Lifestyle: Redressing The Balance (and the budget!)

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Five months ago we set out our intentions for how we wanted to live after our amazing long-term travelling experience. It’s easy to say what you want to do, but actually doing it is a totally different matter and It’s safe to say the last few months have had a strong sense of ‘back to life, back to reality’! Returning to our old lives was a shock; mortgages, bills and high cost of living has been tough. Knowing that our outgoings are so high has definitely pushed us to make some big changes so that we could still afford to live in London, but with a significantly different lifestyle and outlook.

Our summer holiday, a week long wild camping expedition in the Lake District for £150

Our summer holiday, a week long wild camping expedition in the Lake District for £150

Luckily I was able to pick up a 4 day working week teaching at my old school. I wanted to spend the extra day off starting a new project with Ali, a new business we’d spent months dreaming about. Ali decided not to return to work applying her full focus to developing products under our Studio Mali name. With only one of us in employment, we’ve had to look to new ventures for cash and to rein in our spending, planning everything from our daily diets to what we can afford to at weekends. Luckily, London is full of free things to do and we both cycle to reduce our travel costs but planning food has been a lot more challenging.


Beans; surely the cheapest, healthiest, food source one can buy? To cut costs on food we’ve taken meat out of our diets and only had butter and cheese for treats. Those beans I mentioned are prepared in large batches which feed us for 2/3 dinners and lunches and are super healthy. Along with beans and pulses, we have been eating loads of whole grains and fresh fruit and veg, not only because is it healthy but it’s loads cheaper, especially when you do your fresh food shop at Aldi! We bulk buy long lasting food in a big monthly online shop, which is delivered for free during the day. Our luxury item is coffee that we buy in large batches so its cheaper, we have 4kg of coffee beans in the cupboard! We’ve been trying hard to avoid the pub, which has been a doddle in the warm summer but so much of what is special about the British winter happens in pubs, so we’ll likely have a little splash out during the darker months.

 
Ali’s weekly sourdough…It takes 3 days but it’s so tasty and made from just flour, water and salt!

Ali’s weekly sourdough…It takes 3 days but it’s so tasty and made from just flour, water and salt!

 

We have had to invest some of our savings into the business to buy a laser cutter, materials and to start organising the admin.  But with that equipment we managed to create 6 products and develop the shop on our website, build an Etsy shop and sold a few in markets, whilst also stocking some in a shop in Stoke Newington, the Design Store. Creating all these new objects has been a steep learning curve. From developing our brand, to how we market it and how we tell our story across social media, there’s literally always something to do. Ali has been exceptional in the amount of research, development and pure grit she has put into Studio Mali, maybe we should rebrand as Studio Ali!

One element of home life that has linked back with our travelling times has been Airbnb. It’s been a total revelation, we’ve loved having tourists, students, house-hunters and even wedding guests come and stay with us. Our visitors always teach us something new and love the fact we can always help them get the most out of their stay, we’ve been fully booked all of September and October! If you’re in London and you’d like to stay with us then here we are. Airbnb has given us the extra income to take risks with the business, we’d recommend it for both fun and finances!

 
We loved meeting Jiayi and Yuan through Airbnb. Discovering that we visited Yuan’s home town of Dali last year!

We loved meeting Jiayi and Yuan through Airbnb. Discovering that we visited Yuan’s home town of Dali last year!

 

So…. redressing the balance, life now feels very different to our 2017 pre-travel lives. A little more random, a bit riskier and certainly more exciting. The balance has come from assessing what we wanted from London life; to be more creative, to inspire others to make changes and to have some more adventures ourselves. Well we’re doing it, we’re poorer but happier and I truly don’t know what our lives will look like in a years time. Once the business kicks off a little, we will be able to get away a bit more often, even a weekend out of the city would suit us nicely. I imagine this might read like hell for some, but for us it’s bliss.  Bring on the beans! 

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