Time For Some Clarity
Now for something a little different. You’ve probably come across Refinery 29’s rather popular Money Diaries, where they track someone’s spending over a seven day period. I’ll never forget the journalist who spent most of her money on illegal substances and some of the U.S versions are eye-opening too. Michelle’s recent interpretation inspired me to create this post and look at my finances in a different way.
I think I find them so fascinating because money isn’t something we really talk about properly. We gloss over things like splitting the bill, paying for hen dos or our financial futures. I joke about my lack of pension and potentially riding the Circle Line all day when I’m 80 (gotta love that Freedom Pass), but I’d find it difficult to chat about salaries with such ease.
It can also trigger a pretty emotional response. I’ve felt disapproving, insecure and even embarrassed when discussing spending habits with certain friends and it’s taken me a while to confide in Lucy about various aspects. These diaries give us the chance to get nosey and understand that although someone may be earning a decent amount, they may have various debts, loans and a completely different attitude to what you would expect. You never really know the full story and always have to take that into account before making any judgements.
So here’s my attempt. This is a bit of an abridged version as I’m not going to go into my rent (I don’t want to jinx it), bills and salary situation. I have detailed all of my personal spending though and the thought-process behind it. Since I’m freelance, my yearly income varies and I tend to get paid in random chunks. I pay myself a modest amount from my savings every month (with the odd top-up if things like birthdays come up) and try to live within my means.
Welcome to 7 days in my bank account.
It’s payday! Well, my freelance equivalent at least. I transfer my monthly budget into my current account and wonder how long it’ll look vaguely appealing for. As I’m filming a Come Shopping With Me video, I prepare myself for the worst and hit the shops. I go into Topshop feeling optimistic, but soon get brought down to earth with the inconsistent sizing and barely there hems. Also, why does an entire section look like JD Sports?
The only thing I end up buying is a new earring for my cartilage piercing, to replace the pricey one I lost a few weeks ago (£35). I always give myself a pat on the back if I can manage to use buses all day (£4.50), as it keeps my travel costs down. It’s so much more relaxing than the tube (though you do occasionally hear the odd Eastenders-style brawl) and it’s a great way to scope out future shooting locations.
Since it’s our weekly Drag Race night at Carrie’s, we end up grabbing a few pizzas near her house. It was a good, tasty decision and slightly cheaper than the Deliveroo I’d anticipated (£9).
Total – £48.50
Another Saturday where I’ve left everything until the last minute! After a lazy start, I finally prise myself out of bed and start editing my shopping video before Zumba. I have a pretty cheap PureGym membership, so I’m always motivated to get my cost-per-visit down to something ridiculous like 50p.
Lunch afterwards is an omelette and foraged sourdough from Lucy’s cupboard (thanks girl) and evening plans are sorted, since Supal’s invited us to hers for dinner. It’s on the other side of London, but the Victoria line is surprisingly quick (£6.80).
Total – £6.80
Since it’s a long weekend, I’m treating Sunday as my ‘day off’ and decide to stock up on food for the week. Usually I order meat once every couple of months (I’m trying to buy better quality) and buy fresh ingredients and store cupboard bits more often. I take a chance on an avocado that says it’s ‘ripe and ready’, even though I’ve not had a good track record recently (£15.06).
Since Palmers have sent me a ticket for Afro Hair & Beauty, I get the bus down to Angel (£3 return) to meet up with my Mum and sister. I’ve vowed not to buy anything since my room is already like a branch of Boots. My resolve breaks within the first hour.
One stall just happens to have the oils I was looking for to help with my scars (£18) and the hair supplements my Mum recommends have a special, never-to-be-seen-again offer (£33). Am I the perfect mug? I’ll let you know in 6 months when my barnet is hopefully down to my ankles.
Total – £69.06
It’s a bank holiday! I had intended to do some extreme couponing at M&S as I have some loyalty vouchers, but manage to resist filling my basket for the sake of it. I only pick up some reduced battered fish, which is something I’d never even considered buying before. Yes, this is your life Kristabel.
Since it’s an errands day at home, I don’t end up buying anything else. I prep my lunch for the week so I’m not tempted by the Vietnamese takeaway near my co-working space.
Total – £0
Time to get back to reality. A Whatsapp message reminds me that I’m the only person who hasn’t paid for my Zumba teacher’s hen do, so I Paypal over the necessary amount (£55). I still have no idea what is really happening in a few weeks. I think we’re going from zip-wiring, to sashes and silly straws near Leicester Square.
My effective planning means that lunch is sorted. I have a shoot with Lucy after work and she tries to tempt me with dinner out, but I stand firm and say that I’m eating my reduced battered fish. My travel costs are a little higher at £8.
Total – £63
My co-working space is throwing a bit of a lunchtime gathering, so I pop to the shops to buy the last few bits (£5.85). Everyone knows that jerk chicken and padron peppers go together, right? They go down a treat anyway. Other people have brought in various dishes, dips and cakes, so my snacking situation is sorted for the afternoon.
More food! There’s a Habitat event in honour of the latest Jackson & Levine collection and they’ve taken over a cute Italian restaurant near Columbia Road. The spread is pretty good too, I base myself near the prawns for most of the evening and catch up with Ghenet, Emma and Nancy. I get off the Tube home a stop early (£6.80) so it saves me a bit of money and means that I can watch Miz Cracker’s Drag Race episode round-up properly.
I’m using the savings app Chip, so another £11.33 is taken out of my account. It averages your typical transactions and pops a similar amount into a separate account (my code O13EFR if you fancy signing up). I’m hoping to make a significant purchase for Black Friday and this is the only way I can justify it.
Total – £23.98
I decide to check to see how ‘ripe and ready’ that avocado is. Lies, all lies I tell you. I could probably put all the money I’ve spent on dodgy avocados towards something like a Taste The Difference banquet.
After a stint at my co-working space (and resisting the ASOS New In section), I have an event on Regent Street and Emma Gannon’s book launch for The Multi-Hyphen Method. It’s supposed to be invaluable to the ‘slashie’ generation and it sounds like the kick up the you-know-what I need at the moment.
I spot Lucy and Kim and am easily convinced when they suggest grabbing a quick dinner at Shake Shack afterwards. They’ve messed up my order so I actually get a double cheeseburger when I’ve paid for a single, plus bacon cheese fries (£8.50). I’m defeated after the burger. Travel costs me £7.30.
Total – £15.80
Weekly Total – £227.14
So this is the result! I actually managed to spend a similar amount to Michelle, which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve also realised that there are so many things I agonise over such as keeping travel costs down, but when it comes to buying beauty products on a whim, it’s a different story. Don’t nobody come between me and my hair vitamins.
I think it’s probably useful to look at your detailed spending over a longer period of time as I wouldn’t usually have a hen do to pay for (and this isn’t even the slightly scarier let’s-go-abroad scenario). After my initial finances post, I’ve been trying to gain some clarity and started using Money Dashboard to keep track of all my accounts. The first thing I realised is that everything was all over the place and perhaps that I’ve been keeping things that way out of some kind of freelance fear. I really need to be honest with myself and accept that not being aware will lead to mistakes and spending more in the long run.