As I ponder the possibilities of living a pared-down life to help me realise my dreams, I’ve been thinking about the many ways I can spend less and still feel look and feel good.
I’ve spent over fifteen years building the life I have and the finances to support it. I’m by no means extravagant; I don’t go on amazing holidays or buy millions of clothes every weekend. But I do like quality things, from my watch through to my shampoo and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve developed a penchant for nice ‘stuff’ since I turned 30.
I had an epiphany when I was 29: 30 was the time to allow myself to spend money on clothes that hang properly on me and aren’t see through, have my hair cut at least once every two months and use nice make-up that doesn’t give me spots.
Now at 33, its become habit. But you don’t have to sacrifice everything to lead a less financially dependant life. Yes, I know ultimately they’re all material things and they don’t make you happy per se, but we all know that in the daily grind of everyday life unfortunately brings, they help.
So, here’s my top tips on feeling great over 30 without a great bank balance.
1. You don’t need to buy books, you can borrow them.
I have seven borrowed books stacked up on my bedside table ready to read, borrowed from my friends. I’m also a big fan of libraries. In Zürich if your German isn’t great, there are libraries with English books.
2. Invest the money your spare cash in your health & fitness
Living in Switzerland has taught me the value of spending some time and money on your wellbeing. I double up here and work to the rule that you must speculate to accumulate.
I don’t waste money on a gym membership, instead I invest in an amazing trainer here in Zürich, who also doubles up as my physio for my knee injury and has a holistic approach to fitness; so massage is included! I also pay for a swimming abonnement for the year, which works out very cheap and go swimming twice a week.
Some see it as a luxury – I see it as a necessity. The aforementioned clothes hang better, so you don’t need to spend as much money on them. When I’m feeling under the weather, the massage with some lighter exercise gets me back on track. It’s social and I get to practice my German. It’s my weekly hiatus and I would rather keep this than go away on holiday!
Exercise can be free too – I walk as I don’t have a car and it doesn’t cost anything.
3. Learn to thread (and dye) your own eyebrows
One of the best things I ever did. It saves me a fortune. It takes some practice, but like hair and make-up you get there. I’m happy to give lessons to anyone interested :).
4. Don’t go shopping on winter weekends, go to the mountains (or if no mountains near by, the sea or countryside)
If you ski, it’s expensive. If you shop, that’s more expensive. Winter weekends can be boring and it’s too tempting just to go to the shops. Whatever the weather, being outdoors is fun. Even in the rain, the beach is cool and it’s a bit alternative to enjoy bad weather. In the mountains you can walk, or just think; you don’t have to ski that often. I’m going to do more this winter, my half-fare card will be useful.
5. Take up blogging or painting
It’s free and takes up time, which is great if you’re bored. It also stretches your creativity and exercises your mind. More free exercise!
6. Take holidays at home
You can just do something different. My friend just came over for a long weekend and we spent it sunbathing at the badi. It was like being somewhere in the Med, but cheaper. Having friends over makes you see a different side of where you live.
7. Go for a more natural hair colour
Bold colours take maintenance – so do bold styles. You can still look great without spending all your money on hair maintenance. Go for a shade a little nearer to your own – it doesn’t matter so much if you can’t afford a colour every four weeks and it always suits you. If you want something more drastic then think about a colour that fades well on your hair – e.g. red hair fades well back to brown, without looking hideous and you can maintain with some foils along the hair parting. Or just put it in a beehive.
8. Get a great pair of leggings
Or more… in different lengths and colours. My sister (check her out her blog) has taught me the value of leggings. She has had them as a wardrobe staple forever and knows a fair bit about living a pared-down life.
They are cheap and a great replacement for jeans, we all know you can’t sacrifice jeans-quality after 30 and that comes at a price.
They go with anything – you can wear them for work with long tops and shirts and our staple black tailored jacket. Casually they look great with t-shirts, jumpers and long cardigans.
In winter you can wear them with long boots and with a dress over the top. In the summer you can wear cropped versions with a nice vest top (also cheap, layer two to stop that see-through effect) and still look classy. For a night out, you can wear with some nice heels or sandles. Fail-safe.
This concludes my list for today and I’m feeling positive about paring-down. And if the going gets really tough, I’ve always got my leggings!
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