Things I’m Not Buying in 2024 to Boost My Investments and Heal My Budget

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2023 was financially challenging for a lot of us. Budgets, savings, and at times even investments (depending on what you invested in) took a hit with new heights of the persistent and stubborn inflation rates globally. Despite the inflation kind of stabilising in the UK in the last couple of months of 2023, British prices have obviously not gone back to the pre-inflation times. By the way, the UK economy struggles increasingly for many reasons; reasons I’m not going to dive into as mainstream media are doing a great job at covering the self-imposed tragedy of the British economy.

When times get difficult, the arts and the creative sectors are usually impacted the fastest, and the hardest as the austerity is always directed at what is perceived by many governments as “non-essential” to human existence. I completely disagree with that sentiment, but this is another story. In short, the people in the art sector struggle to make ends meet, to survive and to find funding even more than before the pre-Covid and pre-inflation times.

Depending on who you listen to, 2024 might be financially even more challenging than 2023 and some even predict a repetition of the 1929 Great Depression. Those who predict that also say that 2024 will be fantastic for investment opportunities if one has heaps of resources sitting around. Personally, I try to tune out such predictions as those aren’t good for mental health and aren’t really constructive for people who save and invest money in small quantities. 

Since I started investing, I’ve invested monthly without waiting for a massive financial crash to arrive. I can’t predict the future and the market, but honestly, neither can the majority of the investors. My mantra is that monthly steady investments are the key to a healthy future investment portfolio.

Unfortunately, in the past year (I know the financial year isn’t over yet in the UK, so I still have time) I haven’t made as big investments as I planned. For the majority of last year, I was still a student, working only part-time; I also took some time off to have a little bit of breathing space to recharge, and of course, the prices have been going up like there was no limit to it. It doesn’t matter that the UK inflation has slowed down, the relative prices stayed at a high level, and the wages aren’t keeping up. In reality, it means that I can buy much less than I was able to buy, say, a year ago. For instance, during the pandemic, I paid £1 for organic lettuce; now, discounted lettuce costs £1.20, coming down from £1.50. Shopping at the zero-waste shop became at least 20% more expensive than a year prior (2022). Public transport is ridiculously pricey, and if I have to go to the office, I can’t cycle or walk. Take away food from market stalls is as costly as eating out in restaurants. Clothing in charity shops has gone up so much that often it’s cheaper to buy a new item (you can still find some bargains, especially for kids but you need to be lucky).

Many people who didn’t struggle before the inflation suddenly have to cut down on a lot of what was normal and casual for them. Children, single parents, women, who traditionally have lower savings and investments, as well as people in low-paid jobs (often in the essential sectors such as health care) suffer the most. Cutting down on spending and keeping a very close eye on the budget is usually everyone’s first priority when times are tough. However, the best time to save and invest money is when the times are good (this is not to say that you shouldn’t be saving and investing when the times are difficult. Even the slightest savings or investments put aside can boost our investing self-esteem.), and our smart financially conscious choices aren’t seen as deprivation.  

Instead of spending our hard-earned money on items that we hardly ever use (the Minimalists podcast could be a good choice if you struggle with overconsumption) and that eventually end up in charity shops, put that money aside towards savings and investments. Your future self will be very grateful for that.

2024 will be all about healing my investments and savings so that I’m able to pursue other opportunities that I feel will benefit me and my family more in the long run. To do that, I’m cutting down on the following items from my budget:

  • Clothing – not buying anything unless it’s underwear or clothing for kids.  
  • Gifts – in 2024, they are all going to be hand-made, second-hand, or experiences. Gifts for kids might be an exception, but I’ll see if I’m going to buy things or, rather, experiences for them.
  • Jewellery – not buying anything unless it’s second-hand or local and from a place I’ve never been to before.
  • Take away tea and coffee. I hardly ever do it anyway, but even if I do it 20 times a year, that could come to almost £100 a year.
  • Cakes, cookies, pastry, etc – I’m a good baker and can make cakes and cookies myself. On average, in London, a slice of cake costs £5. In contrast, currently, the London living wage is £13.15, but not many companies really pay that, the £11.95 per hour is more common. The national minimum, on the other hand, is £10.42 an hour for people who are over 22 and it’s going up on the 1st of April to £11.44. So, if you pay £5 for a slice of cake, that is about half of your hourly wage. And, for under £10, you can bake one whole cake, which is a great skill to have and also a fantastic gift.
  • Baked goods at M&S for the kids – every trip to the local M&S costs me at least £5.
  • Ready-made meals during the week – I hardly ever do it, but got into a habit of buying ready-made food every time I go to the office, which at the moment is once a week. That one visit usually costs me on average £10, so in total about £400 a year.
  • I would like to stop at least one of the subscription services to Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon. I’m not yet sure how feasible that is with two kids at home.
  • Books – I have a tone that I still need to read, and I’m planning to utilise my lovely local library.
  • Random stuff under £5, and that includes charity shops – I’m sticking to my list of items I need/want for the flat.
  • Kids magazines or hair accessories for my daughter – she already has way too many of those. An exception might be when I go away and promise to buy her a gift.
  • Birthday or Christmas cards – I can make them myself.
  • Alcohol – we hardly ever drink anyway, but consciously not bringing any alcohol to my house.
  • Tonic water – I like it, but it is not sustainable in the long run.
  • Sweets on sale – I realized I mostly buy them not because I need to but just because they’re on sale, and I don’t even like sweets (I love baked goodies).
  • Single used items.

Now, rather shorter list of what I am planning to be buying in 2024:

  • Second-hand items only – if I need them or if they’re on my list of items to buy for the flat. I have a list of things I would like to buy for the flat and my garden, but I will try to source as much as possible second-hand. I know it will be more time-consuming but I’m really tired of working only to see that money go out of my account.
  • Candles, but only when I run out – for now, I have a hefty supply.
  • Seeds and items to re-organise my balcony garden to make it more functional.
  • Experiences as long as the prices are reasonable – a lot of the live concerts and even art exhibitions have become unaffordable in the UK. Often entry tickets for a family of four cost just silly amounts (£100 is average), and that is usually without travelling costs, not to mention getting food and drinks (kids are always hungry and thirsty).

This is my financial adjustment plan for 2024 I think at times in 2023, I wasn’t frugal enough. How my plant will work out, we shall see. But what I know and I’m really conscious about is working so hard only to have little money left at the end of the day because I was unconsciously spending my money. Time is the only commodity we can’t have more of.  So, we all need to be very careful with the time we have left. 100% perfection isn’t possible, but even if I’m good 60-70% of times I will be able to save and invest more and possibly finally visit one of those distant places on my bucket list.

I hope you have made or are going to make your personal list, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed you stick to that list and your financial goals in 2024 as much as possible.

I’ll be checking back with my list in 2025.

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