Luxe life, on a realistic budget from a North East girl boss; that’s me. I work hard for everything I own and have achieved but being an independent woman making ends meet with an apartment to keep, while still trying to have a touch of luxury in her life doesn’t come easy thats for sure.
How do you define luxury though? For me, its having the luxury to be able to treat myself to the odd spa day, theatre trip, a holiday, meal out with friends, something for my home, a bottle of incredible smelling perfume or an accessory that I really love from time to time. However its not without sacrifice, saving and prioritising because I’d love to own my own home one day and that isn’t found at the bottom of a Chanel handbag, sadly!
I’ve spoken about this in the past but I gave up with New Year’s resolutions years ago because they always seemed to be a ticklist for the things that I’d fail at in January. Instead, I set myself realistic goals with tangible targets and I work at them until the life changes become habit.
One aspect of my life that I’ve been working on since last summer is my finances. I’ve always been good with money in that I’m great at making sure all of my bills are paid on time each month, saving for tax bills etc but now I’m focusing on securing my future.
So what does that look like to me? For me right now, that means paying off debts, saving to buy a property somewhere down the line and still being able to live and enjoy life day to day.
Champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget, you know the drill girls. Its great while you’re young and have fewer responsibilities but ‘I love the finer things in life’ and ‘I have expensive taste’ doesn’t quite cut it when you have rent and bills to pay.
There’s plenty to think about when you have your own place from the monthly bills and annual payments to having a little set aside to cover unexpected expenses like an appliance or tech item breaking down. Something that I’ve really realised though is how much of an impact making little changes to my spending can have on my overall lifestyle.
Whether its grabbing a coffee on the go or getting a taxi rather than the bus, one things for sure- it all adds up!
FOOD & DRINK
One of the first things that I started doing was to cut down on the amount of meals that I have out of the house. I’m always on the go with work and its easy to end up eating out daily. Now I take a packed lunch with me and buy multi pack bags of popcorn or crisps, tangerines and bottled water to keep in the car for snacking on the go. A drink from a shop would usually cost me around £1 yet I can buy a 12 pack of 500ml bottles of water from Lidl for £1.49; its a no brainer really! I also take my own water bottle out with me from home to make even more savings… plus I get to look sassy with the slogan!
Another saving I’ve made is on coffee. I don’t drink too many hot drinks but when I do, I try to enjoy ones at home or take an insulated cup out with me. I used to be a regular at the Starbucks drive thru but now I reserve it for a treat as although they’re lush, they’re pricey especially if you’re dairy intolerant!
The next area that I’ve saved on is my travel. I changed from a BMW 3 Series M Sport to a BMW 1 Series Sport last summer and really felt the difference in my purse; everything from my tax and insurance to my running costs for diesel is cheaper.
However I don’t always take my car when I’m going out. I’m a lot more savvy when it comes to the mode of transport that I use now, especially since I live near to a bus station.
In the past, I’d always stick to driving everywhere but diesel and car parking can sharp mount up, especially if I have meetings all day in town. Now I plan my schedule ahead so that if I have a week where I’ll be in town most of the time, I’ll leave the car at home and get a megarider ticket for the bus instead. The weekly bus pass is ideal for me, especially as it saves a lot of money compared to buying a ticket daily. I used to use the service when I was in college but I’d ride a lot more frequently then so benefitted more from the monthly version. Either way, its a great way to save money.
There are certain beauty treatments that I like to keep up with; Hollywood waxing, gel nails and toes, lash extensions and a brow tint and wax. The costs mount up but the lasting happiness I feel from having the treatments done is a huge benefit that outweighs the cost.
Still, I’m able to be savvy when scheduling my treatments. I switched to 3D Russian Volume Lash Extensions at Essential Beauty because, although they’re more expensive than standard lashes, they last longer so I can get them infilled every three weeks rather than two so I’m paying less money overall and only going once a month. Then every now and again when I’m feeling the pinch, I’ll go lash free and wear my Kiss lashes which are falsies that look oh so real.
Kiss lashes are really affordable, easy to find in Boots and Superdrug and come in a multitude of different styles so I can switch them up depending on how I’m doing my makeup. I’ve been wearing them for years and they’re always my go-to when I don’t have my extensions on. The Natural Flourish Blooming Lash line is my favourite because the lashes are multilayered yet are so lightweight and look really natural. They’re so fluttery, flirty and make my eyes appear really open.
Shopping around is as true for beauty treatments as it is for holidays. Towards the end of last year, I switched nail technicians to an amazing lady with a wealth of experience who charges less than my previous place but for a better result. She uses Gellish and it works so well on my nails that I get a good 3 weeks out of my manicure. I get my brows done by her too as its in the comfort of my own home and really affordable. Rather than getting a gel mani every two weeks, I now get my gel mani every three weeks, brows every six weeks and a gel pedi every nine weeks. Its saved me a small fortune that I can save towards unexpected costs for my flat or for bigger annual costs like car and home insurance!
LOYALTY CARDS & SPECIAL OFFERS
I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with loyalty cards over the years. I’m a sucker for them really but there was a time when I couldn’t close my purse for the amount of loyalty cards that were busting out of it. Rather than bending my purse all out of shape, I stopped using them and now I have really streamlined the ones that I actually use.
Where possible, I use the iPhone apps as they’re really handy for when I forget to bring the card with me but as a whole, the loyalty schemes that I get the most use out of are Boots and Nandos. I save up the points so that when I’m really skint, I can still buy the beauty or healthcare products that I need and can still enjoy a meal out with my friends. If you keep your points for when you actually need them, it feels like a treat and a bit of a lifesaver if you’ve got a Perinaise craving!
The trick with loyalty cards and freebies is to use the ones that will benefit you the most. That way you’re not deviating from your day to day habits but you’re feeling the benefit. The free dough balls at Pizza Express are a great example of this. The last couple of times that I’ve been for a meal there (one of which you can read about in this dairy free food at Pizza Express post), they’ve given us a card with the offer of free dough balls on our next visit after giving feedback online. I’m always on my phone so filling in a quick form isn’t much of a hardship and it saves me the cost of a starter the next time I’m there. Its a win-win really. Plus they always have awesome deals on their website under the ‘offers’ section.
Whenever you go to a Pizza Express restaurant, always look up the individual restaurant by location on their website and check out the daily offers that they have applicable to that restaurant. There’s often great savings to be had like their express lunch for £6.95 for a pizza and soft drink, 25% off all food on a particular day or 3 courses for only £12.95 which is an absolute steal!
Thinking smarter for 2018 is a must, how will you be changing your ways to save money?