Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Top Austerity Tips

Yesterday everybody’s favourite child-faced millionaire, UK Chancellor George Osborne, announced that his super fun deficit reduction measures are going so well they are going to continue indefinitely – or at least for the next six years.

To recap, the British economy is screwed for several reasons, including:

  • Gordon Brown single handedly bringing about global recession (which is sort of impressive, if you think about it)

  • Last year’s Snowmageddon

  • The knock on effect of the royal wedding

  • The Eurozone Crisis

But it’s all good, because after six years of austerity we will be laughing. That or we’ll all have emigrated.

I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has been taking personal austerity measures for ages. To be honest, I was sort of hoping that by 32 (the age I’ll be at the end of this project) I might not have to anymore. Obviously I wasn’t expecting to have a secure pension or anything frivolous like that, but I thought maybe I’d be in a position where I’d be able to take the odd holiday / run a car / have a child.

Still, I’m pretty lucky to have as much as I do in the current climate and I wouldn’t want to take it for granted. There follows a description of the austerity measures I have been following since 2008, which should hopefully prove invaluable to any other unmarried, childless graduates earning the dizzying wages of 12-15k a year. Follow these simple rules and you too will manage to scrape by.

1. Rent a flat with a minimum of three other people. It’s basically like a considerably less interesting version of The Young Ones. You might think you want to downsize and live a little bit less like a student now you’ve graduated, but be realistic - you can’t afford it.

2. Walk or get the bus everywhere, even if it’s massively inconvenient and has you commuting 3 or 4 hours a day. The price of maintenance, petrol and parking are not worth it.

3. If you must have a holiday, make it once a year and confine it to a long weekend in the UK. Well, we did get a megabus to Belgium for a long weekend about two years back, but the recession wasn’t as deep then.

4. Nights out / trips to the cinema / gigs should happen maybe once every two months. It is far more cost effective to sit in the flat with a cup of tea and a crappy movie.

5. Dispense with aesthetic frivolities like haircuts, makeup, your tattoo obsession, etc. You have had the chance to experiment with your style, now you must eat.

6. Put off registering with a dentist at least until you discover a hole in your tooth the size of a thumb.

7. Do not under any circumstances attempt to heat your home. Wear a dressing gown over your clothes instead.

8. Replacement of old clothes and shoes is manageable within reason – although it’s best to keep everything because layering up will be necessary in winter. I have bought at least two pairs of jeans this year alone (2 for £25 in Dorothy Perkins, yeah), and up to four dresses in online sales. Confessions of a Shopaholic eat your heart out.

9. Food can be pricey, particularly if four years of student-hood has left you pining for a sensible diet. Worry not, sirrah - there is no real need to buy fresh fruit, veg or meat. Just have frozen or tinned.

If you stick to these rules you may even be able to save a little bit of money – although it might be best to stick it under the mattress, given the dubious morals of the banks. Obviously you’ll never have as much as Mr Osborne’s £4million fortune, no matter how austere you are. But it’s a start.


  1. My husband was fortunate to find a job based in another country that he could work at from this country a year ago, so the need for austerity has mercifully lessened its grip on our household, but when we graduated (just as the recession started in 2008) it was a different story. I'm still in austerity mode with some things so this made me smile... I'm wearing my dressing gown over the top of one of my 2-for-£25 pairs of DP jeans as I type!

  2. that's when I graduated too! I thought it was hard then, what with taking 6 months to find a job, but I really feel for people graduating now... Good work on the dressing gown/jeans combo, all the cool kids are doing it! ;)

  3. Ha! I'm sitting in my dressing gown with a blanket wrapped around me as I type this! (I am wearing jeans and a Thin Lizzy t-shirt too as I have to keep up my standards!) I'm proud to be striking today but it would have been warmer in the office...

  4. Brilliant, so it's unanimous - for the next six years all right thinking people in the UK will dress like this!

    (The office was warm today, but too quiet - except for when the demo was on and I could hear distant bagpipes and shouting.. Reason enough for me to join a union, I think, quite aside from the whole supporting the action thing.)