competing with one another to get you to stay at theirs. This means that trips are open to negotiation, added extra’s and short term deals. Don’t be afraid to ask for rate reductions, deals on an extra night stay and even enquire as to whether they can include breakfast, a bottle of wine or dinner.
For me, the beautiful Glewstone Court in Hereford has it all. Near to Ross-on-Wye for some lovely walking, two AA Rosette’s for their fine dining and gorgeous bedrooms. If Wales is a little too far for you, try London’s very own The Stafford. If you’ve more of a budget, Dormy House in The Cotswolds trumps many spa’s over and over. The Vineyard in Berkshire is another favourite as is Hertford St apartments in Mayfair.
Small everyday adjustments are the quickest and easiest way to save money. Take a moment before making a purchase to consider whether you really need the item. If you can justify the spend, have you done all you can to find a less expensive substitute?
Coming up to Christmas, home made gifts make great alternatives to expensive, shop-bought presents. Try investing time instead into home-made wrapping paper. I’ve bought some great stamps from Tiger before that have helped with this and surprisingly, people keep the wrapping! Additionally, try making your bubble bath last longer by mixing with almond oil.
Hive heating and lighting systems have been proven to save on your energy bills, particularly if like me you’re always leaving the house having left the heating on. Always negotiate on insurance, gym membership (I saved £60 a month on my gym membership; £720 a year) and focus on smart banking. There are plenty of high interest savings accounts to really make your savings stretch and never underestimate the use of an ISA. Don’t whatever you do, take out a credit card unless you absolutely have to. I haven’t used one in years and feel so free without debt over my head.
Home cooking is often healthier and can be fun. Focus on cost effective meals with lots of veg and invest in some good cook books (The Social Kitchen is a personal favourite). The best part of any savings plan is also making the end goal. What are you saving for?
Hunter Button Down Plaid, Rails
Grey Tshirt, ASOS
Reversible Bomber Jacket, Topshop
Jimmy Choo Bag (discounted), Secret Sales
Leopard Print Boots, River Island
Did you find this post useful? Have you any savings tips of your own? Saving for a new goal? Let me know in the comments below Xx
This blog is an online destination dedicated to style, beauty and lifestyle in London. Having lived here for over 10 years, the city's stores, exquisite restaurants and design never ceases to amaze me. Here I'm sharing with you everything that I see, try and love in London as I'm sure you will love it too!