Tuesday, 4 November 2008

London Financial

Money is one of those things that can singlehandedly cause you stress and keep you up through the night. Right now money is one of my biggest concerns. In not receiving a great deal of work from my agency, money is increasingly an issue. London is expensive – overwhelmingly so. I try to keep my costs minimal, but there is a certain amount of inevitable investment that comes with living here. Sometimes unexpected costs are accrued. Prior to my leaving Canada it had not been my intention to have to buy a new laptop – unfortunately a week before my departure, the writing was on the wall – my Acer was not coping well. In terms of my possessions, my laptop is one of my most important – it is my vital link to the outside. In the long run, it has saved me a ton of money in phone expenses (thank goodness for Skype!). If I called home on my mobile, or had my Mom and friends call me, the phone bills would likely be up in the hundreds of dollars by now. After a couple of months, I can safely say that the cost of my laptop will be written off by the savings of using Skype (don’t you love my logic?). I can justify spending the money on the laptop, because I have a personal need to be connected to society through it.

Other expenditures I have incurred in moving to the UK included the cost of a partially new wardrobe. While loosing weight has definite long-term health benefits, the downside side is oversized clothes. Not that I mind shopping for a new wardrobe – it is fun to change appearances. Unfortunately it is expensive. Especially when you consider the cost of professional clothes. I have opted for a fairly monochromatic wardrobe; my professional clothes are blacks and shades of grey. My “normal clothes” are jeans, casual sweaters, etc. I must admit, I have had a bit of fun shopping in London. The last time I was in England for any length of time I couldn’t shop in conventional stores – now I can. I have become a huge fan of Next (which isn’t that bad in terms of cost; a more expensive Europeanized version of Old Navy), Dorothy Perkins, and H&M. Luckily Top Shop is always overrun with people, so I stay out of it. Like the laptop, I incurred the unexpected expense of having to purchase a jacket; which of course had to be somewhat professional. Jackets are never cheap are they? Can I justify it?? Ya – I was cold. On Sunday I bought a skirt…why? Because I realized that I had brought a bunch of brown tops with me (for work) but had failed to pack any matching bottoms. I am sure it had been my plan to find brown trousers, but between work and life I never got around to shopping in Canada.
Then there are those inevitable expenses. My mobile phone, which thanks to Skype, isn’t costing me a fortune. Actually, I am through Virgin Mobile, so I do receive a certain number of rewards (including free weekend texts – not that I really text anyone!). Oh yes...and my internet connection.

I have internet through My 3. I love it – it is a simple USB stick that plugs into the side of my computer. For $30.00 (not pounds) a month, I can have internet anywhere in the UK. Yesterday I was sitting on the train to Carshalton, and was able to plug in and check my email. Convenient (and Leanne loves her convenience). Like I said, I need to be connected. I need Skype. I can justify my internet cost. The only downside is that I have a certain usage allowance – so I can’t do a lot of uploading or downloading, That’s alright though – who needs all of that clutter?

The other expenses?? Food. I keep my food costs relatively low; just eat a lot of sandwiches, though I do miss vegetables, and meat. Coffee. I need my coffee. Transportation. I can justify my transportation costs though – I am spending about $90/wk on transit – in Canada I would be putting about $150/wk into my gas tank. It balances.

The roughest cost incurred has been the hotel. I had not intended in living in a hotel for a full month. Staying at the Pimlico Inn has been interesting, problematic and periodically almost comfortable. It is probably the least expensive place that I can stay in terms of hotels, especially in this area. Unfortunately it is bleeding me badly. I am still unwilling to rent a flat, mainly because I still refuse to sign a contract, or commit to any long length of time. My future is far too uncertain to commit to a flat; but staying indefinitely in a hotel is absolutely impossible. On Sunday I will be moving – into a six bed dorm room in a hostel; all so that I can maintain the convenience of being located next to Victoria Station (and maybe guarantee myself an additional half an hour of sleep a night).

I am not a novice when it comes to hostels; I have spent a fair bit of time staying for short durations. Long term is another thing altogether! I have fair amount of anxiety about this decision. Part of me is excited to have other people around on a regular basis. Part of me is nervous because of the early hour at which I have to begin my day (I hating having to be “that” person in the hostel!). Then there is the safety issue – always having to watch over my “stuff”; the luggage issue – some of my “stuff” will be going into storage at the hostel. Now for the cost benefit – I will be saving almost 200 pounds (yes, pounds) a week. Maybe that knowledge will cure some of my pain. There is a definite difference between staying in a hostel and living in a hostel. Only time will tell, right?

Now for that other cost thing – whether to stay or go. I have decided to go back to Canada on December 22 – but not indefinitely. I will go home for the duration of Christmas break, and into January. I have come to realize that living in London, over Christmas, and then into January when supply work is patchy, is going to launch me back into money-induced panic. It will be cheaper for me to go home for a few weeks, then to continue to live here. And maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep.

Last week I was asked if my debt keeps me up at night, or if I worry about it. Like you wouldn’t believe! The reality is, if I didn’t have credit cards, I couldn’t live right now. I wouldn’t be able to eat or live or anything else. Isn’t that a horrible means to an end?? Being in school, and having a continuous line of thankless jobs, hasn’t exactly provided me with the most stable financial outcome. So in order to live, I have to continue to go into debt. One day it has to turn around, doesn’t it?

1 comment:

BigYellow said...

Hi LC,

I hope the move from the hotel to the hostel went smoothly!
I was very interested to read your post as I was living between two countries a few years ago too, and know how tricky it can be, especially as i seemed to lose things during every move, which was highly frustrating.
I now work at Big Yellow and happen to come across people like you and me quite often and they turn to us to provide some stability and safety for their belongings.
At Big Yellow we are very keen to come to the rescue and talk to people about their specific space needs. Drop me a line if you'd like to discuss this further. In the meantime you can also check our website at bigyellow.co.uk
I'd love to hear from you!