Living on a budget isn’t always easy, but what is easy is to end up blowing your budget because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). So how do you avoid FOMO when you’re living on a tight budget?
Tell people you’re living on a budget
Most of us don’t want people to know that we’re flat broke. But what we probably don’t realise is that there are a lot of people in the same boat as we are, even those we wouldn’t expect to be or who don’t seem to be. The reality for a huge chunk of the population is that money isn’t as free flowing or as readily available as it might have been a few years ago.
Add to this the fact that 5 or 10 years ago you, and all your friends, were probably living very different lifestyles. You might not have had kids, a mortgage, or even rent to pay back then. Chances are you were still living at home and your income was your own to do as you pleased with.
We’re fully fledged adults now, and with that comes a certain amount of financial responsibility (and often pain!) Kids are expensive, homes are expensive, and general living is expensive.
Telling your friends and people close to you that you’re living on a budget doesn’t have to be embarrassing. You might even find that they thank you for it. Take, for example, that one friend who you meet for coffee once a fortnight; there’s a strong possibility that she’s also checking her bank balance before you meet, because let’s face it, sometimes even £4 for a cappuccino is pushing the boat out.
Maybe she’d be relieved at the suggestion of a coffee at yours (or hers), but you don’t know until you put it out there.
Budgeting is a ‘thing’ now…
While I don’t advocate lying to the people you love, if you really can’t get over the embarrassment factor, try explaining to people that you’re ‘going back to basics’ for a while, trying out ‘mindful budgeting’ or even trying to reduce your impact on the economy and environment. That way no one will think you’re broke, just cool 🙂
You could talk to people about frugality and the benefits of it. Everyone, no matter their financial situation, is always after ways to save a few quid here and there. You’d probably find that it sparked some really great idea sharing type conversations.
Save for the big things
No one should have to completely put their life on hold because of severe budget restrictions, but I’m all too aware that this is very much the reality for a lot of us.
Something that I do is try to put away as much as I can humanly manage every week or month in preparation for the big events. Things like birthdays, weddings, parties we get invited to, and Christmas.
By spreading the saving out across the year, we always have a little pot that we can dip into. Even if there’s only £20 in the pot, if a friend invites one of us for coffee (or a beer in the case of Mr C), we know that we have it there available.
Putting even a small amount like £5 or £10 a month away soon adds up, and it’s always handy to have.
Adjust your mindset
A lot of people tell me that they can’t afford to put any money away at all, or that there’s simply never enough money to do anything other than survive.
When we drill it down, it usually turns out that there is free cash in their budget somewhere, but that they’re mindlessly spending it without even realising.
One lady I spoke to recently, puts coffee down on her shopping list every week, which ended up in her having enough coffee in her cupboard to last 2 months! And one I hear more commonly is not taking a shopping list to the supermarket at all!
The extra packet of biscuits, or grabbing Oxo cubes only to find when you get home that you have a full box might not seem like much. But when you add it up over the month, it starts to rack up.
When we go out, we almost never buy food, drinks or snacks unless it’s vital or a treat. The kids have portable cups like most kids do, and my weekly food shop covers all the snacks I’m happy for the kids to consume throughout the week. Why buy more when we have it at home and can take it with us?
The things that we think of as treats or luxuries are usually actually pretty extravagant. If you switch your mindset a little to think of things like a packet of sweets on the way home from school or nursery as a treat, or a giant share bag of Kettle Chips on your food shop as a luxury, you’ll find that you think a lot more carefully about those purchases.
What about enjoying my life?!
When I talk to people about adjusting their budgeting mindset, this is usually what they say. Or something along the lines of this from someone I chatted with the other day;
“I’m not a total pauper, I can afford a bag of crisps! It’s totally unfair that I should be expected to live in basic poverty just to save a few quid here and there!”
I hear you. You can totally afford a bag of crisps (or two) on your weekly shop (probably) but do you want to? Would you rather spend that £4 or £5 on a coffee while catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen for months because you’ve both been knee-deep in baby vomit?
Do you want to have to second guess buying that coffee, and is it worth the late night crisp snacking?
And what about in terms of your health? Your crisps might not be what’s crippling your bank balance, but they’re probs not doing much for your waistline (I say this from experience!) In reality, as far as your health goes, a share bag of crisps really should be seen as a luxury rather than a regular occurrence.
Decide what really matters to you…
When it comes to living on a budget, it really all boils down to deciding what’s important to you and your family. Not to me, or your Mum, or your best friend, but to you. If having a bit of money stashed away so that you don’t have to turn down an impromptu invite is important to you, then you can find a way to do that. Even if it means cutting down on crisps 😉
On the other hand, if having a big share bag of crisps once a week is your one treat, the one thing that you seriously enjoy and look forward to, then go forth and eat crisps, mama!
Six months ago, we thought we had barely a penny to rub together. But with a mindset shift, and working out what was important to us, we were able to adjust our budget and free up way more than we ever expected.
To put it into perspective, our household income is around £2000 less per year than the average UK salary for one person, and up until December 2017 it was around £8000 lower than the average (thanks to Mr C’s new job and my complete freakish work addiction!) My point is, I know what it’s like, and I also know that if you really want it, you’ll make it happen.
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