Six Ways To Simplify Your 2020.

*This is a collaborative post*

Life can be busy.

Life can be cluttered.

Life can be difficult.

And sometimes life can just be really really sucky….technical term there. 

I don’t remember signing up for some of this stress y’know? Agreeing to sign my life away and working full time I don’t think so?? I don’t know why I was never crowned Princess of Genovia at sixteen years old or just get to live my life as a Persian Goddess laying in the sun eating a golden platter of baklava everyday and not putting on an ounce of weight? *patiently waiting*. 

I turn 25 in just under three weeks and according to social pressures I should probably have settled into my own home, a career, a long term relationship and maybe even thought about children and the future by this time too. I can safely tell you aged 24 and 11 months I have achieved a grand total of ZERO of those things. I can easily get myself worked up over these things and whether I’m behind schedule on a schedule I didn’t even know I had. When it dawned on me recently that the only person who would actually be bothered about what I do, whether I’m happy or unhappy, in a career I love and want to work 24/7, mother of the year or childless is only ever going to be me. I need to let this weird, mental idea that I must complete all of these life changing milestones by my 30th birthday or otherwise that’ll be game over. 

Sometimes, it’s very easy to think life is taking over and there is simply not enough time for anything. There are always things to do, places to go, things to buy, things to consume and generally things to think about before you know it life itself can easily become unorganized, cluttered and super stressful. In 2020, I’m going to be making a promise to myself to help simplify my life? Removing what I don’t need, freeing up my own time, clearing my head and being able to set time for just pure conscious relaxation. Before I know it, it will be Christmas and the whole year will have flown by without you realizing what just happened.  

Here are 6 ways to simplify little life things and decisions in 2020 so that you can make the time for yourself, new experiences, self-improvement and give yourself a break in general. 

  1. Switch Off the electronics!

That’s right! I hate to admit it but I probably spend a lot of time watching boxsets on Netflix, endless videos on Youtube and procrastinating on yet another silly Buzzfeed quiz. We have become a nation of Netflix bingers, staying up until 2 am because we simply can’t wait to see what will happen in our latest favorite TV show. I’m guilty of binge watching new series in a matter of hours or days; time is irrelevant when it came to watching You Series Two. I spent a lot of my spare time in 2019 to settling into good books and managed to smash through my target of 30+! Rather than pressurizing myself into not watching the telly or gorging on my favourite Youtubers new video when it became live I tried to dedicate my time carefully. I learnt to select my TV shows carefully, watch them slowly (you don’t have to complete a series in one night) and use TV as a treat rather than your default evening plan. I’m going to try to use my time a bit more constructively for creative projects like reading and writing. If you don’t fancy being creative, work on a skill that could push your career further or reach some personal goals like getting fit by working out or hitting the gym. 

  1. Pay Off Your Debt

If you make any financial decision this year it should include paying off your debt first and foremost. Debt lingers in our subconscious, it affects us even when we don’t realize it and it makes us feel trapped. This year, put all your extra earnings into paying your debt off and by all means stop buying things you can’t afford. Whether you have credit card debt, student loan debt or car debt this year is the year you should proactively try and remove that debt. Clearing debt feels incredible, liberating and can clear your mind. Being debt-free simplifies your life allowing you to start planning how you will create wealth which is positive and exciting. 

  1. Go Minimal

I’ve taken a lot of advice from Marie Kondo and learnt how to part with things that I don’t actually want, need or just don’t spark joy. I can apply this to anything not just home things but my clothes, makeup and accessories too. Clearing your house of any old junk you don’t need is a great start but also think about things that don’t serve you. If your home is full of small trinkets and useless items, try to get rid of them and minimalize your home. We’re not saying you should get rid of everything you own or your fancy hotel quality tablecloths from Richard Haworth but you can get rid of that old yoga mat that is collecting dust in the corner. This year, try buying less, using less and hoarding less. Decluttering your home and limiting your consumerism can actually relieve a lot of stress in your life, plus your bank balance will also thank you.  I don’t know about you but I find decluttering so therapeutic, sure when you’re surrounded by all of your possessions and clothes you regret deciding to sort your wardrobe out more than anything but once it’s done you feel so much better, clearer and relaxed. 

  1. Be Positive

Okaaaaay, so I know this is SO much easier said than done but being in a continuous state of negativity is not serving you or your loved ones. 2020 is a new decade, a fresh start and you will be amazed at what you can achieve in 10 years if you put your mind to it. However, negativity can consume us and our time as we spend hours thinking about what people said to us or what we said to other people. The constant drama in our lives drains us of energy and time. This year, consciously try not to dwell on the negatives. Objectively look at the issue and decide whether it’s really worth the time thinking about and becoming negative over. Nine times out of ten you will find yourself forgetting all about it and refocusing on the important things like your relaxing, your career, love life, social life, and self-improvement. As cut throat as it may sound maybe see this fresh start as a good chance to cut out those negative entities that are weighing you down. If work is constantly leaving you stressed, you deserve SO much more than that, maybe it’s high time to invest in yourself and your mental state and find a role that makes you feel good. If your friends leave you feeling unhappy and a bit rubbish, as much as you like them and regard them as a friend, you also deserve SO much more than that too. Friends are supposed to be your support network, to build each other up when you’re feeling down not to make you feel like you’re in a constant whirlpool of sadness. Find your tribe that make life worth living and you’ll soon notice your lust for life reappearing.  

  1. Plan Your Year

So many people blindly walk through life allowing their environment to determine where they end up. This is a huge issue because if you don’t know where you are going how will you know if you will be happy where you end up? You won’t!  Instead, this year, make a plan. Spend the afternoon figuring out what you want to achieve this year, why you want to achieve it and what you need to do to get there. You can cover all of life’s categories including love, social life, family, parenting, health, career, education, money, spirituality and so on. Once you have your plan, create all the mini-tasks and goals that lead up to your plan becoming a success. Having these goals keeps you focused throughout your year, removes silly doubts about yourself and where you are going. At the end of the year, if you have stayed focused on your plan, it’s likely you will be far happier where you are in life. 

I’m not going to stand here and preach to you about planning every second of your life and nor am I planner for that matter either. Whether they’re big or small having things to look forward to certainly changes your outlook. I’ve started to plan one thing per month, something that’s a bit different or I haven’t done before, to look forward to. I can quite easily get myself into a sad little pity puddle and anyone else who knows what they’re like know that they can be difficult to get out of! So by having all these things lined up is giving me hope and a little light for each month that I’ve already got something to look forward to say six months down the line.

  1. Say “NO’

Remember when Elton John said ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’? Well sorry Elton, you’re very wrong. No, can actually be, one of the hardest words to muster. It’s little and probably super simple for many but being able to stand up for yourself, stand up for your beliefs and put yourself first is one of the most gratifying feelings. So many of us are always so eager to please everyone around us and we find ourselves saying “yes” to lots of things we don’t need or want. Saying “No” is liberating as it stops us from cluttering our lives with jobs, events, and tasks we don’t want to do. You don’t have to go out every weekend and drink yourself silly only to wake up to a hangover during your precious weekend off work. You don’t always have to stay at the office late trying so hard to impress your boss which is never recognized or appreciated. Start saying “no” more often and you will find your life becoming slightly less cluttered and more focused on doing things that positively add to your life.

How to cope when you are LITERALLY skint.

 

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Photo above is courtesy of Sandbanks, Poole,Dorset. UK. Super pretty and super expensive.

I have been rich, I have had a disposable income and thought nothing of grabbing a Costa every morning before work and going to Pret* (insert any other over priced chain here) everyday for lunch. See I was THAT bad with money. I would think nothing of doing an online clothes shop several times a week and I’ve been known to have actually forgotten about the things I’ve ordered and later on found still unopened in their original packaging at the bottom of my wardrobe from days gone by. I’ve frittered away small fortunes and what do I have to show for it other than my illustrious albeit pretentious Instagram feed.

On the other hand, I have also been poor. Poor indeed. Poor enough where I took on a godawful job just to see me through. Waking up at 4:30am to clean an office block toilets. THE GLAMOUR. I’ve been poor enough that I had to consider whether to buy petrol to get me back and forth to work everyday until my next payslip comes through or to have food to eat for the rest of the week instead. So very poor that Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl is basically my anthem and haunts me a little at the accuracy of it all to be quite honest. For a lot of people things like money and personal finances are still quite a taboo subject, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of pride bashing for a number of people to admit what situation they are in. To have to ask people for cash and feel guilt sink to the pit of their stomach at having to even ask as well. I hate having to rely on other people for those reasons, I’ve been fairly independent and have earned my own dollar since the age of sixteen so having a significantly decreased income was something that took a little while to actually get my head around. Sadly it took a little too long for me to work out that life balance and had to sort my act out quiiiiickkk. After speaking out a little bit about it on my Twitter page (shameless plug seen herrrrrreeee) I’ve noticed a few people have actually gone through or are going through the same situation. It’s not an easy situation and can be incredibly difficult.

Money quite literally makes the world go round and as much as I’d like to believe it isn’t a necessity; it also completely ruddy is all at the same time. I’m not totally, 100% materialistic but having said that it is very nice having the nice, pretty, lusted after things. These are the types of things that no one teaches you in school, ask me anything you want about the Tudor period or how King Henry VIII killed his fourth wife but when it comes to real life adulty things and problems…well they didn’t have a special, very damp Portakabin classroom for that one did they?! I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve found helpful that either I’ve figured out for myself or I’ve had the help and support of some special people with their invaluable input. Please note I am no expert I am merely just sharing with you my tips on how I haven’t staged a heist/military coup/ full scale toddler style tantrum.

Budgeting.

I am the world’s most unorganised person, possibly ever. So when I had to actually, plan and budget my life it didn’t come about naturally. I had to plan what I was doing month by month, payday to payday. Working on a literal four weekly rota for both my working life and my social life. I learnt how to budget how much petrol my car needs to get me to and from work and to have enough in case of emergencies (emergency trips to McDonalds and the chinese are included). Splurging on food has become a thing of the past and spending out only when I deserve and or need a treat.

Making your own lunches for work. 

To be honest, with this one I’m a little embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to actually do. It’s easier to buy a lunch meal deal than it is to make the exact same sarnie at home that morning. But the money I’ve saved can speak for itself. When it comes to little treats like the odd skinny vanilla latte (not that I’m pretentious and fussy or anything…*ahem*) I used to have several a week and not only is that really unhealthy but they are hella expensive when you add them all up. If you think I’d get a double espresso which would be about £2 or a skinny vanilla latte which would be anywhere between £3-£4 I was probably spending the best part of £15 a week just on coffee. If I kept that up over a year I would have quite literally pee’d away roughly £780+. Considering I want a new laptop I could have bought one with that figurative money there.

Cutting down on non-essential expenses. 

Even if I was just meeting friends for dinner or a few drinks at our local I’d always want to look nice and make an effort whether that meant popping into New Look on my lunch break or making a last minute Missguided order the night before with next day delivery. Looking back my spending habits were poor and a wee bit ridiculous. I’m sure my friends wouldn’t have thrown a drink in my face at the sheer audacity of me rocking up to our local boozer in the same Primark shift dress I also wore a month before. I haven’t made an online order for myself in a long time, I do feel slight pangs of jealousy when I see friends showing off their online deliveries on social media, or when I get the usual 38,519 emails a day about last minute sales they have on. Even to cutting down on buying my usual glossies. Gone are the days of my stack of Cosmopolitans or Heat’s on my bedside table. I am quite happy browsing through Pinterest, BlogLovin’ or on WordPress finding some written word and inspiration to lose myself in, FOR FREE. Well apart from the WiFi if you want to dissect this with a fine tooth comb!

Lift sharing.

To save yourself a few pennies, car sharing is such a simple and easy way to split costs and also save yourself the dreaded commute on your own.

Asking for an advance or raise at work.

There is no harm in asking, I know several people who argued a fair and strong case in my old job and did actually get the results they wanted. One of them told their boss they were thinking of leaving to go somewhere that’d pay more and they got a pay increase. Another mentioned their struggle of how they were just scraping by considering they have a longer than normal commute to work.

Using a cash converters/ exchange shop. 

There are loads of different types of retailers both on the High Street and online if you have a load of stuff around the house you want to get rid of. From Music Magpie, to Cash Converters to popping into your local CeX. You can flog nearly anything these days from books, dvds, consoles, old tech and cds. It may take a bit longer if you do it yourself at home as you’ll have to type in every barcode and waiting for it to register. I took all the cd’s and dvd’s I wanted to get rid of into CeX and they took care of it all and said to come back in about 45 minutes and it’ll be all sorted and I walked out with a pocketful of cash. Banging!

Depop/ebay.

Another good option if you are a complete clothes hoarder like myself is to take a quick pic of the items you want to get rid of and have a go at selling them online.

Car boot sales.

I don’t think it’s really the season for it at the moment as it’s still freezing and you don’t really want to be hanging about in a muddy field in your mum’s hatchback trying to do a Del Boy with all your Monopoly games and vintage Jane Norman. Spring time is a popular time for people to quite literally spring clean and get rid of items so keep an ear and an eye out for any local boot sales in your area.

Thrift shopping.

Macklemore made it more popular but I blimmin’ love scouring the charity shops on my high street, or any high street really seeing what I could find. Even if it works out as a cheaper way of getting new clobber or as an investment going on the hunt for higher priced goods to upcycle and then proceed to sell on for a higher price. My mum snapped up a Mulberry and Louis Vuitton bags just last week! Bargain!

Socialising. 

If you were quite a social butterfly and are finding it hard to accustom, becoming the designated driver and getting your pals to fling some cash your way is always a winner. You’ll be doing them a favour and you can put it towards the soft drinks you’ll be sipping on all night too.

Comping.

This one is probably my not so secret favourite. If you have the time and or patience you could quite easily spend a whole day entering various competitions online or as it’s so delightfully coined as ‘Comping’. So far by doing this I’ve won a beautiful Chanel handbag, tickets to London Fashion Week Festival, a Love 2 Shop voucher and an Amazon giftcard. I’ve made a separate Twitter account so I don’t spam my poor friends with my boring RT to win tweets. A good way I’ve found to keep up to date with lots of comps going on is checking the Money Saving Expert forum seen here. It’s really easy to navigate around and the other users are all really friendly and helpful.

Voucher hunting.

If you’re thinking of going out for dinner or ordering something online from a takeaway to an ASOS haul I always check on Voucher Codes website in case there are any extra offers to be had or monies to be saved.

 

Online Surveys.

Similar to comping, if you have the time and patience you could quite easily earn a few hundred pounds extra every month by answering questions in surveys. How easy does that sound?! There are quite a lot out there on the internet and it can be hard to know which ones are legit, are they too good to be true and do the people actually doing the surveys ever get the money. In short, yes. My internet pal Harley, reached out to me about these and linked me to SwagBucks. He earned some extra pocket money and has cashed it in through PayPal. Snaps for Harley!

Matched betting. 

A fellow blogger mentioned this one to me and my first thought was Oh My Gawwwwd I don’t know the first thing about football. BUT apparently it is so much more than that. Sites like Profit Accumulator  offer a free trial which is known as risk free, completely legal and tax free!

Part time work. 

I don’t know about you but part time work is very few and far between in my area. So in order to earn a crust I’ve taken on an extra part time cleaning job first thing in the morning. The early starts are a little bit brutal but it’s extra pennies and I know it’s not a forever role. Even if you nip round your local cafes, bars and pubs seeing if they need any waiting staff or pot washers.

Seeking work through an recruitment agency.

I can’t speak for every single recruitment agency but the one nearest to me I went to for an interview and got offered nearly all the dud, dead end jobs within a 28 mile radius. As much as I mock the dud jobs of actually putting a chocolate curl on top of a profiterole all day errday the pay came in at around £100 a day and you get paid weekly. If you were in need of some quick cash or wanted to save up for something huge this would be a quick way to go. Plus one of the benefits of seeking employment this way is that once you’re on their books they can look out for anything that might be more suited for you.

Applying for Government credit. 

If you are earning under a certain amount or out of work would mean you would be entitled to applying for Universal Credit. It’s relatively straight forward to do and you can find the application process just here. To finish your application you do have to have a short interview at your local job centre and you have to agree to look for more full time work in between or at least scrub up your CV.

Learning to live frugally. 

Adjusting the life you lead can be something that can be the hardest and I’ve found quite difficult. Adapting to the life of Fagin and Oliver can be quite hard. Searching for good offers or even free things to do in your local area so you don’t feel too downbeat or like a complete hermit. Getting out and about more even just going for a walk or taking the dog out, the light exercise will release endorphins giving you happier feels and happier thoughts.

Learning to sell your skills.

I am 189% certain you, yes YOU reading this right here, right now are something very special and I’m more than certain you’ll have invaluable skills you could pass on to someone else for a price (or for all the warm gooey feels you’d get by doing something good and altruistic y’know whatever you’re into…) Whether you were particularly gifted at History at GCSE you could offer to do some tutoring or selling off your old revision notes. OR if you happen to be a computer whizzkid how about put a flyer in your local newsagents offering to teach basic PC skillz.

Maximising the use out of loyalty cards.

Other than taking up precious space in your ultra fancy nancy purse, loyalty cards do actually have some uses and can be quite handy depending you’ve acquired the ones you want and need and not just every single one a la Moi just cos you wanted to look boujee with a River Island purse full of M&S Sparks cards. Loyalty cards such as Boots and Tesco’s Clubcard have always rated quite highly in my eyes. Whether that’s just because I’ve secured nearly £100 on my Boots card over the years so if I’m feeling the purse strings tighten it’s like I’ve got a hidden stash of cash. Places like Paperchase if you sign up for a card with that transaction it will give you a percentage off of your end bill. Aaaaand I’m not gonna tell anyone and will keep it a secret if you sign up for a new card every single shop. Your secret is safe with me.

Selling unwanted giftcards on Zeek.

I didn’t hear about Zeek until very recently but I’m sure we’ve all received a gift card at Christmas or for birthdays we didn’t *reaaaaaally* want and didn’t know what to do with a B&Q gift voucher when you don’t even know the difference between a Phillips and a Flathead screwdriver. Zeek offers to buy the voucher off of you for a lower price but you get it as a cash payment and it’s off of your hands rather than taking up space in your wall unit.

Utilising your spare time. 

Please do not worry or panic or feel alone. Because you are far from alone in situations like this. Money at the end of the day is also just waxy paper we put a price and a meaning to. There are ways and means around everything and people to support you and care for you more than you probably even realise. Even if you have to have a bit of a pride bruising and reach out to a friend or a relative for a bit of help and support.

It can be hard to try and not fall into a trap of getting money from places that offer you short term loans. It can seem like a quick fix to get you out of hole but sites like Wonga offer an annual interest rate of anywhere up to 1509% on top of that. Once in these types of cycles it can be seen as harder to break out of.

Lowering bills where you can. 

If your outgoings are becoming slowly higher than what’s coming in, it could encourage you to take some time to evaluate the costs of say your phone bill or that ever so necessary Netflix account.

Saving where you can.

Even if you just open a bank account and put a pound in one week and a couple of pounds the next, over the space of a year it’ll all add up. Or if you get an old coffee jar and fill it with 50p pieces before you know it the jar will be bustling full.

These are my ideas and tips on how to get through a rough financial patch, I am lucky that my outgoings aren’t as high as others might be,  seeing as I still live at home but these are just my ideas and tricks on how to save a little extra where necessary. If you have any please do let me know!