Flirting with frugality: My attempt to become less consumed by consumerism

Let’s dive right into this guys. There are three things I know to be true about my financial situation:

  1. I am a fully grown adult
  2. I make a decent living – I earn more than a lot of people my age (29)
  3. I am consistently broke

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s true. The ‘why’ isn’t hard to figure out – the short version is that I have been living beyond my means for the last couple of years. During the five years when I was living as an expat in Dubai and Doha, I got a little bit spoilt. I was young and single, earning good money in countries where I paid no income tax.

Why wouldn’t I treat myself to manicures and massages? Prior to giving up drinking, bottomfrugalityless champagne brunches were the norm. Expensive holidays happened multiple times per year (No regrets on that front to be honest – Kenya and Morocco were worth every penny). And why would I bother cleaning my own apartment, cooking or washing my own clothes when I could afford to hire people to take care of all of that? I was profligate.

Shouldn’t I have been saving some of that money? Well, I kind of sort of saved a little bit along the way, and that was good enough at the time for responsibility-free me.

At the end of 2015, I moved back to Ireland. While I made some adjustments to reflect the fact the double whammy that had hit my income – I was earning a lower salary and paying taxes now,  I never really got out of the bad habits I picked up in the Middle East – eating out all the time, spending my money carelessly and paying people to take care of things I could easily do myself.

In the last month, I’ve put myself in considerable financial difficulty with a couple of poor decisions:

  • I bought tickets to see Ed Sheeran in both Dublin and Galway because I didn’t know which gig most of my friends would be going to
  • I didn’t like the crappy Samsung phone my new job was going to give me so instead of taking it (for free), I put €450 of my own money toward it and got a new iPhone 7 instead

The result? I have a huge credit card bill on top of the two small loans I had previously. It’s not a massive amount of debt, but there is absolutely no way I should be in debt at all. My savings are about 3-4 times what I owe, but for good reason they are locked away in a 7-day withdrawal account.

The buck stops here.

I’m almost 30. I have a decent career and good opportunities. I don’t have to live like this – knowing that as soon as my salary comes in most of it is accounted for already. A few months of frugality would clear my debts and leave me with the ‘fiscal space’ to really start saving for a mortgage. I want to buy a place in a nice part of Dublin, and if that’s ever going to be possible, I have to start planning now.

If you relate, you might want to follow my adventures over the course of August as I dip my toe into the world of frugality – cooking my own meals, doing my own chores (I know, #firstworldproblems) and finding free or almost free ways to have fun.

I’ve been reading the Frugalwoods blog for the last few weeks, and while I don’t plan to take it to their extremes, I’m hoping to put some of their tips into action.

My goal for this month? I’d like to still have some money in my account coming into my next payday. That might seem like a modest start, but it’s more than I’ve achieved in quite a while!

Have you ever tried to cut down dramatically on your outgoings? Let me know how it went in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

 

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