Although by the time I post this, it will be Sunday evening (which now seems to be my regular blogging spot), I’m actually writing this on Sunday morning, which is rare for me these days. Despite my love for waking early at the weekends, throughout lockdown, me and my boyfriend got into a routine of a more relaxing start to the day.
Whilst much of the north of the country are finding themselves back in local lockdowns, London seems to returning to some sort of normality. As a result my boyfriend was up and out early this morning ready to attend to one of his side hustles.
When he left, I was torn between staying in bed and trying to go back to sleep for an hour, or, to get up, open my laptop, and complete this post before the rest of world starts to wake. The heating has come on this morning, which gives the flat a nice cosy feel, I have a pot of lemon and ginger tea waiting to be poured, and the birds are chirping happily outside my window. Do writing conditions get any better than that?
Her Balanced Business
Having recently finished listening to a brilliant podcast called ‘Her Balanced Business‘ by entrepreneur Kim Sprague, it really got me thinking about my finances and my money mindset.
I’ve worried a lot about finances over the last 18 months, more so at times than I’ve let on, so whilst I was excited to listen to Kim’s podcast, I was keen to catch up with Season 2 as quickly as possible as this was focused around money.
I have to admit, I’m fairly new to podcasts too. I’ve tried to listen to them in the past, but having the attention span of a gnat, I tend to switch off halfway through! I
Her Balanced Business was different. Each episode was no longer than 40 minutes long, with most of them being nearer the 20 minute mark, so I could listen to them in manageable chunks. I actually found the best time to listen to them was whilst I was driving. I often do a lot of thinking when I’m driving (there’s not an awful lot else to do when you’re stuck in London traffic!) so it helped me to focus on the podcast and then mull over the contents afterwards.
I had met Kim virtually at the beginning of lockdown after joining the Lean In Supper Circle. Kim was a guest speaker on the first event I attended. She was talking about how she had left the corporate world behind her and had in turn become a yoga teacher, and then more recently, an entrepreneur. Her story intrigued me.
Before you read any further, it’s probably worth me mentioning, that although I’ve had money worries over the last 18 months, I’ve never been in what I would call ‘real debt’. The largest debts I’ve ever had to contend with are my student loan (which kind of doesn’t count, despite the fact I’m still paying it off!), and a mortgage. Outside of that I’m talking about 4 figure sums on my credit card.
I don’t come from a high income family, and it was instilled in us from a young age, not to spend more than we could afford. Sounds advice and something I’ve largely managed to stick to. This changed a little bit when I moved to London, but thankfully I had some savings put by at that point (largely down to a failed relationship and being brought out of the mortgage I once had). London is not a cheap place to live, especially if you want to enjoy London life too!
When my ex moved out of the flat we had shared in Battersea last January, I was so in love with the flat and it’s little outdoor terrace, that I was determined to manage the rent and the bills on my own. Although this was a mistake in hindsight (oh wonderful hindsight!), I don’t regret staying there, but it certainly hit me financially.
The other contributing factor to my money worries, although most certainly one I do not regret, was booking my trip to India. Although the trip itself had seemed a bargain when I booked it, I really hadn’t accounted for all the hidden extras (flights, luggage, new clothes, excursions, tips for our tour guide etc.). Although paying out for these was nicely spaced out (which made it feel as though I wasn’t spending as much as I was), my credit card bill was rising.
Although I started to gulp every time something else went on the credit card, I didn’t worry too much about it, because I knew India was probably going to be a one off trip of a lifetime.
When I returned from India in January this year (so grateful I managed to go before lockdown was even a possibility!), that’s when I really started to worry. I was living on such a small amount of money each month as it was after my rent and bills had been paid, that I wouldn’t be able to pay a huge amount off my credit card bill each month, especially if I wanted to carry on living a little as well.
I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle by any means, but me and my new boyfriend do like to go on date nights, and we have a pretty equal relationship, so we take it in turns to pay for our meals out. Other than that, most of my monthly expenditure aside from rent and bills, was going towards my car and food shopping.
By late spring/early summer, we were well into lockdown. I was working from home and spending more time than ever before in my flat. At this point, I actually started to save some money for the first time in months, as I wasn’t spending money on petrol or shop/cafe lunches. The huge sigh of relief at saving again, made me realise what a crazy situation I had put myself in by staying in my lovely Battersea flat. The pressure eased slightly, but I was determined by this point, that I needed to take action in order to be able to save more in the future.
My trip to India had also reminded me of my long hidden desires to travel. India would always be my holiday of a lifetime, but I certainly didn’t want it to be my last! If I was ever going to have the money to go on nice trips again, and not spend the next year worrying about finances, I was going to have look at reducing my expenditure and/or finding other income streams.
New Income Streams
New income streams was an area I was really keen to explore. My boyfriend has a lot of side hustles, and I quite liked the idea of having lot’s of different sources of income. I started to think about different options, which might tie in with some of the things I already enjoyed doing.
I started to look into affiliate links through my blog. Whilst I’ve got as far as upgrading my WordPress account to accommodate affiliate links, I’m struggling to work out how to add them. Clearly it’s something I need to spend a little bit more time researching so I can a) find the right affiliate links for The Mindful Gingernut and to b) work out how to use them!
During lockdown, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I kept seeing a sponsored post for Picfair, a site where you can upload your photos and create your own photo store, and earn money from them if people purchase them. I absolutely love taking photos and have had some really lovely comments about them so I set up my store (which can be found here), and eagerly awaited to see what would happen.
I haven’t given up hope, and will continue to add more photo’s when I find some time, but both of these examples made me realise that although so many people on social media make side hustle’s look easy, they really aren’t.
With no luck with new income streams, I decided to refocus my efforts on how I could reduce my expenditure. Coincidently, it was at this time, that I started to get pretty stressed with where I was living. Despite the nation still being in lockdown, the noise outside my flat was increasing, with people arguing in the street, a constant stream of noisy traffic, and on top of that noisy neighbors who had moved into the flat behind me. I knew it was time to leave.
I wasn’t sure I would find anything in London for much less rent than I was already paying, and to start with, things looked pretty dim. I was adamant I didn’t want to house share (at 36, I need my own space!), and whilst me and my boyfriend had been together for 18 months, we weren’t ready to move in together yet.
It was only when I started to look further out of London towards the suburbs, that I realised how much less I could be paying in rent. Yes, I may lose my outdoor space, yes, I may not have such a beautifully airy, clean flat (although let’s not forget I had that awful rat problem at the end so it wasn’t all roses!), in such a great location transport wise, but I would have peace and quiet, I could still have my own space, and most importantly, I would be able to start saving money again.
It took a couple of weeks of full on flat hunting, but soon enough, I stumbled across the flat I now find myself writing in. It felt like home straight away.
At the time, I paid my deposit and signed a 24 month contract on the flat.
I had no idea that in just a couple of weeks time, my job would be put at risk of redundancy. As silly and big headed as it now sounds, I never dreamt my job would be one of the ones put at risk.
I was now in a dilemma. I had so been looking forward to clearing the last of my debts, and to start saving money again, and now everything had been thrown up in the air.
I had 2 choices:
- To cancel the contract but risk losing my deposit (as much as the rent was much cheaper, the deposit wasn’t!)
- To move in anyway, and to hope and pray that I would find a new job sooner rather than later
I really couldn’t face the financial hit of losing my deposit, and as much as moving back home with my parents was an option, I wanted to stay in London to look for work and to be with my boyfriend.
So in late August, I moved all of my worldly belongings, and my cat, into my new flat in the London suburbs.
I started to plan the furniture I wanted to buy as I was moving from furnished to unfurnished. I brought a bed, and ordered a sofa (on finance, just so I didn’t put myself in anymore immediate debt).
Then I stopped in my tracks. I stopped to question myself. Should I be forking out on brand new furniture, when, if I don’t find a new job straight away, I will need that money?
I was disappointed that I had let myself get carried away with the idea of having my own furniture again, but (I thought) I was managing ok surrounded by boxes. It really did seem to make more sense to wait until I at least had another job secured until I started spending any more money. I then also started to question whether it was worth buying furniture at all, as my contract was only 24 months long, and by the time I started a new job, I would probably only have 18 months left on my contract, and perhaps at the end of my contract, me and my boyfriend would be ready to move in together!
In Kim’s podcast, she talks about how she found herself in a situation where she had savings, but didn’t want to dip into them when she was starting her business. She had become so used to having savings, that the idea of spending them actually worried her. What she then began to realise, is that actually, if she spent some of her savings now in order to set up the business, she would soon be able to recover that money, and grow her savings at a much faster rate, if her business was successful. Sometimes worrying about money, whether its debt or savings, can prevent us from moving forwards and from that growth we so badly need.
As I sat in traffic last week listening to her podcast, I suddenly realised what I had done. By convincing myself not to spend money on furniture until I had a new job, I’d actually talked myself out of being able to find a new job!
I was in a battle with negativity, and as a result, I found myself in a whirlpool of anxiety and unpacked boxes. Boxes which may never get unpacked if I stayed in that negative mindset.
Yes you could say I was being cautious rather than negative, but when I started to visualize my flat with furniture rather than unpacked boxes, my mood started to lift. I knew then, what I needed to do.
I don’t have loads of money to spend, so I’m trying to spend wisely, but I know that spending a little bit of money now, in order to furnish my flat, will improve my mindset, which will then put me in a much better headspace for finding a new job.
I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed though, just in case.
Have you ever found yourself in a negative money mindset? What was the trigger for you in order to turn it around?
Also, as I’m now a converted podcast listener, please feel free to share any podcast recommendations below 🙂