So 2017 was the year of many things and with that a major break in blogging. It wasn’t something that was planned but life kinda took over and I had other priorities at the time. A lot has changed including a new job, moving away to a city on my own, living on my own for the first time and moving once again to live with a pretty great guy that I met in said city.
And with that in mind, the next few blog posts (and first of a many many months break!) I wanted to share some tips with you that helped me if you too are going through similar life changes/moments.
I loved living on my own and was so glad that I got the chance to do it. However as much as I love my own space; no fighting for a bathroom, eating what I want and when I want, not having to explain yourself, etc; the pressure of living on your own when you only have yourself to fall back on in terms of finances can be a little stressful at times, and it is absolutely ok to feel that way!
Below are a few hacks/tips that I picked up along the way that really helped; not all are ground-breaking but some stuff I really didn’t know and sometimes it is the things in front of us things that we completely miss.
- Council Tax – As a person living on your own you’re entitled to a 25% discount on your council tax bill which like most people I was completely unaware of. Visit your council’s website which will explain more and how to go about claiming your reduction; you have to put the claim in yourself as it won’t automatically be given to you. I found this a massive help; council tax isn’t exactly the cheapest and the reduction saved me approx £25 per month!
- The Microwave – Seen by some as the ultimate, non-disputed kitchen item that undoubtedly has a home in your home; hey those leftovers won’t heat themselves! However for me personally, as I was buying necessities for my humble flat, my cash flow didn’t quite stretch to the microwave. When you’re paying deposits, first month rent, and your bills are more all over the place than yourself during your period, it is wise to really look at what you actually use on a daily basis and what you can work without. I ended up not getting a microwave at all and to be honest I didn’t miss it.
- Sandwich Bags – Yep you read correctly my friend; the humble sandwich bag is a must! When it comes to food shopping (one of my most loathed tasks might I add) it is often cheaper and easier to buy in bulk but let’s face it, you’re not going to devour 10 burgers in two days – well except for those rare occasions *time of the month, boy trouble, just a general Wednesday*. And so splitting your meat up to freeze or keep chilled in handy sandwich bags ensures you get the most out of your food, resulting in less being thrown out as once again you’ve missed the ‘Best Before’ date due to having three unexpected takeaways that week.
- Read your metres regularly – Again this may sound so obvious but it’s easy to forget to read your gas and electric metres; weeks become months and you end up paying the fee set by the supplier based on an estimate. Supplying regular metre readings can help to make sure you are paying for what you are using. I did this and saved £4 per month; ok yeah so it’s not mega bucks but when you live alone and have one teeny salary to survive on, that extra £4 can be your hump day treat of a Starbucks chocolate chunk shortbread or a side of garlic bread, you know what ever takes your fancy.
- The water metre – If you live on your own, chances are a water metre will work out cheaper per year. Obviously if you are renting you need to seek permission from the landlord before having one installed but living solo tends to mean you use less than what you’re paying for if not working on a metre.
- Blend – Going back to food shopping and as we have already discussed it isn’t the funnest thing to do and neither the cheapest so again you want to make your hard earned (or just earned!) pennies stretch. It’s that thing isn’t it; you go with the intention of being healthy and buying every fruit and veg you can get your hands on, not worrying if you know the difference between your Lychee or your Kumquat. But will at the best intentions, it’s pretty difficult to get through it all before it starts growing new stuff or not looking as appealing as it once did sat on the supermarket shelf. So treat yourself to a blender and starting blending your fruit and veg into swanky smoothies and soups to avoid throwing your pennies down the drain and managing to make a few healthy meals in the process. A super cheap option from Curry’s here.
- The Hero Product – When it was time to leave and it came to getting my hefty deposit back (squeals of joy from my bank balance!), a point that was noted during an inspection was the mould in the bathroom around the shower tiles. Now let us all be real; a shower used daily will start to get grime and mould throughout the tiles even if cleaned, it is basic daily living. However as much as I cleaned my bathroom I couldn’t get this to shift and faced with losing some of my deposit over it was not what I nor my bank balance needed at that moment in time. So I found an absolute hero product that DID remove all the mould and grime in the shower and left my shower looking almost as good as new and left me with my full deposit back – high fives all round. The product in question costs around £4, Jeyes Smart Brush Mould & Mildew Remover. The brush on it is pretty useless and fell apart after a little elbow grease so make sure you have another alternative such as a metal scourer which works just as well. Also make sure the room is well ventilated and you use gloves; the product is very strong so read the directions before use. This product was such a great find and reunited my bank balance with my deposit and for that I will be eternally grateful!
- Renewal Contract Fees & Maintenance Fees – I had no idea about these two until I started flat hunting by myself. The renewal fee basically means each time you wish to renew your tenancy and stay put, there will be a fee charged – this is basically for admin time etc. It can be around £50 which isn’t too hefty on your wallet but something to bear in mind especially if you have a shorter tenancy agreement. Maintenance fees are usually for those who live somewhere with communal space i.e. a garden. Some places charge a maintenance fee on top of your rent for the upkeep of these areas. I was lucky as I didn’t get charged any extra but it’s always worth asking.