Sunday, 20 November 2011

Feeling the Pinch

This week I have developed a new policy about watching the news – in that I don’t, unless accompanied by a large bar of chocolate/glass of wine/blankey. Why? Because it’s bloody depressing, that’s why. The economy’s gone to pot, the Euro is about to go bust and there are no jobs. Happy days.
Let’s face it, we are all starting to feel the pinch. Even though I am lucky enough to have a reasonably well-paid, reasonably stable job, I have recently had to make some major adjustments to my spending. So, yesterday, I totted up my out-goings plus my monthly savings goal and took it away from my income. Although the figure didn’t have a negative in front of it, it was by no means huge.
Time to start tightening my belt.
Living in a city that is not renowned for its frugality, this was going to be a challenge. So I have decided to make a diary of my spending to keep tracks on it. Luckily I didn’t do this earlier in the week. Dinner and two glasses of wine at my More To Life Than Shoes meeting? At least £20. Life Coaching? Essential, but another £25. On Thursday I met a friend after work, and, bemoaning poverty, she suggested we just go for a drink and a nibble. So we headed to the BFI bar on the Southbank. Two pints of Belgian beer, a bag of crisps, cheese and olives? Over fifteen quid. We’d have been better off doing 2 for 1 at Strada.
But fear not, London – you can live in the city on the cheap. Take Friday, for example. I went on the London Ghost Bus Tour for half price, thanks to the lovely Living Social. Okay, so it was still £11, and I’m not sure what the “VIP” part was, but at least I didn’t pay full price for something I had agreed to do with my chum anyway. And our pizza beforehand? Saved a fiver on our bill, courtesy of You see? It’s not what you know, but which websites you browse on your lunch break.
After a particularly cheap Saturday (when I didn’t actually leave the flat other than to put the recycling out), I went out today to visit the V&A with my friend. A few weeks ago I had flicked through the Guardian’s Guide and spotted a couple of exhibitions there that I quite fancied – and, amazingly, both were gratis. And, after checking out the Illustration Awards and the Annie Lennox House (both small exhibits but well worth a look if that’s your cup of tea) we meandered around the rest of the museum. Our culture quota full, we had a quick look around the shop and headed to Cafe Concerto for a well deserved cuppa.
Okay, so I spent £3.50 in the shop on a rather cool stocking filler and succumbed to a banana muffin washed down with a pot of Bombay Chai, but that was pretty much all I spent – bar the £3.80 tube fare and two pints of milk. In my opinion, not bad for a fun filled afternoon. Besides, who needs to spend a small fortune when you have good company?
So, as the days go by and I continue to watch the pennies, I shall remember today. And the free bike ride I had on Friday afternoon – cheaper than the gym and a hell of a lot more fun. And the man who sold me two bowls of aubergines for a quid – half of which are now simmering on the hob before being whisked into a warming soup to last me through the week.
Yes, money talks. But I guess we don’t always have to listen to it.

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