I decided to write this post after someone shared a post from the Telegraph with me. It comes off the back of the New Year and the influx of resolutions. I’m a heavy Facebook and Twitter user, and you can’t move for ‘new year, new you’ posts. Everyone seems to be giving things up to improve their lives. Chris Evans on Radio 2 spent the entire week banging on about Dry January, and one guy had emailed in to say he’d also given up caffeine. Seriously, where’s the joy? I mean, if you don’t like these things, rock on, but if you enjoy alcohol and caffeine, why not just enjoy them in moderation?
Then, one of my friends shared this article with me on Facebook. It had been labelled as an ‘inspiring read’. It was about a lady who had apparently saved £22,000 by having a buy-nothing year. The gist of it was that she was okay to spend money on the essentials – mortgage, utilities, basic food shopping, basic toiletries etc., but no nights out, no beauty treatments, no fancy coffees! (This is a shock to the Mouthy Money staff – read here and here).
If I need to save money, cutting back is a much more sensible approach than cutting out.
The thing is, I had a real problem with this article. This woman spent an entire year missing out on experiences, including visiting her grandfather, spending time with a friend who was moving to Australia, and going on an annual holiday that she enjoyed. Yes, she rediscovered other experiences, like camping and having a falafel wrap in the park, but was it really worth it? You can still have your homemade sandwich and visit your Grandpa, no?
Do we have to really give everything up to be happy? Yes, I’d probably feel less sad if I looked in the mirror and saw Angelina Jolie staring back at me. Sadly, cutting out wine completely or giving up coffee is not going to make me look like Angelina Jolie. I also doubt it’s going to make me happier than I am now. If I need to save money, cutting back is a much more sensible approach than cutting out. The money I save might pay off a little chunk of my mortgage, but it’s not going to buy me happiness.
Do we have to really give everything up to be happy?
The other issue I took was with the amount that she saved. This lady obviously isn’t short of cash. She has no debt, and her essentials came to £1,896 a month. To put this in perspective, her essentials cost more than my entire net salary each month. The fact of the matter is, the more money you earn, the more you have to save. What the heck was this lady spending on frivolities if she was able to save that much?! That’s a hell of a lot of Starbucks! I feel like this is setting an unrealistic expectation for the readers, as someone on say, my salary, will never save that much money unless I ditch my house and go full on The Lady in the Van! And, if she’s spending that much on expensive facials and shoes, is this a relatable article to the every day human?
So, let’s get relatable. Think about what’s important to you. If it’s having a social life then budget for that. The author of the article muses that everyone cheered when she pulled out her card to buy a round – seriously, if she was sponging off her pals for pints all year, I’m surprised any of them were left to cheer her on! If your priority is eating out, note down the places you want to go and experience them, rather than blowing £20 every Friday on a Dominoes. We get one shot at life, and I personally am not going to spend mine looking wistfully out of the window at all the things I can’t have.
So, let’s raise our glass* to moderation!
*A glass of water, obviously… it’s still Dry January, after all!