::I have a new job. After undertaking (or perpetuating) the most painfully drawn-out, red wine infested winter job search known to man (RIP, November 2010-May 2011), I have a job. A real job, with responsibilities, a telephone, swank offices, and a little bento box place across the street. And before you're getting too confused - I can hear you saying ''It's just a job, ffs!'' - know that up until now I have suffered a string of pathetically disparate, very lowly paid roles that tended to sap me of all confidence. Unless you've worked for minimum wage, or have crazy debt, or both, you might not understand the very physical pangs of guilt experienced when spending money on anything other than essentials. A caramel latte has become imbued with a regal luxury. My savings account will no longer gape blankly back at me. But before you think I'm going to go all Caligula on the last Friday of every month, you couldn't have got it more wrong.
Where once the thought of a £300 High Street shopping spree would have me near delirious with joy, involving hours and hours wasted on planning outfits from Zara and Topshop, now the thought leaves me cold. If before you had asked me what kind of person buys fancy coffees and almond croissants every morning, I would have jealously answered, ''A rich one with high cholesterol''. No, I don't want to make loads of money only to spend it on things and dining out. The real joy about making tons of cash every month is the power I have not to spend it.
So I'm not going to modify my lifestyle completely. I've learned to live off £100 a month, after all bills/rent/travel card/food is paid. When you've got that tiny amount to spend, you'd better make sure that dress fits perfectly, and that you really, really need that £5 glass of wine (the latter is a bad example, as I cannot think of a time I wouldn't actually need a glass of wine, apart from maybe between the hours of 6am-10am). While I don't have to lower myself to only spending a drop of cash on myself each paycheck, I can still live comfortably, albeit sparsely. The secret is that before it was an enforced tightness with cash; the fact that now it is a lifestyle choice makes it all the more satisfying because now, I have the choice.
So goodbye to panic attacks when viewing my online bank statement, goodbye to tears wept when spending £4 on nail polish (this actually happened, ask the Polish beauty counter chicks at Boots in Liverpool Street Station), and hello to a life that's a bit more comfortable. But not too comfortable. They can snicker all they want - at least my caramel latte tastes way, way better than theirs (not a euphemism).