10 things to buy as soon as you’re off the minimum wage

Gherkin ashtrays are this season’s must-have item.

After you graduate, generally you tend to do some jobs. The majority of them will be dull and/or not really what you anticipated doing as a freshly baked genius hot off the coals of university. Then, at some point, one of those jobs will come with a salary that is perhaps fifty pence – maybe even a pound or more! – above the minimum wage. Congratulations! You’ve done it! This is the taste of real success! You start to marvel at a state of affairs where each month you spend what seems like far too much money only to be dazzled when – why, what’s that in your bank account? It’s more money! Granted, it may only get you so far as to cover rent, electricity and  a selection of bean-based dinners, but it feels like riches. And if you’re lucky enough to have a bit extra after those essentials, it’s time to start investing in things that every self-respecting professional should possess.

1. A Philips Sonicare toothbrush.
I am in no way being paid by Philips to say this, but this toothbrush should be a human right for anyone in possession of teeth. It vibrates your teeth into such jawdropping cleanness they feel better than any dental hygienist ever managed; cleaner than they have ever been since they first burst out of your gums. It’s like putting your tongue to the rim of a beautiful porcelain teacup. The actual brushing takes getting used to: it feels like a very intense exaggeration of that funny buzzy fizz you get on your lips when you play the kazoo. Nonetheless, it’s worth it. In just two minutes (two and a half, if you have the ‘Healthywhite’ model with a tooth-polishing finale) you can magic your mouth into fresh, clean, minty joy. It’s the best thing in the entire world. No, I don’t get out much.

2. The third cheapest wine
In first year of university, we become infinitely familiar with the cheapest wine, dumped into sangria or kalimotxo if it is really too unpleasant to drink out of the bottle. After we have grown up a bit we graduate to Second Cheapest Wine, which feels awesome for a while because let’s face it, only chumps order the cheapest wine – god, how naive you were! Once you start to earn an actual salary, however, you can buy the third cheapest, or maybe even whichever damn wine you like (as long as it’s by the glass – come on, it’s not your birthday), just pick whichever one you like! And the nice thing is that the more you try, the more you realise which ones you do like, so it’s easier to differentiate in future beyond simply knowing whether you prefer white or red. Cheers!

3. More Parmesan
Parmesan is what I like to call a Magic Ingredient. It’s probably the kind of thing Severus Snape would give a respectful nod to. These are ingredients which even in small quantities make anything taste immediately wonderful: parmesan, chorizo, Schwarzwalder Schinken, balsamic vinegar…there are only a few out there and I won’t reveal them all now. But parmesan is damn expensive, and yet the only thing better than parmesan is more parmesan. Now is the time to indulge.

4. Proper shoes with proper soles
Look at your shoes from Primark or Topshop. Just look at them. Aren’t they ashamed of themselves? Their soles aren’t even 5 milimetres thick! They have no grip on the bottom! Hell, those Primark dolly-shoes look like they’ve been soled with a single slice of hamburger cheese! How dare they. The best thing you can invest your money in is shoes with a good sole. A good sole should make the shoe feel a little heavy, it should be more than half a centimetre thick, it should be made of nice solid rubber and it ideally has a grip to it to navigate unexpected snow. It’s not the shoe itself that dictates how long a pair of shoes will last you; it’s the sole. And a good thick sole will make your shoes last for years, getting comfier and comfier with every wear, while also making walking easier and making it less likely that you will fall over and smack your arse.

5. A good-quality umbrella
So that you can immediately leave it on a train or in a supermarket. This one is a joke. No matter whether you are a recent graduate or Donald Trump you should never spend more than a fiver on an umbrella. The probability that you will lose or break it increases with every pound/euro you spend on it.

6. Slightly more expensive shampoo
It doesn’t have anything more to offer in terms of electrolytes or silk extract or pro-keratinol-A, but it smells about a million times better than cheap shampoos. That’s the only difference. But think how nice it is to smell something nice in the shower after you’ve just dragged your carcass out of bed and are about to subject it to a whole day of toil.

7. Dried mushrooms
This is another Magic Ingredient. They impart such rich, round flavour to anything you can mention, and they are a godsend for vegetarian cooking. They also cost more than solid silver, so you might hesitate, but it is worth it, and a pack lasts for ages. An added bonus is that you can now salvage any awkward situation when guests are at your house by grabbing the pack from your shelves and shouting ‘GEEZ, there’s not MUSH ROOM in here!!!’.

8. A hoover
Because what if your mum comes round?

9. Decent sports clothes
Well, I haven’t got round to this one yet because I like to think I’m recycling by exercising in out-of-date company-branded T-shirts that can no longer be used as my company’s uniform (not to mention giving my firm free advertising by showing us to be such a dynamic and youthful company). Also, sports clothes are incredibly dull and/or unpleasantly revealing. But I like to think that once you have the money and are firmly out of puberty you should be able to exercise in something adult and elegant which claims to do things like ‘wicking’ to a superior extent.

10. Your friends a drink.
When it comes down to it, the best way to spend your money is on experience and not on stuff. And I don’t really mean round-the-world travel or uh-mazing music festivals; I mean that being off the minimum wage is a lovely opportunity to have proper fun with the people you enjoy being around. Buy them a drink because you think they’re great and you want them to have fun. Let them buy you a drink if they feel inclined to return the favour. Go to restaurants and order olives to share at the beginning because it’s pleasing to have something to chew on as you get stuck into the chinwaggery of the evening. Go to the cinema more. Have a second coffee when you meet up. Allowing yourself to say yes to extra little things like this is what makes working full-time worthwhile

Disclaimer: I do not accept responsibility for any debt or bankruptcy incurred by any or all of the above advice.

Rose T