Let’s be real for a minute here and start by saying that talking about money is boring. Literally, so boring. I don’t know anyone who enjoys talking about their finances without a pre-moan about how skint they are currently. Although, that could just be that my close circle of friends are always skint and that my previous statement doesn’t necessarily apply to every. Maybe? Probably.
my current situation
Last year I quit my job to go back to being a full time student. Before I came to this decision I had to seriously think if 1. would it be worth it in the long run? 2. could I financially support myself from just my student loan, and 3. would we still be able to afford the bills etc? The answer to all three of those questions was yes, but with some serious strategy behind it.
To clarify, I’m not currently working right now. I occasionally make money from my blog or some commissioned work, but other than that I completely rely on my small student loan every month. I’m also incredibly lucky to have a partner who supported my decision to better my future career prospects and who can help with a lot of the bills. At the moment we don’t split the bills equally, he earns more than three times my student loan so we split the bills proportionately based on that. If it weren’t for Craig, I don’t think I’d be able to be studying again.
my experience with money
I’ve never been great with money. Ever. It got really irresponsible when Craig and I were both working full time and between us were bringing in over £3000 each month after tax, yet all we did was squander it. To be fair, we did buy some pretty nice things – new laptops, bikes, holidays etc, but fundamentally it all went on stuff we didn’t really need. (I also realise that sounds so much like a humble-brag, but it’s really to show how shit I am with handling my pennies!)
It wasn’t until I quit my job that I realised that I am especially terrible with money. I had no idea when my bills were coming out, how much they were for and some of the Direct Debits I had coming out were for things I had no idea about.
actually getting organised
I quickly realised that I’d need to organise my finances, and I do love a bit of organisation.
I sat down with my laptop, bank account open, notepad in hand and jotted down all my outgoings and expenses and the dates the payments were coming out. I weeded out things I no longer was using (hey, phone insurance from a company I wasn’t even with any more) and ended up with a list of all my updated bills.
With a little encouragement I set up a spreadsheet on Excel – I hate Excel – and changed around the formulas a little so that I can keep an up to date tracker of where my money is and where it’s going.
I have five tables on the spreadsheet. On the left hand side I have a table for my different sources of income for the month, calculated in advance. Underneath I have a table for my total income, my combined outgoing, money spent and money leftover. The last table of the left is my bill tracker, which shows me the bills, the date due and the amount and then a total at the bottom.
On the right hand side I have two tables for me to track what I spend from my current account and my credit account. I use both for varying things so I like to track where the money is going. When I put something in either of these tables it totals it at the bottom and subtracts it from the money left over on the left hand side.
It’s probably more complicated than it needs to be but it’s really helped the last two months to organise my finances.
I now find that when I’m tracking my money I don’t spend it on stupid things as much. I mean, I’ll still treat myself to the occasional mug with cats on it or a fluffy blanket (I’m an old lady) but I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be. I contribute more to the house bills now and can afford to spoil the pets ever more than I was before. They’re so spoiled now.
I think that for someone to go from being useless with money to being incredibly organised in the space of a few weeks is actually quite an achievement. So if you’re anything like me, I highly recommend sitting down and doing the same thing. Get sorting those pennies!
Now I’m off to go put some things in my tracker. I accidentally bought a hat from H&M purely because it said ‘meow’ on it.
Don’t judge me, I’m still learning!