It was a Saturday in August. I had sat through another 2.5 hour session, during which my tresses had been coloured, highlighted, deep conditioned and cut–– they were looking fabulous if I may say so myself. I’d had several cups of coffee, chit-chatted with my flame-haired hairdresser and even managed to read a bit in my book. But I hadn’t been able to enjoy it as much as previous times. I knew it was coming. And I knew this was the time to say “No”.
Those ten words have haunted me for some time now. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE having my hair done, going from tired and frizzy to bouncy and blonde. What hasn’t felt as wonderful for a while is the number of pounds that would leave my account each time.
Time to change
The knowledge that every eight weeks I was handing over £200 plus for the joy had started to make me feel nauseous. I was spending on this when I had (and still have) a credit card to pay off — the result of spending a month between jobs without income while simultaneously deciding to “live my best summer” in 2015. Not to mention that my living expenses have gone up in the past year as I gifted myself the luxury of living on my own in London.
Since beginning my journey to live a better life––and not living in the buffer zone––about three years ago, I’ve worked on my money mindset and improving how I manage my finances. This has included taking a hard and realistic look at how I’m spending my money, what my triggers are and where the story of “I’m no good at managing personal finance” (more about this at another time). Earlier in the year I set a budget based on my money flow, making sure I put as much as I can towards my credit card debt. I was going to tackle this once and for all. On paper, I ought to break even each month, but in reality I was spending more on lunch, a few too many additional luxuries and spur of the moment dinner with friends — and then there’s the expense of keeping up the blonde. Truth is: to me it is no longer enough to “break even”. I want to be able to not live paycheque to paycheque (or beyond my means as I was actually doing), and save money.
My hair expense had to go (for now). Along with five other things.
Opting out of subscription services I don’t use. We live in a world of subscription services which allegedly make our lives better and/or easier: ad-free music on Spotify, the best TV programmes on demand, food boxes that give you exactly what you need to make dinner for the next week.
Reflecting on what I was actually using: iPlayer (for which I pay my TV licence despite not having a TV), podcasts (free!), and Channel 4 world drama (for my Nordic noir fix). Oh and the occasional listen to my ad-free Spotify. My Now TV account has been pretty much dormant since Game of Thrones went into hiatus, and my Audible account is nice but not absolutely necessary. So both had to go.(Side note: I thought I had cancelled my Audible account, but somehow I’m still paying for it… Any ideas?).
Deleting the Treatwell app off my phone. Since my summer of 2015, I’d developed quite the habit of booking massages without thinking much about the cost. I also went through periods where shellac was a “necessity”. After all, it was all part of a “self care routine”. All was deliciously simple, enabled by a few clicks and no need to add in my card details as they were “saved for future use” on the app… I still believe in having regular massages, however, I was being blinded by the acts of self care and not seeing what they were doing to bank balance––and ultimately, my anxiety. I still have the occasional massage or manicure, but not having the app on my phone means I have to make more of an effort to book. And it’s giving me time to think about it twice before booking.
Drinking less. Good for the budget AND the body. I used to like grabbing a drink with colleagues and friends after work but, for the past year or so, I’ve been finding it a less attractive way to spend my time and money. I still will have a cheeky cocktail or G&T now and then but truth be told I’m finding the fuzzy head the day after a bit pointless.
Saying bye-bye to coffee on the go. During my years in London, I’d acquired a habit of buying a coffee on my way in to work. When takeaway coffee costs between £2–4, this can be a killer for your wallet. So, when I joined a company that has a decent coffee machine (hurrah!) and therefore good — and free — coffee it didn’t make sense anymore.
I’ve not stopped completely, but I’ve drastically reduced my happy tapping for caffeine, and my bank account––and environment––thank me.
Make and bring my lunch in at least 3 times each week. I’m going to hold my hands up here: I’ve still have not managed to do this. I’m working on it. Fewer lunches bought at the local food market = more money in the bank.
One less tap at a time
Changing habits do take time, but with small tweaks I know I can impact my money flow. More mindfulness and a little less mindless tapping is helping me move one step closer to my goals each day.
Over time, a little will become a lot. And I’ll find a new hairdresser when I feel ready.