In The Red: My own flat! Yay! Now, how the hell do I pay the bills?

And so, at last, I've found a place to live. After several long months of searching, several more of legal wrangling, and at least a week's worth of contractual negotiations, I'm finally installed inside my shiny new flat on Bethnal Green Road in east London. It's light, not too tiny and, while currently lacking one rent-paying flatmate, it is also – crucially – minus any blood relatives. I'll be independent. This, I should make clear, is progress; it hasn't been the case for very long.

Just over a year ago, I moved to London. What's more – and this is the important part – I moved in with my parents. I know, I know: it was a desperate measure. But then, I was pretty desperate: no job, no money and several thousand pounds of student debt. Lucky for me, I got a job, and with it, money (or some, at least). And while the emotional cost of life en famille was high, the financial one wasn't. Actually, it didn't exist. I was living for free. And eating for free. And getting electricity, television and the internet for free.

All of which makes my impending move just a tiny bit daunting. In fact, once you subtract my mortgage from my salary – not to mention the inevitable electricity, phone and internet bills – there really isn't very much to play with. If I want to survive at all, I'll have to be pretty crafty. And if I also want to actually enjoy myself, then it's time for some serious budgeting.

And, to be honest, I'm dreading it. Not only because I'm very, very bad at counting my pennies – which I am – but also because, well, I hate it. It's boring. So boring. What with all that scrimping and saving and never offering to pay, it's enough to drive anyone to a job in the City.

Even worse are the people who do count their pennies: sanctimonious, smug, to be filed right alongside religious zealots and exercise freaks. Everyone knows one, but nobody likes them. They interrogate you on the cost of your dress, or your shoes, and ask how you got to the party. They boast about finding cheap peanut butter and make you feel guilty for ordering the salad instead of the soup, frowning when you go for the venti over the grande – or tall, or small, or whatever bloody order happens to be cheapest that day. And now I'll be one of them. But on this particular occasion, I have no choice: it's frugality or broke.

And hey – at least I'm not alone. Thanks to the recession (or credit crunch, or whatever this sub-prime-induced, headline-spawning, gloomy economic state is supposed to be) everyone's at it. In fact, squint ever so slightly and you might even say that frugality is fashionable. Right?

Uh, maybe. At least the papers are full of money-saving ideas, be they growing your own vegetables, joining a book club, or – God forbid – making your own clothes. And it looks like there's plenty more to come; my in-box is rammed full of thrift-themed press releases, some rather less helpful than others (Throw More Dinner Parties! Spend Time With Your Money! Share Your Private Jet!!).

Which makes me think that, for all the economic doom and gloom, surely – surely – there's got to be a smart way to get by on the cheap, a way that allows people like me – young, sociable, perhaps a little too inclined to live beyond our means – just an ounce of fun. And if there is a way, it can't be too hard to find.

So, starting from now, this is how I'm going to live: in constant pursuit of the cheap and easy, be that by spending "quality time" with my money – or, indeed, by experimenting with more practical measures, such as finding a cheaper mode of transport than the Tube, and figuring out exactly what it is that makes my day that bit more expensive (Starbucks? The gym? A glossy magazine?), and by scouring websites, auction houses and second-hand shops for affordable gifts, and by pursuing ways to socialise that don't require a £15 cover charge. All in the name of thrift.

But one thing. No sewing. Oh, and no bloody gardening either.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

    Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

    Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

    £35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

    Day In a Page

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms