In the process of addressing the financial elements of my life I’ve being using a rather simple system. It involves looking at a bank statement (yes, I know it sounds horrific from the off but bare with) and dividing my purchases into the following three different categories:
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Council tax, TV licence, phone bills. All of those irritating things that mount up and up yet sadly, cannot be skipped.
Purchases that potentially now come with tinged with regret. Realistically, I didn’t need that £6 bottle of pomegranate molasses. Or face scrub that brought me out in an angry rash. That little vase that I now realise looks entirely like that other little base I own, that too.
This one is a little harder to define. If you wanted to, I imagine you could hide an awful lot of things within this category. But we’re being sensible, so I’m not going to. What purchase that month that wasn’t strictly a necessity, holds no regrets and brought me joy.
The aim is to eliminate the unnecessary, budget for the unavoidable and revel in the carefully selected joy. Essentially, sensible purchases that we all need to keep ourselves sane, but that truly bring you joy and enhance your our day-to-day experience of our lives. Through looking through two months bank statements I found that actually whilst there may well be a lot of purchases that could fall by the way side or be deemed ‘potentially unnecessary’, there wasn’t too many of those I could genuinely highlight as having delivered me joy. And that’s where this IKEA lightshade came in.
The absolute irony of having a eureka, light bulb moment beneath a light isn’t lost on me. Sitting beneath it, at my dining table I realised that shade brings me absolute joy. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t expensive by any means – £40. To me, for what it is, that’s actually a kind of bargain. Most importantly however, I absolutely love it. I walked into my dining room each and every morning, look at it and smile to myself. I won’t ever regret it, I quite simply love it. And that’s it.
A purchase that brought me joy, a single purchase at only £40. Imagine if that was the only unnecessary thing I bought each month? All other regrettable decisions and purchases didn’t occur, I simply focused on one thing that brought me joy. A treat to myself for my month’s hard work and the money that would have gone on all those other purchases? Well that sits in my bank account, stacking up and getting me that one step closer to finally having a place to call my own.
Now, I am more than sure that financial advisors and perhaps less interior-minded folk will tell me this isn’t actually a sensible way to be saving for a deposit, but to me, it makes absolute sense. If I can limit myself to one ‘unnecessary’ purchase each month just because it brings me absolute joy, then I can absolute do this. It needn’t even be a large purchase: the £6 bunch of white peonies from Waitrose last weekend delivered a whole week of joy every time I brushed past and they released their sweet scent.
The realist in me knows that I’m going pass off flowers as ‘unavoidable’ so I’m not going to lie and tell you all a £6 bunch of flowers will be a month’s ‘joy’, but nor will it be a £250 pair of shoes. After all, those kind of purchases might well bring you a form of joy whilst you’re dancing around your living room trying them out… but if you’re anything like me, that joy is delivered with a huge dollop of foreboding guilt and an unhealthy serving of ‘I really should not have done that.’
It’s about adjusting my judgement in some ways. Don’t feel guilty for the purchase, just be absolutely sure it brings you joy. That Ilse Crawford lampshade, brings me joy. If that’s all I get for the month whilst I’m saving? I’m absolutely fine with that.
That, my friends, is how I look at the world of financial management. Through interior design.