Let’s face it, entry-level fashion salaries are shit. With starting salaries as low as £12,000 in some parts of the industry, there’s no sugar-coating it – we get paid a pittance. Combine that with the fact that the British fashion industry is largely based in London, home of astronomical rents and eye-watering transport costs. Trying to save money is arduous and those four or five weeks in between paydays can feel like an eternity. All for the love of fashion eh?
Well, whilst I can’t promise to help you hack your way to a wardrobe filled with off-white and shrimps overnight. I can provide a few tips to help you stretch your cash from one payday to the next.
Get real, then divide and conquer
What do you really need to spend money on? You might really want that beaut Topshop coat and the £2.50 per cup takeaway coffee on the way to work may seem like an essential morning pick-me-up, but do you really need it? When set against the need to pay rent, buy your Oyster card, food and other essentials, a £105 a year coffee habit is a tad unwise. So, work out your budget. Tot up the cost of all your essential expenses and get yourself two bank accounts; one for paying the bills and the other that’s the ‘just me’ account. Then as soon as your salary hits your bank separate the ‘bills’ and ‘just me’ money. Separating out your necessary expenses straight away is really important. It gives you peace of mind and leaves you free to splash the rest of your cash or save for that special fashion item.
TOP TIP: If you choose to separate your accounts, leave the ‘pay the bills’ card at home, or cut it up. Whatever you do, keep it out of your purse!
Budget your income
The ‘just me’ money is your truly disposable income. This is where the fun (or the nightmare) begins. This money is yours to do whatever you want with but you still need to be careful. To stretch your disposable income, break it down into manageable chunks and budget! Even if you’re a coffee everyday kind of person, the budget comes first. To stretch the cash, you may have to turn into a coffee every-other-day person. Breaking your money down into a daily or weekly spending limit could be really useful. Pick an arrangement that suits your lifestyle. Leave yourself some flexibility for those spur-of-the-moment after work drinks or a Saturday event that you just must go to.
TOP TIP: Opt for a once it’s gone it’s gone kind of approach. Set yourself a weekly or daily limit and once it’s gone, take your ass home honey!
Plan your spending and learn when to say no.
As they say, fail to plan and you plan to fail. Planning out key social activities is a great way of managing your money and ensuring you don’t accidentally find yourself on a dance floor in Shoreditch after buying six rounds of over-priced gin and tonics. Put a limit on how much you’re prepared to spend on a night out and stick to it! You’ll still have a good time without leaving yourself completely penniless. Plan for key social activities so you can flex your weekly or daily budgets around them. Having something to look forward to means you won’t be tempted to spend money you shouldn’t.
Sign up for deals and collectives
You don’t need me to tell you about Groupon or Treatwell but did you know the Tate and The Barbican have free membership collectives with special rates for their major exhibitions for people aged 16-25? Some phone companies, O2 and Three, for example, offer great weekly discounts on dining out and other entertainment. So do a little digging and make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Ballin’ on a budget may not be all that glamorous in itself, but it’s a lifetime skill that is actually best developed when you have little. These are a few tips from my personal bag of tricks and, hopefully, they’ll start you on a journey towards mastering your money. If you need a little more guidance, I’d recommend picking up a copy of ‘Get Money ‘by Kristen Wong or listen to the Stash Wealth podcast.
Words by Martha Ngatchu