I have been budgeting like I have never budgeted before. Well, I haven’t ever budgeted before – so that wouldn’t be difficult. Turning 27 this year, and finally facing the fact that I am terrible with money and need to do something about it before I end up bankrupt, I promised myself I’d make some changes.
But doesn’t changing the way I spend money mean that I’ll have to stay forever indoors, never having any fun and spending my weekends crying at The Voice Kids?
… Although getting too emotional at reality TV is shamefully a normal pastime for me (I’m more of a Love Island gal, myself) – I am not quite ready to give up my life in the name of saving; so I had to find a better solution.
What I’ve found from watching my money is that the less I have, the more… creative I get when spending it (or trying not to spend it at all). Over the past few months I’ve found myself conjuring up some tricks that have helped budget life feel a bit more magical than miserable:
Use your friends for free lunch
…And I don’t mean make them pay for it. Buying lunch every day is always a big money burner but making it is equally as dull – so why not get it for free? There’s loads of food delivery and pick-up apps that give referral codes when first joining. Enjoy free food with a friend with the below:
Uber Eats: Uber does food delivery. Use the code eats-kateb873 to get £5 off your first 2 orders. Whenever you share your own referral code you’ll also get £5 off.
Redi: An app that allows you to order cheaper lunches around London City, pay through the app and skip the queue to pick up. Use the code KAT8484 to get £5 off your first order – and most lunches are around £5-7. Again, whenever you share your referral code with new joiners, you get £5 off. Spread the love and reap the benefits.
Exercise like a queen; budget like a pauper
Monthly memberships for things like the gym can take up a big chunk of your disposable income – especially in London when the average monthly fee is around £60 for a pretty basic facility. A new fitness startup called ClassPass has just taken London by storm and allows users to have tasters of lots of different high end gyms and exercise classes around the City for a much cheaper, set fee. That fee however is still pretty ridiculous – £55 for 5 classes – and way too expensive for me, so of course I found a free option. Use this link to sign up for 5 free classes to use within a month and work out in amazing gyms such as 1Rebel and Ethos. If you’re like me, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb amongst the skinny rich people but you’ll be loving life smothering yourself in the complementary beauty products from the fitting room ;).
Just a random idea that I definitely haven’t done myself – you could even sign up again the next month using a different email address and fake alias (optional whether you wear a fake moustache to repeat classes).
Disclaimer: If you do decide to cheat the system, make sure you use different card details to avoid being caught out and blacklisted forever. Also, make sure you cancel your membership as soon as you sign up to avoid any unexpected fees once the trial is over!
Become a mystery diner
Ever committed to a dinner that was way more expensive than you thought and found yourself sweating at the roulette of whether your card is going to be declined? Well your sweating days are over my friend – be like me and dine for free!
Secret Squirrels is a mystery dining website that grants vetted and approved diners different ‘missions’ for various restaurants around the UK, to review the food and service after the experience. In return for the feedback – the bill is reimbursed. Simple! It’s a great way to enjoy a meal with friends that you may not have been able to afford otherwise, and no harm done if you pretend you’re treating them at the same time. Go nuts (like I did at Red Dog Hoxton, in the pic below).
Please note: If you’re applying to become a Secret Squirrel in London, be prepared to wait a long time to be accepted – it’s not so secret here anymore and the demand is growing!
The best things in life are free – right? Hopefully these tips will be as helpful for you as they have been for me in my quest to spare some extra cash to then waste on bottles of wine during darker times.
If you have any questions about me, my writing, or my First World problems, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.