Fall Reading List

Hi, loves! A few months ago I shared with you my tips for finding time to read, and in that post I asked if you’d like me to talk more about books in the future. I received so many responses saying that YES, you loved books too! Reading is one of my favourite hobbies, and it’s something I specifically (try to) make time for each day, no matter how busy Matt and I may be. I love snuggling up with a cup of tea, a book – or more recently, my iPad – and getting lost in another world. In my opinion the cold, rainy Fall days are literally made for cosying up with a book, so today I’m sharing with you all of the books on my reading list this season.

I’m always looking for new books, and I feel it’s sometimes a little overwhelming to choose because there’s so much choice. I’m currently reading one of these books and the others are on my to read list; I have a few paperback copies and the rest are downloaded and ready on my Kindle app. I really can’t tell you how much I love reading on my iPad mini now, I just find it SO easy and convenient. I get to read so much more because Kindle books are (generally) way cheaper and I don’t need to carry around bulky books in my bag, although I can’t lie I still do love the feeling of a ‘real’ book sometimes!

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
This book has been so highly talked about recently, possibly because it’s part of Reese Witherspoon’s book club which I have seen SO much hype over. I have heard only great things so I’m very excited to read this. It’s a little different than my usual read; this focuses on a law firm where the women stick together against a new male boss who has been surrounded by whispers regarding how he treats women. It’s dubbed to be a ‘thriller’ so I’m very excited to see what I think of this, I just hope there’s not tons of legal jargon that would make it harder to read!

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay
Any long time readers of my blog may remember how much I LOVED Adam’s first book, The Secret Diaries of A Junior Doctor, and I was so excited when I found out he was releasing a second! I can’t recommend Adam’s first book enough; he talks through his time as a Junior Doctor and it’s raw, it’s honest, it’s heart warming and heartbreaking all at the same time. I’m confident this book will be just as good! I LOVE Adam’s story-telling style because it’s just like chatting with a friend and feels so personal. I know Matt’s mum Debbie will love this book too as she was also a huge fan of the first one. I’ve heard rumours his first book is being made into a TV series, so you know it’s good!

The Witch Of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Okay, so just this past week I was reading Caitlin’s blog (she’s one of my favourite ever bloggers!) and was so excited to see there was a book review post to catch up on. Her review on this book was SO good I opened up my Amazon app right away and purchased it; I actually bought the paper copy instead of the Kindle version because it was on offer! The Amazon reviews of this book were just as glowing as Caitlin’s, so I’ve no idea how I’ve never heard about this book before. It’s equal parts spooky and romantic which sounds like the perfect October read to me! I enjoy scary/spooky books but I have to admit I do get a little bit scared sometimes and don’t like reading them before bed too much. Matt has to cuddle me extra tight HA, I’m such a baby! This is super high on my to-read list and I’m going to start as soon as I’ve finished The Wives (see below!) because I want to read it whilst we’re still in #spookyszn.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
Taylor Jenkins-Reid is one of my very favourite authors, and I’ve never read a book of hers I didn’t love with all of me! Her books are generally sad but happy, raw and emotional, dark yet moving, and I’m sure this will be no exception. This was the book that essentially gave Taylor her household name, yet I read all of her previous books first. This one has seriously been on my reading list for so long so I MUST read it soon! I know Fearne Cotton raved about this one, as did Anna Newton, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it. The story centres around the rise and fall of a 70’s rock band and their own individual stories in an interview-style format. I also seen it has been snapped up by Amazon Prime Video to make into a series, so you know it’s got to be good! I (almost) always prefer the book to the movie/TV show, so I need to read the book before Matt and I watch the show.

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This book has been dubbed ‘the new Me Before You’ (part of a series by Jojo Moyes which I loved so much!) so you know I had to pick it up. It’s your typical chick-lit style; a man and woman share a flat, and a bed, yet due to their hectic work schedules they never are in the flat (or the bed) together. The book follows their separate lives and how they will eventually intertwine with each others; I’m assuming they’ll end up falling madly in love and get together in the end, but hey… I just LOVE a rom-com. Matt and I were purchasing a few books in Waterstones a couple of weeks ago and the guy serving us asked if I’d read this yet; when I said no he looked genuinely offended (hahaha!) and said I needed to buy it immediately. I literally downloaded it to my Kindle app that evening, but I’ve still not got round to reading it.

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger
This is my current read, I’ve only got around a quarter of the book left and I am LOVING it. This book is by the author of Devil Wears Prada, so I had a pretty strong feeling it would be good. It’s actually marketed as part three of the DWP series but I really don’t think it needs that background, it’s a really great book on it’s own. You could definitely read it without reading the first two books, although they’re really great too. The background to this book is that it’s based on perfect people, living their perfect lives in a perfect town, but obviously that’s not really the case. There’s lies and secrets that are being revealed, and I am SO ENTHRALLED in the story, I don’t want to put it down! I love the three main characters in this book so much, even without the DWP connection. Something to note, this book was released in the US as When Life Gives You LuluLemons, so I’m not sure if the whole story is the same and they just changed the name?

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle
Okay so my friend read this book and said I needed to read it ASAP, but to be prepared because I would definitely cry throughout it! For those of you who don’t know I’m super emotional – I seriously cry about everything; happy, sad, tired, nostalgic, you name it and I’m crying LOL – so I have no doubt she’s right. This story follows two adults who live very different lives but have one thing in common; they were both adopted as children. Their paths then cross in adulthood but that’s pretty much all I know; I don’t want to read the reviews on this because I have my assumptions from the description. I think this will be the next book I reach for after The Witch Of Willow Hall!

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell
Another chick-lit book that definitely is my typical go-to genre, this sounds just like my ideal bath tub read! I love Jill Mansell books; they’re easy to read, generally pretty light-hearted and always leave you feeling happy in the end. This looks like a twist on your typical boy meets girl story; they both have their own lives, and it weaves through different periods of time where they’re unable to figure it out. Again I don’t know too much about this story but I have my assumptions and I’m so excited to dive in, I’ve never met a Jill Mansell book I didn’t like!

Have you read any of the books in this post? Or have you added them to your reading list for this season too? I am so excited for cosy afternoons at home, snuggled under a blanket reading whilst Matt watches the football! That’s how we spend so many of our afternoons at home on the weekends during this time of year, it’s truly the best of both worlds for us. Have you read any great books recently? Do you have any recommendations for me or my readers? Let me know in the comments!

-G x

*Special thank you to my lovely boyfriend Matt, who is always happy to be my photographer, even when we’re away for a special date night. I love you honey!*

Travel Diaries: Stamford

Hi, loves! Today’s post is a photo diary instead of a typical WIML post, as we spent so much time with Matt’s family and just totally relaxed all weekend! I am so excited to be sharing our photos from Stamford with you, because I literally took so. dang. many. We spent August bank holiday weekend there; visiting Matt’s family, exploring the area and just enjoying a break from our usual day-to-day life. We love going for weekends away, and we try to visit somewhere every few months for a mini break. Our weekend was filled with love and laughter; we had the best time exploring and I’m so grateful to my favourite person for always making our travels so fun. Matthew; I love you, and I love doing life with you! Did you see what I packed for this trip? I’m linking that post here in case you missed it!

We headed off super early on Saturday morning, and what should have been a maximum three and a half hour drive took us five and a half… which is literally just our luck! The A1 was closed due to a lorry fire (thankfully nobody was hurt) but we took a huge detour and got stuck in SO MUCH traffic. Luckily we had snacks, our favourite podcast and each other so we were still pretty happy 🙂

I love you so much Matthew 🙂

…yes I am tucked in with my car blanket for the journey. I am a child. When we finally made it to Stamford, we headed straight for Matt’s aunts house! His parents, nana and cousins little boy were already there so we were so happy to see everyone. The garden was a total sun trap and it was SO HOT. Especially for us Northerners, ha! We caught up, ate and played in the sun – it was so nice to be with the family (and out of the car)! Later we headed to find our cute little apartment in the centre of town and walk around Stamford for a little while; it is the most beautiful place! Everywhere is just so picturesque, the photos really don’t do it justice. We walked around for an hour or so before popping to The London Inn for a few drinks, then we headed back to freshen up for the evening. I can’t believe we didn’t take any nice photos but Matt and I went out for dinner with his parents; we ate at Cosy Club which was amazing, we all had great meals! Debbie and I tried a delicious new rhubarb gin and we had such a fun night all together. Afterwards we met up with Matt’s cousin and his lovely girlfriend for drinks before snuggling back up in our cosy apartment; we had the perfect first day!

This was our view from the apartment, it was so pretty in the late afternoon sun 🙂

The most English picture I think I’ve ever taken, lol!

So funny story… I jumped to the side of the road to take this picture of the tractor coming down the road and I think he thought I was a tourist (I mean, technically I was) because I must have looked so excited. He stopped to wave at me, hahahaha. Matt thought it was so funny!

Our Sunday was very chilled; we went for a breakfast date in the morning at the garden centre, it was so good! We love love love breakfast dates and we know good breakfast food, but this ticked every box. We’ve made a mental note to try breakfast at garden centres in our town to see if we love that too! After breakfast we visited with Matt’s nana; her village is so so tiny I can’t even explain it, they have like three shops! I I loved the area so much, it was super pretty and so remote. We spent the rest of our day visiting a little more with family and exploring the town; there was a classic car show in the centre which we looked around, but really I was only there for the ice cream van at the other side. #truth We got ready pretty early for the evening (it was BEYOND HOT – 34 degrees is just insane to us) and headed back to Matt’s aunt’s house to spend a little more time with the family before going out for the evening. We went to The Crown for dinner with Matt’s cousins and their partners, before spending the evening in the courtyard with them; it was so quirky and literally nothing like we have at home. The fairy lights made it beyond cute! We had such a fun night with everyone, and we’re already excited for our next trip down!

Eggs and avocado on toasted sourdough is HEAVEN to me!

Matt and I LOVE exploring garden centres. Like, seriously love them. I swear we’re 25 going on 75, hahaha.

I loved this little street! The light coming through the church on the next photo was surreal to us, so I had to snap a quick picture 🙂

It was HOT. Hahahaha.

Is this not the most quintessentially British pub you’ve ever seen?! Flowers are my favourite, and these were so pretty and vibrant!

On Monday morning we left pretty early and headed home via York; we went to the Designer Outlet and Matt did so well with his bargains, as always. I picked up a cute Levi’s tee that I’m sure you’ll see on the blog sooner rather than later! Thank you so much for reading, I hope you liked seeing a little snippet of Stamford! We really loved the quaint, cute town SO much because it’s just so different than where we live. It was REAL middle-of-nowhere countryside, I loved it! As you can probably tell from the photos in this post it was very pretty; literally every corner we turned there was something so sweet to look at. We’re hoping to go back in December and I really hope we can make that work; I’d love to see how the town looks decorated for Christmas! Have you ever been to Stamford? Where is your favourite places to travel in the UK?

-G x

Blogging Q&A

Hey, loves! A couple of weeks ago I reached out and asked on my Instagram stories if you had any blogging related questions you’d like me to answer. I was super scared nobody would ask questions (LOL) but I thankfully got quite a good response, although some people asked the same or similar questions which I’ve just mixed together. I love reading posts like this because as a blogger – and as an aspiring blogger before I created my own blog – I love to know other people’s behind-the-scenes! I talk a lot about my real life on here, and I’ve never been, nor will I ever be, one of those bloggers with an incredibly professional set up. I admire the beautiful photogenic blogs SO much, but it’s just not me. I take my photos on my iPhone X, I will never do a professional photo shoot for blog content (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my thing) and I’m happy in my own little world over here. So, let’s A some of your Q’s…

Why did you start writing your blog?
It was a dream I thought would never come true. I’d read blogs for so many years, and felt so connected and inspired by the people running them. Many of the girls I followed moved from blogging to vlogging and I felt like I knew them even more; I genuinely talk about Anna and Emma as if they’re my high school besties, which Matt finds hilarious! I loved the connection I felt as a reader, and I always hoped one day I’d find the courage to create my own. Fast forward four years of loving everything about blogs, and I’d poured my heart out to Matt about how I’d always thought one day I’d do it myself, but I just never had and now it was too late. Like the amazing man he is, he encouraged me to start right there and then, and I did. I bought my blog domain at the end of May 2018, and just began writing. I had NO IDEA what to expect, how any of it worked, or how it would be received, but I did it anyway. The day my first post went live (10th June, 2018) I was a nervous wreck in case people were mean. Matt and I went out for Sunday dinner at our favourite local pub and I could barely eat because I was so nervous. Over the past year I’ve found my routine, and now I love every aspect of running and owning my blog, I’m so proud of it!

What is your favourite thing about writing? / How do you make time to write?
It is very freeing, and it just feels good to get lost in my own little world. I think we spend SO MUCH TIME worrying about others, pleasing others and doing what others want to do, and it’s important to actually take a step back and be a little selfish sometimes. My number one priorites are always going to be my relationship, our family and friends and work, but when I can just sit and blog, I love to totally switch off from the world. When I’m writing I always get super comfy under a blanket, and usually have a cup of tea or hot chocolate. By ‘a cup’ I mean at least three, because I write for so long! I usually listen to podcasts, watch old YouTube vlogs (Jade Billington‘s are my favourite!) or play Your Favourite Coffeehouse playlist on Spotify although sometimes I just write in silence. I think making writing time an enjoyable experience makes it something I look forward to, and not something I stress about having to get done, even though I’m working to deadlines. Editing usually looks very different; I tend to do that whenever/wherever I can squeeze it in, often whilst we’re in the car or when I’m in the bath I’ll be proof-reading or editing on my phone.

How do you grow your audience?
I’m struggling a little to answer this, as although my blog is growing, it’s very slowly and steadily, not super quick. I think having a schedule and posting consistently is a huge factor in people coming back to my blog over and over, but I’m not really sure how people find my little corner of the internet. I find self-promoting my blog a little weird and awkward, so I try to only do that when it comes to new posts going live. I interact with other bloggers whose blogs I adore, and building those relationships is a great way to interest other people in your posts. I don’t have the most professional set up or look, but I think that can give my blog a cosy ~homey~ vibe, which hopefully people enjoy.

Do you ever get stuck for ideas?
Not really, because I plan my posts so far in advance! I don’t write my post there and then; I have the original idea so I’ll write my title, make any notes – usually this is points I want to make in the post, products I want to talk about, photo ideas etc and then I ‘schedule’ that for a date in a few weeks time and save the draft. Then, when it comes to writing the post, most of the ground work is done and I’m able to just start writing. I find it hard to make things concise though sometimes LOL, but it’s okay because I waffle on in real life just as much. The only posts I do write not long before they go live is my Feelin’ It Friday’s as they’re quick and about the week we’re currently in. I usually prep those on the Thursday night, then edit/update on Friday morning before it goes live.

Where do you get inspiration for your blog?
I get my inspiration from just whatever is going on in my life. If we’re going on a road trip, I want to share our essentials, if I’m really obsessed with a brand, I want to tell you the things I’d recommend most, if Matt and I are having a fun weekend, I take photos throughout the days and round it up for you. I also listen to comments I get, side note: people are always asking me to share dinner recipes so that post will be coming in a few weeks! I’m of course inspired by other bloggers and by YouTube content creators, and I think I’ve carved a path for my blog that means I can write about pretty much anything I want to. I never intended on sharing so much of Matt and I’s life, but I love doing it in the way I do; it’s like an extension of Instagram, where it’s real and honest, yet never staged or ‘for the blog’.

Do you feel guilty being sent products for free?
I’m not really sure how to answer this question because I don’t understand what there is to feel guilty about. Is it absolutely insane? YES. Is it surreal? YES. Is it amazing? YES. I wouldn’t say I feel ‘guilty’ because I truly put so much time and effort into my blog, which I don’t think is something that people outside of my close circle or the blogging world will realise. I only accept products that fit with me and my blog, as I’ve had some emails which just don’t work for me so I’ve politely declined. I’d never recommend something I wouldn’t purchase myself, and I’ll always be very honest if a product doesn’t work for me. My disclaimer is linked here, if you’d like a little more clarification. I truly am so grateful for every product I’ve been sent and every PR agency or brand that wants to work with me, it’s mind-blowing that my little blog is even capable of this!

Where do you see your blog in one years time?
My blog will be two years old by then, and I’m hoping it would have continued to grow with me, but I’ll definitely be creating the same kind of content. I really do want to become more comfortable in front of the camera, and Matt is always trying to encourage me to take photos when we’re out and about, which is making me slightly warm up to the idea. I know I’m not photogenic as it is, but then when I’m specifically ‘posing’ for a photo, I truly just go to pot HAHA. I would love to figure out my photography style a little more too, as I’m learning more and more about how I like to take photos and I’m hoping as a result my blog looks more streamlined and pretty.

Have you ever been recognised in public from your blog?
Haha, no I have not! I have had a weird moment in The Body Shop (I mean, where else?) where I was restocking on a few products and a girl who went to my school – she was a few years below me and we knew of each other, but didn’t know each other, if that makes sense – asked what I’d recommend she buy. She said she read my blog and purchased the Vitamin E Serum-in-Oil because of my review and loved it, which was seriously like an out of body experience.

Does blogging take up lots of your time?
Yes and no. It does take a lot of time and effort, but I try to set aside specific time to write, edit, take photos etc, so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. As I always try to plan ahead I don’t feel like it ‘takes up lots of time’ necessarily, because that time is specifically for blogging. I work a real 9-5 job, and blogging is my hobby so it’s something I like to do. Sometimes I really feel like I should spend an hour or two writing and editing during an evening, but I’m always going to opt for snuggling in with Matt to watch Netflix instead! I talked a lot about this in this post, and covered the ins and outs of how I find the time to blog here, too!

Do you feel weird about people you know in real life reading your blog?
I used to find it SO weird, but now I don’t really think about it too much. I know some people who know of me may read to pick flaws or to laugh at me (I had an experience with that when I first started out blogging) but I’m 25 years old, and not in high school. Although, my co-workers love to read on their lunch breaks and tell me as they’re reading, that is kinda weird haha. I know that people I know read it, and I’m truly very grateful for the views I get. I hope that people who like to read my blog tell their friends who will then tell their friends, that would be amazing! One thing I will always find strange is that I sometimes will talk about something on my blog – especially now in my Feelin’ It Friday posts – and people will see me and say things like “did you and Matt love that movie you went to see last weekend?!” or “I seen you were at Wagamama’s again!” The weirdest thing is when someone tells me they’ve bought something because of what I said about it. I never imagined that but I’ve had so many messages from people telling me!

Thank you so much for reading, and if you asked a question thank you SO much, I hope I answered it well enough! I hope you feel like you know me a little more as a blogger, I really try to be so open and honest with everything I post. Fellow bloggers, how do you feel about this platform? Do you relate to anything I’ve said? I’d love to do more Q&A style posts, and I’m hoping to maybe rope Matt into taking part in a little post on the blog… we’ll see!

-G x

TV Shows You Need In Your Life

Hi, loves!

Matt and I are forever looking for new shows, and when we love something we really go hard on the binge watching! *Cue getting snuggled up together with a huge cosy blanket and a bowl of popcorn* We loved Narcos and Peaky Blinders a lot, and we really thought we’d never find anything we’d enjoy as much! Recently we’ve watched a few things that we’ve not stopped talking about or recommending to others, and you know they’re the really good ones. I love getting an insight into what other people have been watching, and seeing what people recommend and why. There’s so many shows we want to watch next, but I think we’ll start watching House of Cards and Dead To Me – I’m sure if we love them they’ll be featured on the blog sometime!

After Life, Netflix
You’ll love this if you liked: … I don’t think anything compares
I’ve talked about this already in this post and this post, but I seriously can’t recommend it enough. I’m sure almost everyone has seen this by now, but if you haven’t it’s an incredible show. Written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, who also plays the lead character, Tony, the show follows what it’s really like to suffer with depression. Tony’s wife sadly passed away from breast cancer, and the six part series shows how his life is affected by this, and how he tries to find his new normal. It’s horribly sad but also very funny and light hearted in places; I laughed and cried throughout each episode. Ricky Gervais is currently writing season two and I know so many people are anticipating the next part of the story, we can’t wait!

Selling Sunset, Netflix
You’ll love this if you liked: The Hills, Million Dollar Listing
Okay so Matt wasn’t on board with this one, but I binge watched this one Sunday a few weeks ago when Matt was at work and I loved it. The girls are beautiful, bitchy and brilliant, it’s that same kind of trashy ‘reality’ TV that lots of girls in their early *cough* mid *cough* twenties will also love. Produced by the same guy who brought us The Hills, which was literally my favourite show growing up, it’s easy to see why I had a soft spot for this show. Chrishell is my favourite character by far, she’s so sweet and definitely seemed the most genuine out of all the girls. She’s the Lauren Conrad of the group, for sure! I’m pretty sure the storylines are completely fake, but it’s entertaining all the same, and you can bet if there’s another season I’ll binge watch that too!

Jack Ryan, Amazon Prime Video
You’ll love this if you liked: Narcos, Homeland
Hands down, the best show we’ve watched. Spoiler: it beats Narcos! The show is named after the lead character Jack Ryan – played by John Krasinski who I love – and the series follows his journey of being a CIA analyst who goes from sitting at a desk, to being front and centre with the criminals he’s been tracking. This show was one we could not predict; you know when you think you know what’s going to happen because it’s so obvious? No, it’s never what you think! Throughout the series, Jack is working as part of a team to stop an Islamic terrorist from following through with this devastating plans, and the story is gripping, emotional, sad and heartwarming all at the same time. There are some brutal scenes, but I promise it’s worth the tears you’ll shed. Matt has a new man crush on John, too! Season two is being filmed right now and I’m so excited – it’s a whole new story but I know it’s going to be just as good.

Our Planet, Netflix
You’ll love this if you liked: Planet Earth, Dynasties
Another incredible show by Sir David Attenborough, our national treasure. The shots throughout this season are incredibly beautiful; showcasing the most beautiful deserts to undersea worlds to rainforests and some of the incredible animals living on our planet. The show focuses very heavily on what the human race is doing to our planet – we’re literally destroying it in front of our eyes – and there are some distressing scenes. The walrus scene was heartbreaking, both Matt and I sat in silence for a good five minutes after that scene in complete shock (I was crying. Naturally). If you don’t already have the determination to do your bit to help save planet Earth, this will definitely give you it. You can also check out this post for some easy things you can start doing to help live a more sustainable lifestyle today.

Ambulance, BBC One
You’ll love this if you liked: Inside The Ambulance, 999 What’s Your Emergency?
Matt and I have watched this show since it first started and it’s one of our favourite ever shows, each season brings more joy! There have been seasons shot in Birmingham and Manchester, and even a spin off called Ambulance: Australia which was based in Melbourne, they’re all so good. You feel so close to all of the paramedics; they often share personal stories and you see their vulnerability and strength throughout each episode. The show is always based on one shift, and in a 12 hour window you get a very honest depiction of how things can be for our NHS paramedics. Emotions run high and I’d definitely recommend you grab a box of tissues before you sit down to watch, but I promise there are so many beautiful heart warming moments too! Forever grateful for our overworked and underpaid NHS, and so thankful for all that they do.

Brooklyn 99, Netflix
You’ll love this if you liked: The Office US, Parks & Recreation
This was one of those shows we stumbled across, and unbelievably we seemed to have missed all of the hype surrounding it. Since we started watching it and talking about it, everyone has wondered how we hadn’t seen it until now! Brooklyn 99 is a comedy based on a wonderfully mismatched group of NYPD detectives, and it’s laugh out loud funny in every episode. It’s your typical American sitcom (without the fake audience laughter, thank God) and it’s such a feel good show. Jake and Amy’s bond is the best, although Gina is 100% our favourite character, we die laughing at her! We’re still watching season one and we’ve got tons of episodes to get through; it’s great for when you don’t have lots of time but want to watch something before bed as each episode is only around 22 minutes, and it’s so easy to pick up where you left off!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed seeing what we’ve been watching recently, and fingers crossed it gave you a little inspiration of your next show to watch! What shows have you been loving recently? Have you got any recommendations that we need to watch?

-G x

How I’m Changing The Way I Spend Money

Happy Sunday, loves!

Today I’m sharing with you a few of the little changes I’ve made to my spending habits, mostly since the beginning of 2019. We’re only halfway through the second month of the year, but I already feel so much better since implementing a few simple changes. I thought I’d share with you the changes I’ve made, in the hope it may help or inspire you if you’re looking to hold tighter on the reigns of your finances. Aren’t we all…

Matt and I are currently saving for our future home (we’re going to start looking by the end of the year and I’m SO excited at the prospect of this I can barely stand it)! As we’re buckling down on saving more and spending less, whilst still trying to have a life, we’ve been looking at all the things we can do to improve our ability to save.

Budget by category, and track your spending
In my opinion, it’s so important to know how much you get paid, and to categorise your spending in categories at the beginning of the month. I can’t believe some people don’t know their take home pay each month! If that is you, this is a no judgement zone. BUT, please make a budget! I’m begging you! I track my spending loosely on a spreadsheet I made a few years back (it’s colour coded and very pleasing to the eye LOL. I’m so Type A), but as a result I always know how much I have to set aside for bills and fixed monthly expenses. My fixed monthly expenses include things like my phone contract, house fund savings, my car payment and insurance, then my variable monthly expenses include things like holiday savings (to pay off our Summer holiday to Croatia and begin savings for a mini-break to Budapest, I’m so excited!), ‘fun money’, petrol and groceries. I split my money into twelve categories overall, but it’s all down to what works best for you. I personally think it’s really important to have a ‘fun money’ category; whatever amount works for you in your budget; for treating yourself to a few new beauty bits during the month or spending a little extra on date night.

Spending with cash only in shops/supermarkets
I literally never used cash. Ever. I tapped my contactless debit card or Apple pay like it was my job, and rarely carried a full sized purse as I just didn’t need it. My card holder is now strictly reserved for when I carry a small crossbody bag (usually just on the weekend), and day-to-day I now carry my purse with me. Using cash at first felt so strange, it was like being on holiday and trying to work out which coin was which. Yes, really. I felt so awkward the first few times I didn’t pay using just notes as I was scrabbling through my coins, mortified I was holding up the queue. How British of me. Spending with physical cash keeps me accountable in a whole different way, as I think when I use a debit card it often doesn’t feel like real money. I’m not sure if it’s mind over matter, but whenever Matt and I go out for date night and pay in cash rather than on our debit cards we always spend less. If you find yourself overspending on your budget, or just are generally confused where your money is going, I’d highly recommend trying to use just cash only, it puts things into a whole new perspective!

Meal planning
Matt and I started to do this during the last few months of 2018, and by now we nail it every week. Our evening routines vary due to Matt’s shift pattern, but we know what that will be at least a few weeks in advance. As a result, we plan which nights we’re going to cook with fresh ingredients, and which nights we might grab a Sainsbury’s flat bread pizza (the BEST – you need to try the chorizo one!) or an M&S ‘throw it in the oven and wait thirty minutes’ meal. This all depends on what time Matt finishes work, for example on the nights he comes home between 9pm and 9.30pm we quite honestly can’t be bothered to cook and we want something quick and easy so we can catch up on our days and fall into bed! I’d love to write a whole post, detailing our meals for a week – including recipes – if that’s something you’d like to see?

Limiting online shopping
I’m not completely opposed to online shopping, but I no longer feel the need to mindlessly scroll through websites and buy things just for the buzz of buying. Before re-training the way I think about money, I shopped online way more than I’d like to admit, and often once I’d opened the package, at least half of the novelty had already worn off. I prefer to shop in stores anyway; to feel, smell and look at things properly. I have a few online loves – such as Feel Unique – that I know I’ll purchase from for years to come, but I feel less of an obligation to purchase online. I’d also really recommend taking twenty minutes out of your day to unsubscribe from all of the mailing lists you’ve signed up to over the years, this will definitley ease any extra temptation! One thing I will never get tired of buying online is books; as much as I love browsing Waterstone’s, I can’t justify paying full price when I know (usually) Amazon will be way cheaper! My Amazon ‘Save For Later’ list is brimming with books to order over the coming months.

Opening separate savings accounts
This is one of the best things I’ve done to get into a better habit of saving money! I have a regular old ‘Emergency Fund’ then I also have a ‘House Fund’ and a ‘Holiday Fund’. Matt and I are so excited to buy our first home together and it’s something we talk about all the time, but it’s also something that we don’t need to put added pressure onto ourselves for. We are so blessed to spend every day/night together and we have two houses right now – so we feel very lucky and grateful for that. Having a holiday fund allows me to set aside money each money to pay off our upcoming holidays – I’m so excited! – then when that’s paid off, I can carry on adding money to it as we’re planning a city break to Budapest later in the year. My ‘Emergency Fund’ is a personal fund, which is to take money from as/when needed for genuine emergencies. Sadly, a Mulberry purse doesn’t count as an emergency. I have direct debits set up which automatically add money into these accounts throughout the month, then if I have anything left over at the end of the month I’ll add extra into a specific account (right now any extra pennies are reserved for our holiday fund).

Implement the thirty day rule on any splurge/impulse purchases
This is SUCH a great tip that I read/heard somewhere ages ago, and it works so well for me. I really struggled with this at the beginning of January, but I’m now set in a new habit and it’s begining to feel second nature. I use space in my planner, or sometimes in the Notes app on my phone, to write down any of the things I’m lusting over, whether it’s a new beauty product or a clothing item. In the past, if I saw something I’d quite like to buy, I’d open up my laptop and purchase without thinking about it. This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, so writing things down as a decoy to not buy them was a totally different concept to me. The whole point is to then wait (at least) thirty days before purchasing, as if after the thirty days you still want that item it’s not a silly purchase. I was making so many frivolous purchases in 2018, and I’m quite shocked that I haven’t bought one thing on my list that has passed the thirty day term. So, it really was something I lusted after in the moment, and I don’t regret not buying at all!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of my points helpful, or did they reasonate with you as something you’d like to introduce into your life? What is your best tip for managing your money better?

-G x