It’s beginning to cost a lot like Christmas.
Caveat 1: Add up your receipts. Aim for 10% less than this amount next year.
Caveat 2: This “How to Survive Christmas” leaflet makes me smile. I feel fed up in December (expensive, extensive, exhausting, manic, hoodie-wearing, hopeless, cold, grey, no money, no work, no exercise, irritated, fat, unfit). And now the good news: 1/ I survived Christmas, 2/ Only 360 days to Christmas.
This is the week of the year when you don’t know what day it is. You’ve consumed 50,000 calories in 48 hours and drunk 5,000 units of alcohol. Once you realise your bank account is not as full as you are (see above, Caveat 1), you will be motivated to recover. Warning: this is common sense. If you don’t have common sense you should probably read on. If you do, you should probably read on anyway, because my common sense may be uncommon to someone else.
1/ Don’t eat out.
Spend money only on food and essentials. Eat all your leftovers for about 5 days and eat at home for the next 3 weeks or so. You probably should have done this in November too.
2/ Take things back and get refund.
See Caveat 1. You probably bought too much and if they are brand new and unused and you don’t like them that much anymore because it’s no longer Christmas, OR you didn’t end up giving them to anybody, go back and get your refund. I know you kept your receipts. Everybody does. Alternatively, take things back and re-buy at half price in the sales. I can return anything except my Size 3 leopard print heels because they were made for me, they were half price and I waited all season. OK point made.
3/ Sell your stuff.
Clear out what you don’t need or want and sell your unwanted goodies including your Christmas gifts on eBay or Amazon – toys, luxury items, kit, clothes, equipment. I recently found in the attic an entire Sir Mike the Knight set with accessories of my son’s which is worth little, but something. My 8.03 year old detests Chinese dolls with small eyes and black hair, so much for my right-on politically-correct parenting. She only likes blond-haired and blue eyed Barbies (up to strawberry blond or ginger are acceptable and are “good guys) after which they are the “baddies” (dark haired). LOL. So I am now trying to spuce up the baddies and again recoup small costs.
4/ Do things which cost nothing but are great for you and your productivity
For me these work:
a) Writing. As an author and an architect, I find these tight times conducive to writing as it helps me focus on what I do not consider a hobby anymore but a sideline. I am able to motivate myself not because I have had two books published, but because I still have that “urge” or the curse. It hits me like a rogue wave. I know I am one of those writers who find it agonising to not write. I have to write and I do not know why. Right now I am using this “break” to work on the fourth draft of my work in progress (third novel) and the aim to cut down to 90K word count as it is looking pretty epic right now.
b) Fitness. Skip the gym and the monthly cost. I’ve exercised at home since 2016, any time of day or night, as many or as few times a week as I want. There are so many free apps that you can download to keep you on your toes. I am a fan of the 7 min workout for women app with all sorts of workouts between 7 to 20 min. I like the Angel’s Body and the Bikini Body workout which I find help me fit into my jeans. Not that I am endorsing this app, but everybody has 7 to 20 minutes a day, so there is no excuse. These apps are designed for home use, you do not need fancy schmancy equipment or much space – the space between the bed and the wall in the smallest hotel room is fine, i.e. about 600mm wide. If you need space, you can run 5km. OK. I digress. Hell, I can actually write an entire blog on my fitness routine. Or maybe an entire book.
c) Reading. Or any other hobbies which keep you at home but far from online shopping.
5/ Make extra money
I accept this is not for everybody, but you have to think like a student, if you can bear it. I was tutoring Chinese to kids. I give regular guitar and piano lessons to kids and adults, I have led creativity workshops and I earn royalties from my writing, so these keep me going on the side and help me pay for my own children’s extra-curricular activities (swimming, ballet, clubs etc).
Do you have any tips or ideas on how to save money after overspending? I would love to hear them. Please drop me a comment or write to me here: info at Ivyngeow dot com
Ivy Ngeow is a London architect with her own boutique small practice and specialises in innovative, sustainable, cultural and diverse design, upcycling, repurposing, reusing and recycling materials, industrial residential and luxury residental. She is an award-winning author of two crime novels, Cry of the Flying Rhino (2016) and Heart of Glass (2017).