Simon shares his personal experience of coping financially while living alone during the cost of living crisis.
Apologies in advance, but I am going to talk about the cost of living crisis. Yes, I know you’re probably completely fed up with listening to people banging on about how tough it is at present, and you probably have no interest in reading yet another take on the situation, but before you go hurtling off to another page, let me try and win you over.
I am going to give you my own unique take on the challenges of living alone, as a neurodivergent, during the current economic predicament. Whilst the standard advice you get on the topic is excellent and invaluable, I will be going down a more personal path.
So don’t expect me to tell you to turn your plug sockets off or batch cook food (Check out this page and do those things anyway!). I’m going to give a few quirky insights into how I’m managing to cope financially while living alone.
1 The magic of thermals
Without wishing to descend into hyperbole, I can honestly say that thermal clothing has changed my life! Until the start of this winter, I had never owned a single piece of thermal underwear (I bet you’ve never read that sentence in a blog before!). But thanks to my mother, I am now the proud owner of thermal tops and underwear.
This may sound pretty trite, but it has been a complete game-changer for me. To my brain, thermal clothing is almost like some kind of superhero costume. When I don my thermal attire in the morning, I become immune to the cold. Minus 8 outside? Pah, that’s no problem at all. Heating not on, despite the frost outside? Doesn’t bother me. Plus, because I live alone, I don’t have to contend with a cohabiter insisting that the heating is switched on all day.
You may think I’m over-egging the point here (and you’d be right!). I am aware that there may be a psychological element to this. Perhaps my neurodivergent brain is wired into thinking that my thermal clothing is more effective than it really is. Who knows? But what’s certain is that life is much warmer, and heating bills are much lower, thanks to my amazing thermal wear.
2 A sure bet
As money becomes tighter, the importance of having a side hustle continues to grow. And the good news is that there are literally hundreds of side hustle avenues out there. Maybe you’re ace at a certain craft activity. Perhaps you are a great short story writer. You may even love walking dogs. The possibilities are endless.
My side hustle is matched betting. In simple terms, it involves cancelling out the risk involved in placing a bet by betting against that outcome at another bookmaker. You do this to exploit free bet offers and other promotions without risking any of your own money. Confused? So was I when I started, but my brain loves disappearing down rabbit holes, and matched betting is a vast network of rabbit holes. Better yet, it’s not really gambling, so it comes with virtually no risk attached.
Not only does this appeal to how my brain works, but it’s great for the inevitable ‘downtime’ that comes with solo living. I can spend entire evenings reading up on the subject and placing matched bets. I can make anything between £300 and £600 per month matched betting, which makes it an invaluable addition to my monthly income. For all intents and purposes, it’s a hobby that makes me money.
Am I suggesting that you take up matched betting? Not necessarily. You must carefully consider your skill set, how your brain works and what you enjoy doing. That will help guide you towards your perfect side hustle.
3 The game of life
I love games. Board games, app games, sports games et al. I love a fun challenge, and I’m very competitive. So what on earth does that have to do with the financial crisis? Simple, I try to gamify my financial activity. Let me explain.
For a start, I’m completely anal over my monthly spending. Being self-employed means that this monthly income can vary. As soon as I know that amount and my monthly outgoings, I set myself a monthly target for spending. Ideally, this target leaves me a degree of flexibility, as ending the month on £0 would cause me great anxiety.
Then I set myself specific targets for areas such as food shopping, driving and social activities. If my shopping budget is £200, then I’ll religiously spend no more than £50 per week. I’ll meticulously keep track of my spending as I go around the supermarket – shout out to supermarkets with mobile self-scanning devices! If I go over, I put certain items back. If I’m underspending, I’ll treat myself to a bottle of wine or something similar. It may sound OTT (and it is!), but my brain thrives on challenges like that. I’m far more likely to stick to budgets.
I apply a similar approach to my social spending and other financial areas. As I live alone, I find this approach especially helpful in controlling my spending and adding a layer of interest to an otherwise mundane subject.
4 Don’t forget to have fun
Living alone during a financial crisis can be tough. It’s easy to get into a position where you are concentrating your entire financial efforts on ‘getting by’. In some cases, that’s necessary. Life doesn’t always afford us the luxury of frivolous spending.
But whenever possible, I try to ensure I have at least a small budget for social spending each month. I don’t regard spending money on a couple of pints with a friend, driving to the countryside for a long walk or a ticket to a football match as frivolous. I regard it as essential for my personal wellbeing. Eliminate these things, and I’m certain my mental health would nosedive very swiftly.
If it’s a particularly tight month financially, then I try to go into ‘Lockdown 2020’ mode. This means arranging plenty of Zoom evenings with friends, local walks and online quizzes. I try to maximise my social interaction to ensure my brain stays healthy and I don’t get into a maelstrom of loneliness and anxiety. If I can afford to spend money on achieving that, then that’s money well spent, in my opinion.
As I mentioned in my first article, all solos are different. What works for me may be completely unsuitable for you. But hopefully, I’ve given you a few ideas and provided some insight into how my brain works to help me manage living alone during the current financial crisis.
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