How to have fun on a budget

Doesn’t matter how much money I have or make, I’m in my mid 20’s and from South London, whatever I do by default is on a budget. With summer upon us, if you’re from the UK or travelling here, I’m going to share how I do the most using less.

First you need friends who also move on a budget. There’s no point expecting to save money over the summer if your friends would rather spend every weekend at the Ritz or partying in Mayfair. This summer the most expensive things we’ll be doing is £50 on The Ends Festival and a £45 on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea; due to my love of this childhood story. Alone, I may look at doing a weekend trip abroad but travelling is not always expensive. When travelling I do it on a budget and always keep a lookout for deals and make use of all methods of transport. I plan to have a less costly Summer by hiking, walking a lot and parks for picnics and Museums (with free entry).


I enjoy eating out but I can limit myself and save by going on picnics or carrying a packed lunch from home. I can avoid cocktail (sometimes) and expensive wine bars in exchange for buying a bottle of wine or putting money together with friends for spirits and mixers. If we go out to eat, we don’t have to go overboard. I admit, this summer I’ll be going for Brunch a few times because I love it but I don’t need to break the bank and go to the most expensive place or order everything off the menu. I like to travel so, to avoid the costs of trains, coach is a good way to go, it all depends on where you go and what day of the month. Make the most of travel cards, discount codes and any student deals; make them your best friend. There’s no embarrassment in saving money. I still use my student card and no matter where I go I always ask ‘Do you take NUS?”. In addition due to my current role I now have a Blue Light Card that provides additional discounts. Check newspapers and the internet for deals around the UK for restaurants, travel or anything you wish; Groupon and Last Minute is a good place to start.
If you wish to go through summer alone or maybe with your partner, again nothing needs to be expensive.

Doing activities alone is probably the best way to explore and save money at the same time. In addition, make use to 2 for 1 discounts or travel cards of you are planning activities with your partner. The possibilities of having an amazingly cheap and cheerful summer are endless.

Do you know your family?

A year ago I went on an ancestry website to learn more about myself. I am lucky enough to have grown up my grandparents (on both sides) and hear all their stories but, I’ve always been interested in going as far back in time out of pure curiosity and to share our history with future generations.

I have always been aware of where I come from and my Bajan Gran has done her job to tell me everything about her childhood, how she came to England and what her parents were like. Also being Bajan she seems to know everything about everyone. My mum too has been great in sharing her memories and knowledge with me. Understanding our culture and history has always been important to my family and something I had to know about from a very young age.


I did my ancestry test back in October 2018 and to this day, the results still have me in awe. Doing the test is considered expensive to some but if you think about how they get the results, it’s really worth the cost. In March 2019 the technology updated meaning my results are considered more accurate as shown below. It’s extraordinary to see that I’m not just from Barbados and Jamaica (with an Indian twist) as I’ve grown up to know. Black people all know or should know history enough to know we originate from Africa, but I never imagined the results saying Benin, Congo and Cameroon. The 1% European Jewish and Germanic Europe still throws me as I wasn’t expecting that but it’s still an amazing find. My mum always swore we had Spanish blood…when I dance others also say this so it was incredible to see there’s actually a link.

My friend has also recently done a test and would now like to be known as ‘African Queen’ due to her very surprising results. Whether it’s you or your friend finding out about past generations it is beyond exciting and interesting and I believe we should all find out where we are from; whether it’s doing a DNA test or speaking to your grandparents about history. I can now go forward knowing if I ever have children or if my nephew asks I can give as much information as possible and say more than just “I’m Jamaican and Bajan”.

Updated results
Part of the map

Change of diet

Usually, when we feel like rubbish we are drawn towards rubbish food (all the fats & carbs), like heartbroken Bridget Jones with a tub of ice cream but realistically binging is the last thing we should be doing.

When you’re already feeling down and out fast food and snacking lessens motivation and changes the ‘can do’ attitude to a lazy why bother. From my experience, working constantly and having no time for myself I would grab a microwave meal or foods that were cheap and easy (McDonald’s, Burger King etc) but then I began putting on weight. So by this point, I wasn’t only stressed and negative due to work and other issues, I was then self-conscious, losing confidence and becoming anti-social because I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. This then turned into a cycle hard to break.

There are many studies out there that say junk food is linked to depression. If you think about it, fruit and vegetables provide our brain and immune system with the vitamins and balance we need whereas junk food have chemicals and we don’t necessarily know what’s in them; ingredients being somewhat addictive.

Healthy eating for me and many others I know have made a big lifestyle difference. I am currently trying a 1200 calorie diet for the month, which is not as easy as it sounds. On top of that, the cost of living healthy in comparison to cheap thrills is crazy. I know numerous people who have literally cut the crap, gone vegan and never felt better; glowing in fact. I can never go vegan. It’s really not for me but substituting takeaways and snacks for smoothies, rice cakes, salads etc has lifted my mood and made me feel a lot better within my own body. Foods like avocado, turkey, types of fish are proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression (all foods I eat). They improve the state of mind, boost energy levels and are said to be positive for chemicals within the brain.

Changing your diet is incredibly hard; I’ve failed many times in the past but challenge yourself to a health swap for a week and see how you get on. If you can change your eating habits at least 2 days a week, you’ll be able to continue with a healthy life no problems.

The world is MY oyster

I love to travel. When I was at University I made a Bucket list and was adamant on going to Iceland after graduating. I didn’t care who with or how I just knew I deserved it after all the stress and hard work. So I went to Iceland a few months after graduating and loved it. For over 10 years now, I’ve always wanted to go to China. I still haven’t pursued that trip but I’m sure I’ve got enough time to make it.

Personally, I like to travel on average 3 times a year, even if its a little work trip. If I’m in a different country enjoying myself, it’s a holiday for me. A friend and I discovered we liked to travel a lot, we get along well and we’ve been travel buddies for years (she’s also my best friend which helps). Over the years we’ve discovered it’s better to travel as a couple instead of a group, to avoid hassle and drama. Having a travel buddy is important; travelling, in general, is important for your sanity and mental health. The bother of travelling to and from work, work itself, family, relationships, life, in general, can be a strain but taking time out, whether it’s 2 days or 2 weeks makes a massive difference.

If you prefer travelling alone or would like to, I believe that’s highly beneficial. When you are with someone else you need to come to an agreement on what you’re both going to do, where you’re staying, where to eat, but when you’re travelling alone, you just wake up, get ready and go. Not too long ago I travelled to Amsterdam alone; my first solo trip that didn’t involve work. I absolutely loved it. Due to always being extra organised I went with a list of everything I wanted to see, restaurants to try and booked a few tours; with an extra person, I don’t think I would have seen most the things I did.

Most people don’t like travelling alone due to fear of being alone, looking like an obvious tourist or being too embarrassed to eat alone, get lost alone or try and speak a different language and feel stupid. Don’t let these emotions stop you from accomplishing something so life-changing. You may have anxiety travelling alone (like I did with my very first work trip) but I promise you will come home with such confidence and want to do it again. I started off small and would advise that at the beginning before venturing out towards long haul destinations alone, but with your travel buddy go anywhere and everywhere.

Leaving College Soon-Now What?

University? Apprenticeship? Work? Unsure?

It’s ok to not know what your next step is. Even when I was at University I didn’t know. I didn’t know whether I made the right choice, whether I should have got a job and worked my way up the ladder or if I was good enough for the career I wanted. When leaving College you are guaranteed to have teachers, family, friends, even social media telling you what you should be doing. My clear and blunt advice to you is this: Don’t listen. Leaving Sixth Form, I was young and did what was expected of me; to go to University and leave with a degree. Especially being in a black household, University is seen as the only choice, as if it makes you elite. I always wondered what my life would have been like if I did what I wanted to do.

I strongly advise you to think about what you want to do with your future and work backwards. Sounds strange right? People around you will back off if they know you have a plan in place. For example, if you want to be an English teacher, do your research on what qualifications are needed and what routes you can go down. There’s always more than one way of getting to the end goal. Talk to other teachers and people within the education sector. University is not the only route for this role. Keeping with the example, you may look into Apprenticeships, Vocational courses, Volunteer work and Internships. Alternatively, you can take a year out and teach abroad (look at Gap 360). Spend time understanding the role and if its truly something you want to do. If you need to take a year out in order to find out what you want, that’s ok; you need to find your feet.

If you are thinking about University, think about the variety of courses around your chosen field. I ended up graduating from a Hospitality course but there were hundreds to chose from, from BA Event Management to BA (Hons) Travel & Tourism; some Universities offer more than others. Picking the right University for you is very important. You need to think about whether you would rather stay at home and commute, move out, go to University or do Open University. There’s so much out there. Whatever you choose, once you settle into it you’ll be looking for a sense of belonging. I went to two Universities. At my first, I was surrounded by people I already knew, loved the nightlife but I was commuting from home and felt no connection to the course or the career possibilities it would provide. When I changed University I found my sense of belonging. I knew no one there but left with new life long friends, lived on campus, got into the different nightlife and environment and loved every moment of it. The University you pick will shape your future however, like me and thousands of others you can transfer and put your studies on hold if you need to.

Be open to all options and opportunities. I’ll repeat again, start with research and stop listening to what everyone else wants from you. Be selfish and focus on yourself; only you can create the path for your future.

If you need a mentor/coach based on the topics above, please contact me directly via Let’s Talk or Instagram Solobutterflyy.

If you need assistance creating or changing your CV and with Interview techniques, please contact Mimi’s CV; Instagram mimiscvs or email mimiscvs@gmail.com

Graduating Soon-Now What?

Graduate scheme? Job? A black hole?

The time of the year when every lecturer and parent is making it seem as if getting a job in your chosen field is a piece of cake.

The uncertainty after University is real. As soon as University is over we are expected to find a role within the subject we have graduated in. If you graduate in Business Marketing, you are expected to at least be a Marketing Assistant; if you graduate in Hotel Management like I did, you are expected to run a Hotel because apparently, it’s that easy. It is so easy for every adult to say what you should be doing because it sounds like a good plan to them. Well, let’s just say, even at age 24-25, 90% of graduates I know are still trying to find their place in the world. Some have chosen gap years…that have lasted 3 years, others chose to push back adulting and do Masters Degree due to not finding work or not knowing what to do. I started applying for work and graduate schemes two months before I left University. I believe I applied for well over 200. Unfortunately, no Advisors/Staff on campus informed me or my intake that we were applying for graduate schemes at the wrong time. In my head I thought ‘ok it’s March, if I apply now I could start in the Summer’ but that wasn’t the case. By the time I started looking at graduate schemes I had missed deadlines and would have had to wait another few months to apply for the next group intake.

Point– Research graduate schemes and find out the opening and closing times for applications.

Fortunately, I was pretty confident back in University and instead of waiting for opportunities, I emailed companies directly. This led to me finding paid work experience in Central London, starting the very next day after completing University.

The truth we need to take into account when searching is: the location we are looking to work in, the economy and timescale. We must also question what level/role we want to start in. Even today, with all my qualifications and years of experience I still tend to pick entry-level roles because rejection plays heavily on my mind; entry-level roles provide a sense of security.

I advise you to start thinking about your career towards the end of second year. Gain knowledge, base your dissertation on the area you are interested to go into. The research you find for your dissertation we show how you actually feel towards the role you are looking into; whether you are passionate, find it boring, find some hidden statistics. Make use of your career advisors on campus and network amongst lecturers and students. There’s always one lecturer that you click and have banter with. Question them. Ask what they have done in their career, who they know, what they think about your career plan or lack of career plan so far. Network on social media as there are always people looking to hire or collaborate.

You don’t have to go straight into a career. Think about travelling, work experience/internships or simply combine the two and work casually abroad. Give yourself enough time to work out what path you want to go down and write out your plan. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty to change/amend the plan multiple times.

If you need a mentor/coach based on the topic above, please contact me directly via Instagram (Solobutterflyy) or the Let’s Talk button.

If you need assistance creating or changing your CV and with Interview techniques, please contact Mimi’s CV; Instagram mimiscvs or email mimiscvs@gmail.com

SPEEDY EXPERIENCE

So we went speed dating for the 1st time…

As this experience includes a close friend who did not want to be named, she’ll be called Miss X.
Me: What words would you use to describe our speed dating experience?
Miss X: Just weird.
Both: (Laughter)

Surprisingly for an unsuccessful first time, I would try it again, just not the same one. It was a strange experience but I went not expecting it to be anything other than awkward and left feeling socially confident and with that warm feeling of accomplishing something new.

The event was located in Brighton and hosted by a local organiser I called Love Doctor (purely because I forgot his name and I’m sure he said people call him that). The concept was to spend 6 minutes with each guy and after 6 minutes, we had to text the Love Doctor yes, no or coffee; coffee meaning, hmm I’m not too sure but about you, maybe we should meet again. Unfortunately, when we entered the room there was only two other women and seven men. Being a small group we could tell this would be over soon but looking around the room the saying ‘the sooner the better’ came to mind.

Before the event Miss X and I agreed we would make this into a fun social experiment and write down 1) Who we both would like (to see if we liked the same guys) and 2) Words we thought best described the experience. As you can tell from the beginning of the blog, the only answer I got was ‘Just weird’ and I agreed. Once all was over and done we both looked at each other, laughed and called an Uber as soon as possible. Sadly, none of the guys left a memorable mark. Miss X found a few cute in an ‘I feel sorry for you way’ whereas, due to my blunt personality every guy was a straight NO for me. Some came dressed very casual and didn’t seem very interested in holding meaningful conversations and others seemed like this was a night out for them and somewhat full on. I personally wasn’t attracted to anyone there physically or mentally and felt as if I had to drive all the conversations just to give through every 6 minutes.

So, you are probably thinking, Nadine why would you go through this again. Well, never let one experience prevent other experiences similar to it. Maybe if we went to a speed dating event in London, hosted by a bigger company, had a different target audience or a different theme it might have been more interesting and successful for us. We didn’t meet anyone we would have liked to meet again but we felt happy knowing we put ourselves out there and gained confidence, speaking to people we would never speak to in general. Mentally it was a success.

I would 100% recommend leaving Tinder, Bumble, your multiple boyfriends/girlfriends for the night and have some fun speed dating. You might not leave with the person of your dreams but you will leave laughing with your best friend and making memories. You never know, you may find someone you like and end up exchanging numbers or continue drinking throughout the night.

Little Note! I know people who have done speed dating with a twist by going to a Dating Against Humanity or Jenga event – give these a go! I will be next time.

Preparing myself.