I think money is always a concern for everyone but especially as a student or someone in the early stages of a career. Having moved away from home a few years ago, I now understand the struggles of balancing rent, bills, food shopping and travel with socialising and buying clothes.
With financial year recently ending, I got my P60 through showing me how much I’d earned since I joined the company I work for part time in October. My first thought was ‘where has all this money gone?!’ I couldn’t believe that I’d earned that much and yet had so little in my bank account! So here I am trying to get my spending on track and save for a summer holiday. These are my 6 tips for doing the same.
- Make a budget and find a way to actually stick to it!
An obvious but surprisingly difficult one! Start by working out you monthly income/student loan and take away rent, bills, gym membership etc. and see what you’re left with. Then work out how much what’s left is per week. From this, work out a reasonable amount to save each week and work out your weekly expenses from what’s left eg. how much you can spend on food shopping, transport, socialising, eating out etc.
It’s all well and good working out these numbers but you need to find a way to stick to them. Maybe you take out the money you can spend each week in cash and only spend that or transfer that amount into a separate bank account to use. I use a Monzo card where I transfer my weekly budget to it and use the app to track all my spending and set spending goals.
- Track EVERYTHING you spend
It can be really hard to know how much you spend when you have a debit card, credit card, Paypal account, have bills automatically coming out and sometimes spend cash. Find a way to track everything you spend. I use a budget planner notebook from Paperchase where write in the money I spend and earn each day and then put it into a list for the month. You could also use a spreadsheet on your computer. I would also say it’s worth doing it every evening so you don’t forget things.
This is also great for looking back over your spending at the end of each week/month. You can see how well you’re sticking to your budgeting and where you’re over spending.
- Don’t impulse buy
It’s so easy to see something you think you love, buy it and then months later realise you never use or wear it. When you see something you want, write it down on your phone or in a notebook and give yourself a set time (say 2 weeks) to think about it and then at the end of that time decide if you still really want it.
I’ve been taking 4-6 weeks at a time off buying clothes, cosmetics, home stuff, stationary etc. that I don’t REALLY need. During that time there’ll be loads of stuff I see online or in shops that I think I want but at the end of that no spend time, I know what things I really want the most.
- Think about what you’re saving for
Make a list of vision board of the things you’re saving up for for example buying a house in a few years or going on a holiday. Going into detail about what you need the money for eg. for a holiday think about the plane ticket, wanting a nice hotel, eating out at restaurants. Record this in a way that get’s you excited (I love making a board on pinterest or printing physical photos). Look at this every time you want to buy a new dress or pair of shoes and remember what it is you’re saving for.
- Go for coffee/drink dates instead of dinner
Think about how much cheaper a cup of coffee is than a whole meal. Next time you’re having a catch up with a friend, suggest going to a coffee shop instead or better still, cook for them at home.
Side tip: Keep coffee out as a social thing. You don’t have to buy a coffee everytime you walk past a Pret or Starbucks!
- Find cheaper or free alternatives
This goes for everything! Listen to podcasts for free instead of buying an audiobook. Go to a free museum instead of paying for a day out. Take a packed lunch instead of buying it. Do a yoga video online instead of paying for a class.
In all of these cases, it’s lovely to spend money on it as a treat but make these alternatives your regular.