Ah, money. We have a love/hate relationship, don’t we? I love you when you’re there, I hate you when you’ve disappeared. One of my goals for 2017 was to become far more responsible with my monthly wage, instead of living like a king for one week and a pauper for the other three. Plus, going down to part-time and taking a 20 percent pay cut meant I had some serious adulting to do for the second half of the year.
And the result? I’m pleased to say that I did become more responsible. In fact, I became so responsible I saved up £5,000 in six months to pay off debts that weren’t so much hanging over my head, rather sucking up good mortgage deposit money.
Wondering how I did it? Here’s how…
Know Your Money
The first thing to do is to lay everything out, bank statements, bills, expenses, income. Everything. You need to know exactly what you have coming in and exactly what you have going out. Make an Excel spreadsheet so you’re able to make a note of all your monthly outgoings, including average weekly food shop, petrol, the money you spend on coffee, nights out, subscriptions. Everything. Try keeping a money diary for a week so you can make a note of every single penny you spend. Even 70p for a can of pop. At this point, all you need to do is work out what’s coming in and what’s going out. Simple right?
Do You Really Need to Netflix & Chill?
This is the slightly harder part. You need to go through all your monthly outgoings and see what can be chopped and where money can be saved. I live alone, therefore pay everything myself, so here’s where I made cuts to my monthly bills:
- I called my utility company and made sure I was on the cheapest tariff for gas, electric and water. This saved me £20 a month.
- I changed my phone tariff to less data, minutes and texts, but I increased my home broadband slightly to allow for more internet usage. This saved me £10 a month.
- I cut out subscriptions to Audible (£7.99), HelloFresh (£139.36), Slimming World (£20), PureGym (£15.99) and Tailwind (£12.99). These were a complete luxury in my opinion. I could *run for free, I could follow the principles of Slimming World without going, I could use Pinterest without Tailwind and I didn’t need Audible or HelloFresh. *As if
- I stopped shopping at M&S on my way home from work to buy unnecessary items (£50)
- I made my own lunches and stopped buying a hot chocolate/peppermint tea from Starbucks every morning (£60)
Martin Lewis became the God Father
Martin Lewis, the money saving expert, became my go-to man when trying to save money. With his advice, I moved all my credit card debt onto one card with 0% interest on balance transfers. That meant I wasn’t wasting money on interest every month on three separate credit cards, equalling around £200, which went straight into the pot. It was also super satisfying seeing the balance drop every time I saved money and paid it into that account. Because I’d downloaded the app for my credit card to my phone, it meant that I could pay in or check in on the go. I’d definitely recommend doing this if you’ve got any form of credit card/bank account. I know sometimes you want to bury your head in the sand when it comes to money, especially if you know you’ve overspent like I did at Christmas. If we pretend we can’t see it, it isn’t there right? But trust me, once you take a look, know what you’re working with and stop any possible overdraft charges that might occur, you’ll instantly feel more at ease.
Look For Alternative Revenue
So you have your 9-5, which pays the bills. But do you have an alternative revenue stream which you can maximise? For me, it was this blog. I started to really work at monetising Apartment Number 4 and it became a substantial part of my monthly income. I spent a long time perfecting my media kit and update it monthly without fail. I dedicated time to reaching out and introducing myself to brands. I increased my prices. I invested in a business coach and even though that was spending instead of saving, the changes we made, increased my income in the long run. I started to get up earlier to organise my social media content for the day. I replied to every email with my media kit and explained how I could offer that brand a more bespoke service. I became the Queen of selling myself. And you know what? It worked. Except, whenever I was paid for a job, I would move the money straight to my credit card account. It didn’t even sit in my account for longer than an hour in most cases. Because you know what would have happened if it didn’t? There’d be a strong chance H&M Home would have reaped the benefits more than I would. My advice would be, if you have a blog then join affiliate schemes (AWIN is, without doubt, the best scheme I’m part of), create a media kit, approach brands to work with and reply to brands that contact you with your media kit and price package. Don’t have a blog? Look at utilising your talents. Offer to tutor local children in your specialist subject, work in a bar part-time, teach a language or dance lessons, launch an eBay business selling vintage clothing – consider all the ways you can make that extra coin.
Welcome The Challenge
For me, the challenge of saving £5,000 and ultimately becoming debt free as I entered 2018 became an addiction. I was addicted to saving money. I was frugal and proud. I would drive in a more economical way to work (55mph-60mph on the motorway in the highest gear) to save the slightest bit of petrol. I even kept a tally to tick off every time I hit another £100 mark. You have to make the choice between shopping at Zara again or investing that money into something you want much more than another floral dress. Stop and think every time you make a purchase, decide where it is on your priority list and sooner or later it will become a habit.
It took 6 months of saving for me to pay off £5,000 of debt and I entered the new year, three credit cards down. I still have an overdraft of £300 but that’s my next mission. And living to a budget is part of my day-to-day life now. I’m grateful for the money I have coming in, and I’ll continue to work hard at attracting more.
Are you on a saving mission this year? If so, what do you plan on doing to cut back/save/attract more money?