There are some things I’m good at: roughly re-creating celebrity up-dos, reading a book really fast then forgetting the major plot-points, Freecell.
There are others I learned long ago I will never turn pro at: hurdles, portion control and, until recently, saving.
My mother likes to say money burns a hole in my pocket. At eight years old, my thirty pence pocket money would be whisked straight off to the corner shop to buy two Highland Toffee bars and a 10p mix.
Even today, I love the buzz of checking my balance on pay day and seeing all those lovely funds, before wedges of wedge are siphoned off to my estate agent, credit card company and £3 to The Brooke donkey sanctuary.
But despite my spendy ways, despite continuing to buy too many lipsticks and Marks and Spencer lunches and despite saying at least once a week that I’m brassic, I have managed to pillage a tiny little nest-egg out of my earnings.
You see my crazy eyes? That's me fighting a strong desire to SPEND!
There’s now five whole grand in a pathetically low-interest ISA and I can assure you I didn’t save it using any of the ways suggested by those fiscally sage tomes Cosmo, Glamour or Red.
Women’s magazines love a savings tip. ‘Stop buying Starbucks and you can save up to £20 a week’. ‘Take a packed lunch for one month and you could afford Tom Ford Black Orchid.’
Yes, I could do these things. I could also darn my socks, give up shampoo, forage in skips or buy a cow and milk it for produce, but I haven’t and I won’t.
See, if you’re turning to the pages of Glamour for financial advice, you aren’t capable of budgeting, making a packed lunch each day or waiting until things go in the sales. People like us are disorganised, we want to save with out having to suck all the fun out of lunchtime, nighttime or life itself.
So, I managed find a little to save every month by other means, in no way endorsed by Martin the money saver. Let me drop my top three wisdom bombs:
1 DON’T PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD!I’m not suggesting you rack up Hellenic levels of debt or let overspending strangle your finances into repossession, ho no. But money experts’ advice to pay off your debt using your savings, as you will inevitably pay more interest on credit cards than you earn in an ISA, is a little bit flawed.
We’re not in this for the interest, people, especially in this economic desert. If you’re responsible enough to shop around for a competitive rate on your cash ISA, look away now, I have nothing to teach you.
However, if like me you still have the bank account you opened that day Midland Bank came to school, you first need to get some savings, before you consider trying to make a profit on them. So, if you need a little extra every so often, (I’m thinking dental work, Rihanna ticket, morning after pill), pop it on the flexible friend. DO NOT GO NEAR THE SAVINGS.
Savings need to be seen as special, like your grandma’s sofa or an original Star Wars figure. Leave the cover on; it’s not to be played with! Obviously, you then pay this off gradually, incrementally, over a couple of months, but take that out of your beer money or, you know, ring your Dad and cry a bit. Whatever works.
2 GO CRAZY, IT’S PAYDAY!I tried not spending anything, not shopping and generally living like a sad orphan, but frankly, I cave about two weeks in.
I may not be Catholic, but a little guilt goes a long way, SO, I like to get a bit spendy at the start of the month (a good go over H&M, say) and then ride out the rest of the month on that guilt. It also means you know what you’ve got to play with for the next four or five weeks.
3 PRE-GAME LIKE IT AINT NO THANGYou probably think now you’re 28, have a steady job and wardrobe filled with pastel jeans you should float through life on rivers of Prosecco and Sipsmith, right? WRONG!
Us lushes need to get creative if we want to stay shitfaced while we plan for the future. It’s not a new trick, but hit the booze student-style before going out. I like to make an event of it.
Once you’re a few Mojitos down and get the Meatloaf videos up on Virgin On Demand, you’ll start to forget the point of going out anyway. And the fun needn’t stop once you leave the house.
Do not be above hiding booze about your person. I’ve sneaked six gin-in-a-tins into many a West End performances of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (God rest her soul), all nestled in the nooks and crannies of my ample form (pits, sleeves, crotch, if you’re asking).
Get a hip flask if you need to, what’s the worst that can happen? They’ll kick you out and you get to enjoy all that lovely booze in your pajamas watching the explicit cut of Robbie’s Come Undone video. Better than the local meat-market anyhow.
And if you've got a date with a popular West End musical coming up and would like to know how to pre game it in style, here's how I did it:
So, anything to add? Want to hear more alternative savings tips? How have you got creative to put money away, or if you’re not an over-privileged middle-class spend-thrift like me, to clothe and feed your young?
Tory logs her purchases on Twitter @ToryFrostWrites