A piece in The Guardian caught the eye of my colleague the other day. It was written in response to the absolutely ridiculous (never mind insulting) idea suggested by Australian millionaire Tim Gurner, that if millennials just gave up avocado toast, they could save for a deposit for a house.
I’m a proud Guardian reader, and I think the author of the aformentioned article is great, but I was disappointed to read that yes, this millennial did seem to be throwing away an awful lot of money on things like unnecessary coffee trips. My heart sank as I realised the perpetually angry brigade will use this article to champion the idea that millennials whinge about being poor all while spending frivolously.
Now, I need to start by saying that right now, I don’t want to buy a house. Even if I had the money (or my parents did), I wouldn’t buy. Personally, I find the idea of owning property at 25 quite restrictive, especially when I haven’t been out of university two years and I haven’t 100% decided where I want to be or what I want to do just yet.
Now that’s out of the way, I wondered, what could I do to help to dispel the millennial spending myth? Well, for one week only, I want to let you into my bank account to get a taste of how a 25 year-old on a small salary actually gets by in the capital. And let me tell you, it ain’t all smashed avocados and takeaways. In fact, it ain’t no smashed avocados and takeaways.
THE RULE: I must spend exactly as I would in any other week, no cutting costs just because i’m writing it down to (proudly? Sadly? Pathetically?) display.
At the end of the week, i’ll calculate what i’ve spent, and look critically at where, if at all, I could’ve saved money. Then i’ll cry. Got it? Good.
God, Monday another week. How many of these left until retirement? Who the fuck knows, anyway; today is great because i’m bucking the system, i’m grabbing capitalism by the balls. Today, I am being taken out for a lunch meeting. I head to Boulevard Brasseries in Covent Garden for a delicious three course meal and I don’t spend a dime.
The evening is less glamorous. Rai and I eat plain pasta because we’ve run out of food. The bitch, Life, delivers our Tesco shop (ordered yesterday) an hour after we’ve eaten (and three hours before schedule). We snaffle biscuits to feel better about it all. We spend the evening in front of the TV. TV don’t cost nothin’. Until the Virgin bill at the end of the month, of course.
Tube: £5.80. Can’t be avoided. Must get to the place that pays for all this.
Great, Monday no. 2. Although, good news; the FTSE is down. The economic boffins reckon this is because big firms are worried about rising interest rates. I laugh. Rising interest rates suck for anyone that is paying a mortgage or readying themselves for borrowing, but is great news for people like me, who have about £5 in a cash account. Sometimes it pays to be worth absolutely nothing, i’ll tell you. Three cheers for the most minor victory ever.
The evening is, once again, spent in front of the TV. I have a shower and fall into a brief existential crisis; the water isn’t free, the food in my belly isn’t free, and the roof over my head certainly isn’t free, should we be entitled to anything free? Water falls from the sky, I could beat the system by leaving a big bucket outside and wash in that. Although, washing in a bucket would be rather unpleasant, wouldn’t it?
TOTAL: £5.80. A good day. I bring lunch to work (as I do most days) and so spend virtually nothing.
Hump day, finally (honestly, I don’t hate my job, i’m just having a bad week). Wednesday brings my colleagues’ birthday, and as her main squeeze and desk pal, it’s my responsibility to purchase a cake and card. It sets me back a frightful fee for a glorified piece of paper. Today is made better by my afternoon meeting; it’s conveniently at 3:30 so I head home straight afterwards, and I get a free biscuit.
Sainsburys: £4.80. The card costs more than the cake. No, really.
TOTAL: £10.60. A frustrating day for a person without money. But in fairness, it’s not your mates’ birthday every day. The big birthday spend will come on Saturday night, I audibly sigh.
Today is a long day, it’s my magazine’s awards night this evening. Despite the day lasting from 8am to somewhere in the region of 3am the following day (oops) I don’t spend much. The awards mean a free three course meal and copious amounts of free booze. Tomorrow won’t be pleasant.
Tube: £2.90. A ride into work, because…
Uber: £13.29. Because i’m a drunken fool I waste £5 cancelling my first Uber because I can’t figure out the app. Fortunately, I can expense the remaining £8.29 as I called the Uber from a work do. Winning.
Bar: £10. It seems that, in a bar I don’t recall entering, I spent £10 I don’t recall spending. Oh, me.
Sainsburys: £2.50. Breakfast for work – it’s ok, it’s porridge and will last a while.
TOTAL: £28.69. But, if we take off £8.29, i’m left with £20.40.
Holy shit this is how it ends. I spend my day comatose on my sofa, hoping for the sweet relief of death. As a result, I don’t spend a penny.
COSTS/TOTAL: Sweet FA.
I am overjoyed, it’s finally the weekend. Great news for my sanity, bad news for my bank account.
First up, the quarterly gas and electric bill is here. Actually, it came last week, but Rai and I thought it was too expensive, so took another meter reading that brought the cost down by around £100. Very savvy indeed. The bill now totals £166.11, which isn’t bad to say it’s been freezing and we’ve given in and put the heating on a couple of times, because these millennials are too poor to use heating, you know, normally.
More pressingly, it’s my colleague’s birthday night out, and it costs me a small fortune. Rai and I head to The Lexington in Angel to meet everyone. My heart physically falls out of my arse when I learn two double vodka lemonades total £17. I once again wonder why I bother to live in a city that so clearly doesn’t want me here. Rai and I head home at 1:30 to save ourselves a hangover, he pays for the Uber.
Gas & electricity: £166.11, split to £83.06 each.
Drinks in The Lexington: £46 (yep, that’s violent sobbing you can hear)
Nisa: £6.03. What can I say? I need some chicken wings and a Lucozade for the morning.
TOTAL: £136.59. Ouch.
Mine and God’s day of rest. I’ve escaped a hangover and clean my flat, have a bubble bath, drink lots of tea, watch a film, and cook something tasty. For the second time this week, I spend nothing.
COSTS/TOTAL: NOTHIN’ BABY.
Weekly Total Spend: £179.19, fuuuuuuuuuck.
Now, let’s look a little more sensibly at this. My gas bill is a quarterly pain in the arse, I just so happened to have to pay it this week, but usually, i’d be £83.06 better off, giving me a total spend of £96.13, which feels a little more reasonable.
In terms of wasted money, Monday and Tuesday were great, I literally just spent money on my commute into work. Wednesday was ok too, again, it isn’t my colleagues birthday every week, so i’m not going to beat myself up for buying her a card and cake. Thursday was the first real – doh – moment. Clearly, I did not need to spend £10 in a bar that I literally cannot remember being in (for all I know it was entry, not drinks, I literally don’t remember), either way, I should’ve gone home. The £5 wasted on cancelling the first Uber is again, a symptom of being a drunken idiot. In total, £15 wasted. Although (and I don’t mean to keep making excuses, but), our magazine puts on these awards once a year. The vast majority of Thursday evenings are spent drinking tea and watching Question Time.
Friday was obviously brilliant for my bank account, ditto Sunday. Saturday night is tough, because yes, if I was saving for a house, I could’ve gone out entirely sober, but because i’m not even close to putting money away, it doesn’t feel important enough to me to make those kinds of decisions because I would literally just never have any fun, ever, for decades on end. I will admit, however, that the £6.03 spent on chicken wings was, however delicious they were, a waste.
In total, I definitely wasted £21.03 this week, which makes me feel a little ill. If i’m being very strict, then I suppose you could argue that I wasted £67.03, which is pretty phenomenal.
I don’t want to disclose my salary because it makes me want to cry, but let me tell you this – I barely make it through the month, and if I do, I might have a tenner left over. Yes, I take some points squawked by baby boomers who seem to have forgotten their first house cost the same as my yearly rent – the fact is, we can all save more money if we really want and need to. We could avoid drinking unless it’s a special occasion, I could cycle to work, we could have friends over and make dinner together rather than go out to eat (a tactic I regularly employ and often prefer), but what we cannot do, is force house prices to come down, and wages to inflate.
Our generation really is financially buggered. Really, you need rich parents that live within a commutable distance to your workplace so you can sponge off them for a few years. Honestly, if you think otherwise, i’m sorry, but you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I’m off to re-evaluate why I have a masters degree, ta ta!