This is a topic I know A LOT about. I have a sneaky feeling you do too.
So what do I mean by living a champagne lifestyle on lemonade money? What I mean is that you live a lifestyle that is far above what you actually bring in every month in your salary.
As a result, you end up overspending. You run out of money before the end of the month (every month), and before you know it, you’re in debt. Where does the extra money come from? Your overdraft, your credit card and loans (bank, stores, family members). We all know that debt is damaging to our overall money life, but why do we do it? (By the way – you’re not alone on this, over 8 million people in the UK have a problem with debt too)
Why so much debt?
I think it comes from the false sense of affordability in the monthly payments that lenders advertise. For example, my DFS sofa cost £2000. This is one of the biggest purchases I made when I moved in to my flat in London. Of course, back then, I had no savings at all, so needed to take advantage of their 0% 3-year credit scheme. The 0% bit isn’t the problem. It basically means you only pay back what you borrowed for the sofa and no extra. The bit that hurts is that teeny tiny payment of £50.12 every month.
What I basically did was agree to pay £50.12 from my salary every month for the next three years. Initially I was like, “wow this sofa is lovely, and all for just £50.12 a month!”, but eventually it becomes just, well, a sofa. Yes its gorgeous, and comfy and if I spilled anything on it I’d cry (because it still isn’t paid off yet!), but those monthly payments get boring very quickly.
**Update! The sofa is now PAID OFF!!!!**
The false sense of security
So what, I hear you say – its only £50.12 per month, suck it up princess! Yes it is, but when you then overspend in your favourite clothes store, and only pay the minimum (£30) every month, and pay for more house things on a credit card and pay the minimum (£100) every month, and mortgage, and bills, and spending money to go out (£100 on average a night in London) and that holiday that you really can’t afford because its in two months but you do it anyway, THEN you have a problem.
Those sneaky minimum credit payments total to £180.12 every month. That’s money you could be saving for the things you really want. To make matters worse, the store cards and credit cards generate interest. Maybe they lure you in with promises of 0% for 6 months, but if you pay the minimum only, you most likely won’t clear the balance in time, and then the interest kicks in and your debt piles a little higher every month. The minimum repayment covers the interest and a bit of the repayment, but it takes aaaaaages pay off the debt. The credit card company has you trapped!
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What has this got to do with Lemonade money? What I should have done back then was to pay for a cheaper, crappier sofa to start with (maybe even sourced one on Shpok or Gumtree for free) and used a decorative throw/pillows (and febreeze?!) to make it look (and smell) lush, then saved for the sofa I really wanted. Nights out are not emergencies requiring the use of my credit card. I used my overdraft and my credit cards like extra sources of income. We could have had more nights in my flat with wine and a takeaway, or I could I have only gone out with cash only to limit myself to a budget. Heck, I should have been actually KEEPING a budget! But I didn’t. So I didn’t really know what I was doing, hence the accumulation of debt.
So what are the lessons here from my stupidity?
- Say no sometimes – no one will think you’re a bitch for not going out all the time, or buying into a whip for drinks. If they do then they don’t really deserve you as a friend. The joy of missing out (JOMO) is now a thing you can embrace in your life. Sometimes it is ok to splurge – but make it a planned one from a separate stash of cash that you save every month JUST for the exciting stuff in your life – a.k.a you FUN BUDGET!! See my post on this here!
- (If you really have to use them at all) PAY YOUR CREDIT CARDS OFF IN FULL! Yes there are fancy ones that allow you to save points up for flights etc, but its only really cost effective IF YOU PAY THE BILL OFF IN FULL EVERY MONTH or at the very least have it on a 0% credit card with a payment plan to get the balance PAID OFF IN FULL by the time the 0% runs out.
- Buy things in full wherever possible – don’t purchase on credit if you can at all avoid it. This goes the same for cars and anything else you can buy on credit. If you don’t have the money NOW, then ask yourself if you should be buying it YET. Stick it on your wishlist and do whatever it takes to pull the money together to buy it. Can you sell things? Take on more work? Cut out a few treats here and there? I promise you that delayed gratification is far better than a quick fix solution with credit. It makes you feel like a badass because you just paid for your ‘thing’ in full, and you have no “future” debt…. GO YOU!
Want more tips?
I have a free e-book on paying off debt, AND I have a *free* 7-day Money Kickstarter Challenge that you can join to get starter with sorting out your finances once and for all! – you can find them both here.
There are many ways in which you can have it all, but it will take discipline, and some tough love action to do it. I’ll be with you every step of the way! We will do this together….So with that – I’m signing off for now, but I’ll be back!
Until Next time,
P.S. Are you in my private facebook group yet? Come over and say hi!
Fancy Reading More? Why not check out this post!