Seeds of the future
Fiscal restraint. Two words that have never echoed strongly with either me or the Greek nation state. Casting financial woes aside like festive wrapping on Boxing Day, I have always been a profligate spender. Never quite enough to join the Greeks in their sea of debt, but sailing so close it was sometimes a mere ebb away.
Sydney is an excellently rewarding city for excess and I, having both a fondness for all the finery and frippery afforded by a spendthrift nature dipped in unadulterated gluttony, and the high-paying job necessary to sustain such a binge mindset, went at it. Tom Ford. Prada. Furla. Philip Lim 3.1. Smythson. Alexander McQueen. More pairs of glasses than days in the week, more frocks than sunny Sydney days and more shoes that one would ever hope to wear with a single pair of feet.
Champagne and cheese plates. Single malts and cured meats. Negronis and Aperol spritz’. More food than sense and enough alcohol to render anyone senseless.
It’s never been a mystery which of the sins was mine. And so there I was, 2 years into law, 1 year shy of escape with a bank balance all zeros before the decimal, none after.
So much money swept out on a tide of Net-A-Porter and Friday night drinks.
Until one day, coinciding with the realisation that I may be in the wrong career, came the one that perhaps I couldn’t afford any thing else - or rather, that nothing else could afford me.
How many artists do you know who dress habitually in three hundred dollar silk pencil skirts? To swap pleated silk for sketching charcoal I realised I would not only need a skilful amount of luck, I would need to get far better at doing with far less.
I should note here that this isn’t any sort of serious budget guide. There’s no breakdown at the end with how to cook cheap cuts of meat or make your loo rolls last longer. My sort of budget was the privileged sort afforded by choice and formed entirely in amending scurrilous prior habits of excessive consumption.
My biggest realisation – and best tip – was that it is less helpful to stop doing something than it is to re-shape it. Re-direct the energy. So I swapped online shopping for selling on e-Bay. Time intensive, mildly addictive, it provided the same rush as sale season on The Iconic.
I’ve since moved on to re-imagining existing clothes. The white jeans I bought after reading a blog and never wore due to my lack of red car and blonde perm are now enchantingly patterned (rather unintentionally; n00b dyer over here) in olive and moss green tones.
I’ve even gone from having my hair coloured & cut every 6 weeks to allowing it to fade out in a multitude of red tones. Probably that last one wouldn’t work for everyone but I think the others are fairly generalist – reassess what you have, pass on what you don’t want, re-use what you do.
Oh and I’ve swapped my lattes for instant. Which I understand is its own sin. But it, in conjunction with the other barely budgetary measures described, have netted me over 17k in the last 6 months. I am currently aiming to save 3k a month, which, with rent and wine, is still ambitious (if you do some basic math you will realise I haven’t managed always managed it).
That said, if I can stay on track during the silly season I will possibly-probably-maybe-mostly be able to afford art school.
Which will be my greatest expense to date.