If you feel like you’re rubbish with money, you’re not alone.
We don’t get much of a financial education at school. Then we get thrust into the world of earning money and having to use it to live, while still being baffled about how exactly taxes work and what sort of salary we can reasonably expect.
It doesn’t help matters that we’re all encouraged to keep schtum about our finances, with money continuing to be treated as a taboo topic.
Our weekly series, How I Save, aims to open up the conversation.
Each week we take a look inside a different person’s week of spending and saving, tracking their ingoings and outgoings over the course of seven days.
Today we’re looking at the financial habits of Derek*, a 25-year-old copywriter living in London.
How Derek saves:
I earn £37,000 a year. In my savings account right now I have about £18,000. It could be more or less. I don’t have access to it and haven’t looked at in about 18 months.
I also have an investment account with Freetrade that has around £3,000 in it.
I’ve saved this much money because after university I lived at home for a while and saved almost my entire salary for eight months. After that I lived abroad, paid very low taxes and my rent was only about £180-200 a month.
I’m saving for a house or to invest in something big. At themoment I don’t really have a concrete plan of what I want to do.
The main way I save is by investing. In the past, I putmoney into an investment account that I don’t have access to. Now I use an appcalled Freetrade to invest when I get my salary, at the end of the week and, ifI think I can make some quick money in the markets, then I do it randomlyduring work.
I struggle with saving because I have almost no self-controland enjoy eating and drinking.
How Derek spends:
My rent and bills usually come to £750 and I put another £750 into my Freetrade account.
A week of spending:
Monday: I usually walk to work so don’t pay any transport fees. I spent £5 on chicken katsu curry for lunch.
After work, I used a Lime bike to get to and from 5-a-side in Peckham – that cost £8.60 in total.
After football, I got chicken shwarma meat with salad (no bread!) at a kebab place for £6.99.
Total spent on Monday: £20.59
Tuesday: Got a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast from Pret for £2.19. Mailed a couple of packages for £7.10.
For lunch, I spent £5 on a falafel wrap and £2.50 on a chocolate pudding.
In the evening, I spent £3.65 on bacon, bread and an avocado for dinner.
Total spent on Tuesday: £20.44
Wednesday: Woke up late and got the Tube to work which cost £2.40. Then I got another bacon and egg sandwich from Pret for £2.19.
Spent £6.50 on some Italian food for lunch.
In the afternoon I thought I’d YOLO the markets and invested £100 in gold with the Freetrade app. For dinner, I had Domino’s which cost £16.73.
Total spent on Wednesday: £27.82
Thursday: Woke up late again so got the tube two stops to work, which cost me £2.40.
Bought lunch at a Lebanese place for £7.50 and then had to order contact lenses online which were £64.
Total spent on Thursday: £73.90
Friday: Before work, I checked the markets and saw my gold investment had increased in value by around 10% so I sold out, having made a tenner.
On the way to work, I bought a chocolate twist from Rinkoff’s for £1.80 and then for lunch I spent £7.50 on lasagne.
In the evening, I went out with some friends and spent £12 on food and a beer.
Total spent on Friday: £21.30
Saturday: I got pelmeni (dumplings) for lunch at Zima’s, which was a total rip-off at £11.81. After that I went with a friend to New Evaristo and had two beers, which ended up costing £8. We then went to Bar Italia for late-night coffee and tiramisu – that cost me £8.
Transport for the day was £4.80.
Total spent on Saturday: £32.61
Sunday: I went to my parents’ house for lunch and had to get the Tube, which cost me £4.80. Otherwise, I didn’t do anything so spent no money.
Total spent on Sunday: £4.80
Total spent this week: £201.46
How Derek could save:
We spoke to the experts over at Plum, an AI assistant that aims to boost your bank balance, to find out how Derek can save better (and what we can learn from his spending).
Here’s what they said:
Hey Derek, thanks for sharing your week with us!
Some people might be surprised that you say you ‘struggle to save’, as you’ve got £18,000 stashed away plus £3,000 that you keep accessible for investments.
However, if there’s anything we’ve learnt from talking money day-in-day-out, it’s that wealth is very subjective. It’s a conundrum that however much we earn or save, we always feel like we could be doing a better job with our finances. Ain’t that just the way of life!
So let’s take a closer look…
Thanks to your savvy salary savings when you were living at home, you’ve put aside a substantial amount that you wisely keep out of sight, out of mind.
You don’t say where you keep this bigger chunk but it’s always worth regularly shopping around when it comes to savings accounts. Watch out for the ones that earn less than inflation!
In terms of investments, you’re clearly in the know (Warren Buffet, is that you?). Your approach shows a level of diversification that any wannabe investor should emulate.
Popular advice would suggest that you avoid having all your eggs in one basket, investing in a variety of different funds and keeping emergency money separate and accessible. You’re wise to be following this with your savings, keeping a portion of your hard-earned cash protected in case of any sudden market downturn. Because, of course, you can lose as well as gain when you invest.
You don’t say if you pay into a pension or not; this might not seem like a big priority at the age of 25, but your employer will top up any payments you make, which is effectively money for free. As you don’t know what exactly you’re saving for right now, ramping up your pension contributions would make a lot of sense.
You can use an app like Plum to help you find other ways to save that bit extra, particularly on bills or to help you with specific short term saving goals.
Now onto the fun stuff!
When it comes to spending, it all comes down to what you want out of life. Many people get a lot of pleasure out of being frugal, and others enjoy buying exactly what they want, when they want it.
You don’t come across like the type of person who has ‘no-self control’; at least, your bank balance would say otherwise. Rather, you know what you like (eating and drinking) and you make sacrifices in other areas to stay on track.
For example, most people would not want to spend their tea break buying investments in gold, but that £10 you made on the investment pays for a nice weekday lunch. It’s not a strategy that would work for everyone, but there’s no denying it works for you!
If you really do feel some stress about your spending, it’s always a good idea to keep track of your spending in an app and separate your salary into different Pockets, so you decide beforehand exactly how much you want to spend on what.
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.
*Name has been changed.
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