Join the “no-resolutions” movement.

You’re probably already seeing the same old shite you see every year on social media and on television centred around generic New Year’s Resolutions.

Lose the holiday weight! Stop drinking for January. New year, new me! 2020 is going to be the year I ……*enter generic resolution*

I’m not saying that any of these are a bad idea, particularly, but are they relevant for you? These are the things we tell ourselves we “should” do but they are so general not really tied to any long term goals. So often, this is why we “fail”. We join the gym because it’s January and we have been told to lose weight because we ate too much over Christmas and not because feeling stronger or faster will be beneficial to our overall wellbeing. 

I think there is a better way to plan for the year ahead and get what you want out of it.

Reflect

This time of year, in between Christmas and New Year, is a perfect time to check in with yourself and reflect.

In a world that seems increasingly chaotic and full of obstacles waiting to trip you up, it’s easy to feel lost and confused or like you are just sleepwalking through life. Life can get really overwhelming and Christmas especially can be a stressful time with expectations and comparisons at an all time high. So schedule in some “me time’ wherever you can manage to squeeze it in, turn off your phone and check in with yourself.

This can look like anything you like. You could take an evening to yourself and go all out; have a bath, light some candles, meditate and journal. Maybe you take a nice long walk and then sit in your favourite cafe with your notebook or your laptop. Whatever feels good for you, just carve out a day/half day/couple of hours to spend some time alone, reflect on the year and how you are feeling as we start a new one.

Use your alone time to look back on 2019 and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What do you want more of?
  • What do you want less of?
  • What made you feel proud?
  • What are some of the best memories you made?

Visualise

Go way beyond 2020 and think about what your overall vision for your life is!

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget the big picture stuff so try to zoom out and think about your overall wants and needs. I love to do this visualisation exercise every year to really get me into the right frame of mind and thinking long term.

Close your eyes and think about the kind of life you want for yourself, the life you want to be living in five or 10 years’ time. 

  • Where are you? 
  • Who are you with? 
  • What kinds of things are you doing together?
  • What do you talk about?
  • What does your typical day look like? 
  • How do you spend your time?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What is your environment like?
  • What gives you purpose?
  • What gives you personal satisfaction?

Write it down.

Now, think about what you need to do to be able to live that for real.

  • Do you need to earn more money?
  • Do you need to invest in your education?
  • Do you need to find more people who have the same hobbies as you?
  • Do you need to repair some relationships in your life?
  • Do you need a bigger support network?
  • Do you need to move to a bigger/smaller city?

When we set goals based on other people’s idea of what we should be doing, we find it harder to get motivated or stay on track and we feel bad about ourselves. When we set them based on our own specific needs and wants, we feel more confident, more motivated and are less likely to compare ourselves to anyone else. Your goals should be getting you closer to the life you want, not some arbitrary list of things you “should” be or have.

Take Action

Now that you have a handle on your long term goals, break those down into manageable short term objectives.

What do you need to have done by the end of the year? By summer? By the end January?

Is there something you can do today, right now, that will start you in the right direction? Maybe you want to do a course in a topic you are interested in. So, today you just take the simple step of searching some websites or colleges in your area that do this course. Then perhaps tomorrow you get in touch with them to ask about the application process. 

You might be thinking about getting back into a sport you used to love so you could start there. Find somewhere locally that you join a class or a club. 

It can be scary, at first, breaking your routine to do something new but it’s so worth it! You deserve it.

The end of the year is a nice time to reflect for most of us as work and life slow down for the holidays but it can also be a difficult time so don’t feel pressured to have or be anything in particular. I also like check in on my birthday or the anniversary of moving to London (or whatever city I’ve decided to uproot my life for at the time) because they are significant markers of time in my life as well. You don’t have to have your shit together just because it’s January! And you also don’t have to wait til Jan, just make a decision and start today.

Resources:

Listen: Conversation with YogaGirl – Rituals to Set New Years Resolutions https://www.yogagirl.com/podcast, Affirmation Pod – Motivation for your best 2020 http://traffic.libsyn.com/clean/affirmationpod/228_Motivation_for_Your_Best_2020.mp3?dest-id=291603

Watch: Lululemon Guided Visualisation –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xM_Ztreqjg&feature=youtu.be 

The Power of the Holiday ‘reset button’

It’s amazing how much of a reset you get when you take a vacation and really switch off from work. No matter how much you love your job, it’s so important to just take time out, fully.

I work for a charity and so I do have a very fulfilling job. I know I am creating good in the world, I am good at my job and there are lots of opportunities for me to grow and progress. It’s also a very full-on job and I often work much longer hours than contracted in order to make sure everything that needs to be done is done. But I will never be a workaholic.

I will never prioritise my job over my relationships, my health or my wellbeing.

And I will definitely never check my work emails from the beach! I guess for some people, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice but for me, no matter how fulfilling the work is, travelling and spending time with people I love is so much more fulfilling. I want to be present. I want to soak up every second, every smell, every sight on my trips. I will not be on my deathbed wishing I had worked less and enjoyed my life more.

And it’s not just me, this research piece, The Impact of Vacation and Job Stress on Burnout and Absenteeism, shows that a vacation decreases perceived job stress and burnout. 

City life can be overwhelming!

The chaos of London can start to wear me down and if I don’t take time away, I feel depleted easily and often. Thankfully, after two weeks in Canada, I am now returning to my job and my life feeling much more balanced and resilient, and so much more determined to live my life according to my values.

What makes you happy?

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do but take some time out from your routine to do the things that rejuvenate you. You can’t pour from an empty cup and time off is your opportunity to fill up that cup!

When thinking about what’s important for me and my mental health, I know my main priorities are

  • time with friends and family
  • time by myself
  • time being active
  • time in nature.

I make sure to do all of those things when I am on holiday and I come back feeling amazing!

Time to reflect

I take any opportunity I can to reflect on how I am feeling and what’s going on in my life. Vacations are a perfect time to do this. On past trips, I’ve come home and made some big changes in my life but this year, I’ve come back from both of my longer trips feeling great about the life I’ve got in London.

The biggest thing I am taking from my most recent break, is that I need need to focus more on the goals I already have and try not to let myself get distracted.

Use your vacation time to take stock of your current situation and think about how you want the next couple of months to go. Is there something that isn’t going well for you? Once you are recharged, is there some action you can take to improve that?

Time off boosts your productivity when you return

As well as feeling more positive about life in general, taking time off work actually makes you more productive when you return. Having less time at your desk forces you to be more efficient with that time and just get things done!

I hope you are enjoying summer and making time to do the things you love.

Creating Rituals

Athletes are renowned for pre-game rituals. It gets them in the zone to perform.

Starting your own ritual is a great way to boost your overall well being.

What makes a ritual different from a routine is that it’s more intentional and mindful. Mindfulness is a term that has been used so much in recent years that it feels as though it’s losing its impact but essentially mindfulness is the practice of focusing on what you are doing in the moment and not allowing your mind to wander.

While mindfulness is known to improve your mood, mind wandering has actually been linked unhappiness and dissatisfaction. One of my favourite podcast episodes ever is the Happiness episode of TED Radio Hour where they delve into this subject. Actually, that episode is what sparked my interest in learning more about happiness and how to find it. 5 years later, I started this blog 🤣.

Another way to look at a ritual is just taking some time to slow down and enjoy your day to day activities. Instead of hastily chugging down your coffee as you race around the house take an extra five mins so just sit down and savour it. Maybe while also reading your favourite blog…

We tend to focus more on the big stuff to bring us joy and kind of skip past all the “mundane” but we’re missing out on countless moments of magic we could be enjoying!

We all have those little things we love like getting into a bed with fresh sheets, the cold side of the pillow, the smell of coffee brewing. Incorporate some of these things, that your senses enjoy, into a daily ritual.

Morning Rituals

Getting up early and having a routine makes a massive difference to my overall wellbeing.

I am incredibly lucky and don’t start work till 10 am so I get up at (mostly) 6 and really make the most of that time. I often wake up stressed and with 1,000 thoughts in my head about all the things I have to do in the day so I really need to take some time to get some balance before looking at my phone.

Waking Up: I use an alarm app so I am woken up by my music. I used to really struggle in winter when the sun comes up much later so I also have a Lumi light which gradually brightens the room from 30 minutes before my alarm goes off.

Bathroom: I like to brush my teeth before I do anything and wash my face just with water. (See my blog on skincare for the rest of that ritual).

Hydrate: I always drink a pint of water right after I brush my teeth. You get dehydrated during the night so it’s good to get some H2O in first thing

Journal: I take my glass of water and get back in bed and write in my journal. Sometimes, this just stream of conscious writing and sometimes it turns into a list! It helps me organise my thoughts and feel calmer.

Make the bed: I feel so disorganised unless my bed is made! I very rarely skip this and only if I’m in a massive rush to get out the door.

Exercise: sometimes all I manage is a couple of sun salutations but on a good day, I do 15-20 mins. If it’s sunny, I set my mat up facing the window. If not, I set up beside my favourite Monstera plant. Put yours anywhere you like!

Meditate: 5 – 10 mins on my yoga mat after a stretch. I don’t use an app or anything, I just set a timer in my phone and just focus on breathing either in a cross-legged seated position lying down. It took me years and years to even get to 10 mins. I hated meditation when I first tried it and I’m still not very “good” at it but I do enjoy being still and trying to quiet my very noisy mind

Get dressed and do my hair and makeup: No need for any more detail here is there….

Breakfast: This is typically the same every day to keep things simple. I sit down and either listen to music or a podcast and try to enjoy my food slowly before heading out for the commute.

Evening Rituals

Throughout most of my life, I have had various problems sleeping. Insomnia, nightmares, sleep paralysis, you name it, I have had it. Sleep deprivation causes my memory to just die completely so I have spent years working on my ‘sleep hygiene’ to make sure I am getting enough sleep to be able to function like a normal person!

The Space: Creating a relaxing space is one of the best things you can do to help you get to sleep. Every night, I spend a couple of mins just tidying up so that it’s a clear, relaxing space.

Before Winding Down: Before going up to bed, I check my calendar for the next day and pack anything I might need like yoga gear, laptop, mentoring material etc. I usually lay out my outfit for the next day so I have less to think about in the morning. Once I am organised, then it’s time to relax and get ready to sleep.

Lighting: I dim my bedroom lights or use warm, soft lights like a salt crystal lamp or candles at least an hour before bed so that my body knows it’s night time

Bathroom: I have a fairly elaborate skin regime at night but it’s so relaxing and really helps me relax.

Bed: Once my skin has been looked after, I get into bed. Instead of scrolling Instagram or watching Netflix, I try to read in bed for at least 30 mins before I sleep (I regularly fail at this but really do try to make an effort as it seems to make the biggest difference). I really try to avoid the blue lights for at least an hour before I sleep.

If I am having trouble switching off my devices or my brain, I use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to slow down my heart rate and relax.

Disclaimer – In a regular week, I probably manage the entire thing once! But, I try.

Instead of trying to squeeze everything in for the sake of ticking that box, I only do what I need to work on that day. If I’ve gone to a yoga class that night then I’ve already meditated.

Your rituals can be as simple or as complicated as you like. If you prefer to just sip your tea alone by the window in the morning that’s perfect. Or, you could establish a ritual as elaborate as an Egyptian queen complete with essential oils, candles, crystals and pillows. It’s your ritual. fucking go all out!

So long as you are taking a little time for yourself every day and just enjoying the moment for whatever it is, you’ll start to notice a positive difference.

Low waste (and low cost) skin-care swaps

In my quest to create less waste and spend less money, I’ve actually discovered several skin care swaps that have my skin feeling better than ever.

Ice roller -> lavendar infused ice cube

Ice rollers or jade rollers have been popping up on social media a lot of late with beauty bloggers swearing by them. The supposed benefits include

•reducing puffiness

•increasing bloodflow

•reducing appearance of pores

I have no idea if any of that is based on fact but I kinda loved the idea of rolling something cold all over my face! 🤣

A “sustainability influencer” suggested making your own by adding a drop of essential oil into ice cubes so I tried it and loved it. I use it every morning now. It helps me wake up and I feel like it reduces any puffiness. Also, smells amaaaazing. Cheap and easy to do but it feels like a luxury!

Oil-based cleanser -> Almond oil

Every night, I remove my makeup up (which is typically just tinted moisturiser and mascara these days) with Sweet Almond Oil and a hot face cloth. Just work the oil into your skin for a minute or two and then remove with a face cloth (mine are bamboo)you’ve run under the hot water tap. It’s dreamy!

After that, I wash with a facial cleansing bar to make sure my face is properly clean.

Then, cos I’m fancy AF, I spritz my face with some Rosewater.

Serum -> homemade oil blend

Instead of a super expensive serum, I made my own blend of Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil (50/50) with a couple of drops of frankincense. I read that frankincense has anti-aging properties and I have no idea whether or not that is total bullshit but it smells good and I cross my fingers!

Homemade scrub

Once a week, I exfoliate with a homemade honey and brown sugar scrub.

It’s so cheap and easy to make and if I accidentally get any in mouth, it tastes fab!

Homemade body butter

For years, I just used Palmers Cocoa butter and it was the only thing that I felt worked. I have pretty dry skin especially here in London where the water is really hard (I actually really miss the humidity of Taiwan!).

That was until I tested out this recipe that I came across on Instagram over the Christmas holidays.

You take equal parts;

• Shea butter

•Cocoa butter

•Coconut oil

Put them in a glass bowl and place over a saucepan of water. Boil the water and wait for your mixture to melt. Once it’s melted, let it cool for a few mins and then pop it in the freezer to solidify it a little. When it’s started to solidify around the edges, take it out and use a whisk to whip it up. When you have a nice fluffy consistency transfer it to a jar. I use a salsa jar because I eat chips and salsa at an alarming rate and always have a ton lying around my kitchen! You can also add a couple of drops of essentail oil if you want to make it scented.

Tranistioning from “normal” moisturiser to oil did cause some breakouts for a couple of weeks but I’ve now followed this regime since last summer and my skin is happier than it has been in years!

Let me know if you try any of these and how you get on with them.

So, you’re out of debt. What next?

I’ve been debt free now for 5 glorious months!

Surprisingly, I feel like that was probably the easy part. It took me about 18 months from when I decided get my shit together until I actually made the last credit card payment.

I forgot to to mention it in the last post but I used Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Snowball” https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan. It’s a really great method! Reaching each milestone was such amazing motivation.

Staying out of debt hasn’t been hard because not only do I have more money to play with than before, I also still remember the stress that came with it and I could never let myself go there again.

Saving, on the overhand, is proving a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated!

I’ve always been good at saving for travelling and stuff I want but I have a much harder time saving for things that are less tangible like emergencies or ‘rainy day’ savings or big things like a car, house or retirement.
My current savings goals are:

  1. Trip to Vancouver in July
  2. Full emergency fund of three months expenses
  3. A car
  4. Start saving for a house

Goal 1 is going really well for two reasons.

  • I fucking love travelling!
  • It has pretty clear ‘deadline’. If I don’t have the money by July, the trip can’t happen. And it’s definitely happening!

Goal 2 and 3, not so much. I’ve dipped into those pots a few times for non-essentials and am having a much harder time staying motivated. They feel a bit too big and too far away and also less exciting that a holiday or new clothes…..

Goal 4 honestly seems completely out of reach right now. And virtually impossible to make any real commitment towards. I am doing some research at the moment and trying to figure out my best option so this will definitely be a future post.

I’m a spender! I am an absolute sucker for new stuff. And while I’ve become a lot more conscious of the products I buy and where they come from, I still love spending. Instead of random fast fashion, I’m now splurging on house plants and rugs! Hello mid 30s!
I know my weak spots

  • Clothes
  • Food
  • House stuff

So, how do we stay focussed?

1.Use a ‘Zero-Based budget to ensure you’re saving as much as you can

2. Make is easy for yourself.
To get me into better habits, I’ve decided to automate my savings. They will now come straight out of my account a day or two after I get paid and go into an account I can’t easily access. Out of sight, out of mind!

3. Look at your balance
I can’t remember which podcast it was on it was but something the host said really resonated with me. Get used to and excited to see a big number in your bank account. I look at my bank account every morning and it does feel really good to see big numbers! I lived paycheck to paycheck my entire life and now I always have money in my account before payday.

4. Create some “rules” around your spending.
A good rule of thumb before purchases is to ask yourself a few questions. I love these from Money Saving Expert:

Skint? Ask:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?

Not skint? Ask:

  • Will I use it?
  • Is it worth it?

5. If you really want it, earn extra money
Another tactic I use to stay on track with savings when I see something I really want to buy is to find a way to make some extra money to pay for it. Some of the ways to do this are similar to how to make extra money to throw at debts.

  • Have a clear out and see if you have anything worth selling
  • Use OhMyDosh to earn some extra cash
  • Get cashback – I’ve just signed up to Quidco to earn cashback on some of my purchases
  • See if you qualify for a “bank bribe” to switch your current account

Whether or not you can be bothered with the extra effort to find the money for something will tell you whether or not you really want it! It also helps to change your mindset when you have to work harder to get that shiny thing you saw and when you get it it feels so much more satisfying.

Lastly, if you do impulse buy you can return it! Don’t take the tags off right away. See if it really does “spark joy” and if not, take it back.

Changing your spending behaviours takes time and you will slip up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Our relationship with money is deeply personal. It’s cultural. It’s gendered. It’s traditon.

We like to think we are rational beings, but we are more irrational than we realise. Advertisers know this. Marketing relies in behavioural science. They sell you a lifestyle, not a product. They tap into your emotions and insecurities and they are very, very good at it.

Keep an eye on those numbers, watch the debt decrease and the savings increase and your stress start to melt away.

Read: The Minimalists, Dave Ramsey
Listen: Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips, So Money with Farnoosh Torabi
Follow: @FiscalFemme @TheMinmalists

Anxiety

I was going to write about staying motivated to save this week but truth be told, I’m not feeling motivated to do anything at the moment thanks to my old pal, anxiety.

My anxiety is a real bitch because it keeps changing the way it manifests and catching me off guard. When I think I’ve figured out the best coping strategy and I’m feeling good, boom. Anxiety changes its strategy. It’s basically The Many-Faced God.

My anxiety is currently playing the role of Total Overwhelm.

I have felt constantly overwhelmed now for over a month and am really struggling to get a handle on it. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day and I always feel like I’m neglecting someone or something.

It’s especially frustrating because I enjoy all of the things I’m doing. I love my job, writing, dancing, seeing friends, travelling. The problem is that there is always so much going on and I constantly want to push the pause button to catch my breath.

My thoughts come in thick and fast and don’t stop so it’s difficult to focus. There are too many to sort through and organise. I end up with ‘task paralysis’ where everything seems equally important and daunting and I don’t know where to start so I just, don’t. Even the smallest “clutter” can tip me over the edge. Physical, mental and electronic. When my anxiety is heightened I notice dishes in the sink, emails that haven’t been filed, post that hasn’t been read, my podcast queue being too long, desktop unorganised, too many open tabs in my browser, laundry piling up. Somehow all manner of clutter affects me equally and I start to feel really claustrophobic.

I want to meditate more, cook more healthy meals, do more yoga, write more. But even these things that I do to reduce my stress are beginning to causing me stress because they are extra tasks and I feel pressure (from myself) to find extra time somewhere to do them. If you’re not an anxious person you probably think that sounds ridiculous but if you’re anything like me, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about!

It’s been building for weeks and now the other symptoms are creeping in. I feel impatient and short tempered. I’m tired. I want to retreat. My chest feels tight. I feel guilty. I feel inadequate. I feel crowded. I have butterflies in my stomach and a lump in my throat.

To reduce the overwhelm in general, I am on a mission to just simply my life wherever possible. At the moment, though, there are a couple of key things I know will make a significant difference.

  1. Telling someone – kinda covering this by default through this blog but ordinarily, I would reach out to a close friend and just say, I’m struggling a bit at the moment and need to vent. A problem shared and all that.
  2. Sleeping at least 8 hrs every night – anxiety knackers me! It always comes with physical symptoms for me and that just adds to the tiredness and makes it harder to get things back under control. I will be putting my ass to bed for 9.30 on school nights until further notice!
    3 . Taking a break from alcohol – I haven’t been drinking a lot (certainly a lot less than in my 20’s!) but I find that even one drink can exacerbate my anxiety the next morning. This is actually one of the things I expect to make the biggest difference
  3. Limit social media – the phone is going on aeroplane mode at 9 pm for a while.
  4. Swap TV for reading in the evening – I bloody love TV. So many amazing shows but the blue light from the screen definitely affects my ability to fall asleep and my sleep quality.
  5. Going for walks at lunch – the sun has finally graced us with its presence and London is looking buff. I will be making a huge effort to get out for at least mins at lunch every day to just enjoy and stretch my legs.
  6. Journalling – a few months ago, I started doing “Morning Pages”. It’s basically where you write first thing in the morning and just write whatever comes to mind, like a stream of consciousness. My anxiety is always worst in the morning so this really helps me to kind of unload a ton of my thoughts.

Anxiety is not only super common, but it’s also a bit of a chameleon and you may not even realise you have it or that it’s changed its tactics. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed all the time, even when you’re busy. Share how your feeling, ask for some help and take some steps to getting the rest and recuperation you need.

(The savings post is almost done, I just need to edit it, so I aim to have it up next week.)

How I Got Out of Debt

When I moved to London, I had some savings but not very much and I quickly burned through what I had.

Up to that point, I hadn’t learned very good habits with money but I had also never needed much for what I wanted to do. I travelled a lot and the cost of living was always affordable wherever I landed.

Getting into almost £10k debt was a combination of learned behaviours and a big change in living situation. I’d just spent four years in Taiwan, city with a low cost of living and great wages (for foreigners), and arrived in London which has pretty terrible pay comparatively and a sky high cost of living.

I had a number of core beliefs about money and about how I ‘should’ be living. To me l, money was never abundant and the lack of it a constant source of stress. My belief was that there would never be enough of it and making ends meet would always be a challenge.

When I arrived in London, I was about to turn 30 and wanted to to appear to be living a lifestyle of a 30 year old and not of a broke student. In Taiwan, I’d lived comfortably and still been able to afford to go on holidays and go out every weekend. In London, my first job was as a temp and I wasn’t even making enough for rent!

I had to buy winter clothes when I arrived because I didn’t have any and quickly developed a shopping habit I couldn’t afford. In hindsight, I think I believed looking the part of a 30 year old who has it all together would help me get it together!

On top of that, I didn’t have many friends and was struggling with loneliness missing my friends in Taiwan so I had to get out and about. I felt like I had very few choices; I could stay in and save money alone and depressed or I could go out and try to make friends and end up in debt and also be depressed. I opted for the latter because being depressed and lonely is worse than being depressed and broke but with some friends and fun included!

It was all an absolute shit storm for my mental health and I had worse anxiety and depression than Id ever experienced. I felt trapped in my job, trapped in my living situation and full of resentment towards anyone and everyone who appeared to be thriving in London.

Before I knew it I’d managed to get myself over £9k in debt and also needed a dental implant that was going to cost me over £2k. 😮

I had a maxed out credit card, a maxed out overdraft and two loans I’d taken out in attempts to consolidate the debt. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing!

So how was I going to get myself out of it?

I first had to admit that my relationship with money wasn’t healthy and that it needed to change. Second, I needed to get really focussed and disciplined about cutting back and living well within my means.

I had to admit that one of my main problems was that I bought too many clothes and I couldn’t blame everything on London prices or charity work being relatively lower pay.

I had to earn more money and spend less.

So I made it my business to learn as much about money as I could. As soon as I started reading, I realised how little I knew and how empowering getting my finances under control could be. I read blogs and articles, followed IG accounts and listened to podcasts. I probably became really annoying because once I’m interested in something, I get a bit obsessed!

My anxiety reduced almost immediately when I realised that I did have the power to get myself out of the situation I’d put myself in. There were lots of resources and groups out there to help me and there were 100s of things I could do to save money and make extra cash.

How I did it……

First things first- Get a full picture of your finances

Write everything down!

Calculate your total debt

It can be scary but if you are going to pay it off, you need to know what you are working with.

Calculate all your income

Salary + any additional income you have coming in

Calculate all your expenditure

Every penny. You need to know how much you spend on every single category so you can see where you can easily cut back. There may be some really easy ones to get you started like daily coffees and other little things that add up fast.

Spend less – Cut back where you can

Separate your expenditure into two categories: Essential and Discretionary

1.Essentials

Essentials are things you CANNOT avoid. Not Starbucks coffee on the way to the office 😂

Rent

Phone bill

Utility bills

Transport/car expenses

Loan payments

Medical bill or prescriptions

Groceries

Can you save on any of these?

Could you move to a smaller place and save on rent?

Could you save by selling your car and downsizing to a cheaper model?

Are you getting the best deal on your utility bills? Or phone provider? (I saved £20 a month on my bill AND got a new phone by finding a better deal through moneysavingexpert.com and switching providers).

You can save a lot on your groceries by planning ahead what you are going to cook and what you need, making a list (and sticking to it!), swapping name brands for supermarket own brands, going to the shops with a full stomach

2.Discretionary

Discretionary spending is all non-essentials. If you are in a lot of debt and struggling to make ends meet, you might have to cut most of these back for a couple of months to get yourself to a more stable place. If that sounds scary, don’t worry I will be posting lots of tips on how to look after your mental health for zero cost to get you through!

Memberships/subscriptions (Spotify, Netflix, gym)

Eating out

Shopping

Donations (help yourself first and then you can help others!)

Make your budget.

Your income – your essential expenditure = what you have left to pay off your debt/save/have fun

If this is all new to you, you won’t go far wrong with Dave Ramsey! I also use his Zero Based Budget https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-make-a-zero-based-budget

Earn more

Once you are cutting back and throwing as much as you can at you debt, you can start to think about ways to earn more and get it paid off even quicker.

Could you get a new job with a better salary?

Are you due for a promotion?

Do you have a spare room you can rent out?

Do you have a car?

Can you teach online?

This is a list of the things I did to make more money and pay off my debts quicker

  • Sold some clothes and other items at home that I was no longer using. I used Schpock and Facebook market place as both platforms are free and for local use. Instead of posting things, I arranged to meet with people and exchange the items. I have also used both to buy some second hand things.
  • Matched betting – I read about matched betting in a couple of blogs and decided to give it a go. Matched betting is a way of taking advantage of the free credits that online gambling websites give you. It’s totally legal and a great way to make money. It takes a bit of getting used to and you will definitely need a tool to help you in the beginning. I use Profit Accumulator www.profitaccumulator.co.uk/, which had tutorial videos, software to help you choose best and calculate your profit. I made £1,800 in two months which was a MASSIVE help! I took a break for a couple of months but went back to it recently to earn some extra money for travelling in 2019.
  • Switched bank accounts to earn a ‘bribe’ of £200 (check out moneysavingexpert.con for up to date bank bribes.)
  • Moved my credit card balance to a 0% card to reduce the interest. At the time, I was also awarded £25 cashback for switching. (moneysavingexpert.com is a great resource for keeping up to date with the best offers)
  • OhMyDosh – is a website where you can take surveys, sign up for free trail to earn money- so far, I’ve made over £100 on there doing free trials.
  • YouGov – through surveys on YouGov I earned £50. It did take about 6 months though so this is not a fast cash option! I did the surveys mostly during my commute to kill time and was delighted to learn that you can keep going to earn another £50. I have also done some YouGov focus groups which oten pay up to £60 for a two hour session

I did have a few challenges on the way – I had to move house (for the 6th time in 3.5 years….) and on top of moving costs, my rent increased as well. I also burned my leg really badly in the summer and spent over £200 on taxis to hospital and doctors appointments as well as a considerable amount ordering in food and buying medication and bandages because I had just moved in, had no food in the house and wasn’t able to walk. The combination of these two things burned through the majority of my emergency savings, which was disheartening but it was an emergency and that is exactly what I needed it for! It was a shame that it was spent almost immediately after it was saved but I was so glad it was there and for the first time, I wasn’t using credit to cover an unexpected event. I’ve since replenished my £1,000 emergency fund and now I’m working on having 2-3 months of expenses.

Living within or below your means isn’t always fun when you don’t make a lot of money but it’s honestly reduced my stress so much that’s it worth it! I would love to travel more, have nicer clothes, go out to dinner more, buy a house, go to more concerts but I can’t afford that lifestyle right now and the only way I will is by finding ways to make more money. That’s the next step!