In the six months I have been as skint as I have never been before and even though it sucked on various levels, I can now appreciate the benefits gained from being unable to follow every financial wish you have.
Money was never “flowing” in our family and I am accustomed to watching my expenses and it has mostly never bothered me particularly. During my studies, I always worked and as I had a boyfriend who also had a steady income and we didn’t have any children or mortgages to pay for, we were pretty good off. When I then worked as a full-time editor, cash was flowing in like never before, but the work didn’t make me happy, so I returned to university and at the moment my man is pretty much providing for us, and we all know that nowadays one salary doesn’t suffice anymore to feed a family (admittedly, we are not a family yet, but you get the gist, right?). So the outcome is that we have to be pretty tight with money; however, I have realised that having little money doesn’t bother me really and has actually altered my lifestyle to the better for the reasons I have listed below.
1. Cooking becomes you main asset
I am not a great cook and especially when my man and I had steady incomes, we went out for meals quite a lot. Food, I would presume, is among the major expenses most people could cut back significantly. This starts with grabbing breakfast from your bakery to ordering take-out. As soon as we had to watch our finances, I got up ten minutes earlier in the morning and had breakfast at home, which was not only significantly cheaper, but also healthier. At the bakery I would buy a sugary bun or croissant, at home I eat brown bread with butter and bread with a cup of tea. For snacks, I bring fruit to university instead of dropping in at Starbucks and I generally eat less because I don’t want to spend money on food when being out.
As for cooking, when I have a break at university, I don’t frequent a restaurant, but drive home, cook and eat there, and as meat is pretty expensive (and we buy it at the butcher’s and I hate going there because the butchers look at you expectantly and I don’t know my grams and kilos), I mostly eat meat-free dishes for lunch.
2. You watch what you shop
Also when it comes to food-shopping (my number one hate activity, by the way), we leave many (usually unhealthy) items away. Chocolate bars cost as much as a kilo potatoes and you enjoy them for less than a minute (if you’re me), so we really think hard if we need that and usually the answer is no. Same goes for sugary drinks. I allow myself one coca cola per week at my creative writing society meeting, but that’s it. Apart from that I drink water and tea – it’s free and healthy, too.
3. You prioritise your expenses
When money is loose, some expenses may just run on and you don’t care whether you’re spending your money on something not worth-while because it doesn’t hurt you so much if 40€ per month are spent on a gym you never visit.
Well, if you realise you can do a week’s shopping with 40€ (and, yes, now I can), you realise that you really don’t have the money for that and you make an effort to quit all these expenses. The past two months I have spent arguing with my insurance and the gym to wiggle out of my contracts, but now I have nearly 200€ more per month which I previously put into things I didn’t really need.
4. You realise how little you need
In the past months buying something I didn’t need, i.e. clothes, shoes, bags, etc. was off the table and it surprised me that I actually didn’t miss it. Instead, I re-evaluated all the clothes I already had and found hidden gems among them; however, I also got rid of the clothes I didn’t like anymore and sold them on Shpock, getting extra money. Also, when you buy something you need (summer shoes, for instance), you think very economically and only buy shoes you really like because you cannot just march off and buy a new pair a week later. Therefore, you put emphasis on quality, rather than quantity, which is also better for your feet.
5. You jump on opportunities
I knew I needed to make money, so I haven’t really forgone any possibilities to make money and have learnt many new things by doing so. I teach at community college and have now started writing academic papers for a company, which will enhance my academic writing as well as get me some money. I also send out stories (still pretty unsuccessfully so far, I must sadly admit), with the notion that I should make money. It can put pressure on, but it also helps you to get on with things.
6. You generally become far more disciplined
Being skint and the consequential changes above which followed have supported my general discipline. I have to schedule my day much better and think economically, which has improved my writing routines and to use my time better, so I get more done in the same time as before. With so many various things going on in my life, I have to make sure to allot the right time slot to the right task and prioritise whether the focus has to be on university, work, Yoga training, writing for the company or my personal writing. It is a lot to juggle but being skint has helped me to organise my life in a more structured outline.
So you see being skint can be very beneficial and even though I strive to get into a financial place where I can afford some indulgence now and then, I first of all do not fear being skint anymore because I know it is not as bad as I imagined and has helped me become a healthier and more economical person.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.