Wow, is it cold or what!? I’m not sure if you are aware, but my boyfriend and I are currently residing in an old, Victorian building that has been converted into flats. It’s freezing, but we’re trying to keep things as cheap as possible. Not to mention, we want to keep our carbon footprint to an absolute minimum where we can. This is why we manage to keep our heating on for no longer than an hour a day. How? We have our very own list of hacks to stay warm and save money on energy.
Fitbit’s are expensive. Let’s not beat around the bush here. However, they are incredibly popular for people who want to make healthier changes in the new year. So, what do you do if you’re after a Fitbit for Christmas, but want to keep the costs down?
So, here’s the thing. I want people to save money on fitness. I don’t always believe that you need to pay through the roof for a good workout, but there are some exceptions. This week, I shall be talking about the value of fitness.
“I need to lose some weight,” says one of my friends. I don’t believe in eyeing the scale as such. Yet, I’ll never discourage people from getting active. So, I respond with, “I know! We can do workouts together!” For some reason, this changes my friend’s mind. “Ah, but I hate exercise.”
Home workouts can be a complete and utter pain. One reason why many choose to pay for a gym membership is that they aren’t motivated enough to get exercise when they’re in the house. But what if there was something you could do that is fun and would want to do as often as you can? I have teamed up with Phoenix Fitness to show you that there is! I have given myself a simple 14-day hula hoop challenge to get myself moving without having to leave the house. What’s more, you can do it too!
I’m up for anything that isn’t your typical style of physical activity. I don’t have a gym membership, but I certainly get more than my 10,000 steps in by doing other activities that you wouldn’t normally consider. So, when Bryan from VR-Here in Liverpool invited me and my Larry to check out their complete VR gaming arcade, I simply couldn’t say no!
Have you ever put yourself on a mission to get your life together? If so, you will know that it’s not an easy task. From the day I left home, I was adamant to live my life to the fullest. However, it was a tough learning curve. Saving money was never my strong point, nor was living a healthy life. I’m now on my way thanks to the lifestyle planner.
It was not my intention to be writing this quick and easy chickpea burgers recipe. Had I not been in a panic this weekend with the realisation that I was off to a barbeque on Saturday and had forgotten I needed a vegan option, this recipe would not exist.
If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that although money shouldn’t matter, it does. I used to struggle with money a lot, and although I am over most obstacles that I have had to face and am now financially stable, there will always be something that will turn up unexpectedly.
The last two years have been a rollercoaster for my career and my ability to stay financially stable, but last year I hit a low. Unemployment hit me hard and I had to stretch out every penny I could to get by. Though I am much better for it now, there is so much about money that I have taken on board so that if anything knocks me sideways again, I will be ready to deal with it and I will remain financially stable.
Is it too late to become financially stable?
At 24, I already feel keeping myself financially stable is something I should have prepared for years ago. I wish so much that I had been educated about money in high school. Though as a teenager I would have probably been uninterested, I would have left feeling with more knowledge on how to get by.
This is all I knew: In order to live, you need to get a job and earn money. There may have been a few small things surrounding this, that was the gist of it. I also thought that going to university was my best choice for getting a good career. I now know better, but this lack of information has led me down an emotional road that I wish I didn’t have to go through. Regardless, I don’t believe it is too late. I just think I have a bit of catching up to do.
The struggle isn’t the problem. I believe we need to struggle somewhat to fully appreciate the things we have in life. Pain makes you stronger, but there is a difference between working hard and surviving just fine and swimming against a tide. This week I want to talk about ways to keep yourself financially stable now as well as what you can be doing to be prepared for the future.
How can I become Financially Stable?
I can’t fix your problems, I’m not a qualified expert, but I can tell you the things I have done in the last year that have helped me get my life back on track and give myself a healthier mindset on staying financially stable in the future.
1. Divide your finances
I have recently come to learn that being with one bank hasn’t always been my best choice in life. Though I have two accounts under the same bank, it’s too easy for me to transfer my savings back into my graduate account and spend it. I needed to split my money in order to stay financially stable.
I now have four bank accounts for different purposes. I am still with my current bank, but I have also joined Monzo and Starling. My current bank is where my paycheck goes in and my bills go out and my eSavings account has a small amount deposited into it every month for a rainy day.
I plan to transfer a budgeted amount from my graduate to my Monzo account each month to be used for shopping, dining out, and other activities. This means I’m still enjoying life, but I’m not allowed to go overboard. Once that money is gone, that’s it.
Starling is a special account. I have always wanted to travel, but saving for it has always been a struggle. With a Starling debit card, you can spend abroad for free, and the app allows you to create “goals” for your money to be stored until you reach the desired amount. I’m almost halfway through my Italy goal, where Larry and I will be heading later this year.
2. Have minimal money months to stay financially stable
If you haven’t read my articles around Money Free MarchMoney Free March, I suggest you do if you want to give it a go. Though I have a set spending budget each month, that number will change depending on what I can afford. To make it easier, I’m continuing to have months that are quite similar Money Free March.
3. Learn to say no
Something I have carried with me since Money Free March is the importance of saying no. There are some things in life that are not as important as it is to remain financially stable. I used to have this naive approach to money. I would think to myself “Oh, well I have been paid this much money this month, therefore I deserve to buy this handbag”.
This really isn’t the case. Though it’s not wrong for you to treat yourself once in a while, it is also very easy for this “treat” to become a bad habit. If you want to stay financially stable, you need to keep asking yourself if you really need whatever it is that you are tempted to buy.
4. Start Investing to be financially stable in the future
“Wait a minute Lacey, aren’t we supposed to be saving money here?”
Keeping yourself financially stable is about saving where you can, yes, but a saving and making an investment are not exactly two worlds apart. I want to go into further detail about this at some point, but I think it is extremely important to get thinking about your pension.
If you are earning above £5,876 a year, you will be part of auto-enrolment. If you aren’t already aware, this is essentially a minimum contribution to be paid into your pension by you and your employer every month, but it’s a good idea to be saving on top of this as well. There are some options available for you to remain financially stable during retirement, and I believe that it is never too soon to take this into consideration.
5. Think about other investments
At some point in your life, you will probably want to buy a house. In order to get that house, you will need a deposit. You may not be in the position to be saving a lot at the minute, but a little can go a long way. It’s a good idea to ask around for the best saving options available.
The way I see it is this: If you can afford a Netflix subscription, you can afford to pay £5 a month for a help to buy ISA. This goes back to thinking about what you can do without. If you want to be as prepared as possible, and with interest rates currently being a big concern for investors, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your current investments if you want to be financially stable in the future.
Have your say
Do you have any advice for staying financially stable? Whether we like it or not, money matters, and being in a bad financial situation can be terrible for your mental and physical health. I really hope some of you found this useful. As mentioned, I’m no expert, but these are based on my own learning curves and choices that I have made over the years that have had an impact on how I handle my finances.
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If you know me, you will know that I’m a fairly confident person. When it comes to my womanhood, however, I know there was a time where I embraced it much more than I do now.
In the last couple of years I have noticed that while I try to get a grip on my job, my plans for the future, and my life in general, the idea of being sensible began to cast a shadow over my womanhood. Though I have always been encouraging towards other women with what they wish to do with their lives and their bodies, I was unknowingly beginning to cover myself up.
What I want for my womanhood
I have always been surrounded by a wonderful group of friends who share the same values as me when it comes to womanhood. Your body is your own, no one can or should tell you what you can or cannot do with it, no one can decide whether your sexual actions are taboo or otherwise, and you should do whatever you like as long as you’re never intentionally hurting anyone in the process (we also have to remember that people are only human and make mistakes so it would be foolish to shame someone for hurting another unintentionally). So why do I not apply this to my own womanhood?
Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t WANT to do something sexually, there is no reason to argue otherwise, that is your personal stance on your own womanhood. If you want to wear clothes that cover you head to toe, then that’s perfectly okay. If you don’t want to talk to friends about your sex life, that’s okay too. For me, however, I’m one of those people who wish to wear more “risque” clothes and has honest conversations about what goes on in the bedroom, but sometimes I find myself being blocked by my conscience, and I find it to be a knock to my womanhood.
You can’t judge a book by its cover
Though you may have seen photos and other posts on my social media accounts that suggest I’m extremely confident with my womanhood, knowing me on a more personal level would perhaps suggest that I tend to put up a shield without intending to do so. I’ll put an outfit on that I think looks fabulous, then in an hour, I’m in a public place, worrying about the fact that I look “too slutty” or that I appear to be trying too hard.
I will say, however, that pole is something where I don’t even have to think about my womanhood. When in training, I don’t see myself as either being too sexual or too prudish, my body is simply mine and I’m working hard to be proud of it. But despite having a sanctuary where my womanhood doesn’t feel sheltered, I want to bring that out of the studio and into my everyday life.
Baby steps to rediscover my womanhood
So what changes have I chosen to make? Many of you may have heard of Katherine Elizabeth if you are based in Manchester. Though she is a dear friend of mine, she is also an incredible photographer with a knack for making anyone feel comfortable in front of the camera. As part of the plan to rediscover my womanhood, we came up with the idea of a simple photo shoot to help rebuild my confidence.
If I were to go to any other photographer, I fear we would have been there for hours trying to get the right selection of images. We had too many to choose from by the time we were done, and we were surprised that the shooting time took as little as it did. We managed to narrow down the images to a selection of around thirty. I had to ask her to surprise me with the final few as I was so overwhelmed with how happy I was with the photos!
Seeing things clearly
I don’t remember the last time I looked at a photo of myself and thought “Wow, I am hot!” It’s just not the norm to think that way, we’re supposedly not allowed to fully embrace our womanhood. We are told that we should love ourselves more, but the second we start to embrace how we look, our sexiness, our “duck faces” and “smizes”, we are suddenly vain and full of ourselves.
Since the photo shoot, I have felt more confident in my womanhood. I won’t say that I am where I aim to be just yet, but it’s a start and a big one at that. I’m taking more selfies, being more adventurous with my makeup and wardrobe choices, and caring less about what others may think.
What do you want for your womanhood?
As I said, this is journey is my own. I can’t determine what your idea of womanhood is, nor anyone else’s, but if you feel that something is missing then I encourage you to look for it. It’s not up to the rest of the world to decide what we do with our bodies or our life, so it’s important to look in the mirror from time to time and tell yourself that you are amazing, wonderful, spectacular and that no one else can determine otherwise.
However you view your womanhood, it is always going to be yours and it’s up to you to own it!
Though I have said it a so many times in these last few weeks, I am beyond grateful to Katherine Elizabeth for taking the time to do this shoot with me and put a reminder in my brain to love my womanhood for what it is and how I want to carry it with me. You may see some changes in my social media now, but I don’t think my journey to loving my womanhood is complete just yet.