January is always a month filled with ‘saving tips’, budgeting and trying to be more economically savvy. I always spend a lot around the holidays – saying hell yes to every eating out opportunity, all the gift buying and spending a fortune on travel costs. So I want to do all of those things.
It is worth every single penny as I adore the Christmas period but now that I’m trying to be a bit more adult and capable of saving money so I can do nice things like go on holiday and buy things from ASOS, I’m trying to be a bit more economically savvy this January.
Reading Victoria’s post about saving £5,000 in six months was incredibly inspiring but that level of saving is a little out of my reach right now as a student. That doesn’t mean however that I can’t put a little away each month in an attempt to buy that one-way flight to Amsterdam* we keep talking about.
*Don’t panic mum, I am coming back, the next stop will be Sweden and then back home again.
Make An Actual Budget
I’m on a set income each month which means I can effectively budget for this income. If I make a little extra through part-time work and my blog, that is great but I always underestimate how much I’ll be earning each month in order to cover myself and not be left with a gap in the pennies.
I used to be quite bad for telling myself I would only seen £70 this week and that was it, I had ‘budgeted’. This foolproof plan however has proven not so foolproof and I have become a convert to budgeting.
During my Christmas holidays I made a spreadsheet on my laptop (not a fancy one or anything – just a Numbers document) and filled in all the money I would need to spend in January. I made note of my monthly incomings (my earnings) and monthly outgoings that won’t change (rent, wifi, bills, Spotify). This gave me a good idea of how much income I had left for a week to week basis.
For my weekly budget I accounted for the amount I want to spend on food (£20), the cost of travel by train to Edinburgh for work on a Wednesday (£15.70), the cost of other travel costs associated with this journey (my 6am Uber, the bus to and from work after the train and the subway home once back in Glasgow).
The cost of my Uber fluctuates so I budgeted £7 which means I’ll probably be left with money at the end of the week but it also means I won’t go over my budget. I also budgeted another £20 for ‘things’ – a night out, coffee out, dinner out, a new top etc. Oh and one thing I also budgeted for was a weekly £3.15 for a large coffee from the iCafe because I can’t live without all small comforts.
Having this set budget gives me something to actually work with and track my spending progress. I try to take out all the things I want to pay for in cash at the beginning of the week (£50) so that I don’t get sucked into going crazy with my card. This also means I can avoid taking my card out with me.
Recording My Spending
I will literally record everything and anything if given half a chance so recording my spending felt natural. Whilst I have the spreadsheet to refer back to as a basis for each month, I choose to track my day-to-day spending on paper. This allows me to see where my money disappears to each day and what do you know, I’ve spent £5 on Diet Coke this week and what of it?
I’m currently using a notebook that I got for Christmas as a ‘life and blog admin’ notebook. It has everything and anything in there which means I have it on me every single day. I try to keep a hold of all of my receipts so that I can make note of how much I spent in Sainsbury’s etc. If I’ve bought anything online, I also log it into the book so I don’t forget to note it into my monthly budget.
Writing things down gives me a much clearer picture and allows me to watch for patterns in my spending. If I’ve been spending too much in the iCafe when I have perfectly good coffee at home, I can make a note for week and try to cut it down.
One of the easiest things to spend money on is takeaway food and drink. I found it so easy to walk to uni with nothing but money and end up spending nearly a tenner on a sandwich, chocolate bar, bottle of water and a coffee. Not only was this bad for my pocket but also for my diet.
Since coming back to university, I’ve been trying to be much more savvy with meal planning and food preparation. I’ve taken to making a meal plan at the weekend (mainly taking inspiration from Five Ingredients) on a planner that I got from B&M Bargains yonks ago. This allows for me to write a shopping list as I know what I need/what I have in the cupboards and not aimlessly wander around Lild throwing everything I can get my mitts on into the basket.
As I’m now so organised etc I know what I’m having for lunch each day so if I’m not going to be in my flat at lunchtime, I can take lunch with me and save a shit tonne of pennies. I’m currently using the gorgeous Box Appetit food flask by black+blum* which is a dream for taking soup to university or work with. I’m really into making soup at the moment as a way of using up leftover veg so this adjustment is making such a difference to my finances. It keeps things hot for 6 hours, is 400ml so plenty big enough and has a vegan leather strap so anyone can be comfortable using it. Basically, I adore it.
I used to be the worst for buying bottled water when out and about which is a) so bad for the planet as the plastic bottles were just getting binned and b) v expensive. Since coming back to uni, I’ve been trying to drink way more water and go to the gym so I really need a good water bottle. I’ve been using the Box Appetit eau good bottle by black+blum* which has a charcoal filter so it makes the water taste really great and is 800ml so a very decent size. Whilst it might not be the beautiful tap water of the Scottish Borders, this bottle is pretty snazzy.
You can get 20% of black+blum with
‘MONDAY20’ at Steamer Trading Cookshop.
Set Yourself A Challenge
It is so easy to drop a few pennies on ASOS each month, pop into Paperchase for a new notebook, Tiger for some random nonsense and oh before you know it, you’ve browsed Mango and Zara for something new and come away with bags from each.
Setting yourself some sort of spending challenge is a good way to get into a more savvy mindset. I’ve set myself a no spend January to combat my excessive spending and not accidentally fall into an ASOS hole. It is good way to get ahead for 2018 and find other ways to occupy your time than going shopping.
When February comes, I’ll probably place a massive ASOS order because hey its my birthday month but until then, I’m practicing being savvy and saving money by not spending unnecessary.
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