I met a friend of mine I hadn’t see for ages for a drink and a bite to eat last night. I was working near Aldgate and we met in Croydon, a bit in the middle for where we both live. Croydon is a balls ache to get to in terms of my zone 1-2 travel card budget but it was totally worth doing because fostering relationships is one of the things that gives me joy. I promised myself that I would evaluate all the non-essential spending I do because the things I’m spending on make life a hell of a lot better in order to get a grip on how much I’m spending and how I can rein in that cost.
The travel to Croydon and home cost just under £9.90 and dinner and a drink cost £7.25. This doesn’t include the guilt of letting her buy me another drink without returning the favour immediately. I had budgeted £10 for dinners for the week & £32.50 for transport so these are quite significant dents in those amounts. Truthfully, I wouldn’t see her more than once a month in this vein and I’d probably see another 2 or 3 friends who live so far out once a month or so too. Which would mean allocating around £68 for such activities before I’ve even worked out how much it costs to hang out with my other social groups.
Here’s a breakdown of what I find joyful, indicative/relative costs of doing them and how essential I think they are for my happiness.
There’s an immediately obvious fact. Most the stuff that rate highest on my joy scale are pretty expensive given the frequency of occurrence / expenditure. I’m not sure how much I’ve indulged in them over the last few weeks – since I’ve been actively trying to stay within my budget – so I’m going to keep track over the next few weeks to figure out what I can change or do better. Obvious things that I can do include:
- Hanging with friends: I play football with 3 different teams and it’s normal for us to pop into the pub afterwards for a bit of banter. I also have parties, barbecues, games nights and people coming over for dinner at mine as well as attend numerous events hosted by my friends at different locations. All my friends now know that I’m trying to be more frugal so it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid pricey events. I just need to cut back on drinking alcohol and ensure that most of my interactions are at mine or theirs.
- Stand up comedy: I haven’t been to any for a few months but Soho theatre is a favourite place of mine to go to. It won’t be difficult to avoid this one for the foreseeable future.
- Eating out / take away: Probably the most ridiculous expense I have in terms of how much I spend on it when it is avoidable. I constantly get invited to lunch at work though & succumb to laziness a lot and resort to take aways. I’m going to adopt the strategy of eating only starters not more than twice a month at lunches with colleagues and ensure that there is frozen pizza available for those long days when I’m too lazy to whip up something.
- Reading: I have at least 20 books that I bought but haven’t read. And I still bought a book last week. A disappointing “A tiny bit marvellous” which I have put aside for now. Sure my books are in storage until August 31st but I’ll have to finish every single unread book and then sell / swap them if I want new ones.
- Cinema: I’ve gone once in the last couple of months because my second attempt failed for logistical reasons. We were sensible and took in our supermarket bought popcorn and drinks and went on a weekday so it cost £12 for 2 tickets instead of £22. The cycle from cinema to Netflix/TV is now much shorter for movies so I’ve mostly got the patience to wait for them. But I like cinema as a dating experience so if I can do it a bit cheaply I will. Odeon cinemas charge £6 on Mondays, I think, and £7 for other weekdays. Independent cinemas like the Genesis or Peckhamplex cost £4.50 even though they are a bit more inconvenient to get to.
I’ve been tracking my weekly spending properly since Monday. When I do the weekly reports, I’ll overlay these with comments on how much of the budget went on joy. And whether my perception of what gives me joy will change when I’m more mindful about my spending.