How do you spend and save your money?

It’s okay if you feel a bit uneasy about answering that question, even to yourself.

Money is a touchy subject. So many of us are terrified to even look at our bank accounts, let alone get honest about how much we’re really saving versus how much we put away.

To open up the conversation, our series How I Save is exploring the reality of how people handle their personal finances.

Each week we ask a different person to track their spending for seven days and tell us about their struggles to save or their brilliant tricks for handling their budget. Then we get some expert advice that they and we can learn from to boost our savings.

This time around we’re chatting with Rose*, who’s the anonymous blogger behind Instagram account ThisGirlsDebt.

How Rose Saves:

I earn £25,000 per year before tax, national insurance and pension contributions. 

I’m currently working my way through my debt free journey and became debt-free in March 2019.

At the moment I’m working on building my fully funded emergency fund which will include three to six months of expenses (the next step after that is to start investing!) 

I currently have £2,500 in my emergency fund account and £550 in another savings account for some home projects I’m working on. 

Saving was a little slower between becoming debt-free and starting a new job in January.

I was spending a lot of money commuting each week and my new job has meant I’m saving on petrol as it’s predominantly home-based, with only a couple of days in the office. I’m lucky enough to have my business miles paid for by work, which is why you’ll see no petrol costs added to my weekly spend! 

I’m putting away £200 as soon as pay day comes around, and I’m following another Instagrammer’s saving challenge too (where I can), which challenges you to put away different amounts of money each week. 

I find saving that way to be quite enjoyable and I’m more inclined to save more! Weekly amounts vary and can be anything from £5 to £75. 

Once my emergency fund is completed, I’m going to be creating a holiday fund so that I can travel more and then get ready for a big holiday for my big 4-0 in a couple of years time! 

How Rose Spends:

Monthly expenses:

  • Home (mortgage, water, gas/electric, council tax, home insurance): £567.70
  • Car insurance: £23.78
  • Car road tax: £12.68
  • Netflix: £5.99
  • Broadband: £31.95
  • Cat care (insurance and vet plan): £20.81
  • TV licence: £13.37
  • Life insurance: £21.30
  • Mobile phone: £11

Monday: I head down to the office for two days on Tuesdays and Wednesday (travelling down on monday) . I didn’t get time to have something to eat before the journey so I grabbed a meal deal at Tesco for £3.80 on the way down. 

Total spent on Monday: £3.80

Tuesday: Nothing spent today! I do my weekly food shop on a Saturday and so had already picked up things for lunch.

Total spent on Tuesday: £0

Wednesday: Wednesday I head back home from the office, so after two days I made the 150-mile return trip!

I leave around 5:45pm and got hungry on the journey home so £6.98 on a Mcdonalds for tea.

Total spend on Wednesday: £6.98

Thursday: There was a knocking or jiggle in my car. I noticed it last week, and it was bugging me! So I had to take the car along to the garage to get checked over. 

It ended up needing to have a link arm replaced and so that was £69.95 to get that sorted – not as bad as I was expecting, but something everyone can always do without.

Great to have an emergency fund in the bank to cover any unexpected expenses as and when needed.

Total spent on Thursday: £69.95

Friday: I had the day off! I saw my mum, went for a walk and decided to grab lunch from the local bakery – for two rolls, two cakes and two drinks it was £9 – not too bad! 

Total spent on Friday: £9 

Saturday: I did the weekly shop today. £32.93 was spent on some replacement toiletries, cleaning supplies, as well as lunch-able items and salad for the coming week. 

I’m currently challenging myself to use up all the frozen food in my freezer so I wont be buying any additional meat, etc, for a while, until the freezer stuff is gone. 

Luckily the toiletries and cleaning supplies aren’t a weekly purchase and should last me at least the month (that’s what I budget for, anyway).

Total spent on Saturday: £32.93

Sunday: I went for Sunday lunch today and also picked up a gift for a friend, but still quite a cheap day really. £20.25 for a Sunday lunch at the local pub and then £11 on a gift and card (gifts are budgeted for each month).

Total spent on Sunday: £31.25

Total spent this week: £153.91

How Rose could save:

We spoke to the experts over at Plum, the smart app for managing your money to find out how Rose can save better (and what we can learn from her spending).

Here’s what they said:

Hi Rose, thanks for sharing your week with us! It seems like you’re already a pretty savvy saver, but we may have a few tricks to help you maximise your finances even more.

Spending

Your spending is relatively low, as are your bills, suggesting you’re already quite conscious of how you spend your money (keep up the good work!).

It’s also nice to see you’ve been enjoying your post-lockdown freedom, visiting the bakery and going for a pub lunch. Treats like this are important, especially after months being cooped up inside, but you might want to think about whether you’ll need to adjust your saving patterns to accommodate extra spending in the months to come. 

You’ve mentioned that you like to factor your spending into a monthly budget, so now might be a good time to take stock and see if your budget needs a revamp.

Take a look at your spending during lockdown versus your current spending, and see if you need to put a bit more cash towards things like travel or eating out (now that our entertainment options have finally expanded beyond sitting in the park).

Plum’s Diagnostics feature could help you with this, by categorising your spending so you know exactly where your money’s going. 

Saving

Congratulations for getting those debts paid off! Becoming debt-free is a crucial step in so many people’s financial journey. The fact that you’ve conquered this milestone means you’re in the best place possible to start saving and strengthening your finances for the future. 

Given that you’re currently juggling a range of saving strategies, Plum could make your life a lot easier by combining all your efforts within one, automated app.

For instance, our AI saving function would help you squirrel small bits of money on a weekly basis, our Pay Days feature would instantly transfer that £200 into your Plum account on payday and some of our more quirky saving features, like Rainy Days (which sets aside money every time it rains), or the 52-Week Challenge could motivate you to boost your savings even further! 

Meanwhile when you’re ready to try out investing, Plum offers a wide range of carefully curated funds to choose from. Remember that investments can go down as well as up so it’s not a good place for any money you might need quickly in the short-term. 

It’s also worth considering where to store the money that you’ve already set aside. You mention that you’re currently building your emergency fund, which you’ve already racked up quite a bit of cash for, as well as a holiday fund. Ideally you want this money to be placed in a bank account that you can access immediately, but that has a high interest rate. 

This is easier said than done as many high street banks have recently cut their interest rates dramatically, so it’s worth checking if you could get a better deal away from your regular bank.

For instance, Plum allows you to create an easy access savings Pocket with an interest rate of 0.6% AER, so you can feel comfortable knowing that your money’s not losing value between now and the big 4-0!

*Name has been changed.

How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing [email protected].

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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