I’m quite poor at the moment – ok, not so poor that I don’t have access to a computer and therefore can’t type this blog, but in Western/London/middle class/all the people I know and am friends with terms, I am not a rich human.
In a recent conversation with a friend I said (AS A JOKE)
“I’ve found a new way to save money.”
“Go on…” he replied.
*a long-ish pause*
“It is technically called stealing…”
The thing is, when you don’t have money immediately available, you start to panic. There is a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that could be hunger or could be fear, or perhaps an unhealthy mixture of the two – “I’m hungry but oh God, do I have enough money to buy any food?” Chances are, the answer is “no, dufus, not really, that’s why you’re hungry and afraid.” The fear comes from already knowing the answer. And it’s not good.
Here’s the other thing – I like good shoes, food, clothes and accessories. I like good quality make-up. I like (to an extent anyway) going to a gym, exercising and feeling smug about it. On a less snobby, privileged level I simply like going out with my friends. The problem is, all of these things cost money. Whether it’s topping up my oyster card so I can, y’know, go anywhere (I topped up £10 today and the man in the newsagents told me that should get me around for one day. One day? Ten whole pounds will only cover your travel for a day!? The transport isn’t even that good here! Where is all that money going?!) or going out straight after work but not having brought dinner so having to buy some…it’s costly and stressful. So I’ve put together 14 handy tips on how to be poor but not look it.
As my good friend Rachel says: Fake it ’til you make it babe.
1 – Make use of free gym passes. You probably have a friend who goes to the gym. They get a couple of free day passes. Some gyms do 3-day free trials. Use them. If you can’t get one of those, go along with a friend, stand at the reception desk and be a bit annoying but friendly. Basically just hang out there until they let you in. Be a pain, but not a security threat. It really helps to go with a friend who is actually a member.
2 – Charity shops. It sounds obvious, but seriously you can get some actual gems in these places. Choose your areas well and you’ll be wearing designer things you couldn’t afford if you had a solid income. Plus then you’re giving to charity so you get to shop guilt-free.
3 – Be really nice to people on make-up stands – they control the free samples. Benefit are great for that sort of thing. Also MAC do free makeovers on the understanding that you’re going to buy the products after. I have it on good authority that “I’m just going to get my mum/friend as she has my purse” is a line that works a treat. Handy hint: that’s your cue to run away.
4 – This one might be questionable on the classy front but I’ve been lucky a few times here – those self service machines that we all hate? Yeah, sometimes they mess up and you get free food. That’s what big corporations get for replacing humans with machines. Saving grace of this one? You’re (kind of) sticking it to the man!
5- Walk to as many places as possible. This one is handy because it saves you money on transport (previously established to be extortionate) and is especially good for when you need to exercise but you’ve run out of free gym passes! It also often doesn’t take you nearly as long as you think it will – you can walk suprisingly far in an hour.
6 – Visit your mum. She probably has make-up she doesn’t want. And jewellery. Vintage pieces. Same rules for the grandma (if you’re lucky enough to still have one around) apply. Also they love you and want you to have the nice things you, at this rate, will never be able to afford.
7 – Buy magazines. They often have sample products. and are cheaper than actual products. £2.99 for a rubbish magazine and a free mascara/nail polish/lip gloss/moisturiser worth £10-£15? Don’t mind if I do!
8 – Ebay ebay ebay ebay – sell the things you don’t want. WARNING: you may also end up spending money. Ebay is dangerous for that sort of thing.
9 – Run a clothes swap and invite richer friends (so…anyone).
10 – London is full of free events. Go to them. If the weather is decent you can even walk to them. There are a lot of art galleries and museums that have free entry. Culture is classy. Go absorb it.
11 – Need a hair cut? Been 6 – 9 months or longer? Go to a model night at a hairdresser. It’ll take a bit more time but it’ll be much cheaper to have your hair done. Worth it.
12 – This one is a slightly sore subject for me as I once missed out on this by literally 2 minutes. At midday, Pret a Manger give away any leftover porridge because they stop selling it at 12. Either that or they throw it away. Go at midday. Pick up the porridge. Or ask for something you know they don’t have and then ask if they’re still selling the porridge. Either way, get free porridge. This is good because it’ll keep you going for hours. Those pots are really big.
13 – I have it on good authority that the Yo Sushi Selfridges food counter reduces things to 50p before it closes. This is also true of sushi in certain branches of Waitrose and M&S. Do not be afraid of the posh food places – they do good reductions when the food is no longer good enough for the usual wealthy clientèle.
14 – Go on dates – this was suggested to me by a friend and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It feels a little cheap to do it but equally, if you’re single, why shouldn’t you get a free drink/meal in exchange for your company. Oh wait. Did I just make you sound like an escort? Hmmm. Maybe the freebies of dating should be the happy bonus of being single and having the right motivation to go out with other humans. Either way, there’s a debate to be had about the ethics of this one – I’ll go into it another time.