Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Starting to Save Money - My Tips


For a lot of us a time will come when we decide we need to start saving some money; it could be for a very specific reason - a deposit for a home, a new car, a holiday - or, it could simply be because we get sick of being skint every month before payday without really having anything to show for it. Where does all the money go?

For me, as an absolute lover of Disney, and of Walt Disney World in particular, I knew as soon as I was in anyway financially capable, I would save to go back. And I did; in 2012, 2013 and 2014 - with another trip planned for next year. These holidays certainly aren't cheap to fund, and over the years I've gotten to understand a bit about saving and motivating myself to make sensible decisions in regards to money - I thought today I'd share my thoughts and tips with you, I hope you find them helpful!


1. DO NOTHING

So often I've heard people at work, or acquaintances in general declare themselves sick of spending so much money they don't need to be spending. They declare themselves done with spending money like this and predict that if they just stop spending all they do on non-essentials, they will have £X left over at the end of the month. 

In my opinion, while it's admirable and certainly understandable to reach a break point like this where enough is enough and simply want to stop the madness, it doesn't necessarily make for long term success. It's like dieting - if you simply opt to ban yourself from everything you want, you may later down the line become so frustrated that you fall off the wagon completely and end up binging on 3 tubs of Ben and Jerrys - so to it is with spending. You might by nothing for two months, have a really bad day and then oooohhhh hiiiiiii Space NK. I think the first step is about educating yourself about your spending - so do nothing for a week, or more, but keep a detailed note on exactly what you spend (where, when, why, what etc.) as well as what you may have spent - where was temptation coming from for you? 


2. ANALYSE THE DATA

Write everything down clearly, either on paper or digitally (I'm an Excel Spreadsheet girl myself), and take a step back. Look at things frankly, without making excuses for yourself. How much did you spend on snack foods? How much on makeup? Or whatever your other vices are. Have a think about not just what you literally spent over the time period, but what kind of patterns emerge - for example, do you fall foul of ordering a takeaway every Friday because you're tired? Are you guilty of online shopping on your days off even if you avoid 'going to the shops'?


3. MAKE A GAME PLAN

Using the dieting metaphor once again, while it's great to say that you just generally want to 'eat healthier' it's also better to prepare for your particularly challenging moments. Get peckish every afternoon? Make sure you have healthy snacks to hand and avoid the trip to the vending machine. Well, the same can be said for spending money. 

For me, it was first about wiping out the things I wanted to spend money on in the moment - but always ended up regretting when I saw the figures at the end of the month. How much money have I spent this month on £3 lunch deals?!?! I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling - buying one each day at lunch was costing me £60 a month. And for what?! Now, I take a packed lunch 4 days a week and 1 day a week I let myself have lunch out (although I often don't bother because I'm so used to making and taking my lunches) - and honestly, I don't feel hard done to by those changes at all. 

That being said, there will of course be things you spend money on that are important to you - and that's totally fine too. It's just about identifying what you really need/enjoy and what you don't. I love going to Boots and buying makeup, in the moment anyway, but I have so much makeup I can't really enjoy each new item I buy once I get it home - therefore this was something I wanted to cut down on. Eating out in Glasgow on the other hand - something very exciting for me coming from a small town that specialised in bland cuisine - is something I'm happy to do as often as budget reasonably allows. 

Some people prefer to give themselves set amounts of 'fun money' for each category - so, say, £20 a week for food/coffee with friends and then £20 for makeup or clothes shopping. This, however, does not work for me - I end up spending more money on makeup because I have money put aside specifically for it. I find it better to just say £40 of fun money a week, on what I want, but once it's gone, it's gone. That budgeting combined with my prior understanding of my spending habits, pitfalls and areas for improvement really helps keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to shopping decisions.


 4. DON'T FORGET THE DIRECT DEBITS

Something you sign up for might, at the time, seem like fantastic value for money, something you'll love, but further down the line, even if you still think you love it, it might be good to have another think, just to be sure. For example, I pay for Netflix, Spotify Premium and Cineworld Unlimited each month - just last month I sat down and really thought about how much I use them. Netflix, at £6 a month, I use daily, so it's a no brainer. Cineworld, the most expensive at £16.40, I break even on with just two visits a month, so, again, something well worth it. But my Spotify Premium that I absolutely love on the occasions I do use it....? Well, I just haven't been using it nearly enough lately to justify the £10 a month cost - at least not for now. I can of course rejoin in a month or two if my mind changes.


5. BE HONEST, BE GENTLE

Even with all the ground work in place, starting to save can be hard. You will have bad days and end up ordering a Dominos, and you will have a couple of extra things 'fall' in your online basket when you go to make a purchase - that's all just life. So two things are important when you start on your saving journey, number one; be honest. Continue to keep a note of your purchases and don't things because they 'don't count' or adjust your budget to cover up a few bad moves. And number two: go easy on yourself. The idea is to become comfortable budgeting and saving your money - not to make it a source of worry and fear. Your money is yours to manage and control - not the other way around, so if you do make a mistake or five, it's OK, just take a step back, try and understand why and keep moving forwards.

I hope you maybe found one or two of these ideas helpful, I'll be back soon with other posts in this line about more long term tips for saving or managing money in general! Thanks for reading, and in the mean time if you have any tips for starting to save money - please leave them in the comments below! 
 

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