Weekly Budgeting: The follow up

So it’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve given this weekly budgeting thing a real go. And what can I say, the people didn’t lie, weekly budgeting is in fact as good as we’ve been told. I’ve actually really enjoyed manually transferring money from my main account to another account at the start of each week.

Besides allowing me to see exactly how much I’m spending, my other account is Starling – one of those app-banks, the ones that don’t have a physical building, has meant that I also see each expense leaving my account in actual live time.

I’ve learned a few things; first of all my initial £110 budget was quite generous, on a regular week I’m going through about £70-80 which is a big, big plus. Rather than reducing my weekly budget to that I’ve just been making sure the total in there at the start of the week is £100 which means most weeks I’m not actually transferring the full £100. Then the plan is to transfer the remainder in my main account into my savings. That part needs more work…

The next thing I want to do is take a closer look at where exactly my money is going in terms of how much is going where. I’ve been doing weekly grocery shopping in bits, little and often and I’m curious to see whether it’s costing me more than it should.

I will definitely continue doing this though, especially in peak summer when money seems to be getting spent, left, right and centre. I’m interested to see how I’ve done come September though because I have a feeling my account might take a hit. Summer in London is great but as you can imagine it can also obviously be very, very expensive.

Weekly Budgeting

‘Weekly budgeting’ is a phrase that is constantly thrown around, budgeting 101. It is so obvious but I think it’s rarely really put into practice or at least put into practice effectively. For me, weekly budgeting is something that I have always thought about and agreed with in theory but when I think about it, I’ve never actually, physically given myself a weekly budget to stick to. Although I know how much I spend each month and have a rough idea of where I need to spend each week, I have never set aside a set amount of money at the beginning of the week and then tried to live on just that – until now. This month I’m going to do just that, each week I’ll put a weekly budget into place for everything outside of rent and bills, one that’s realistic and will hopefully get me back on track with my money.

So I’ve split my spending into five categories and assigned a limit for each;

  • transport – £35
  • groceries (mostly fresh produce e.g. fruit, vegetables, milk etc.) – £10
  • meals out – £30
  • drinks – £25
  • miscellaneous – £10

To explain the categories a little, I mostly travel by train/tube and occasionally walk (which is 100% free). I’ll do a big-ish online grocery shop at the beginning of the month for all my cupboard food and household essentials spending up to £35. Since it’s not possible to buy fresh food in bulk, I will be buying it each week. I don’t eat out a lot, at most it’ll be twice a week if at all so £30 could be too generous. I’m more likely to go for a drink after work and I’m not a big drinker nor am I a fast drinker hence the £25 which again, I’d say is a little generous. The miscellaneous category is more a safety net than anything else I don’t actually know what specific items fall into this category, but I thought it was a good idea to have it there just in case. I’ve tried to be realistic with my budget because I’m not trying to punish myself by being too restrictive, I’ve set goals that I have a chance of achieving.

To do this budgeting ‘effectively’ I’m going to physically transfer £110 into a separate account, my Starling bank account which will also help me see exactly where my money is going right as I spend it. I’m excited to see how I get on with these because clearly I already have some thoughts about how I will fare. Will report back!

4 Months Later…

I don’t even know how four months have passed but they have and now we’re here!

During my hiatus and potentially one of the reasons I disappeared like I did, I 100% dropped the ball on money management. I can barely recognise the person who wrote all those blog posts, she was so organised, so thoughtful, so careful. I’m trying to find her again.

Sometimes I find myself feeling conflicted when it comes to money management. Most of the time, I think saving is essential, it’s a constant top goal because a house isn’t going to buy itself, right? Then occasionally, I think what’s the point, what’s a few hundred pounds a month going to do (especially in this London city?!), why do I want a house, I just want the shoes so I should just get the shoes, right? I don’t think this is uncommon or that I should feel overly bad about it. I’m still young and sometimes my motivation wanes.

So now that I’ve had a little dip, I’m ready to get back on it. And despite home ownership still being so far-fetched for me, I do still believe savings in general are important and what’s even more important and interesting actually, is the idea of saving smart. I read somewhere that women are more reluctant to invest in comparison to men because they are more likely to be risk-averse. To address this, there’s now a growing body of information available about investing ‘smarter’ or with less risk. My £25k annual salary won’t get me a deposit on a house anytime soon but I can start being more creative with the money I save. I think it can be a sort of distraction from the seemingly impossible house deposit I’m supposed to be saving for, but at the same time it could also allow me to continue building towards that.

No-spend Feb: A Review

I committed myself to this challenge to see whether I could actually do it – not spend money on clothes even though I had the money to. It wasn’t necessarily a money-saving exercise, the goal was to break the habit of buying on impulse. I don’t have to buy clothes every month even if I have the means to.

So, the month is over next week, pay day is in a few days and I can say that I did it, no-spend February, completed it mate. And it turned out not to be the hardest thing. As I expected, after the first week and a half or so, I didn’t have any huge temptations. I kept up with my browsing schedule for the most part – it’s just part of my evening routine – and that was fine too. Although I will say that I wasn’t as excited to browse as I normally would be, I did it more so out of routine than anything else. Whenever I saw something I really liked, I counted how many days it would be until I could buy it and that satisfied me enough. I thought I would end up with a huge want-list come March, but not much caught my eye and then I didn’t physically save many items so I can’t even remember what I thought I really wanted. Literally, this is what people mean by fast fashion, throw away culture.

In my first no-spend post, I spoke about how I’d stopped spending on non-fashion things since clothes just always took priority and I planned to replenish my makeup/skin care. In the end, I didn’t buy any skin care or makeup, but I did get some homeware bits. I got me a cute ramen bowl (£10) and another cereal bowl (£14) to match my current one. Both of these bowls were definitely overpriced but so pretty and as I seem to be getting them weeks and months apart it’s not like I’m spending loads all at once. Maybe next month I’ll get another ramen bowl to match my new one. I like pairs.

I also treated myself to the most expensive cinema date with myself ever. Unintentionally, I might add. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday and not only had I decided I was going to go to watch a film, I thought it would be a great idea to walk there. Sounds simple enough but no. First of all, the film started at 2:30pm and me thinking that adverts would be like 20-30 minutes long thought I could leave at 2:15 and start my 30-minute stroll. 2:15 came and went and I ended up leaving at 2:30. Then I told myself that Google was exaggerating, and it wouldn’t actually take 30 minutes to walk there. 10 minutes into my walk I came to my senses, saw a bus stop and decided to catch the next bus. 5 minutes later with no bus in sight, I now had 10 minutes to get to the cinema and an Uber (£5) on the way. I got to the cinema (£15) at 3:00pm and was allowed in even though the film had started 5 minutes ago. I had the cheek to get me some popcorn (£4) before running to the screen room. At this point, it was 3:05pm and I had burned through £24 before I had even laid eyes on the film. 3:07 was when I entered a very dark screen 5, got my phone torch out and settled into the closest seat I could see (definitely not the one I had been assigned). The film was great! Whether it was worth over twenty English pounds, I’m not sure. I thought about that for about half an hour as I walked home.

To conclude, I will be doing no-spend months in the future. I liked how disciplined I was with it all. I enjoyed playing with my existing wardrobe and expanding my bowl collections. I will not, however be spending £25 on a single cinema trip again.

Unexpected, financial blows | London on £25k

A few weeks ago, the worst thing happened. My well-kept, scratch-free, screen-in-tact iPhone died a sad and unjust death. Gone way too soon. I have a squeaky-clean history of iPhone care, one that I am extremely proud of. So, you can imagine how much of a tragedy this was. The worst part of this though, was the unexpected financial blow that I took as a result.

The contract for my late iPhone ended in the early months of summer 2018, pretty timely with me moving to London soon after. And with that in mind, I decided I wouldn’t upgrade to a new phone immediately and stick to a sim-only plan of £10 instead. It meant I wouldn’t have a fat phone bill to pay each month on top of my already fat rent/bills/travel expenses. I had always wanted to buy an iPhone (I’m anti android) outright but didn’t happen to have a spare £1000 or whatever it was. I knew it was the most cost-effective way to have an iPhone, but I also knew what I had in my bank account back then and it was not four figures.

On the night my phone died, I first of all freaked out about how I was going to wake up the next morning for work. I didn’t have a real-life alarm clock because it’s 2019. But I definitely could’ve done with one that night. In my panic, I remembered I had an alarm function on my radio (apparently radios aren’t a thing people have in 2019?!) which I used for the first and probably last time that night. I slept with one eye open that night, terrified I would oversleep. It was as ridiculous as it sounds. Because of a simple phone no less. The next day, after successfully waking up on time I ended up in the Apple shop after work for approximately 3 hours to no avail, no one could fix my phone. So that was it, I officially had no phone.

When my contract ended 8 months ago, I thought I would probably be in a position to buy an iPhone outright in the summer of 2019. It was in January of 2019 when I realised God had other plans. The new iPhones still cost a small fortune, £700+ but in this genuine emergency – not like a millennial crisis, overblown and very much not the end of the world, never that – I bought a new phone. I went into my savings of which I had £1,300 and forked out the money for an iPhone X-something. I did not however pay £700+, friends, no way. I knew Apple had a deal to exchange your old phone and get money off a new one and I’d already been on the website, checked out the eligibility criteria and got a quote of £120 for my phone. I had the value of my phone re-calculated and it turned out to be worth £180! Take care of your phones boys and girls. So, after choosing the cheapest phone in the store (where they only display the most expensive ones), I spent about £500 which is still £500 I did not plan on spending that Wednesday evening, but it was for me, the best outcome in the situation.

As someone who likes to plan everything to the nth degree, I handled this better than I would’ve thought. Because I had already seriously considered buying a phone this year, I guess I had already kind of planned it. Regardless, these surprise hits are never pleasant. I absolutely did not intend on my savings being dented like that and without my savings I would’ve had to get a second-hand cheapie and got on with it. I could easily live without an iPhone X-something but I’m very grateful (to me) that I could rescue myself out of that situation fairly easily. Also, it’s an excuse to replenish my savings account, which won’t be easy but it’s a challenge I’ll enjoy.

Living, Living in London | London on £25k

One of the reason’s I wanted to move to London was to get involved in all of the amazing things to do. I’ve always felt like people in London had access to so many cool events and interesting activities that people who lived outside London did not. It is a shame that’s the case, but that’s a whole other conversation. I factored this into my £25k threshold. Not in the same strict sense that I carefully considered my rent and travel, but more casually. I didn’t move to London to work 24/7 or spend all my time outside of work stuck in my room. I wanted to live in London.

The prospect of having so much to do, was so exciting to me. So much so, that right before I moved, I booked an event while I was still in Newcastle. It was a live podcast for a podcast I listened to regularly, Ctrl Alt Delete combined with a book signing with a blogger turned writer I loved, Katherine Ormerod author of Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life. For that particular event, it was £16 (including a hard-back copy of the book, which I ended up getting signed!). It lasted two hours with a welcome drinks at the beginning. To me that pricing felt fair.

This month, I booked another event, another live podcast in collaboration with Tu, Sainsburys’ for their #allboobswelcome campaign promoting their new bra range. The structure of this event was slightly different as there was a panel, so the audience got a little boob testimony from each panellist. Although it was a 9:30am start, I had a fab time. It cost me £6, of which £5 went to a woman’s aid charity. Each person also received a £10 Tu voucher to spend on lingerie. All that for £6 is a bargain, no?

Other mundane things like eating can also be a bit of a treat in London. So many markets and food eating spaces that offer more of an experience than your average sit down, table arrangement. Mercato Metropolitano is one such place, literally described as a ‘vibrant space’ and that it is. There’s a food stall for almost every cuisine, plus bars and loads of big tables for communal dining. They even have a learning hub where they organise cooking classes, one time I saw a Ethiopian cooking class – very niche but very cool! It sounds simple, but when you’ve not had it before, it’s all very exciting. It makes grabbing a drink and a bite to eat after work that bit special and it’s not even overpriced. I met a friend there last week and we shared an £8 pizza and got a £4 cider each, less than a tenner each.

I also bit the bullet and invested in a gym membership after a lengthy protest. Gyms in London are so expensive. They just are (I’m still processing this). £30 a month is the normal monthly rate. Coming from paying a more than reasonable monthly rate of £15 in Newcastle, you can imagine my horror. I ended up finding a gym near me for £25 a month. They sold this to me as a special price-point because it just opened. It’s not a fancy, private gym, it’s your average chain and in 6 months’ time, it too will be £30. At which point I will have most-likely gotten over the price and more than likely commit that extra £5. I will say though, as a classes girl (as opposed to do your own session), I did notice the classes are longer at 45 minutes to an hour as opposed to 30 minutes back home so that’s helped take the £25 edge off, kind of.

For Londoners, these things probably aren’t that amazing, but for me it was a part of London-living I was really looking forward to. And although I wouldn’t eat out or attend an event every week, it’s fun to do it every now. And to do these things, no matter how fairly priced they are, they do cost money. Money I wouldn’t have without my wage.

Why I’m Doing No-spend February (clothes edition) | London on £25k

Yeah, so I just spend too much money on clothes unnecessarily, don’t I. I mean I spend money unnecessarily in many areas but clothes is something that I can see getting out of hand and every now and then I just need to check myself. In the past, it’s been something that I had no choice in when I literally didn’t have the money. But, this time I do have the money and I have to confess, I was struggling before I even started.

I get paid a few days before the end of the month as opposed to last day of the month, so I had a replenished account right before February began and I panicked. I came so close to bulk-buying right before February started. I literally don’t know why. Normally, I wouldn’t even buy every week, it’s more like 2/3 times a month. This response though, has made me realise how much I need to do it and I am still determined to come back at the end of the month and write about how I completed it, but also still worried I won’t make it.

A lot of people did a no-spend January and in hindsight that would’ve been the financially sensible thing to do especially after Christmas but here we are. Yes, I purposely chose the shortest month of the year to put myself to the test because I knew I’d find it difficult. A challenge is great and all, but I do believe it has to be realistic and somewhat achievable. Now 3 days into the month, I can confirm it is even harder than I thought. It’s mostly the temptation that’s the issue, I have the means to buy so I have to choose not to. In theory, the decision is easy, don’t spend and save instead but in practice… I am optimistic though, I think after the first week, the worst of it will pass, hopefully.

I’ve had to remove temptation. I religiously check new-in sections on all my favourite sites. I have a schedule (Monday and Thursday is ASOS, Tuesday is Topshop, Wednesday is H&M and Friday is Zara/ Zalando/ Weekday), which I’m quite proud of to be fair. Must stress though, I don’t always buy on those days (I haven’t made a Zara or H&M order in months). But with this ban, looking that regularly is just too torturous. I am excited to ‘shop my wardrobe’ though, that’ll be fun and hopefully distract me for most of the month.

Another thing I notice that often happens is that I no longer spend on other things because clothes always come first. Things like make-up and skin care, so that’s something I will treat myself to at some point, maybe as a half-way treat when I get there.

I would say I’m looking forward to the challenge, but I am not. I’ve already seen so many cute things on ASOS that I probably wouldn’t have been that keen on before but now need them all.