Happiness.....on a budget.

Now, I won't lie to you guys, I am thrifty. Few things make me happier than saving a few precious pennies. However, it could be argued that I am slightly obsessive about it...

I'll often go out of my way to ensure I take the cheapest option possible. That may mean an extra hour on a train, or going to that cafe a little further down the road just so I can get a stamp on the nearly-full loyalty card...and before I worked at my Waterstones, I'd shop regularly there because of their rewards system and £10 stamp 'n' save cards. 

However, there are some things that I can't not spend a little extra moolah on. For instance, every time I went food shopping at uni (with my £15 max spending limit) I'd always treat myself to a £3.20 pot of Whole Earth crunchy organic peanut butter. I'd also often treat myself to a new notebook or gel pen from Paperchase. And I'd convince myself that taking out £20 at the cash point en route to the pub once a week was justified. Then more recently I found weekly counselling was the best investment imaginable; £35 a week for an hour of talking through problems and then basking in the resulting relief for days and days...that was magical. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

This point leads me into the topic of this post: you need to prioritise your happiness, and part with a little extra money if it helps this excellent cause. 

So here are a few super-affordable ideas if you're looking for some extra light in your day-to-day life...things that always work for me, the thrifty post-grad...

We'll start with the obvious – for me, anyway – a good book. Taking a little cash out of your bank account, and then a little time out of your day, to read (or more like get completely lost in another world) is one thing I personally believe every person should do. It will cost you maybe £7.99 for a new book (or an additional £4 if you indulge in that Waterstones Buy One Get One Half Price deal...just sayin'). 

Next, another very predictable choice if you know me well: a perfectly made coffee. These days coffee can come in many shapes and sizes – and many varying standards of quality...so it's worth splashing out an extra couple of quid for a decent brew. Don't go to a chain. C'mon, you're better than that. I've written before about various independent spots I've visited, and how excellent they've been – try something new, go local, support small businesses. Also order something that may be slightly unusual for you – extra cream, a flavour you've never tried, two shots of espresso instead of one! It'll cost you maybe £3? Totally worth that for the taste of excitement – and of course the mad Instagram game a good snap before drinking will get you. 

Optional extra: sweet treats. This is essential for me sometimes as I am a purely black americano drinker, no milk no sugar no nothing, and so I need to get my sugar rush somewhere else. I personally opt for some cake - preferably in my local cafe Beanzz, made by the perfect baker Ms LeticiaBakes

Let's go a little bigger now, okay? A day return. You heard (or, well, read). For me, very few things are more exciting than buying a ticket on impulse and travelling on a train somewhere else for a day. Spending a minimum of 7-8 hours exploring a new town, city, maybe even country (Ms Eurostar, hiya babe)...it will cost you a bit more than any of my other suggestions, perhaps, but it will be worth it for the adventure and the space. Also, booking in advance – even just 12 hours in advance, I find – you can get a train ticket for half the price, provided you commit to one particular train. 

Next, something a little niche but nonetheless magical, a photo booth. With friends or on your own, it's always cute, fun and the best little boost to cram yourself in an automatic photo booth and let it snap you a few times. My personal favourite is a machine in Brighton that has a hamper of props and hats next to it; every time I visit my favourite little seaside city, I will go out of my way to use this machine. I love capturing who I am that day and how I am feeling about life. Usually the general vibe is 'silly'. I've also had some lovely times being snapped with friends in Berlin – they have so many photo booths out there on the street, and they only cost a Euro or two!

A set of 4 photos in one of these machines (in the UK) will typically cost £3. If it's any more than that, well that machine better have a good set of props or a snazzy DSLR camera. Don't let it rip you off. 

Now I feel it's time for a little Hygge-type injection (for more info on my love of Hygge and my diving into the Danish way of happiness recently, read this post!) - I urge you readers and happiness-seekers to buy yourself a decent scented candle. I recently treated myself to a Kew Gardens 'Wild Fig' pot of gorgeousness and having it burn in my room as I write this is mellowing me right out. Mmmmmm...cannot believe this level of chill only cost me £10. Having said that, I know it's a pricier candle - trust me, you can get amazing ones for half that! 

And finally, the ultimate and most often underrated happy-maker on a budget: a night in
Catch up on your recordings on the box (or get on the Netflix hype, surprisingly affordable for a never-ending source of entertainment tbf), cook yourself dinner - or order a takeaway, but if you're thrifty as I am it may be better to make do with what needs using up in the fridge. Then maybe if you're feeling sluggish take a walk down the road...to see what bags of sweets are in the £1 deal this week! Catch up on emails and texts and maybe some reading before turning in early, and getting some well-earned rest. Then I promise you'll wake up happy, too. 

I hope y'all liked my tips for getting happy (on a budget!) - please do tweet me or comment with any tips of your own. 

(ALL images by me!)


  1. You're giving off vintage Rory Gilmore vibes with your picks. (Speaking as a stingy bitch, I love this post.)

  2. Love this post Grace! 2017 is the year I'm going to be selfish and be all about me and I will definitely be taking some of this advice. Such a fab post x

  3. This is a lovely article and I feel cheered already! Books are brilliant, and if you're being really thrifty then rummaging in a charity shop or supporting your local library is also pretty feel-good.

    My other favourite things are bubble baths (with a Lush bath bomb if I'm feeling fancy, regular Radox if on a budget) and yoga, done in my pyjamas in the comfort of my own house, via a YouTube tutorial. Endorphins for fre!


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