So when I finally bought my ‘special bag’ last month I was inundated (slight exaggeration) with requests to do a video about saving money. While I don’t think I have enough to say to warrant a video I thought that since this is a ‘budget’ blog it was perhaps a good topic to write about. I’m not historically very good with money, the fact that I dubbed my online persona with a thrifty sounding name was at the time more due to circumstance than personality. I was out of work for 7 months (climbing the walls) and so my budget was obviously pretty low when it came to beauty products and there did seem to be somewhat of ab niche in the ‘market’ at that time as it appeared that all there was to talk about was MAC and Chanel. So there’s a little background for those you you (and I think there are many) who were under the impression that I’m beauty’s answer to athriftymrs.. I’m not. I’m not in the least bit frugal.
Between the ages of 16 to 20 every payday without fail my friend and I would hop on a train to our nearest shopping mall and blow our wages. This happened every. single. month. Of course the next day buyers remorse set in when I realised I would be walking to work and eating sandwiches for the rest of the month but I wouldn’t learn.. until I moved out. At only 20 I had to get a £5000 loan to pay off my debts as they had become totally unaffordable, one small detail I may have missed out was that I took every bit of credit going and spent it as soon as it was activated. I remember going shopping one day, spending all of my money, returning home to find a brand new credit card and heading straight back out to the shops to spend that too. I didn’t have a great relationship with money but when I came to get a mortgage I was told I had a surprisingly good credit rating for my age so shockingly my terrible financial management somehow helped my buy my first house. A year on, I was paying the loan but of course (as you do) still spending on the credits cards I’d paid off and found myself extending it even further and having to have a serious word with myself. Had I not had the support of my then partner (by support I mean he cut up my cards and inspected my post for new ones) I would have spiraled further and I’m not sure where I’d be money-wise now. When I look back at that time now I can see how easy it is for a young person to get in to a situation they can’t handle. Money (especially credit) is a huge responsibility and while I was dealing with motherhood just fine I didn’t have the maturity to deal with my finances then.. luckily I do now.
I doubt I will ever be entirely free of debt, this is mainly due to my terribly impatient nature but these days I know my limits and more importantly I know how it feels to spend beyond them. I no longer have any credit cards, I have an overdraft which I use as one and for me seeing the balance every single day when I log in to my online banking helps me keep control of it. Everyone has their own way and I know that some of you will be appalled to think I was once in such dire straights but I think it’s one of those things, a lot of people find themselves there and I guess I want to show you that it’s not the end of the world and yeah maybe you’re going to be skint for the next couple of years but you’ll come out the other side having learned a valuable (very expensive) life lesson.
So.. on to saving, I do have a few tips for those like me who feel money burning a hole in their pocket. 1. Get out cash. I know this isn’t ideal for many reasons but when I felt the urge to shop I drew out the money I was going to spend and kept it. Sometime it was £10 for a takeaway.. others it was £30 for a pair of shoes I didn’t need but I soon realised how much disposable income I actually had. I felt like I never had any money but we would get a McDonalds or a pizza maybe twice a week, I would go shopping at the weekend and buy little bits (nothing major) and the money I spent on lunches at work – unreal! I understand that some people really do live paycheck to paycheck but I know a lot of you are just like I was and have a lot more money than you think, you’re just spending it in small increments so you don’t feel it. That’s how I saved when I didn’t have ‘spare money’. These days I am lucky enough to have a bonus income through my blog and anything I make through it I save. It never goes into ‘circulation’ and so I never miss it and anyone can do this with any additional money you happen to have coming in. Whether it be your annual Birthday/Christmas cheques or bonuses through work – if it’s not your regular income put it to one side. My last tip (and this is a big one for me) is to give yourself a goal. I couldn’t save aimlessly, I have to have something in mind whether it be a purchase, a holiday, whatever I need it to keep me on track and to motivate me to maybe pack my lunches this week or not buy that lipstick I ‘need’.
A lot of it comes down to bad habits and although I feel like I have mine in check there’s always something to work on. If ever I’m having a bad day my first thought is to shop.. that’s not good, right? Leeds Building Society have a cool online tool to help you work out where you’re spending your money without even thinking about it and hopefully help you save some for that something special you have your eye on.
*In association with Leeds Building Society