How Tracking my Spending has Improved my Finances

FORMERLYSKINT.COM - How Tracking My Spending has Improve my Finances

It’s no secret that I am a long time fan of Refinery29’s Money Diaries series. I check religiously every week for the new posts, and after discovering the U.S. version about 6 months ago, I’m totally hooked on that too, (even though I have no idea how much they are actually spending!)

I always wanted to submit my own, but just never quite got round to it.

 

Shortly after Christmas 2017, I took a good look at my finances and realised I was slipping in to old habits of spending money on what I can only describe as “stuff.”

I was feeling especially motivated, with it being January and me obviously being broke, to kick my money back into shape. I thought, why not start my own Money Diaries? Why not post it on a blog? Why not do it for a whole year?! 

Continue reading “How Tracking my Spending has Improved my Finances”

Money Diaries: April 9th – 15th

Formerlyskint.com - Money DIaries April 15th

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs! By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and a monthly budget spreadsheet and I am ready to rock!*
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I am late again! I’d hoped to get this finished and posted yesterday, but as I was working on an event from 8am – 2am, I think that was probably a bit optimistic of me.

I’ve had a great week as I had a couple of days off work to spend with a friend who was visiting from home. It was great to see her and catch up, she has a lot going on at the minute, having recently had an offer accepted on her first house, so most of her time here was spent discussing very adult topics like mortgage interest rates and life insurance. We felt very grown up, so offset this by doing it over cocktails and ice cream in the rain.

Over the rest of the week, I managed to cross a lot off my to-do list. Feeling productive, overall! I sometimes think I work better when I have a shorter week, as I feel more under pressure to wrap things up before taking time off, even if it is just a couple of days.

Weekly Spending Review – The Breakdown:

Continue reading “Money Diaries: April 9th – 15th”

Money Diaries: April 2nd – 8th

Formerlyskint.com - Money diaries April 8th

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs!  By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and a monthly budget spreadsheet and I am ready to rock!*

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Here we are again, the weeks really do just fly by, don’t they?!

 

This has been a pretty busy week for me both with work and socialising. My working week was chock-full of meetings, so despite being a four day week, has felt so looong.

 

Myself & OH have been to a cracking gig this week too (Jarvis Cocker, if you are interested!) which was in the oddest but best little venue I’ve ever seen. It’s literally a series of 200 year old tunnels, which runs underneath Liverpool and no one know where they go, what the purpose ever was for them or even how long they are/how many are joined along the way.

It’s one of those mysteries that I have been obsessed with since I first heard of it around 10 years ago.

 

The most common story is that the man who commissioned the tunnels to be built actually had no specific reason for them himself, and simply employed people to keep them in work and earning money. I do hope that’s true, what a lovely idea!

 

Anyway, a team of volunteers have been excavating the tunnels for years, so it’s definitely an area I’ll be visiting again in the future.

 

Weekly Spending Review – The Breakdown:

Continue reading “Money Diaries: April 2nd – 8th”

Money Diaries XL: March Review

So guys, here we are, my second full month of posting my Money Diaries!

I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. If nothing else, it’s given me another outlet for my money obsession, rather than bending the ear off poor OH.

FormerlySkint.com - march xl money diaries
Formerlyskint.com – March Money Diaries XL

 

I feel like some of my habits are definitely becoming clearer, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, almost immediately after publishing my first Money Diaries post, I became more mindful with my spending.

Even if no one actually reads it, there’s just something about baring your spending so publicly that kind if shames you into second guessing that Uber, sneaky curry or trashy magazine!

 

March has been about as successful a month as I can hope to have. I’m pretty much in awe of my savings rate, but I think there may be an explanation for that…

 

Generally, I keep my savings across a few different accounts. Recently, due to the pitiful interest rate on my ISA, I closed that altogether. This may be controversial, but considering I will not be reaching the £1000 personal interest allowance any time soon, I’m much better off opting for high interest regular savings accounts or current accounts, which I’m currently drafting a post on too.

 

As well as closing my ISA, I have also been rejigging some of my regular payments to come out of different accounts. This is because one of my main “bills” accounts is actually one of the highest interest earners available, so I want to focus on that account for saving rather than paying bills. More on that later!

 

And also, I have opened a new account for saving. Again, more on that later!

 

All of these things combined over the past month have left my finances a bit up in the air.

 

It’s likely that my savings were miscalculated last month and so has made this month look better, as that was when I began moving everything around. I also had my expenses paid early in March, and so I didn’t “zero off” my current account like I usually do at the end of every month. Normally, my salary and expenses are paid on the same day so it’s very easy to manage where the cash should be sitting. At the whim of my employer however, it can sometimes change!

 

Entertainment has been fairly high this month, but looking back, quite a big chunk of this was some concert tickets for a band both myself and OH have wanted to see for ages, so totally justified! Also, taking into account this month included both St Patrick’s Day weekend and Easter weekend, it’s not actually that bad at all!

 

I am still pleasantly surprised by how much I spend on lunches and coffee during work. I think I had this grand idea in the back of my mind that fancy coffees were my downfall. If I could save money by cutting those out I’d be a millionaire!

 

That’s what they say, right? Bring a packed lunch to work and you’ll be rolling in it! Leave out the lattes and you can retire to the suburbs at 40! Not that easy, unfortunately.

 

Turns out, that one tiny thing I have to break up the working day is not worth giving up.

 

On the whole, I’m doing alright really. Realising now that my Money Diaries are probably a bit dull to read. Surely for most people, the exciting thing about Refinery29 Money Diaries is when you get someone who spends money like you could never afford to?!

 

However, and this may just be me, I do love to see reports from people earning a similar wage to me, I like to see how different people prioritise their spending, how that same wage can result in a huge variety in lifestyles across different areas of the country/world.

It’s also interesting to see how people live within their means, and by that, I mean that when their salary goes up, so do their outgoings. Even those who are earning twice or three times as much as I am, often still seem to be struggling or pinching pennies in one area or another.

 

This is something which I think happens almost unintentionally. I know personally, in the past, I have been in the situation where I have just had to live off pennies. And I got by. Now, on the wage I am earning, I can’t imagine how I would deal if I was earning less. However, in saying that, less than 2 year ago I did take a hefty pay cut for a new job, and that worked out fine.

 

It’s very easy to say that if I earned more, I would save more, but in reality, is that how I would do it? I am gunning for a pay rise at the end of this year, and the plan is that any extra income will be paid straight towards my mortgage principal, and I’ll carry on living off and saving the same as I do now.

 

I’d love to hear others opinions on increased earnings vs outgoings. Has anyone else done similar to what I hope to do, and just acted as though they never had a pay rise?

 

I suppose it comes down to “keeping up with the Joneses,” opting for the bigger house, the better car, the nicer clothes. These just aren’t things that have ever appealed to me. I grew up in an extremely low income household and have never had expensive clothes. When I got my first job and had a bit of pocket money to spend on whatever I liked, I did splurge a bit on clothes, but very quickly realised that past a certain price point, you are no longer paying for quality, you are paying for the label.

 

As far as having a big house is concerned, I am happy to have been able to purchase any house at my age, and while I do want to upsize at some stage, I don’t want no mansion y’all! When I see a huge house I’m like “Yeah it’s beautiful….but imagine having to clean this!”

Always thinking practically!

 

And nice cars, don’t even go there, despite having been driving since I was 19, now 29, and never having had an accident, I still don’t fully trust myself as a driver! Just another area of life in which I refuse to accept adulthood.

If I had a nice car you can bet your bottom dollar that I would have my first accident within about 5 minutes. Murphy’s’ Law!

 

From May onwards is where I’m really interested to see my spending, and generally over the whole summer. This is when I travel most with work, I spend very little time at home or working from my office, so in theory, a lot of my costs should drop quite significantly. I’m thinking groceries and lunch. I usually end up running out of clean clothes while away from home though, and a last minute Primark trip is often on the cards. So there’s a good chance my spending will just shift from one category to another.

 

I feel like I am getting very off topic, I’ll wrap this up here otherwise I may ramble for days.

I said it last month, but I would still love to compare my spending with someone of a similar age/salary. Can someone even tell me if I am spending a silly amount of money in any one area?!

Money Diaries: March 26th – April 1st

Formerlyskint.com - Money Diaries April 1st

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs!  By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and a monthly budget spreadsheet and I am ready to rock!*

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You may have noticed that I’m a day late with my Money Diaries this week! Unfortunately, due to a minor tree-climbing incident, I spent most of yesterday with my wrist on ice.

A stark reminder that I am actually 29, not 9.

 

Anyway, a quick trip to the doctor this morning confirms I am slightly overreacting, and with the help of a support bandage, it should be back to normal in a week or so! Quite a long time considering a lot of my job involves typing and driving…we’ll see how that goes!

Before that happened, I’d had a lovely weekend! With last week being a 4 day working week, it flew in, and Friday was spent getting all of the dull household chores out of the way.

On Saturday, myself & OH did The Big Shop ahead of cooking a huge roast dinner for some friends on Sunday, then went out for a long walk. Sunday diner was a tonne of fun, it was nice to catch up with some friends we don’t see very often.

 

Weekly Spending Review: The Breakdown

Continue reading “Money Diaries: March 26th – April 1st”

Money Diaries: 19th – 25th March

formerlyskint.com - Money Diaries March 25th

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs!  By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and a monthly budget spreadsheet and I am ready to rock!*

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Here we are again, I feel like I wouldn’t even notice the weeks passing if I didn’t seem to be always writing a Money Diary post!

This week has been a bit calmer than last week, lots of nice walks, since the weather has finally started to take a turn for the better. I’ve spent most of my weekend being super lazy and drinking gin cocktails in the garden. I mean, it’s not exactly warm yet, but it’s dry, and that’s pretty much the best us poor Brits can hope for.

Sidenote: This Copeland Raspberry and Mint Gin is currently my life!

 

The most productive thing I’ve done this week is give a gift to a friend which I bought for her 30th birthday. In September. She then found out she was pregnant in November, so I bought her a gift for that too. Then I bought her a Christmas gift. Essentially, she came to visit and left with a gift for every occasion one person can encounter in a year!

If you are all out there thinking I’m the worst friend ever, she also gave me my birthday and Christmas present. My birthday was also in September. It’s just how we roll.

A well stocked drinks cabinet has made this a fairly inexpensive week overall, but I did buy a birthday gift for OH which racked up my total spends significantly. I like to think of it as saving my future self money.

That flies, right?

 

Weekly Spending Review – The Breakdown:

Continue reading “Money Diaries: 19th – 25th March”

2018 Goals: How Do I Measure Up So Far?

Formerly Skint - 2018 Goals A Review

Guys…It’s almost April. The first quarter of 2018 is officially over.

Exactly one week ago, to the hour, it was snowing. Today, I am writing this in my garden with a gin cocktail in hand. Granted, I am well wrapped up, but it is a beautiful day!

 

I thought this would be as good a time as any to have a look back over my financial goals for the year, since we are fast approaching the July deadline which I’d set on a couple of them.

I have always been well aware that these would change through the year and I’m fine with that, as long as I have a starting point though, I really do need motivation to save money.

 

You can read the full post on my financial goals for the year here.

My financial wishlist looks something like this…

Continue reading “2018 Goals: How Do I Measure Up So Far?”

Money Diaries: 12th – 18th March

FormerlySkint.com - Money Diaries March 18th

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs!  By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and a monthly budget spreadsheet and I am ready to rock!*

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I can’t actually believe I’m here, I’ve survived, I’m on the other side of a weekend that more or less killed me off with excitement, St Patrick’s Day AND the Most Anticipated 6 Nations Match to Date. All in one go!

In fairness, aside from this, I’ve had a very dull week. Lots of working from home, which always drives me a bit mad. When I spend all day in the house, by around 7pm I am bouncing off the walls like a puppy that needs walked. So this has been a lot of my evenings, walking around the park near my house, or by the promenade on the less wet evenings. I am old before my time!

I have been, quite frankly, dreading looking at my spending. I feel like I have spent a lot more than I actually did, some impromptu flights booked and a long day of celebrations on Saturday made it seem like I was just throwing money out the window essentially.

 

Weekly Spending Review – The Breakdown:

Continue reading “Money Diaries: 12th – 18th March”

Money Diaries: 5th – 11th March

Formerly Skint Money Diaries March 11

Throughout 2018, I will be tracking every last penny I spend, and sharing it here weekly. I’m a (late) twenty-something lady, living in the North of England with my Other Half, commonly referred to as OH. I travel regularly for work, and often spend more time on the motorway than in my own home, which can often account for my fluctuating Car Expenses and entirely random Grocery costs!  By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have a better overview of where my money goes to each month, and have a realistic retirement savings plan in place (as well as the many other savings plans I have in my head, but you can read more about that here). You can also read the full series of my money diaries here. I’ve built myself a personal money tracker spreadsheet, I am armed with my bank statements and I am ready to rock!*

(*Input data)

 

This week has been a pretty short one by all accounts, I had a couple of days off work at the beginning of the week to make up for having worked all of last weekend on a bloody ferry.

Unfortunately, this gave the time to go shopping! I’ve been pretty well behaved really, and considering I took the flu a couple of days later, that’s meant I’ve not spent anything at all for a few days, while I’ve been lying on my sofa feeling sorry for myself and taking care of far more chocolate than any one person should consume.

I’ve also had my Dad and brother visiting for one night only. They are both massive football fans and “visit” quite often to go to matches at the stadium near my house. I use the term “visit” loosely, as most of my quality time with them tends to take place in the car while I’m acting as their taxi driver doing airport and stadium runs!

 

Weekly Spending Review – The Breakdown:

Continue reading “Money Diaries: 5th – 11th March”

Got Your Number? Understanding and Improving Your Credit Rating

Understanding and Improving Your Credit Score. How to boost your credit score to get a mortgage

I need to increase my credit score, Where do I start?!

Up until my mid twenties, my credit score was not even remotely on my radar. I had never thought about what it might be, if I had one, how to improve it, or even how to find out what it was.

I really began focusing my efforts on how to increase my credit score to buy a house, however, I did start to pay a bit of attention to it about a year before that. I signed up for a free website which gave me a very basic rating, but after a few months, I wanted more information and registered to receive my full credit report. Experian, and most of the other credit checking websites, will offer a free 30 day trial ahead of a monthly subscription.

Continue reading “Got Your Number? Understanding and Improving Your Credit Rating”