Catching the bus
Tomorrow I am going to Bristol. This, in itself is not unusual, my other half is from Bristol so we’re down there quite a lot. What is unusual is that I am travelling down there by coach.
I don’t travel by chauffeur driven cars or catch black taxis all around London, I have neither a private jet nor a helicopter, all that aside I have to admit that I’ve never really considered National Express a viable travel option. ‘Cheap travel’ for me is a super saver return on Great Western and, even then I don’t like choosing my return journey in advance.
It’s all different now however, because now we’re budgeting. We’ve come to the shocking realisation that there’s not much money down the back of the sofa, my furniture and clothes are of little value, and I would quite like to keep my organs rather than sell them on the black market.
After years of earning a more than decent salary it’s a rude shock to discover a) that I have saved very little, and b) I fritter money away on all sorts of rubbish. This is the kind of thing that budgeting makes you aware of.
I’ve realised that, while I’m no Immelda Marcos, I think nothing of buying a pair of shoes in my lunch break. I’m not a caffeine addict yet I probably spend at least £30/week in coffee related retail outlets. I like to think of myself as immune to cheap retail advertising tactics but can’t deny that I’m a glutton for the variety of ‘buy one, get one free’ offers that line the queues at supermarkets. Add to that the fact that I’m almost incapable of spending less than £30 a time when I go into chemists (even though I only went in for £2 toothpaste), budgeting is more of a struggle than I initially expected.
It’s all quite a novelty at the moment – watching what I spend – and I would go so far to say that I’m secretly enjoying myself (within reason), I do however see the not so enjoyable in my immediate future:
- Bringing in packed lunches to work
- Getting the bus to work (as opposed to the tube)
- Getting the bus home after a night out (as opposed to a taxi)
- Not going on a night out
- Saying (after a meal) I’m only paying £x because I had the cheapest thing on the menu
- Asking “how much?????” when paying for my groceries in the corner shop
- Not going to the corner shop
- Digging clothes out the back of the wardrobe and claiming that it feels like “shopping in your own bedroom”
- Looking up where the local Lidl is while forgetting what my favourite aisle in Waitrose looks like
- Checking how many minutes I have left with my mobile network provider before picking up the phone
All this is about as familiar to me as the Koran is to the Chief Rabbi, and some of it (notably #1 and #5) fills me with horror. Luckily I have two things in my life that will spur me on. One is that I have the most frugal partner in the world, an expert in eating for free, with the patience (of a saint) to the get the bus between Hackney and Chelsea every day. Two is a 3 storey townhouse in St Ives which overlooks the ocean.
I’m finding out that having a really good reason for making the effort is all it takes. Things that have always been under the ‘No, Never!’ list suddenly don’t seem that much of a trial. After all, we need to be able to pay that mortgage when we eventually get down there and if that means sacrificing a few coffee shop coffees, and missing out on a few dinners then so be it.