The Pinch

I have recently moved home. Actually, today is my official first day in my new pad. I have moved just five minutes down the road. It’s probably not my best financial decision, but the quality of my home life has been impacting badly on my happiness and that of course impacts on everything else. I’ve worked hard to achieve a work life that I enjoy. Why should my home life not be the same? Escaping into work is not the solution, as it then impacts work too and I spend far too much time at the studio to get away from home. I am not getting the downtime I need to work effectively.

I’ve been living in a houseshare for the past 20 months which is great financially but not in other ways. As well as that I’ve been living somewhere that has little regard for recycling, water conservation, keeping bills down or waste reduction and I don’t deny I’ve been reaping the rewards of this. All my bills have been included and I haven’t been careful, because noone else is.

Now I am living on my own I have to address everything in my personal life financially. I don’t mind this. It’s good for me and I’ve lived in my own rental accommodation before and been very mindful. It’s not daunting but I have gone from a £350 a month all inclusive houseshare to something that’s going to cost me something in the region of an extra £3500 per year. There are some outgoings I can’t do much about – council tax, rent costs and other standard bills that I don’t include on my rent and utilites. But I am being very careful when setting up those bills I do have control over.

For the first time in my life I am going to be using a water metre and I’m shocked at the estimate compared to where I last lived and was managing the bills, a difference of about £100 more a year. I can’t reduce it significantly (this is considered the average for my situation) but I can do my bit by not wasting water. Gas and electric is something I can do a lot about. British Gas want £900 a year (what they consider standard useage for one person in a flat) but I’ve shopped around and can cut that in half by going with another provider. I can be careful with the heating, switch off lights and minimise my use of the washing machine. These are things which are good for the environment as well as my bank balance. There’s nothing wrong with scrimping a bit on your gas and electricity useage.  I feel the cold though and living in Manchester does not ease this. So I look like a Michelin Man at home, with as many layers on as I need. And that’s just the way it is.

Additionally, and because I have less disposable income, I need to look carefully at what I spend in the supermarket. I’ve been threatening to go on a diet anyway since I’ve weakened and bought too many treats this year. I know for a fact that I don’t ‘need’ all the food I eat. Setting myself a strict food budget each month means cutting out expensive treats which makes a big difference over the course of a year and I suspect will alone help with my weight and benefit my health.

I like that I am in control of these things. I like that the only person it affects when I decide to switch off the heating or put less on my dinner plate, is me.

Now, because I am a lover of charts, here are a couple to illustrate things on both a personal and business level. In both cases, it’s no surprise that rental costs dwarf everything but it might be a surprise to some of you that my business rent and similar outgoings are less than my personal ones. Some of my personal figures this year are a little high as I’ve rented between two places and I’ve included deposits and utility set up crossovers.

Outgoings bar chart

business bar chat

You might be wondering what all this has to do with fashion, beyond my happiness at work. Well, think about it. The way we shop, the things we consider basics and not luxuries have huge impacts on the economy. Water waste is a big problem in the fashion industry, disposable income, debt and our addiction to credit have had huge impacts on how we shop and what we buy.

Instead of making considered fashion purchases and investing in quality, repairing favourite items and rotating our wardrobes, we have become used to buy and throw away, buying on tick, and buying as cheaply as possible so that we can just keep on shopping. Your respect for money has a knock on effect to your attitude towards shopping. And that is how everything is connected.

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