If you’re like me and live each month just about breaking even (thanks, London rent), then the week before payday reads like a chapter from Hard Times. If you’ve never experienced this – then congrats, you’ve probably got your life together – let me break down for you how the other half live. Our main aim is to break even each month, which means keeping our bank balance above the sweet spot (zero), so we don’t go into our overdraft and get charged before glorious payday.
Here are my top tips for sticking to your pre-payday budget, while still living a little.
1. Suss out your subscriptions
Why do these always come out at the end of the month? I often check my balance a week before payday and think – cool, a hundred pounds? That’s flipping loads. I’ll easily get through the week. But lo and behold, up pops a stream of monthly outgoings – contact lenses, Netflix, phone bill. A smarter person would move all these direct debits to the beginning of the month, but the next best thing is to make sure you’re aware of how much is due come out in that last week, and plan accordingly.
2. Plan free activities
Just because it’s the week before payday and you’ve turned down any social gathering including dinner or drinks, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your spare time housebound. London has plenty of free things to see and do. If you’re art-galleried out, why not meet a friend after work in the park? Or if you have no friends, just go for a run by yourself. The possibilities are endless.
3. Meal prep
Buying lunch and dinner out is an absolute killer. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll get far more for your money spending a tenner in Sainsbury’s than you will in Pret. Try cooking a big lasagne or pasta dish on Monday – you can eat that for several days. It might not be a week of culinary delights, but at least you won’t have to resort to those 8p noodles you ate as a student.
Yeah, it’s not glamorous but desperate times. This week is a great time to drop in at your parents for a hearty (free!) home-cooked meal. Or for your boyfriend/Tinder ‘friend’ to take you out on a date night (you’ll repay the favour the week after payday, because hasthtag equality, and also that week you’ll be living like a Queen).
Don’t underestimate your workplace either – the tea, coffee and toilet paper are free. If your office is anything like mine, you’ll have some sort of unhealthy treat table that’s inexplicably always stocked with mini flapjacks or exotic sweets. And don’t forget to turn up to ‘tea and cakes for Developer Mike’s birthday’ to wish him a good one while you freeload on Victoria Sponge. Paupers gon’ paup.
5. The few days before payday are key
If you’re used to watching your figures, you’ll have some sort of idea of how long different companies take for transactions to come through – which gives you a bit of extra time to play with. You might have noticed that your local Tesco takes longer than Sainsbury’s for example. Or that contactless payments come out of your account faster than chip and pin. Sneaky.
Finally, it’s here! You get paid, and spend a week treatin’ yo self, buying rounds and generally making it rain before you start the countdown to the next P-day. Ah, the circle of life.
When will you ever learn?