Why I’m sick (and tired) of ‘lifestyle guilt’

Primark cosy striped jumper

Let’s talk about ‘lifestyle guilt’

“I’m so sorry, I wish I could come to your birthday drinks but I’m super tight on money right now and I need to save every penny!”

“Yeah, I bring my lunch into work every week and it saves me SO much money, such a lifesaver!”

“Does anyone actually still get coffee out? It’s so expensive, I just can’t justify it”

I’ve found myself saying at least one of these phrases once a week, and if I’m honest the only reason I’m so focused on saving my money, rather than wasting it on unnecessary luxuries is because I feel like I have to

There’s so much pressure to make good financial decisions. On a weekly basis articles crop up with tag lines stating “I saved £200 monthly by never socialising, only eating Tesco basics grains and walking two hours to work instead of getting the tube” or “Jane and Paul bought a house aged 21 buy living at home for free and getting their parents to foot their food and petrol bills” 

To me, it sometimes feels like splashing out on a Wagamamas lunch or Starbucks coffee are the ultimate sin, and by indulging myself in things I enjoy I’m being a stereotypically financially unstable Millenial who would rather splash the cash on frothy lattes than save up for a house. 

But…if I’m brutally honest on my salary owning a house is NEVER going to happen. Especially not in London. So, if home ownership isn’t even remotely in my grasp why do I still feel the pressure to stop spending on the things I love in favour of squirrelling away every penny and pound for a rainy day?

Lifestyle guilt AlbertineSarah

Let’s be brutally honest about savings

Ok, real talk, let’s break down what I’m earning and what I’m saving. 

I spend…wait for it…just over £1,000 on rent and bills to live in London. That leaves me with under £600, £100 of which I will always save. So that’s £500 left, and within that I pay for travel and food and subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify. 

Now, could I live at home to save some extra money? Sure, but in reality, once I’ve forked out to travel to and from work I’m still only able to save an extra £500 which would mean I would probably be living at home for 15-20 years before I could even afford a deposit on a house – LOL!

Also, could I get rid of the Netflix and Spotify subscriptions? Could I turn down every social invite in favour of evenings at home? Could I flat out refuse to go to business meetings unless they occurred within a walking distance of the office?  Maybe…but honestly what kind of life is that?

Even if you take the ‘saving for a house’ fantasy out of the equation, what on earth would I be saving the £500-600 a month for exactly? A nice holiday? A new laptop? I really don’t think either of those things are worth sacrificing a better quality of life or my independence. Also, why on earth should I expect my parents to put up with me lodging for free?!

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I am completely and utterly fed up of the idea that we all have to be scrimping and saving ALL the time. Shouldn’t we be more focused on living in the moment and enjoying our lives rather than saving for tomorrow? What if tomorrow doesn’t come and all we’ve done for years is put money away ‘just in case’? 

Now, I’m not saying burn that savings book and spend all you have, I’m just saying I think the ‘lifestyle guilt’ should ease up. It’s ok to splash out on cocktails (and a cheeky Mcdonalds on the way home) and you shouldn’t feel anxious about occasionally ordering a Deliveroo to the office when you’re swamped. 

It’s ok to spend money, in fact I would encourage it. I think we need to all ease off on the pressure to save and the ‘lifestyle guilt’ we feel when we let our hair down and get a bit spendy. There’s nothing wrong with your enjoying your life, and sometimes it’s better to live in the moment than wait for your fantasy of what the future will be. 

Photography by Fifi