Goodbye debt, it’s been…memorable

sky

I’m a little tipsy as I write this, so please bear with me.

I have had a few celebration drinks this evening because, as of today, July 1, 2017, for the first time in my adult life…I am debt-free!

I’m still not sure how I did it, quite frankly, and don’t ask me how I will get by until my next payday, because I seem to have paid off nearly a grand in a week and that doesn’t sound very sensible. Surely I need money to buy, like, food and stuff?

But right now I don’t care. I’ll worry about how to feed myself another day. I have done at least six air-punches today, and yup, just did another one. It’s like my arm is possessed.

The first thing I did after paying off that last horrible bit of credit card debt was give my other half a massive hug. She’s been an absolute star, knowing exactly when to leave me alone to save money and when to treat me to a little pick-me-up when the months of dull, dull deprivation took their toll. I was also incredibly lucky to have you all here cheering me on, as well as some fantastically supportive friends happy to listen to me whinge about being perpetually broke.

And maybe it’s the drinks talking, so forgive the following indulgent point – I can’t work out whether it’s too trite as my critical thinking faculties are not currently at their best.

At points over the years it felt as if being in debt was an integral part of my being, like there was no escaping the fact I was bad with money and always would be. It felt hopeless; inevitable; a fundamental flaw.

Now I get to re-write the rules.

So what harmful assumptions about your own limitations are holding you back?


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I made a big money mistake. And I’m blaming Japan

Cherry blossom in Japan

Urgh. I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

So much so, I haven’t written anything on this blog for weeks. Sorry for disappearing for a while.

Here’s what’s happened:

More than a year ago, I publicly committed to paying off all my debts by June, 2017.

Yup, the June 2017 we’re currently screaming towards the end of.

So I’ve been scrimping and saving for months – slaving over internet surveys to earn pennies and taking packed lunches to work to save a few pounds. Man, it’s been dull.

At the beginning of this month I had just £500 to go. I was already planning the triumphant blog post and the glass of something fizzy to celebrate the end of a 16-year battle with the credit cards, unsecured loans and overdrafts.

Then I disappointed myself by somehow slipping back into the old habits which got me into this mess in the first place.

In an attempt to incentivise myself to become debt-free, I’d been focusing on everything I would treat myself to, once I was shot of those hefty repayments.

Travel is my weakness, so top of the list was a dream holiday to Japan during its famous cherry blossom season next spring.

I bought a guide book. I watched TV travel shows. I even started learning hiragana– the first of three (yes, three) seemingly never-ending alphabets used in the Japanese language.

But I ended up getting completely carried away with my bouts of far-eastern dreaming, before discovering that the very specific type of accommodation I was hoping to stay in was already getting booked up for next spring, left, right and centre.

I’d creak open my laptop each morning to discover another place from my shortlist, gone.

Then, I watched a travel documentary which described hotel rooms and holiday rentals during the cherry blossom season as being ‘like gold dust’.

In a panic, I booked a place to stay and shoved the cost on a credit card.

And of course, in the process, I dealt a massive blow to my grand debt repayment plan.

So whether I can still get to debt-free by the end of the month, I really don’t know, but I’m running out of days and it doesn’t look good.

More importantly, it’s made me reflect on why I took leave of my senses and made such a seemingly stupid money decision, after years of reading finance blogs and inspirational stories about beating debt.

I fell straight into the traps I’d fallen into so many times before over the years. Traps laid by the tricks our minds play on us.

‘I deserve this.’

‘I should live a little.’

‘Ooh, shiny fun thing!’

‘If I don’t buy this now, it might not be there later.’

‘This is a good deal, because reasons.’

I’m trying to make the best of the situation I’m in now. As you can imagine, my money-saving has gone into overdrive and I’ll see where I am in a week’s time. You never know, I might yet pull this out of the bag.

But, boy, I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Advice for the next generation

Phew! I’ve just got back from a whistle-stop visit to the other end of the country for my gorgeous little niece’s Christening. The travelling was exhausting, but it was fantastic to have a big family get-together.

While we all tucked into lunch, my sister put up a wooden ‘wishing tree’ and invited the guests to write a wish or piece of advice for the new baby to read when she was older.

Ever the money nerd (and literature nerd), I put down a quote from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

If only I’d stuck by Mr Micawber’s recipe for happiness myself…

I’m slightly terrified by the realisation that back in 2015 I pledged I would be debt-free by June 2017 … and it’s June in a few days.

I currently have £850 outstanding. That’s going to be a big ask.

But in a way, I’m glad this is proving tough, if for no other reason than it SERVES ME RIGHT. I failed to do a really simple thing for years – live within my means – and yup, I’m reaping the misery Dickens was warning people about back in Eighteen…whenever. (Okay, so I’m not that much of a Dickens geek).

What advice would you give the next generation, given the mistakes you’ve made in the past? Let me know in the comments.

 


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Low-maintenance versus high-maintenance beauty regimes: round two results

Round two productsBeauty products: are they magic potions or huge great cons? My intrepid experiment to find out continues.

As a bit of a recap, I’m a low-maintenance person who prefers a night out in the pub to a day in a spa. But in an effort to declutter my bedside cabinet of all its abandoned products, I’m running a bit of a test.

Each month, I’ll take four products, all meant to be used on different areas of the body, and give them a trial on one side of my body only.

I’ll them monitor the effects, and, crucially, get my other half Ruth to try to guess which side has been getting the treatment.

Any lotions that magically make me a stunningly attractive individual get to stay, while any that do nothing get the boot.

I’ve now finished round two and the results are in.

Clinique cleanserProduct: Clinique Rinse-off Foaming Cleanser
First impressions: All I usually use on my face is water (more through laziness than anything) so this made me feel like I was a more sophisticated person than I actually am. Each day, I cleaned my face with a sort of smug sense that I had my shit together.
Results: Straight afterwards, my skin felt a little tight. I also started noticing dry patches on my face for the first time in a while. To be honest, I couldn’t see any real difference in cleanliness.
Did Ruth guess right?: Yes. She pointed to the right side of my face and said, ‘That one. Because you had a spot on the other side.’ How lovely.
The winner: A draw. It’s a small bottle so I’ll soon use it up and while I might not buy a direct replacement, I might consider another cleanser. Or I could go back to being a mildly self-loathing slob.

Veet creamProduct: Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream
First impressions: Do you like the smell of burnt hair? Do you enjoy reading faintly alarming WARNINGS about side-effects in random CAPITAL LETTERS on your products? Are you a man, woman or non-binary person who needs to get rid of a lot of hair very fast, for some reason? Are you unable to use sharp objects because you’re, say, in prison? Then this may be for you!
Results: It was pretty quick and fairly effective, but had the down-sides you’d also experience with shaving: stubble, dry skin, and so on. It says I can’t use it on moles, which is, like, half my skin.
Did Ruth guess right?: Well, yes. She said, ‘Is it the leg which looks really red and irritated?’ Although, to be fair, you have to exfoliate the cream off after you use it, so the exfoliation might have contributed to the ‘red and angry’ look (a much sought-after skin shade, I’m sure you’ll agree).
The winner: A draw. I’ll likely stick with shaving and waxing most of the time.

Frizz-EaseProduct: Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Crème
First impressions: So, for background, my hair can be a little frizzy sometimes. I’ve had this bottle for a while after trying it briefly and giving up on it. It’s a runny, white substance you rub on your hair while it’s still damp, and says it protects against the heat of straighteners, which I fry my hair with religiously. It’s easy to use and you don’t need much of it.
Results: I found it made my hair feel less flyaway than usual, but also less soft. It needed washing sooner.
Did Ruth guess right?: Just as I did last month, I drew the line at using a hair product on one side only. Sorry, science!
The winner: Low-maintenance. I can see it could come in handy sometimes, but I won’t be using it often.

Clarins eye gelProduct: Clarins Eye Contour Gel
First impressions: This was a very refreshing gel to use round my eyes, especially when I woke up hungover or tired (i.e. pretty much all the time). It absorbed quickly and didn’t sting. The bottle was teeny tiny.
Results: Although it felt nice to use, I could see no real difference to my eye area at all.
Did Ruth guess right?: She said both eyes looked identical.
The winner: Low-maintenance. In fact, the bottle was so small, I promptly lost it. Decluttering result!

Overall winner: By a whisker, Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream (although I’m still not overly keen)

I do still have enough lotions and potions to do a few more rounds of this experiment, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for a bit, mainly because this isn’t the bloomin’ Avon blog, and I want this to be more than a product review site. I could always revisit the testing later in the year.

I’d also like to stress that while I may remain a low-maintenance person, I’m not saying this is a superior way to live.

Everyone will be different. If beauty products are your thing, then go crazy with them. Who am I to judge if a face-pack helps you unwind after a long day?

But it might be worth checking you’re using them because you get something out of the process, and they’re not just another chore you’ve taken on because of other people’s beauty standards or gender expectations.

If money is an issue, you might want to question whether expensive cosmetics are really giving you results, or whether you could you experiment with a cheaper alternative.

And if you’re worried about your impact on the planet, could you research greener alternatives or use up the products you already own before going out and buying new ones?


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Card-tastrophe

credit cards“Oh, for f***’s sake,” I snapped to myself at the cashpoint.

In the process of getting money out, I had somehow tipped up my purse and let all my bank cards scatter over the city-centre street.

When I bent to pick them up, more cards fell out. Then the umbrella handle I was precariously balancing under one arm came tumbling down, dumping some fresh rainwater over the problem.

Luckily, the two people next in line, an older lady and a younger woman in a headscarf, seemed amused by my potty-mouthed predicament and helped me scoop all my cards off the floor.

I thanked them and crept away in a state of vague embarrassment at not quite having this ‘being an adult’ thing down-pat yet at 34.

But I also had to wonder, why on earth did I have so many cards?

All in all, there were 20 bits of plastic in my wallet: four debit cards (including one for a recently-closed account), four credit cards, a few membership cards and a whole host of store loyalty cards.

Call myself a minimalist?

I can see how I got here. In my quest to battle my long-standing debts and get my money in order, I’ve tried just about every scheme going. I’ve opened balance-transfer credit card after balance-transfer credit card – moving my debts along like Sonic the Hedgehog jumping across collapsing platforms – all to avoid high interest payments.

I’ve opted into just about every store loyalty scheme going, even ones where I barely go into the shops concerned and will probably never amass enough points for a reward, in the hope it might just save me some cash, somehow.

And thanks to my habit of chasing new-customer bonuses, I’ve also found myself with far more bank accounts than is sensible or healthy. (I recently got a letter from a bank telling me they’re closing my account due to inactivity. I’d forgotten about the account completely).

But I’m thankfully moving into a different stage of my life. I’m finally going to be the person who has their shit together when it comes to money, and I’ve decided I need a wallet to match.

So I’ve embarked on the great financial declutter. When I got home, I tackled my cards straight away, cutting up some, closing down the accounts on others, relegating still more to a drawer so I don’t have to carry them every day.

I’m not there yet, but here are the six cards I would have in my fantasy, pared-down purse:

One credit card
Two debit cards – one personal and one joint account
Driver’s licence and breakdown card
Professional accreditation card

How many cards do you carry on a daily basis? Are there any unusual ones you couldn’t live without?


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Not all pounds are equal: my net worth update

Hello, dear friends. It’s my favourite time of year. Yes, snowdrop time (they’re so pretty!) …but also net worth calculation day, hurrah!

Wait…don’t click away just yet! I promise not to bore you.

But if you really hate numbers, you have my permission to skip this post and instead check out a guest post on decluttering I wrote for the lovely Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist recently. There is only one fraction mentioned in the whole thing. Bonus points for finding it.

Anyway, onwards.

First a quick recap: I am flat broke, and my struggles with debt led me off down this odd path of a) trying to buy less and b) trying to get my head around personal finance (gah).

For most of my adult life, I owed more than I owned, meaning I had a negative net worth. I was worth less than nothing. (Financially, anyhow.)

That all changed in February 2015, when I recorded my first ever positive net worth: £5,600*. Small, maybe, but huge to me.

Twelve months later, it had more than doubled, which was pretty awesome. Last February, I wrote about this, also noticing how I had gone from a net worth of -£12,139 in 2010 to +£12,139 in 2016. I know, same number but positive. Weird huh?!

Now it’s February again, and time for another update.

If you’ve never worked out your net worth before, it’s dead easy.

Here’s how I do mine:

Assets

Equity in home: £16,790
Car: £1,000
Pension pots: £20,997
Savings: £0 (yeah…I know)

Liabilities

Credit card debt: £2,300
Student loan: £6,628

Add up the assets, subtract the liabilities and bingo, I’ve got my net worth.

So, time for the big reveal:

Last year’s net worth: £12,139
This year’s net worth…drumroll…: £29,859
Net worth chart
Showing off my curve

My first thought was: Wait, WHAT? I’ve doubled my net worth again? If I carry on at this rate I will soon be a gazillionaire and I can buy an island and drink mojitos all day and all night for ever and ever and ever…

…hang on. This is just because my net worth was so cack in the first place. It’s easier to turn £2 into £4 than £2m into £4m…isn’t it? I mean, I don’t know…maybe?

So what has been driving this big jump in my net worth? And will it happen every year, meaning I will in fact very soon be a gazillionaire?

Long story short, no. It seems my house was worth more than I’d thought and a revaluation has boosted my number this year by a pretty decent amount.

My current fixed-rate mortgage deal ends in a couple of months, and about a month ago, I called my mortgage provider to see if I could arrange a new deal.

As we were having a chat, he asked me if I wanted to get my home revalued.

“You haven’t had your home valued since you bought it seven years ago,” he said.

Mr Mortgage Man said there were two options: call a valuer out to the house, for a fee, or a free option which seemingly involved asking a computer program to come up with a random number.

“The free one, please!” I replied, and he tapped away for a bit before Bertha the Lovely Machine spat out a figure.

The number was 20 per cent higher than we bought our house for – HOLY MOLY!

Now, let’s just say I was a little sceptical about this figure, so I also got a second and third opinion from two sites – Property Price Advice and Zoopla – which offer free online valuations.

I’ve averaged out all three to come up with my current number, which is a little lower but still pretty good.

Of course, it’s still a massive assumption. The valuation really doesn’t mean anything at all – it’s the price it sells for that would ever really matter.

But in the end, I’ve had to get over myself, call it a good enough guess for now and throw it into the pot. Although I can see why people leave their house out of the equation when they tot up their assets.

And here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt: not all pounds are equal.

Sounds wrong, I know, but bear with me.

A quid locked in the value of my home is not the same as a quid in my bank account. I can’t go and spend it on gin. In my case, all of my net worth is either locked away for my retirement, or locked away in my house or car.

So while the number may look healthy, my finances are anything but. I’m still in consumer debt and my emergency fund is at zero. ZERO.

I have a long way to go.

* By the way, non-UK readers, if you’re wondering how much a British pound is worth, the answer is f*** all. Thanks, Brexit.


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The test: High- versus low-maintenance beauty regimes

How many beauty products and tools do you use on a daily basis?

For me, the list is pretty small, and pretty basic.

Here are the items I use between once a day and once a week – put another way, the stuff I would pack in a wash bag if I was going away:

Standard toothpaste, with plastic toothbrush.
Bar soap.
Razor, tweezers, nail clippers.
Antiperspirant deodorant.
Cotton buds.
Hairdryer and hair straighteners.
Mid-price shampoo and conditioner,
usually whatever’s being sold at a discount in the supermarket.
Perfume.

See, I don’t even use a hairbrush or comb on a regular basis. What a scruffbag.

I’m also not a big wearer of make-up. I’ll put on a lick of mascara each day, and if I’m going out on an evening I might add another five or so items: eyeliner, eyeshadow, concealer, powder, lip gloss.

I might then use a makeup remover later, or, more likely, I might forget and leave a make-up faceprint on my pillow after stumbling home drunk.

As you can see, I’m not a big purchaser of products. My facial skincare routine pretty much consists of one product: water. Splash it on the face and yep, that’s it.

This isn’t to say I’m thrilled with my ‘au naturel’ appearance all the time. I’m pretty sure my love of coffee means my teeth could be whiter, I’m definitely getting the odd fine line and grey hair and sometimes I get random patches of dry skin.

But, well, are all these products really worth the bother? Isn’t this just vanity? Most men don’t have all this crap to deal with and their faces aren’t sliding off or anything, are they?

It’s commonly accepted that many of the grand claims associated with cosmetics are overblown (‘Younger looking skin in just two weeks’, ‘Noticeably whiter teeth’, ‘Leaves you hairfree for longer’).

But being a cynical type, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that some of these products effectively do nothing at all, or that they might even make your skin/hair/earlobes/whatever worse than they were before: irritated, spotty or greasy.

What if the biggest effect of buying all these products is simply on your bank balance?

I’ve ended up fostering a pretty money-saving and minimalist attitude towards beauty regimes. If I can do without, I will. It’s almost become a marker of pride. I don’t wanna be reliant on no consumerist goop to feel good.

‘That’s wonderful, but where is all this going?’ I hear you ask.

In essence, I have somehow acquired quite a number of products I’m not really using. Products I’ve been given as presents (minimalists tend to get a lot of consumable goods) or cosmetics I’ve bought for one reason or another and used for a day or two, then forgotten about.

The minimalist part of me isn’t happy about this growing collection of bottles, tubes and jars in my bedside cabinet. But the waste-hating and the money-saving parts of me have ganged up on the minimalist part, arguing that just binning them would be wrong.

So, I’ve devised a cunning plan.

It’s an experiment of sorts. Each month, I will pick four products I already own, all designed for use on a different area of the body.

I will use these products exactly as instructed, for a period of four weeks, but ONLY ON ONE HALF OF MY BODY.

I’ll then review whether I’ve noticed any difference, and crucially, I will get Ruth to guess which side has been getting the treatment.

This should have two pretty useful benefits:

  • Testing whether said product is actually worth bothering with
  • Using up the bottles and jars and decluttering the irritating collection

My first four products are as follows:

Cosmetics bottles

For the body: Rituals Magic Touch Body Cream

For the hands: Cuticle Oil by Seacret

For the face: No 7’s Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum

For the hair: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

Is my theory of a sinister consumerist conspiracy going to be proved right, or would I have become a beauty bombshell by now if I’d actually bothered with a rigorous hair and skincare routine? I’ll report back in four weeks with my findings.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your attitude towards beauty or grooming products. Are you minimal or maximal? What are your essentials, and what do you think would happen if you ditched them? Feel free to spill all in the comments thread…


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to check out Claire’s other site, Simplicity Voices.

In which we don’t buy a Christmas tree

Today Ruth and I went to visit a museum for the first, and last, time (more on that later). But on the way home, we passed Ikea in the car and we were so close to stopping off to buy a Christmas tree. In the end, we didn’t get one.

Here’s why:

  • We’re away for a few days over Christmas, so we won’t be at home to enjoy the tree on the day itself anyway;
  • We’re trying to save money like mad. Our ailing boiler (Americans: read ‘water heater’) has finally given up the ghost, choosing the most expensive time of the year to pack in. A new one is going to set us back nearly £2,000, we’re told (and will set back my debt payoff plan too, sadly);
  • We have a suspicion our deranged dog would either tear bits off a Christmas tree or find a way to get a pine needle stuck in his paw and land us with a vet’s bill on top of the boiler bill. He’s sneaky like that.

I like Christmas and I have nothing against Christmas trees. I think they’re lovely. But for one reason or another, our decorations have taken a decidedly minimalist turn this year. Here’s what’s passing for the tree at our place:

treebsf

We’re planning to go out into the woods in the next few days and find bits of holly, ivy and pine cones to decorate the house with. It’s something we did last year and it looked really bloody cosy.

And after all, there are other ways to get in the festive spirit.

The museum we visited today, Red House in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, was once home to a good friend of Charlotte Bronte and featured as Briarmains in her novel, Shirley. Even in Charlotte’s day, the house was already nearly 200 years old. Each year, the museum celebrates a 19th century Christmas, as the Brontes would have known them.

But this was its last, because it is being closed down by its local council in a few days to save money.

Staff and helpers had dressed up in period costume, the normal entry fees were suspended, there was a historical musical group playing all kinds of weird traditional English instruments, and people in the kitchen had cooked up cheeses, chutneys and mulled wine. The whole place was decked out – you guessed it – with cuttings of holly and ivy.

It’s a place I’ve lived half-an-hour away for more than a decade, but never thought to visit because, you know, I can always go another time. Today there was no more putting it off.

There were lots of other people who had the same thought. The place was packed. And maybe a full house is the best Christmas decoration going.


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I’ve finally talked her into it: a guest post from Mrs Want Less

ruth
Photo by the marvellous Dawn Kilner Photography

Hooray! After nearly 18 months of blogging, I’ve finally secured a guest post from my other half, Ruth.

If you don’t already know, Ruth’s decision to bring a little book called ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life’ on honeymoon set me off down this rabbit hole in the first place.

While she has been hugely supportive of my decision to turn our house upside-down, for a long time she seemed not particularly fussed, one way or the other, about how many things we owned. 

Then, a few weeks ago, she totally astounded me by getting rid of pretty much all of her huge CD collection in one go. This was a BIG DEAL. Ruth is a musician and she’s always prided herself on her music library. I guess more of this was rubbing off than I had realised.

Anyway, I asked Ruth to put pen to paper and describe what it’s all been like from her point of view. (I’m sure you’ll all give her a big welcome!)


So, Claire has asked me to write a guest post for the blog. I’ve agreed (with some trepidation), but I’ve been promised her excellent editing skills.

I have a tendency to waste time on the internet. So one day, frittering around on the web, I Googled something like ‘giving up the internet’. One of the first posts I came to was Joshua Fields Millburn’s post on how giving up the internet at home was one of the most productive things he’s ever done.

Transfixed, I read on (and on). I couldn’t read enough of The Minimalists’ website; how it had improved their lives, made them more passionate, healthier, more compassionate…

I told Claire about my find and she took it from there and she’s just run with it really, I think it would be fair to say Claire is way more immersed in minimalism than I am, but I’m glad I introduced her to it.

While Claire is further into her minimalist journey, I can confidently say it has all had a positive impact on my life. For a start, choosing clothes to wear in the morning is a complete doddle, thanks to Claire helping me sort/donate my wardrobe.

In fact, the further I travel on my journey into minimalism the easier I’m finding a lot of things.

I’m a musician and music teacher by trade, which can sometimes lead (guitarists especially!) down the path of collecting a lot of equipment and chasing a lot of work. Minimalism has reminded me not to work all the hours that God sends and for the first time in eight years I have a timetable that includes a lunch break (which my acid reflux will thank me for).

Previously, I’d been eating lunch in a hurry and rushing from one place to the next, not really a recipe for digestive comfort.

I’m also interested in the ‘life experiment’ side of minimalism. A while back, I stopped using my smartphone for a month and got by with a £5 ‘dumbphone’.

I managed to reprogramme the ‘twitch’ to absent-mindedly check Facebook/emails/pictures of bass guitars.

BUT, I did miss having a camera and GPS system in my pocket, so in the end I went back to my iPhone with a new approach: I have no notifications and my email goes nowhere near it.

I recently went to a Federation of Entertainment Unions workshop on productivity. The leader asked how many unread emails we had in our inbox. I sheepishly put my hand up and admitted to having around 7,000.

You know, just 7,000 unread, fairly useless words clogging up my life. So, his answer was to archive them. Brilliant. Now, when I check my emails I can see exactly what’s important instead of wading through spam.

(I also recommend ‘Unroll Me’, which sits in your inbox as an extra folder and ‘grabs’ the spam as it arrives. It also helps you unsubscribe from sneaky mailing lists you’re not even sure how you signed up to. The best thing about it: it’s FREE)

Minimalism has helped us think about how we spend our money too. In the past year or so I’ve gone from regularly spending on credit cards to hardly using them at all, closing the accounts on all but one or two of them. I’ve started to save again (even if I’m a little slow at it).

Claire described the effect minimalism has had on our spending brilliantly the other day; a new high-end shopping centre just opened in town. We were in the city centre, so we had a walk around it, but we were just not interested in it. Claire said it was like having a superpower that made you immune to the usual shopping frenzy that so many fall into.

Overall, I feel minimalism has helped us eat healthier, appreciate a slower home, not buy the latest new ‘thing’, meet new people, make more sustainable/ethical/better quality choices and it’s made us appreciate who and what we have in our lives.


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The Millennial Money Rebellion begins here

black-and-white-people-bar-men-large

Right, prepare for some fighting talk.

In the UK, people born in the early 1980s – my age group – are being utterly fucked, financially, according to a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but we are the first wave of this ‘screwed generation’ everyone’s been talking about since the recession.

And it’s not just the recession’s fault. Essentially, stagnating wages, Britain’s out-of-control housing boom (meaning young people are stuck renting) and the elimination of generous defined-benefit pension schemes are to blame.

The average wealth of someone like me, in their mid-30s, is about £27,000, but those born a decade earlier had twice as much money at our age, according to the study.

It’s clear successive governments have failed to help us, because they’re too busy appeasing older people who tend to be more likely to vote.

No-one will help us, so we have to help ourselves. It’s time for the MILLENNIAL MONEY REBELLION.

Here’s my (slightly controversial) battle plan:

 

We need to stop worrying about what other people think

Social media drives a really unhealthy life-comparison habit. If you ‘can’t afford’ to pay into a pension, you CAN’T AFFORD that stay in an over-water chalet in the Maldives, no matter how Instagrammable it is.

Superpower gained: FRUGALITY

Everyone born after 1980 should move out of the south-east of England

It’s way too expensive and we can’t afford that shit. Move up north, where houses can be picked up for less than £100,000. Yes, wages are slightly lower outside London but living costs are WAY lower.

Superpower gained: FLEXIBILITY

Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn't look so bad, does it?
Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn’t look so bad, does it?

Ditch the credit cards and car loans

We need to stop living off credit, full stop. It is not helping us in the slightest. Buy the car you can afford with the money you have. Yes, it will probably be a piece of crap. Suck it up. Think of the rebellion.

Superpower gained: INDEPENDENCE

Bank some serious cash

Cut your living expenses to the bone and stash your money like mad. If you’re not a homeowner already, throw it in a Help To Buy ISA. If you are, a Lifetime ISA (which launches next year) will also be a good bet.

Superpower gained: WILLPOWER

Buy a small, cheap house as quickly as you can

There’s no debate in the UK about whether buying or renting is best for your bank balance. Renting costs are out of control, as the study clearly shows. Yes, I know, buying your first home is harder than ever. So forget about buying an adorable new-build house with a picket fence and pick up something you can afford with a small deposit. Then, try to pay off the mortgage as quickly as you can.

Superpower gained: HARNESSING THE PROPERTY BOOM

Take out a workplace pension, even if it’s not a very good one

If you work in the public sector, you might still have a decent pension. But for those in the private sector, don’t despair. Paying into any pension is MILES better than not doing so at all. Take full advantage of any employer match. Bonus points for boning up about the stock market so you can make an informed decision about how to invest your pension.

Superpower gained: FORESIGHT

Harness our strengths

We are some pretty grizzled people. The smackdown from the global recession hit our generation square-on, and only gave baby-boomers a glancing blow. But we have more of one key resource than they do: time. We will only benefit from this if we put our money away NOW and leave it to multiply without touching it. The days of spending all your paycheque are over. Save and invest, for the sake of the Millennial Money Rebellion.

Superpower gained: COMPOUNDING

Learn from the enemy

I’m being flippant: individual baby-boomers aren’t the enemy. They might be your parents. Learn from them. Get to know what they know about money. Heck, even live in their spare room if you have to. Tell them about the problems you face – they might have solutions you could try. Tell them to support policies that help younger generations. And for God’s sake, vote yourself.

Superpower gained: STRONG ALLIES

We SHALL overcome. Who’s with me?

Images: pexels.com


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