Just over a year ago, I decided I was going become a member of the responsible adult clique and that would involve more than a few major life changes. I took a long hard look at my finances and it was not a pretty sight. I realized after two years of full time work, I had no savings, an ever increasing overdraft and was £1000 in debt to my mother. Where had all my earnings gone?! Once you took out my rent and bills, I wasn't left with much and most of that went quite happily into the hands of Philip Green and co. I often put my desire for the 'new' above everything else. There is something particularly joyous about the feel of strained arms laden with shopping bags brimming with a newer better version of you inside. I barely had any food in the house and despite a wardrobe rammed with beautiful clothes and shoes I actually couldn't afford to go anywhere. I'd fooled myself into believing I was in financial control because all my bills got paid eventually, it didn't matter that my account hadn't been in credit for over two years.
The decision to change came about because I was so exhausted from living hand to wardrobe. I was stuck in a job I had no interest in to maintain my non-life, I couldn't afford a social life and I was just miserable. I decided I needed to take control. I started by streamlining my wardrobe. I sold anything I hadn't worn in 6 months on Ebay and there was a lot. I made over £200. I set aside one weekend a month in which I could go clothes shopping and set myself a budget. There was to be no more 'so-cool-I-have-to-have-it' purchases, no more 'it-doesn't-fit-but-i'll-alter-it-but-never-do' purchases and definitely no more 'this-will-look-good-once-I-get-that-job-at-Elle/Vogue' purchases. I also gave up my £60 a go hairdresser and found a significantly cheaper alternative. Eventually I went natural and ditched salons altogether.
My biggest change was giving up my room in my flatshare and moving back in with my mum. This was by far the toughest thing I had to do. I missed living with my friends and the independence that brings. I also felt like a massive loser who had failed at adulthood but in the end it has paid off. With the extra income floating in my account, I started paying off the money I owed my mum and making headway with paying back my overdraft. In six months, I paid off my mum completely. Shortly afterwards, I paid off my overdraft and reduced my limit.
It wasn't an easy road and they were many days at the beginning of my journey to financial security where I would find myself eyes glazed in COS with more items than I could afford. I have since learnt to walk very quickly past that den of temptation. I constantly remind myself that not every social occasion requires a new outfit. I also discovered the art of smart shopping, sample sales are a girls best friend if you can exercise restraint. I've also cut out low quality brands from my shopping trips because I can't afford disposable fashion. My clothes should ideally last as long as I do. I prefer to invest my money on pieces from independent designers with an ethos I can get behind. It's a major part of the reason I support African designers, I feel like my money is working twice as hard. It's not just lining the pocket of millionaires, it goes on to change lives.
I am now the most financially stable I have ever been in my life. I have savings and a significantly more practical approach to spending. I saved up enough to quit my dead end job and invest in myself. I do still indulge every now and then because I love fashion but I know my limit. When in doubt I remind myself, the clothes do not make the woman.