I seriously need to sort out my finances.
My New Year hangover was less ‘oh, god, my head’ and more ‘oh god, my bank balance’, and the really frustrating thing is that this situation was entirely avoidable. I am not rich, particularly by London standards, but my salary should be enough for me to get by and have some fun whilst doing it.
And yet, despite having a standing order set up into my savings account every month, I took so much back out of it in dribs and drabs over the course of the year (a holiday here, a birthday there) that by the end of 2018 my ISA was worse off than it had been at the start.
I don’t think I’m the only one- conversations always seem to start mid month along the lines of ‘Yeah, let’s book that….but not until payday’, or ‘I’ve only got £X to last me the next two weeks!’.
The standard Daily Mail response now would be to say that it’s clearly all my fault because of my avocado/brunch/latte habits, or some other such nonsense. But it’s rather difficult to be bombarded with images, media, articles of aspirational living and decide instead to stay home eating beans. This probably sounds like millennial whining, but having chosen to live in a city, why wouldn’t I…..enjoy the things that city has to offer?
There’s an excellent article here detailing just how much avocado toast you’d have to save to get an averagely priced 90m square flat outside of different city centres around the world. In London, for a property priced at £650,000 I’d need to save up the equivalent of 24,499 avocado-on-toasts. Based on one avocado-on-toast a day (and, really, who is having that much brunch?!) it would take 67 years to have enough for a 20% deposit.
That’s slightly above the average cost, so let’s say I wanted to buy a 1 bed on the Zone 2/3 borders, which according to this article (which is a depressing comparison of what your money could get you elsewhere in the country) would cost me £472,163. That would be, on my calculations, a mere 17,796 avocado-on-toasts. 48 and a half years.
But I digress. Whilst I strongly believe that our ‘lifestyles’ shouldn’t be blamed for our inability to buy a house in the current climate, I don’t even want to buy a house. I just don’t want to be in my overdraft every month. And here’s where I do need to admit I must be doing something wrong. My innocent ‘enjoying what the city has to offer’ is going beyond my means.
I think I spend in a fairly ‘normal’ way and don’t have too many extravagances, but clearly I don’t understand the reality of my salary and what that means I can afford. So I’ve signed up with Cleo (other savings apps are available) as one of my many goals for 2019.
So far there’s no extraordinary revelations- my biggest expenses are in eating and drinking out and going to see shows. But still, I’m hoping that seeing those breakdowns every week will have an effect on how I think about my spending. I’m already slightly addicted to categorising all my transactions on there and seeing whether I’m on track for the month. Sorry if I’m about to become a budgeting bore.
I’m hoping that small adjustments will make the difference over time- if I’ve forgotten my lunch and need to buy something, does it have to cost £8? Or could it cost £5? Do I really want a cocktail or would I be just as happy with a pint?
Join me next week for more horribly privileged musings.