This time two weeks ago I was in a bikini on a sun lounger in Spain, thoroughly enjoying the 32 degree heat. Now? On a commuter train in man made fibres, absolutely sweltering – in 25 degree heat. What is it about England that makes the heat so oppressive? Or do I just feel that way because I would rather be anywhere than on this train right now?
I’ve been trying to reframe the fact that I have to go to work in my head, seeing it as a means to an end rather than the purpose to my life. Since landing on the idea of retiring in Spain, or at the very least in a position where we can spend a lot of our twilight years there, I have become frustrated with myself for allowing myself to get into debt again. So I am trying to remind myself that I can’t change the past, all I can do now is change the future. Every £1 I save by selling on my clutter, using coupons or just saying no to consumerism is £1 closer to that day when I am debt free and my life’s true journey can begin.
People often ask me how I can afford to go on holiday when I am paying down debt and saying no to coffees and lunches out, and my answer is simple. Holidays with my family are, to me, a non-negotiable, along with mortgage and utility payments. By saying no to the daily small spends, I can save for a holiday at the same time as paying off debt. The reason a lot of people fail when they’re on diets is that they don’t allow themselves anything outside of ‘the rules’ – this is unmanageable long term. In the same way, people can relapse into debt because their cuts are too extreme. Saying no to that magazine that shouts to you from the supermarket shelves with its promises of celebrity gossip (which, hey, we all know isn’t true anyway) and images of people we can never aspire to look like (because we don’t walk round with a personal stylist and photoshopper) may feel like a deprivation but there are plenty of free alternatives out there. Too lazy to cook? You can pick up a frozen pizza and garlic bread in Aldi for £1.21 which will easily serve two people. But for me, I do not want to give up holidays with my family and passing up that magazine or coffee is a small sacrifice. For you it might be something else – you might get a fantastic boost to your self-esteem by having your nails done, you might get great use out of your gym membership and thoroughly enjoy the release it brings you.
Find what you love and budget for it, but as Paula from Afford Anything says, “you can afford anything but you can’t afford everything”. Find your joy and find a way to pay for it (and maybe even find a cheaper way to do it), and those all those things that bring you a 10 minute happy buzz will begin to seem irrelevant and extraneous to your true desires.