August 16th, 2016
I’ve decided to do a mini series on finances, because I went from young, irresponsible and clueless, to paying off £6k of debt in one year. I now consider myself a bit of a Queen when it comes to finances. I clearly used to be awful with them when I was younger, so I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. Hopefully I can help someone in a similar situation, or just anyone looking to save.
This is really important. I sat down and filled in a spreadsheet, thinking about every single thing that comes out of my account each month. I mean EVERY single thing. Do you spend £3 on coffee every day? Write it down. That Netflix subscription you don’t really think about? It needs to be on there. Every bill, every payment, every sandwich.
This will likely serve as a bit of a wake up call in itself, as you’ll be able to see where your money is all going, and what you need to be more mindful of. I’m thinking I might give away the spreadsheet I use, let me know in the comments if that would be useful for anyone?
It’s very worth ditching things you don’t really need, or finding a cheaper alternative. Cancel things you don’t use, and look at switching sites for things like utilities, phone contracts, opticians, etc. I saved a bomb here. I also cancelled my overdraft, and downgraded my account, as I was paying £25 a month to have an interest free overdraft, breakdown cover, and phone insurance.
And always shop around for car insurance. Always. Still not over the time I saved £300.
Meal prepping is your friend. If you only spend like £4-5 a day on lunches, that’s about £100 a month. Think what else you could do with that money. I make batches of chilli and freeze them for times when I don’t have time to make my lunch, and most of the time I take sandwiches and salads etc to work.
Don’t limit this just to work, though. Cooking from scratch saves a hell of a lot of money. And it’s awesome feeling like you’re getting good at cooking.
Avoid shops unless you are going in with a list. I set myself a challenge to see how many days I could go without spending any money. The absolute easiest way to do this is to just avoid going into any shops. And if you do, go in with a list of things you actually need. I went from buying random things from Asda most days, to rarely ever spending any money at all Monday – Friday.
This one kinda sucks, and it took me a seriously long time to come to terms with. Three years ago when I realised I had to do something about my ridiculous debts (£6k was the tip of the iceberg – I still haven’t paid them all off) my entire social life revolved around going to the pub every Friday and most Saturdays, and I had serious FOMO if I didn’t join in.
It’s also a total no brainer, though. Drinks are approx a fiver each, then there’s taxis, paying into clubs, and new outfits.
It’s really hard if that’s all your friends do – but I tried going out earlier and going home early (to avoid double time taxis). That did save me quite a bit, but it’s sad when your friends are all having fun and you have to leave.
It’s a lot easier now I’m older. Me and my best friends go for walks, cook for each other, go to the gym together, or just sit and chat with a brew. Sometimes we just go to the park and read our respective books and ignore each other. There are many many many things you can do that don’t involve spending a penny, you just need to find the right people to do them with.