120 changes: September

With the whole ‘120 changes in 2018’, the idea was to think up 10 changes to practice for a month ahead and assess them 30 days later. September is the exception, though. My recent workload has left me with little time to rest properly let alone write thoughtful blog posts. But more importantly, over the last 8 months, I’ve been making other changes in the background, and this is the perfect time to talk about them.

So this post isn’t about 10 changes in September. It is about 10 changes I’ve made by September.

Delete Facebook app from my mobile devices

Facebook has had some bad publicity recently with the data misuse scandal, but it’s not the main reason why I’m no longer there. I’ve just grown out of it, and so have my friends – we don’t share as much of our lives there as we used to 10 years ago and we prefer to stay in touch directly via messaging apps. So my feed is mainly full of news and angry comments, and it’s too much negativity. I’ve not deleted my account, but I’ve removed the app from all of my mobile devices, and I now check Facebook on my laptop two or maybe three times a day. I’m not missing much.

Upgrade cooking tools

I’ve long moved on from quantity to quality: I want things to bring me joy and last for a long time. And seeing as I enjoy cooking, upgrading my cooking tools has been a natural step. Over the last few months, I have invested in a few Le Creuset items – they are such good quality that you get a lifetime guarantee on their casseroles and pans. Le Creuset is pricey, but it’s the price you pay once (hopefully). I’ve also bought nicer and more expensive kettle and toaster – they’re not through the roof kind of expensive, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a Smeg kettle for £150 just to boil water. I’ve been upgrading my glassware too.

These things have been costing me money, but they will save more in the long-run.

Water filter instead of bottled water

We used to buy bottled water. Four 2-litre bottles we’d finish in a week were £1.50, and it doesn’t sound like much until you calculate that it’s nearly £80 per year. That’s also not that much, but there are better ways to spend that money than water. So I bought a water filter for £20. Spare cartridges are £4-5, and they’re good for 2-3 months, so that’s £30 a year maximum – and a very grateful mother nature that won’t get another few dozens of plastic bottles to deal with for hundreds of years.

Spring-clean my phone

I take a lot of photos to share some moments with friends and family, and back in June, I decided to declutter my phone photo app. O. M. G. There were hundreds – really, hundreds! – of shots of some unimportant moments long forgotten. There was no sentimental value attached to them, they were just taking space. One could argue that it’s all digital so why care? But I care because I don’t want unimportant things in my life, physical or digital alike. So I took about an hour to go through years of photos to leave only those that make me relive some wonderful moments.

From then on, I revise my photos once every couple of weeks to keep my phone clean.

Eat from ceramics

I keep on saying it again and again and again that food is a pleasure, so eating should be the most pleasant experience you can afford, both in terms of the quality of ingredients and the ways of eating. We all have busy lives, and I used to eat straight from the plastic containers that some of my food arrived in on my table. Not anymore. The whole experience changes when you eat from proper ceramic plates and with proper cutlery: it’s no longer a fast food thing but a classier lunch that I want to enjoy for a bit longer.

Wake up early

I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself if it hadn’t been my husband who started to wake up at 5.30 am to do his early morning 50km cycling ride. He was as quiet as he could be but I would still wake up and then stay in a drowsy state of mind for another half an hour before pushing myself out of bed. And then I thought that I could spend this time better and began to get up early myself. It’s life-changing. Literally. I now have enough time to exercise (good for the body) and to plan my day (good for the mind), all without the pressure of “I’m running late”.

Stop buying lifestyle magazines

I used to spend about £20 at the beginning of every month when the new issues of Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle and the rest would hit the shelves. Then I would spend even more on beauty and fashion shops to buy the things that I liked seeing in the magazines. And then I just got weary of this vicious circle. It was like running a consumption race with no finish line. I don’t remember what prompted me to think ‘why do I do this?’ but when the answer came as ‘I don’t know, to be honest’, I stopped – because why do purposeless things?

Unsurprisingly, when I stopped buying magazines and seeing all the beautiful things I allegedly was missing in my life, I started being a much more conscious consumer. Of course, I still buy beauty and fashion, but I do so because I need something and not because I want to look trendy in purple.

Did it save me lots of money? Not quite: I’m buying less but better quality that never comes cheap. But I think it will save me a lot in the long-run.

Track expenses and stay within budget

The tracking bit is easy. I’ve used ‘Spending’ app for months which does the most basic thing of tracking my expenses within categories, and that’s all I need to know where my money is going.

Read online reviews before buying anything

Found something on a website you’ve never bought from before? Before you click ‘pay’, do yourself a favour and check reviews for that company. I’ve learnt this the hard (and expensive) way when I bought from companies that sold directly from China where they didn’t care if they sent you XXL when you’ve ordered XS and made it too complicated to return the items. And I’ve ordered from what looked like legitimate websites that turned out to be fraudulent. If I had checked and seen all the negative reviews on sites like Trustpilot before I paid, I would have saved lots of money and nerves.

A couple of weeks ago, I nearly fell into that trap again: I was considering placing an order but went to check the company – and everyone was screaming ‘do not buy from them’. Lesson learnt.

Unsubscribe from newsletters

Because ‘save 15% with our super duper exclusive discount voucher’ still means spending 85% that you never thought about before opening that email.

I work in marketing, and I know these tricks, and even I fall victim to promotions. You have to trust me on this: the best way to not spend is to not know about the opportunity to spend even exist, and that means becoming as oblivious to ads and promotions as possible.

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