Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Feeling the Pinch

So, here I am again. Fluffy Bunny Feet are firmly in place and my long, thick black cardie is buttoned up all the way to my chin. Yes, my thermals are on. What isn’t on, though, is the heating.
Yes, I am in the UK in January but no, I am not stark raving mad or menopausal. What I am, my friends, is on a budget. In a desperate bid to finally raise a deposit for that stupidly expensive flat, I am trying to economise. Okay, so sitting in a rather chilly flat may seem a bit extreme, but my extra layers are doing the job and saving me quite a few bob - as is taking my lunch in to work every day, walking everywhere (within reason) and carrying a flask if I know free coffee will not be available at my destination.
Sadly, though, London seems hell-bent on scuppering my money-saving schemes. Saturday is a perfect example. On my way to Greenwich to meet a chum, I stopped off at my local picture framers to get a painting framed. With a top price of £40 in my head, I happily looked at the frames they suggested, ummed and ahed over a variety of mounts and settled on a metallic rather than natural wood frame. Part way through the consultation I asked if the prices varied much. They kind of shrugged and offered to price up a selection.
“That one comes in at 106.”
I blinked rapidly.
“Sorry, what?”
“106 pounds.”
I blanched and asked them to look up choice number two.
“That one works out at £86.”
Dumbly I shook my head. We tried another and managed to knock off another tenner. At which point I apologised for wasting their time and vowed to make a trip out to Ikea.
It didn’t stop there. After a mooch around the market me and my mate decided to hit the pub. One and a half pints of Fruli and a bag of Salty Dogs later?
“Eight pounds please.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, this is London after all, yet surprised I was. Having said that my shock of paying nearly a fiver a pint was nothing compared to the gob-smacking truth of how much another friend’s rent was in Finsbury Park. We were thinking of flat-sharing, but it soon became clear that her budget was much bigger than mine. Her revelation that she paid more than me for her flat share than I did for my own one bed flat made me realise that I currently live in a real bargain – and a move anywhere else would probably increase my outgoings rather than save me cash.
So, as I can’t save money on my rent, I shall have to make my savings elsewhere. Although there are certain things I will not be giving up. Besides, with and Groupon on my side, I can still have a social life without it costing the earth and make up for the odd night out by cooking up a pot of homemade soup on a Sunday evening to see me through the week.
Living in London doesn’t come cheap – but with a bit of planning and organising, anything is possible. Even that two bed maisonette in Walthamstow...

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