Welcome back to How I Save, our series exploring people’s relationships with money.
Each week we ask a different person to track their spending and chat us through how they budget.
Last time we nosed around the personal finances of a 25-year-old homeowner who spends her money on designer bags and fancy underwear.
This week we’re chatting with Addison, 45, a marketing manager working at a tech startup.
How Addison saves:
I earn £57,000 a year and in my savings account right now I have £44,000
I’ve saved this much money by putting aside a certain amount of money each month, forcing me to not spend on things that I don’t need.
I’m saving for my pension and kids’ education. It would be great to send them to a top international school.
I would also like to buy an apartment as investment. And of course, I maintain a bit for myself as you never know what can happen.
I struggle with saving because I think food and basics get more and more expensive each day and my overall expenses are getting higher.
Plus, I need to put money aside to transfer overseas to my family in Belgium.
Coronavirus has impacted my spending in a number of ways.
I can’t go to restaurants or bars so I don’t spend money there
Food has increased in price, so I spend more on basics.
You can’t spend too much time shopping, so I go out less and therefore don’t spend as much as before the pandemic
Cinemas, wellness centers and gyms are closed, so no expenses there either.
But in general, I think everything is becoming more expensive.
How Addison spends:
Monthly expenses: Around £2,600 (including mortgage, water, electricity, insurance, etc. for the house)
A week of spending:
Monday: Nothing. I stayed home because that’s what we’re all meant to do, and I am lucky enough to be able to work from home.
Total spent on Monday: £0
Tuesday: Nothing. Same old lockdown life.
Total spent on Tuesday: £0
Wednesday: £30 on groceries (fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, biscuits for school) and £12 for bread and pastries.
Total spent on Wednesday: £42
Thursday: I stayed home but still spent money – I transferred £100 to my family in Belgium.
Total spent on Thursday: £100
Friday: £150 on my weekly grocery shop for our household, which consists of my husband, two kids (ages six and eight) and myself.
Total spent on Friday: £150
Saturday: I bought a book for £16, plus several things for the kids at a sports shop, which all came to about £50.
Total spent on Saturday: £66
Sunday: Nothing, I stayed at home (again).
Total spent on Sunday: £0
Total spent this week: £358
How Addison could save…
This week we have advice from two different sources, both helping Addison to save more cash.
First, we spoke to the experts over at Plum, the smart app for managing your money, to find out how Addison can put aside more (and what we can learn from her spending). Please note that tips from Plum do not constitute financial advice.
Here’s what Plum said:
Hi Addison, thanks for sharing your week in money with us. Let’s take a closer look at how you’ve been getting on…
All that needs to be said here is wow. You clearly know the ins and outs of saving, having stashed away a very impressive £44,000.
Your strategy of setting aside a certain amount of your paycheck every month certainly deserves a hearty round of applause. As we are always saying here at Plum, when it’s out of sight it’s out of mind.
Having a lot of savings goals must have helped you reach this staggering sum, but it sounds like they must all be quite difficult to manage. After all, you’re juggling your children’s education fund, pension, potential new apartment fund and emergency fund all in one go.
One way you could make life a little easier for yourself is by using a money management app like Plum. You can separate your savings into different pockets to keep track of how close you are to achieving your goals.
You also mentioned that your overall expenses are getting higher, which is sadly true (thanks inflation). To combat this you could shop around for a better interest rate on your savings account, or consider alternative ways you can grow your wealth.
Three whole days with zero spending is incredible. You are smashing this one out of the park, Addison!
It does help that lockdown has reduced your spending costs to the barest of minimums. By our count, you only bought one treat for yourself this week (we hope the book was good).
Right now your highest spend is on your monthly expenses at around £650 a week. Although we can’t tell how much of this is made up by your mortgage, you could consider shopping around for cheaper deals on your utility bills.
While scrolling through price comparison websites every so often is a bit of a chore, Plum can make sure that you are always getting the biggest bang for your buck. Plum automatically analyses your payments to your utility providers and, if there’s a better deal available, it will switch you with a few quick taps.
Another option to consider is getting cashback on your purchases. To make the weekly grocery run a little sweeter, you can earn rewards when shop at certain retailers. Even if you are only getting 5% of your spend back, it could get you one step closer to achieving your savings goals.
And now, some advice from PagoFX:
Costs can quickly add up when you have to send money abroad to Belgium, pay for living expenses, and bring up two young kids at the same time.
Regular international money transfers sent using a standard bank account can charge substantial fees proportional to the size of the transfer. It all depends on who she banks with and what type of account she has with them.
Fortunately, there are solutions available. Foreign exchange transfer services, like PagoFX, are specifically designed to allow for money to be sent abroad quickly, safely, and at a much lower cost.
It is not unusual for parents to plan their child’s education years in advance, particularly when they have the intention to send them abroad to study. Schools and universities charge overseas students high tuition fees, so it is essential to save up well before the term starts.
When the kids live abroad, the cost of food and accommodation quickly adds up before they know it.
So, both the parents and children should adopt a service that allows them to monitor, keep track of, and manage their weekly spending.
You mention you’d like to buy a property for investment. With the market being unpredictable during the pandemic, it is extra important to learn how to spend and save wisely. One big cost that buyers often overlook is the deposit for the property.
If you decide to buy a property abroad, this large lump sum needs to be securely transferred overseas and it can cause plenty of anxiety. If sent using a standard bank transfer, which can charge additional fees, it can add up to thousands for the deposit. When buying property, speed can also be critical.
Standard bank transfers can be slow and take days to appear in the account of the recipient. In some cases, this could mean the difference between a property acquired and a property deal lost.
We urge buyers to keep a close eye on currency markets and be prepared to send money at the right time. Beware of hidden charges by your payment provider, which can wipe out any gains from moving money at the right time.
Buyers may benefit from today’s lower interest rates but stay cautious as lenders could decide to tighten their criteria, so tread carefully.
While holiday homeowners abroad need to be realistic about their purchase, as flights may be costlier and local lockdown restrictions could remain strict, which means that access to their property could be limited. However, there could also be lots of bargains out there right now, as current property owners are looking to quickly sell, and potential buyers drop out due to changes in their financial situations.
*Name has been changed.
How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing [email protected].
If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.
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