Why You Need To Start Saving Now For Christmas

Hi, loves! Okay, so this post might seem a little random but please bare with me, I promise you’ll be glad of the reminder! Did the title scare you a little? Do you think I’ve gone completely nuts? Maybe I have! Today I’m sharing the reasons why you should start saving, and also helping you put together a little plan so that when December rolls around you’re not scared to check your bank account.

I never used to save for Christmas. It’s literally on the same day every year (Wednesday, right? If you know, you know) and there’s no real excuse not to set money aside each month to help you out with buying your gifts once November/December rolls around. There’s so much more to Christmas than giving gifts, but it’s something most of us love to do. Giving my loved ones gifts that I know they’ll love makes me so much happier than receiving gifts, it’s just the best feeling seeing someone be happy with what you got for them. So, what do you need to do to start saving?

Firstly, you need a plan. Is anyone shocked that I’m suggesting you create a plan? No? Okay, well let’s get started. Write down every single person on your Christmas list this year; that’s going to be your partner, your parents/siblings, your extended family members, friends and even any Secret Santa gifts you may be taking part in. Next to each persons name, you then need to write an amount you’re willing to spend on that person, and that is then your budget for their gift(s). This year, Matt and I decided not to do any ‘big gifts’ for each other, and instead we’re going to plan a trip for the new year (and also save more towards our house!) so we’ve set two limits; one for our ‘main’ gifts, and one for our stocking fillers. We always go overboard at Christmas and spend a small fortune, but really we’re just so happy to spend Christmas together and see both of our families so the the gifts part really isn’t important! I hope I stick to the set budget, because buying gifts for Matt really is one of my favorite things to do and I always feel like I just have to get all the things he’d like, hah!

Now you know how much you’re going to spend per person/couple, add those figures up, and divide it by how many weeks there is until Christmas. If you’re doing this today – if not, why aren’t you doing this today?! – it is 15 weeks until 22nd December. As you don’t want to be waiting for the balance of your money to be saved by the last weekend before Christmas, I’d divide your total by 14; meaning the week before Christmas all of your shopping should be completely done! Of course, you can save more than this figure each week, because the sooner you save that total the sooner you can have that money back for whatever else you want to spend it on. Also, if you’re not able to save that amount each week, maybe take another look at your totals for each person and adjust accordingly; your family and friends don’t need you to spend all of your money on them as that is NOT what Christmas is about, so be realistic with your figures.

So, where are you going to save this money? For me, the most logical thing to do is create another savings account; this means you can see the money mounting up, and you can also easily save each week by adding a standing order to your current account, meaning the money goes out each week and you don’t have to manually do anything. Of course you’ll need to adjust your budget to suit this money going out each week, but that’s another post!

It might also be beneficial to save extra money that you are wanting to spend at Christmas related to giving; we’re all so much more generous at Christmas (although it should be an all year round trait!) and there seems to be lots more giving opportunities. Whether it’s donating to charities, buying food for your local food bank, donating toys for children that don’t have them or something else entirely, even if you saved a few pounds each week you’d have an extra buffer ready to be able to give. Matt and I sent shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child last year and we’re so excited to do it again; you pay a donation to be able to track your box, and fill it with sweets, toys, games, colouring books etc for children who would otherwise receive nothing on Christmas Day. Ours made it to Africa last year, and I can’t wait to see where they go this year! If you’re interested in participating this year, please check out the details here.

So, maybe you’re now freaking out that you need to save so much each week to be able to buy the gifts you want to for your loved ones. Don’t worry, you have so much time to be able to save, it’s more than three months until Christmas (which for me is now only two pay cheques, oh my GOD!) Here’s a few ways you can save money in the rest of your budget:
– limit eating out; cooking at home is way cheaper (and way more fun) than going out to eat all of the time. Check out Mix And Match Mama for some amazing recipe ideas, you’ll never want to go to a restaurant again!
– make your tea/coffee/hot chocolate at home; instead of stopping by Costa or Starbucks on the daily, make your own and you can take it on the go in the cutest re-usable (and collapsible!) cup. You can still enjoy in moderation, because after all it is Bonfire Spice season, YAY!
– have a No Spend month before December; basically eliminate everything from your budget that isn’t the absolute essentials. Of course you need to pay for your car, home, groceries, petrol etc, but do you need a clothing allowance this month? Or a beauty treatment? Give yourself a little ‘pocket money’ to spend at your own leisure to keep you encouraged, but for the most part you can forego everything but the necessities for a month, it’s life changing I promise you! You will absolutely hit your goal quicker if you do this.
– get creative with date nights; at home date nights (or friend nights) can be just as fun as going out, and as a bonus there’s no need to wear makeup, hallelujah!
– check out sales and offers in the buildup to Christmas; even before Black Friday hits our shelves and screens, there are so many good deals to be found – you just have to look! I like to add a separate column to my Christmas spreadsheet where I can list what I want to buy for each person (Matt’s so lucky because I do all of the choosing for gifts, he just gets to take the credit with me hah!) and then keep an eye out for discounts or deals.

December is always a crazy expensive month; with all of the gifting, giving and partying going on it seems that you’re constantly spending money, so I hope if you do plan a little in advance then you’re not going to feel the pinch so much! Also, if you get most of your December wage to yourself, think of all the extra Christmas chocolates you can pick up! 😉

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post (and don’t think I’m completely mad). Some people save all year round then beef their savings up when Christmas gets closer; do you do that? Or, are you now going to start saving after getting this little kick up the butt? I really hope this helps you, please leave any extra tips and tricks you do too!

-G x

Learning To Shop Consciously

Hi, loves! I’ve wrote several posts about wanting to reduce my carbon footprint, learning to be more sustainable and all of the reasons why we shouldn’t shop fast fashion trends, but is it wrong to still enjoy shopping for new items and even having the ocassional splurge? In October 2018 I wrote about why I was changing the way I shopped, and it caused me to re-evaluate what I’m buying; from food to fashion and everything else. In this post I focused more on the fashion aspect of sustainability; talking about all of the ways to minimize buying, give your old clothes a new lease of life, and to encourage donating things that didn’t serve you a purpose anymore, but how do we go about shopping for new pieces?

I personally think that sustainability within fashion is a complete grey area; many people have said they’ll never ever buy new pieces of clothing again and will only up-cycle current clothes, borrow/rent or shop second hand. Others, like me, do our bit where we can with donating, buying second hand and trying to shop more consciously when buying new. For me personally, I think the key is balance; just like recycling and cutting down on single use plastic, everyone doing their bit makes such a huge difference. In the months since I wrote the above post on fast fashion, I’ve seen SO much more attention brought to it, and I feel like lots of us are a little overwhelmed. I love a bit of retail therapy, and in recent months I’ve began to find my personal style and learn to love my body (I’m working on it, anyway) so I’m all for buying new pieces here and there. I also really want to share more fashion related content on my blog; it’s something I’ve always shied away from because there is so much hype around it, but I hope the Autumn months are going to see an influx of fashion related content around here. Here’s how I’m shopping more consciously, and I hope it helps you too!

Do not purchase on a whim. I’d say that at least 90% of items I’ve purchased on a whim because I ‘needed’ to buy something, bought a whacky print that isn’t me or liked how it looked on the model without giving consideration to how it would fit me are items I regret buying. I try to buy seasonally now; items that will see me through a whole season (or multiple seasons) and can be worn in many different ways are ones that stay in my wardrobe for years, and I truly get the value from. Buying with the purpose of that clothing item lasting you through all different seasons and occasions is something that has changed the way I shop in such a huge way; I’m way less likely to be drawn to things I won’t wear over and over again. I really try not to impulse buy, and generally prefer to shop in store rather than online because it’s best to feel fabrics and try things on.

Buy quality over quantity. I’m not saying you have to spend hundreds of pounds on an outfit or piece of clothing to justify it being ‘good’ quality, but it really can pay to shop arounds sometimes. For example, buying cheap t-shirts from Primark might seem like fun in the heat of the moment, but realistically you’re not going to get much wear out of it and it’ll end up in a charity bag within a matter of weeks. Factor in that someone had to make that t-shirt; if they’re marking up their price to be still be £5 or less, it cost pennies to make, and in reflection the person who made that was likely not being paid a fair wage. The fabrics and dyes used in ‘cheap’ clothing are terrible for the environment, and you just don’t get value for money. Aim to shop in stores that offer more premium priced items that are made with better materials, as they will last you way longer and you’ll get your value for money. I’ve said this a few times, but Matt is so good for shopping with the quality over quantity in mind, and I’m slowly but surely learning from him!

Know your price point and stick to your budget. Hand in hand with looking at quality over quantity, it’s so important to know what you can afford, and where you can compromise on spending a little more for a better piece, or go for a less expensive option that suits your needs but still fits with your ethical opinion. It’s hard to judge this as everyone is so different, and our allocated money to spend on clothing each month can vary so much. I personally will never feel guilty for buying at *a certain store* because the reality is I can’t afford to shop exclusively at ethical, sustainable stores or brands. The prices are much higher – although I agree with the reasoning for this, for paying fair wages and using harder to source fabrics – but I’m unable to consistently purchase that way at this time in my life.

Buy with intention. Does the item of clothing go with at least X amount of things you own? Can you wear it through multiple seasons/years? Or is it a ‘trendy’ piece that you’ll not reach for in a month? Or are you only buying it because everyone else is wearing it? Yes, I’m talking about *that* Zara dress. If the answers to these questions err on the side of ~I am not shopping for the right reason~ then chances are, it’s a purchase you’ll regret making. As I said in this post, I read somewhere that you should get at least thirty wears out of each piece of clothing you own, although I think personally that number should be even higher. Buying items of clothing that are not made to fit a certain trend makes this much more likely; stick to shapes and fits that flatter your body, buy solid coloured basics, opt for pieces that can be dressed up or down and only buy patterns when it’s one you know you’ll wear long term (like leopard print, always buy leopard print).

Get over the fear of outfit repeating. I’m sure most of us are immediately re-playing that scene from Lizzie McGuire in our heads right now, which taught us that re-wearing clothes you love was so not cool. Well, you know what really isn’t cool? Killing our planet by throwing away billions of clothing each year. This article shocked me so much, I can’t believe there is still such a stigma against wearing clothes you love, and it bugs me that we’re taught to think this way. I regularly see Daily Mail articles with headlines like “Princess Kate recycles dress for another event” …what? She is not ‘recycling’ anything. She’s literally wearing her clothes. Why don’t we all take a leaf out of Kate’s book and wear what we bloody own?! I also sometimes justify higher priced products by looking at the cost per wear; for example if a jumper was £60.00 but you wore it thirty times, you’re down to £2 per wear; making the investment worth it, and the jumper is better quality therefore will last longer with the correct care.

Read the labels. I really am that person who reads the labels on pretty much every clothing item I purchase. I’m not an angel and I definitely could be better with this, but I try to stay away from purchasing man-made fabrics, such as polyester, and opt for more natural fabrics that are sustainable to our planet. There is a term called greenwashing that is being thrown around a lot recently, and it basically means brands are being accused of advertising products/fabrics are ‘better for the environment’ without being able to back it up. So many cotton clothing items say they are made with ‘recycled’ cotton, but many retailers are not being truthful with this statement; if it doesn’t say “certified recycled/sustainable cotton” it’s more than likely NOT. Do your research, check the labels thoroughly and be prepared to shop around.

Buy with comfort in mind. This one is maybe something that lots of you won’t agree with, but I am tired of buying clothing items that LOOK good, but don’t feel good. Super tight skinny jeans, I’m looking at you. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good pair of skinnies as much as the next person, but if Matt and I are heading out for dinner and drinks (hello, bloating!) I’m no longer forcing myself to wear them when it’s just not necessary. Over the past few months I’ve totally fallen in love with Mom jeans, and I couldn’t care less if they make me look ‘big’ which was what I always thought when I tried a pair on. Matt compliments me every single time I wear them, and they’re so much comfier. If you’re still not on the Mom jean hype, please go try them out! I am equally as obsessed with midi skirts, comfy trousers and if I’m having a chilled day you can bet I’m wearing leggings for that athleisure vibe. Comfort is key, and honestly when you’re comfortable in your clothing (and your own skin, but that’s for another post) you look so much better anyway!

I’m so excited to shop for my Autumn wardrobe, and I’m hoping to implement a better one in/one out system when the time comes. I began decluttering my wardrobe last weekend, and over the next few weeks of culling more and more, I’m determined to only own things I love, feel good in and will get wear out of. I can’t wait to begin buying a few Autumn pieces, I’m really so excited to create a wardrobe I love for years to come! My shopping list for Autumn includes chunky cable knit sweaters, a new midi skirt or two in darker tones, black (vegan) leather ankle boots, a good pair of dark wash mom jeans and some comfy long sleeved tees. I’ll definitely be sharing a little Autumn haul on my blog in September or October, and I’d love to share more outfit related posts with you next season if you wouldn’t be fussed that most of my clothes aren’t able to be linked? I adore Autumn fashion, and I’m excited to focus on fashion a little more on my blog.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful and maybe a little interesting; I love to talk about this topic and I’d love to know your thoughts below. How are you shopping more consciously? Have you seen brands greenwashing potential customers for their own gain? What’s your favourite tip to shop more consciously?

-G x

My August Goals

Hi, loves! Happy (early) August! Can you believe how quick this year is going?! It’s almost Christmas! *rushes to make candy cane hot chocolates and turn Elf on, despite faint protests from Matt* As any regular readers will know, I really love setting goals and having something to work towards, and I also quite enjoy sharing my goals on the blog from time to time. It holds me accountable in a different way, as normally I’d write my goals in the Notes app on my phone and if I didn’t achieve something I wouldn’t be too disappointed, so this puts a little fire in my belly! I try to only set five goals at a time, as I feel like it can be really overwhelming if you set more, as in my experience they then become daunting and unachievable.

Clear out Matt and I’s wardrobes (and all of my beauty drawers)
We are HOARDERS, guys. And it’s kind of a problem. We don’t buy new clothes too often, but we did buy some new bits at the start of the Summer for our holiday to Croatia and we didn’t really clear anything out at the time we made new purchases. My dream closet would be one that looks just like Shay’s (hers is amazing!) but right now I’m super grateful for what I have and I want to make it work better for me. I’ve already started my clear out and to be fair I’m almost done, I’ve just got a few organisational bits left to do to make things look a little more pretty. I know there’s several pieces on my ‘to buy’ list for the upcoming Autumn months (I’m VERY excited for A/W fashion, it’s my favourite!) and Matt will be picking up some new pieces for the colder months too! I’m not looking forward to doing my beauty drawers, they are a MESS. If anyone has any great drawer organiser recommendations please let me know! It always feels very refreshing to have a good clear out, and I’m sure we’ll feel so much better when it’s all complete. I’ve already got tons of stuff to sell on Depop which I’ve never done before, so I need to make sure I take all of those photos and send parcels out quickly too!

Treat myself to self care time
I’m making August an unofficial Self Care Month for me, because I think I just need to be a little kinder to myself. Matt and I have had a busy few months and I’m excited to unwind, enjoy the last of Summer and prepare for all of the upcoming fun that we’re going to have in Autumn! I want to make the most of the warm weather, explore new places and rest instead of being 100 miles per hour all of the time. Matt and I have planned a few fun date days and we’re hoping to check off the rest of our Summer bucket list, I really hope we do! It’s going to be a month of unwinding, running, pampering myself, practicing yoga regularly, reading more often etc and I really can’t wait for it. Matt and I are also heading down South for a few nights to visit his family at the end of the month and we’re so excited! We’re hoping to spend our days there spending time with family, relaxing, eating good food and exploring, that’s the PERFECT way to unwind, right? We also get to go on a big old road trip to get there (and back) and you all know road trips are my jam. I can’t freaking wait!

Cut our grocery spending
This is always a goal, but this month I really want to see how much we can cut back. We always buy fresh fruit and vegetables so that will never be cut out, but I think we’re going to experiment a little more with vegetarian meals (which will be much cheaper because meat and Galaxy chocolate is the largest expense of our food shops!) I’m pretty concious about our meat consumption so we try to eat veggie when we can anyway, but this month it’s going to be more intentional. We also want to make lots of Summer recipes before we move back into the colder months, I’m thinking lots of pasta salads, fish dishes and all the tacos!

Be more present
I feel like this is something I’m always working on in one way or another, and I have to keep myself in check and remind myself to live in the moment a lot. I am so excitable about upcoming plans I kinda wish away the days which is something I don’t realise I’m even doing and then I look back and feel like I missed out on things by not being as present as I could be. I’m trying to be happy with what I have and we’re Matt and I are at right now, because I am SO fortunate and grateful for everything and everyone in my life. Also, we all know quality time with Matt is my favourite thing, and this month is packed full of it so I don’t want to miss a second!

Grow my blog
I know this sounds super vague but I just really want to make my blog the best it can possibly be. I talked about this a lot in this post, but my blog grows slowly and steadily rather than super quickly – which is fine, I’m so grateful it grows at all! – I’d just really like to continue putting so much effort in and see how it can grow further. I’ve really stepped up my game with creating new content and I actively like and comment more on blogs that I love, and I’m very grateful for others who always comment on my posts.

Thank you so much for reading! Do you set goals each week or month? Is there something you’re hoping to achieve this month? I love seeing what goals others are working towards, so if you’ve written any similar posts please leave your links below!

-G x

My May Goals

Happy first day of May, loves!

I am so excited to share my first monthly goals post on my blog, and I hope (if you enjoy it) it can become a semi-regular feature. I love to set goals for myself and it’s something that encourages me and motivates me like nothing else. I generally keep my goals private, and only would share my current goals with Matt, but I think it’s good to hold myself accountable by writing them for the world to see. I wrote this post towards the end of 2018, to set myself some goals before the new year rolled around. I’m still working on some of those right now, and I also wrote a post about the goals I want to achieve in 2019.

May is going to be a good month, I can feel it! Matt and I had so much fun in April, but it wasn’t the best month for me as I struggled a lot with my anxiety and felt a bit rubbish. April did however see a huge increase in traffic for my blog which was unexpected, and I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am for that. I’m enjoying blogging more and more as the months roll on, and seeing the rise in people reading posts, liking and commenting makes it feel that little bit extra special. It’s also my birthday month – I turn 25 on May 17th – to celebrate Matt and I are heading for a little spa break and we’re so excited! There’s two bank holidays this month, hopefully the warm weather from April bank holiday weekend will return, and we’re going to have so many fun date days/nights. So, what are my goals for this month, and what steps am I taking to achieve them?

Worry less
I’m pretty sure from now until the day I die, my daily goal will be to worry less. I’m a perfectionist, I care too much what other people think, and I’m always striving to please everyone around me, even those that don’t really matter. I really want to work on this, although I find it’s much harder than it sounds when I attempt to put it into practice. I’m starting with giving myself that extra little bit of self love, believing in all of the wonderful things Matt says to/about me, and trying to live in the moment more. I know life is so short, and we should focus on ourselves way more than we do, it’s just hard to find that perspective when I need it. It goes without saying that my anxiety does not help with this and, as mentioned above, I’ve been feeling very anxious recently, although I’ve been unable to pin down exactly why. I’m hoping my head will feel a little clearer this month, and I can enjoy each day without feeling that little cloud hovering over me.

Make better food choices
Throughout April, Matt and I were trying so hard to eat better. We’ve always generally ate well for breakfast and dinner, but it was the bit in the middle of the day (and sometimes the evening) that was the struggle. We’re self-confessed snackers, and we’re prone to snuggling up to watch our TV shows in the evening with a bag of popcorn or a pack of Haribo. We’re not cutting out everything bad for us and we’re definitely still eating the things we love in moderation, we’re just trying to be a little more aware of what we put into our bodies. I’d love to lose a little weight before our holiday next month, too! Our four main goals are; more vegetables, more fruit, less sugar and less red meat. I talked about this in lots of detail in a previous post last month, but we really love to experiment and cook different dishes for dinner, and we’re trying to make at least two new recipes a week throughout May so we can expand our ‘go-to dinner options’ even more. I’m excited for the challenge of another month of making healthier choices, and I’m hoping that after another four weeks it may become second nature. Let’s just forget about the fact there’s two bank holidays and my birthday weekend where we’ll 100% be consuming alcohol. And cake.

Read at least four books
Throughout 2019, I’ve been reading like a machine, and this one is probably going to be the easiest goal for me. I love nothing more than getting lost in a fictional world; it’s a great way for me to de-stress from everyday life, and it makes me feel so relaxed, especially when I’m feeling a little bit lost with myself. I feel like I have to actively make time for reading, as my default *thing to do* when I’ve got a little downtime is to work on my blog. I’m trying to be a little more selfish, and allow myself time to read as a self-care activity, instead of thinking I constantly need to be doing something. I am forever buying new books, and when I love one I tend to fly through it at lightening speed. I’ve read 12 books so far this year, which works out at three per month, but I’m setting myself the goal of reading (at least) one more. My favourite place to read books is in a Lush bath, as I feel like I’m completely in my own little bubble and it’s glorious!

Create new in-front-of-the-camera blog content
I find having my photo taken the cringiest thing in the world, and I just don’t know how to re-train my thinking on this. I think the fact I feel uncomfortable with my body is the driving force behind this, but that’s a slow process to change. I began the process to change up my hair last month and I do feel so much better already, so maybe this will be more achievable as the months roll on! The only photos I feel comfortable taking are ugly Snapchat selfies (my boyfriend is so lucky) or the occasional couple photo when we’re dressed up for a night out, and even those I rarely like when the morning rolls around. I really want to branch out more with my blog, especially by showing Spring/Summer fashion ideas and taking the kind of photos I’d love to feature on my blog, but it’s hard when I don’t feel too comfortable in front of the camera. Matt is fortunately a great (and very patient) photographer, so hopefully we can work together to get some good shots! He took the photos of me in this post during a day out at Alnwick Garden during the April bank holiday Monday – we had the best day enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms – and he made me feel so much more comfortable in front of the camera.

Use cash as much as possible throughout the month
As I mentioned in this post, I was getting much better at taking money out at the ATM for the week, and then using that money for groceries, shopping days or heading out for an impromptu dinner date with Matt. Throughout April I didn’t do so well with this, and went back to tapping my contactless card or using Face ID to activate my Apple Pay like it was my job. As a result, I spent over my budget in a few too many categories, and I want to save a little more money this month than I did in April. Matt and I are starting our Spring/Summer clothes shopping too – I love shopping date days, we pretty much always go for a Wagamama too! – and I want to make sure I’m not overspending. You can see some of the things I’m planning on picking up in my Spring style wishlist post, and there’s a few other bits and pieces I need to start picking up for our holiday next month!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed a little peek into what my goals are for the month. Do you set monthly goals? How well do you do at achieving them? If you have any tips or tricks to help me achieve mine I’d be eternally grateful!

-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