Getting back on track can be difficult when your life gets turned upside down. 2018 has been an absolute rollercoaster for me. I went from having a high-stress corporate event career in New York City to a slower-pace recruitment career back in the UK. Now, this was not a choice of my own and whilst I tried to stay in the US, fate was not on my side.
The last few months have been spent regrouping and just getting to know my life in the UK again. It is been a rough transition, to say the least. To have a lifestyle and living dynamic completely changed in the space of days can be disruptive. It is quite a weird feeling to feel sad and mourn for the life you had but at the same time realise how lucky you are.
I tried to stick with a routine. I got back to the UK, I bought a car, had a job lined up, and I joined a gym. It was fine for a while. When you are used to living a life that is a little more adventurous, it can be a real crash back down to earth. Whilst I crave structure, I also get those urges to just get my passport and leave. My ‘go-to’ for trying to regain control of my life has always been the same when I get back from living somewhere.
Those who know me have always known and that I was pretty reckless with money in the past. From ages 18-22 I pretty much destroyed my credit rating and racked up some debts, now these have been paid off here and there but I have never quite been fully rid of debt.
My method of getting back on track has been to just get angry at it now and to throw everything I have into saving and getting rid of debts. The current account that I use is Monzo it makes it super easy to keep track of expenses and is years ahead of any high street banking app. It is free to sign up and if you sign up using the link above, you get £5 when you make you use your card for the first time (affiliate link).
Monzo makes it easy to separate money into different accounts. You can also “lock” accounts until a certain date which I find super helpful. There is also an option to “round up” to the nearest pound and that change is put into a savings pot.
One of the newest integrations to the app is the ability to pay your bills out of a pot. You can set it so that some of your monthly salary automatically goes into the bills pot. Then you set certain bills to come out of the bills pot. This means that your spending money never gets dirtied with bill money and you always know where you stand.
70% Budgeting Technique
The 70% budgeting technique from Jordan Paige is pretty simple. I do not think that budgeting has to be overly difficult because that is what makes it hard to stick to. I have been reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. James suggests that in order to make a habit stick, you must make it easy and attractive.
The 70% budget basically goes by the philosophy that 70% of your earnings are your living costs. This is to pay bills, entertainment, food shopping, and transport. 20% is for savings or paying down pressing debt and 10% is for investing/charity/retirement.
With that 70%, you break it down into four weeks and you use cash. You put each week in an envelope and you know that is the money for that week. Jordan recommends that you split this weekly amount up to have half of the money on the category that you spend the most money on. For me, it is petrol. The other half is to live on.
The other 30% I currently use for debts. When I am clear, I will split that between savings and investments. If this topic is interesting to anyone I will do a longer post on it, let me know.
Promo agencies normally pay between £10-£15 an hour and also pay mileage and expenses. All of December I was working every weekend with the promo agency and this was pretty much just been giving out samples of gin. Talking to customers about gin was not so bad. I was certainly thankful for the exhaustion at the end of January when I doubled my monthly paycheck. The work is sporadic but if you can handle the long days and the occasional weekend work then it is a nice little supplementary income.
To get a little bit of extra cash, I also worked with a promotional company. It was pretty draining work but it is a great chance to interact with brands, meet new people and earn some extra income.
Decluttering my life
This simplicity and automation are what I want to be the foundation of my life. Anything that is sellable that I do not use has been sold. Anything that is not has been donated or trashed. I will look at something, touch it, try it on and then ask myself “would I rather have the money than this item?”. If the answer is yes, it’s sold.
I also got rid of things that I kept just because they were expensive or a gift. I had some beautiful Chelsea boots that I rarely wore because they aggravated my tendonitis, they had to go. Every penny over my salaried wage I throw towards debt or savings. I do this straight away so that I do not even have to think about it.
I have also been working on a digital detox but this is a little more time-consuming. Finding myself with about six different email accounts gets a little bit much. They are all logins to different various things that I use which makes it harder. I have been going through my LastPass account and checking the passwords whilst also logging in and changing things to the same email address.
The goal is to end with three email address. Work, Life, and Junk. Junk emails are impossible to stop completely. Especially if like me you like to enter competitions or like to get discount codes. It is handy to have an email dedicated to that. My plan is to delete the other accounts. I also intend on going through my social media accounts and cleaning things up, checking for consistency and making sure that they make running a blog simple.
I have an external hard drive that I got for Christmas a while back and I have gotten into the habit of archiving things that I no longer use. It feels great to know that I still have them but they are out of sight and out of mind. It has been helpful to start saving projects on the cloud as that means that I can get to them from multiple devices and if I find myself with a spare moment then I can work on them.
Exercise and diet
I had a pretty good relationship with exercise in 2018. I have lost a stone since being back from NYC and I now feel guilty when I haven’t worked out in a few days.
The best thing for me at the gym was Audiobooks from Audible. As a super-efficient and productive person I always like doing two things at once.
The gym I am with is a Virgin Active. While it is pretty pricey, all of the classes are included which I liked. I usually try to go to one spin class a week to get some cardio in. I will usually run around 5km once a week and the other one or two sessions I use for a full body work out. This normally includes chest, arms, abs, and legs. I am not trying to bulk up, I’m pretty much just trying to keep things tight and in proportion so this routine works for me.
Dietary changes were something that definitely needed implementing. Cutting out gluten and dairy done wonders for my overall health and digestion. I hadn’t really touched dairy in a few years anyway as I found that it was making my skin bad.
I have a pretty horrible commute to work. It currently takes me just over an hour to drive to work each day and usually around an hour and 15 minutes to drive home. This has had a pretty big knock-on effect with my work ethic and I find myself exhausted by the time I even get to work in the morning.
To try to get back on track and counteract this I have spoken with my leaders. It has been decided that I will work one day a week from home. This doesn’t seem like much but that two-plus hour commute time every day adds up. It gives me more time to work on personal projects. Anything I do in the office, I can do from home so it makes logistical sense.
I also listen to audiobooks on the commute, and I am getting through these at a rate of knots. You can read my other post for recommendations. I use Audible for mine. You pay a small monthly subscription and then you get one credit each month to spend that on any book.
The books are often read in the author’s voice which is great because it makes them believable. Just make sure you listen to the sample before you buy to make sure that the voice is not too annoying to listen to for several hours. The little banner above this image will give you a 30-day free trial and one credit to try (affiliate link).
I have gotten a lot better at scheduling recently. I found that when I get bursts of energy or productivity, I have to go with it. Often, I will stay up late and schedule emails to send out at 9 AM in the morning so that people do not know I was up till late working.
Time blocking has also been a great help. I block out my lunch every day as well as daily tasks that need doing. I will schedule the most important tasks at the beginning of the day to ensure that I rarely have to stay past 5:30 PM in the office – this does not always go to plan but it is something that I am getting better at.
I have always been a huge fan of visualisation boards. A daily reminder of who you are, and where you want to go can keep you motivated and keep your eyes on the prize.
My sister and I had a fun arts and crafts afternoon creating my board. We painted a regular cheap cork board silver with a navy frame and then used an old gift bag to frame the photos. On mine I have; pictures of credit cards cut in half, a Range Rover Evoque, Invisalign Braces and some other goals that I have my eyes on. There are also some quotes to live by. I tend to say these quotes out loud in the mornings to set my intentions for the day.
These are just some little things that I am doing on the journey of getting back on track. If it helps some other people along the way, that would be great!
- Ralph Lauren Down Coat
- Levi’s 510 black Jeans
- Adidas Stan Smith Originals in Navy Trainers
- Burberry Scarf (not exact scarf linked, mine is the previous season).
- All photos from this post were taken on a vintage Nikon L35 point and shoot camera with an Ilford XP2 Super Black and White film.
- There are affiliate links in my blog posts. This just means that if you click on some of the links in my post, I will earn a small commission for recommending the item. This will in no way affect the price that you pay for the item. All items that I recommend I have used and I have just been provided with an affiliate link for them.