Now that Dry January has officially come to an end and we are now a week into the new month, we can start to breath just a bit more easily knowing that payday has swooped in to save the day and we are well and truly on our way to recovering from the atrocious spending habits that consumed us over the festive period. Be weary though, with that ease of knowing that life is starting to balance out and we can now happily agree to that cheeky afterwork catch up at our favourite bar, complacency soon follows. That ‘after work drinks’ now becomes habitual, that action of pressing the snooze button because you know you have the convenience of the Uber app now becomes an inherent safety net to rely on when we refuse to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Been out on Saturday night and spent Sunday night recovering? No time to meal prep then, let’s just choose some cheap options for lunch, but Leon is just so convenient! And there goes our spending habits. Following a decision to get myself together this year, because you know, we are coming with that fresh, bettering ourselves 2020 energy, here are some small little life changes that can aid keeping us on track to being our better-financial selves.

A refusal to spend now means an investment for later

Because I deserve. Yes Queen, you definitely do, but you deserve the best, not just a sub-standard immediate gratification, delayed disappointment treat. You deserve that high quality, life enhancing treat - the one that your future self says thank you for. Many a time saving can feel like self-sacrifice, like we are choosing to withhold goodness and things that we want for the sake of being ‘sensible’ (God knows what that is anymore). Change perspectives. Think about saving as ensuring you get that things you really want, you are facilitating being that person you want to be, you are ignoring the little distractions so you can get that big prize - in this case, you just buy it.

Fill yourself with knowledge that aids you

We are a society of consumers. Look around, Christmas was just a couple of months ago and now the easter eggs are out. Spring where? The grass is still frosting, why are we thinking about Easter 3 months in advance? Well because we always need to be tempted to spend money, because you know, just incase. Nope. Practice awareness of what you are being sold and how you are being sold it. Even as we distract ourselves on those excruciating 8am train journeys resembling a sardine can, with another cheeky episode of our fave Netflix show, choose content that will motivate you or at the very least open up your perspective. There are plenty of podcasts that have a giggle about finances and the challenges that come with handling that - next thing you know you’re an expert on different ISA saving rates and you’re 6 months away from getting on that property ladder.

Be creative

Stop relying on convenience. However, if you must, why not create joint convenience rather than individual convenience. Want to have a catch up with your friends with a bit of liquid courage to bring the spirits up? Search up some cocktail recipes, add some juice, now have fun with it! Experiment, find different things you like and do activities that will create lifelong memories. Craving a cheeky Chinese, make it instead and find out what flavours you would personalise yours with. Get to know your local area, find out about the activities that are going on around you that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on, find some great free exhibitions. Download apps like FEVER or go on websites like GetSpontaneous.co.uk to find local areas that are idyllic for honest but different days out. Convenience always has a price, just make sure it is worth paying.

Fulfil yourself

Many a time we find that times of mental hardship cause us to find solace in other means, spending being the consequence of emotional turmoil. We look for dopamine hits especially when we are down in the dumps or emotionally tired, so it is imperative that we give ourselves time, space and love and ensure that the circumstances that we find ourselves in emotionally do not lead us into habits that we will spend a lifetime trying to draw ourselves away from. Something that can help with this, is really studying our characters to find what brings us joy, what makes us feel alive. What does your inner child miss doing? Invest your time in things that when completed, give you that dopamine high and sense of achievement that will spur you on to do the next best thing, and another thing after that, and again. Fill your heart with joy of yourself.

Face your demons

We spend years being told about our budgeting, yet it can be the most uncomfortable thought to see the bulk of money we’re spending in one lump sum. It took me feeling distraught at my lack of progression for the 5th year running, to make me sit down and consider my trash/lack of control. Really if we ever want to move forward we have to detach ourselves from the traumas and the fears that are holding us back. This includes poor money management and essentially forces us to face our spending. The idea of drawing up a budget was something that filled me with incredible angst, like honestly, who wants to see the total amount of money they spend per month (especially as we barely make it through as it is)? But with the progression of technology, we have no excuse. Part of healing our relationship with money means also taking accountability for ourselves. We have to know the leak to fix it! Apps like Monzo are great for this, use it to its full advantage, regulate what money comes in and out and create pots for the little contingencies - that way financial surprises won’t knock you back as much. Ohh adulting, the ghetteux.

Begin to future proof yourself.

This, as we get older, becomes more and more important. Make money, save and invest. A 9-5 just isn’t going to cut it anymore, life is expensive. Multiple forms of income are necessary, especially whilst we still have the mental energy to make it happen. So invest, make money out of your passions and the things you love. Yes, it might mean you are super busy for a period of time but creating a foundation that works in your favour as we get older is priceless. 2020 is the year of making our things make sense.

Honestly, as much as this month has (expectedly) dragged out, lest we not forget the new energy that we entered the year with. To be honest probably the most exciting thing about reaching a new year is the multiple possible opportunities that we know are available to greet us if we push hard enough. After a long month we can feel distracted and even demotivated. These are just a few tips that reset the bar so that energy is topped up and we can remain inspired to pursue our very best selves. As February edges close, hopefully these little gems help put you in the places you want to be, both physically and mentally. Let us know how it goes!

Words by @mstiaroberts

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