Money. It can’t buy you happiness but it is essential in our lives. We need enough money to live. As a archaeologist money has been around for thousands of years and it can tell a great story. But the moral is that everyone uses their money in different ways.
According to Finder.com 1 in 9 people don’t have ANY savings at all. Apparently as a nation the 22-29 bracket are the least likely to save, with 53% of them having no savings at all.
Which is pretty terrifying and why I am confessing my own financial journey. Please bare in mind I have been incredibly fortunate and this is in no way a brag or to gain sympathy this is just a general explanation of the struggles I had with managing my money.
I was struggling after my degree with money. I had a few part-time jobs and worked the hours I wanted while applying for my part-time masters as I tried to figure out life. I had arranged cheap lodgings in a shared house that I would eventually split with my partner. But I was still scared to look at my bank account. Anyone else?
I was very thankful I knew I wasn’t in debt or had crazy spending habits, I would try and keep a running tally in my head, guessing the amounts I had. but between different pay checks and pay days I realised I really needed to open my statements.
I felt ashamed. I was spending basically all my money, when I had those hard weeks and went a little wild with treats I was over spending.
It was my partner who convinced me to look at my bank account and take charge. I am a naturally organised person but I realised as expenses kept appearing and I would soon be out of full time education I needed to make a change.
So I turned to YouTube. I hunted around for videos on the basics of spending and fell into a rabbit hole of spreadsheets, binders and layouts. It was daunting and this all took several days to process and find out how much I spent each month. One day I was feeling particularly motivated and I went back through a whole years worth of statements. I simply looked at what was the most reoccurring expense and compared it to my income. I got out a notpad and started working out my own budgets. My rent was very cheap and since I was splitting costs with my other half I was able to save some money. Something I had wanted to do for a long time but assumed during my degree it wasn’t possible. In hindsight I wish I had done this all a lot sooner but you live and you learn.
I simply split it up into income, all my essential payments to live and eat, then a little bit going towards a shiny new saving account, I literally started at £10 a month, and then decided to track my other expenses.
I was astonished at how my rubbish I bought. This that appeared essential at the time, how much I spent on clothing and how much I spent on eating out and drinking.
This started a mental shift in what I wanted my money to do. I wanted to save as much as I could. For future goals but also holidays. I always value a trip over anything in my wardrobe or nice takeaway. So I started budgeting for that. It involved a lot of numbers and I did purchase a new diary to help me keep track since I had such unsteady income. But it worked. I was now able to look at my bank account easily and predict the amount waiting for me.
Then I started thinking about interest rates (boring I know) but I wanted my money to work as hard as it could. So I opened another saving account with a better interest rate that what my original was on. It may involve a trip to the bank but it is nice to see a few more pennies in your account just because you bank with them.
I now take such pride in seeing my goals come to life. It has been two years since I started, I have changed jobs, cities and now I want my money to work even harder. I opened up a Lifetime ISA (Highly recommend as it lets you save for your first property and retirement in one) and weirdly started looking into the world of stocks & shared with a lovely financial advisor. But these are huge steps compared to being too scared to look at my account.
It wont be easy, there may be some instances where you have used up your budget and your friends seem to have an unlimited amount to spend. But that’s okay, everyone spends differently and being true to yourself and admitting to friends you can’t afford to this week is OKAY. If they are true friends they will work around you and offer a free activity or just going round to each others for lunch. There are also unexpected expenses that gobble up your savings. But it’s important not to be disheartened since you have some savings and can afford them. The important thing is to keep going and it soon becomes natural and you honestly worry a heck of a lot less.
I hope this encourages other to really look at their spending and see if you can make your money work better for you.