It is widely accepted to talk about fitness, healthy food and self-care. But conversations about financial wellness — which is crucial to well-being — remain in large part very muted. Even while it doesn’t seem like a taboo topic, talking about money still often carries a stigma, but Well + Good Checks + Balanced The series aims to help end this stigma. Each month, one person shares their income, living expenses, and what they spend on their favorite healthy habits.
This month, *Alicia, shares how she saved up enough money while living in New York City to quit her job and move to London. She now lives there with her husband, whom she met shortly after moving in, and she gives a summary of their joint expenses, and how she puts up with her favorite healthy habits.
Keep reading to see how Alicia saved enough money to move from New York City to London and what her expenses look like now.
Alicia, 31, Digital Marketing Specialist, London
Income: $70,000/year. I’m from New York City and was living there and working in PR when I started having symptoms of burnout. I really wanted to change my life and started dreaming of living in London, where my father’s side of the family lives. I decided to start saving enough money to really achieve this goal. I was earning $64,000 a year and did everything I could to save it.
I saved $1,000 a month by cutting expenses in any way I could, including drastically reducing how much I went to buy food and drink, go shopping, or take anything other than the subway for transportation. I allowed myself $200 a month for expenses like going out at night or shopping. It also helped me that I worked in college and graduated with some money in my savings account.
Two years later, I had $30,000 saved and asked my boss if I could take three months off so I could go to London and give it a try. He agreed, and I went from July to August 2016, to stay with my half-sister who lives there. Towards the end of my stay, I met my future husband. We kept dating after I got back to New York and my goal was to save more money and be reunited there. In 2019, I quit my job, brought all my furniture to my parents for storage, and officially moved to London.
Now, I am working full time in digital marketing for a local government body in London. Me too late I launched my own company, a digital marketing company geared towards women entrepreneurs of color, to help them build their businesses and understand digital marketing. Combined, I make $70,000 annually, and the majority of that money comes from my full-time job. My husband is a teacher and he earns $55,000 a year.
Mortgage loan: $1,000/month. My husband and I have a two bedroom and one bathroom home near central London. We split the mortgage in the middle, $1,000 a month each.
Recurring charges: $181/month. I pay $85 a month for what is basically property tax, so this is one of my biggest monthly bills. My phone bill here is much cheaper than in the US, only $12 a month. Other than that, I pay $18 a month for internet, $18 for heating, $20 for water, and $20 for electricity. All those bills, my husband and I split evenly, so this is what I pay my half for. As for transportation costs, they were almost zero during the pandemic because I was working remotely. I also pay $8 a month for Disney+. I use my sister’s Netflix account, my husband’s Amazon Prime, so I don’t pay for it. I also got an Apple TV for free for one year when I bought a new laptop, which was a nice perk.
Business expenses: 3000 dollars/year. Launching my own business was definitely an investment. I paid for a logo design, website domain provider, and trademark to copy the mark, and register it to be an official business – totaling about $3000. Part of what helped me pay for it was that I was on an episode of UK sweep supermarket She won £3,000 ($4,174). The most expensive part was registering it as an official act.
food: 350 dollars/month. Since I make more money than my husband, we decided I would pay for our food. I do grocery shopping at Tesco, which is a grocery chain. I don’t have any dietary restrictions, so I only eat what I want most of the time. I love Italian food – especially pizza. My husband does the cooking, but I do the majority of the cooking and meal planning. We go to Tesco every two weeks, and spend $100 each time. We eat out quite a bit, so I make $150 a month for that. There is really good Indian food in London, so I like to have it.
Fitness: $22.50 per month. We bought the Peloton during the pandemic, which was $2,495. With shoes and taxes, I think it came to roughly $3,000. We paid it in full when we bought it to avoid having a monthly bill for the bike. Subscription is $45 a month, we split it in half, each paying $22.50. Other than Peloton, I really like to dance and use YouTube to find free dance videos to follow the exercises. I also live near the park, so sometimes I go for a run. I really want to buy some snowboarding boots and start trying them out too. I just bought a hula hoop, which was really fun to use.
Beauty: 800 dollars/year. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I do take great care of my hair and eyebrows. I get eyebrow threads every six weeks, and pay about $9 each time. For my hair, I like to buy a lot of natural products such as conditioners, oils and many brands that I like like melanin hair careIt’s not easy to find in London, so I buy it in bulk from the US Before the pandemic, I’d go to the salon every six weeks to braid my hair, and the price was $180 per visit. In terms of makeup, I don’t buy it often – maybe a few palettes a year. For example, there is a file Urban Decay Naked Palette I like. All together, I probably spend $800 a year on eyebrow, hair, skincare, and makeup products.
Self care: $20/month. Baking is one of the biggest forms of taking care of myself. I love making great cakes and experimenting with different flavors and textures. I also watch Netflix to relax and numb my mind. Besides, one thing I like to do for myself is buy bubble tea. It’s a small, affordable luxury that makes me happy. I also have a one-line a day journal that I like because it’s less stressful for me than keeping a traditional journal. I think it would be really fun to go back and read what I wrote a year from now.
Travel: $4,100/year. Since the majority of my family is in the US, travel is something I have to budget for. The pandemic has made travel very expensive because you have to pay for COVID-19 tests before leaving and entering the UK ($100 per test) and I have to isolate for 10 days after returning to the UK, so I have to budget for this. My husband and I will be traveling to New York this summer and staying with my family for free, but we still have to pay for our travels, food, entertainment, COVID-19 tests and quarantine accommodation. We budgeted $3000 each for these expenses. Additionally, to live in the UK I must keep my visa valid, which is $1,100 per year.
Budgeting and keeping track of where my money is going is important to me, and I have an Excel spreadsheet that helps me stay organized. Savings gives you the freedom to not be afraid to try the things you really want to do. At least that’s how I try to live my life. If there is something important to you, then you should look for it.
* Last name withheld.
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