Welcome to Money Matters: GLAMOUR’s weekly dive into the world of finance – your finance. These uncertain times have reminded us just how much understanding our money matters and yet… how little we talk about it and how much it’s shrouded in secrecy.
This stops now.
Keen to break that money taboo, we’re chatting all things personal finance from money saving tips to ISAs and pensions. Each week, a woman in a unique situation will give us an honest breakdown of her finances, and our expert will tell her easy tips on exactly how to tackle it. So, grab a cuppa, take a seat, and let’s talk about money…
Kiran*, 28, works in PR/comms on a temporary contract that ends this month. She lives with her parents and sister in London. This is her money month…
I had a tough time at the start of the pandemic. I’d given up my job in February 2020 and then the pandemic hit and found myself without an income or furloughed and being able to enjoy the summer like my friends did. As I was unable to buy new clothes or go on staycations/trips around the UK for several months, this made me feel disheartened. So, I was really happy when I landed a job in August even if it was temporary but this is coming to an end this month).
As I live with my parents and my older sister, I was quite lucky not to worry about rent or bills during this time. My parents are quite keen for me to save for a house deposit so refuse any rent/bills money despite me arguing against.
After missing a fair few months’ wages from March-July 2020, I’ve felt pressure to play ‘catch up’. As I knew my contract was going to finish at the end of March, that did incentivise me to save a few thousand as a buffer. But the money I put aside for spending gets spent fast – I’m stuck in a perpetual ‘I’ve had a hard day, treat myself as I won’t be able to later’ mentality which means that I can hit the ‘checkout’ button several times a week.
I’m finding it tricky working out my next step – my initial goal was to save for a house deposit, but London prices are so steep and I’m not sure whether I want to have the responsibility of a house. My other option (which sounds far more exciting!) is to use the savings on a round-the-world trip when the pandemic’s over. Alternatively, my sister or even my boyfriend and I could put our savings together and find a cheaper place in London/outside the city if we decide we want to get on the property ladder. I can’t make up my mind about the next steps in my life and it often keeps me awake at night!
I feel like I’m in a financial crossroads – I’m aware I’m in a fortunate position as my savings are looking better than they have in years – 2020 was the first time I’ve actively saved in about four years. But I can feel the anxieties about the upcoming summer crop up again. If I don’t secure a role in the next few months, restrictions could lift and I won’t be able to enjoy things my salaried friends can e.g. dining out, buying new clothes or staycations. How do I maintain my savings without feeling like I’m missing out if I can’t get a role?
Current account: £17.30
Savings account: £19,112.40
Annual salary: £28,500 pre-tax; £23,020 post-tax
Monthly wage: £2,478.33 pre-tax; £1,916.97 post-tax
Any other incoming payments: Occasionally £100-200 for ghostwriting and other side hustles
- Savings: I try to put in anywhere between £550 to £1200 a month
- Charity direct debits: £38.50
- Extra charity donations: anywhere between £20-40 extra
- Website: usually between £20-28
- Sending letters/gifts to my US penpal: £20
- Toiletries: £20-30
- Local shop for essentials: £30
Splurges: Clothes, £307; gifts for my boyfriend, sister and parents, £89.24
Weekly budget: I try to give myself anywhere between £400-500 a month, but this usually gets swallowed up within the first two weeks as I don’t stick to a budget!
What I spent this month: £400
MY MONEY THOUGHTS
What I want to save for: Holidays (I want adventures in the Far East!, potentially buying property, emergencies.
How I want to plan my money for the future: To save as much as possible and to stop splurging on things I don’t need.
My worst money habit: Deliveroo! I was quite shocked to discover that I spent more than a £1,000 on Deliveroo in 2020 and in January, I spent about £200-300 on takeaways alone.
I have a similar splurge problem with clothes – I occasionally dip into my savings but then have to take it from my next pay cheque to put back into my savings!
I also have a problem beating myself up over money that’s spent and can often spiral into anxiety when I realise that I have two weeks left with only £40 or so in my account before the next pay cheque.
My biggest money worry: Losing all my money in poor financial decisions. Or blowing it all on travel and then realising later I want to buy property and having to start again.
Current money mood: 🤯 😖 🧐
WHAT OUR EXPERT SAYS
1. Dealing with the ‘what ifs’
It sounds like there are a lot of ‘what ifs’ going on, the big one being ‘what if I can’t get another job’. Out of this eventuality are a whole bunch of other ‘what ifs’ and with them, a hell of a lot of anxiety. This is so understandable; every other day we’re hit with terrifying stats about the state of the job market with young people hit hardest. You haven’t said much about how the job hunt is going but with good experience under your belt, finding another job will almost certainly happen, it’s just a question of when. If you haven’t already (and I’m sure you have) do everything you can to stack the odds in your favour; polish your LinkedIn, set up job alerts, brush up your skills on sites such as Coursera and Skillshare.
2. Get support
If the hunt takes some time, don’t be afraid to make the most of support on offer. There is no shame (I repeat, no shame) in accessing the benefits you’re entitled to. Criteria differ, but as a rule, Universal Credit is means tested, so your savings are taken into account but Jobseekers Allowance is not, so you may qualify even with your more significant savings. For someone 25 or over you’ll get a maximum of £74.35 a week. For some extra income, you could look at boosting your side hustle game with freelancer sites like Yuno Juno, UpWork or simply advertising your skills to your network.
3. The big adventure
We’ve been cooped up indoors for over a year now so believe me, I hear you on the big dream to pack it all in and travel the world. That might be exactly what you need! I wish I had all the answers to your indecision but sadly, this one’s down to you. What I will caution against is choosing the ‘more exciting’ option and blowing all your savings out of a fear of committing to anything at all. Thanks to lockdown your big adventure isn’t an option right now, so until it is I’d focus your attention on finding a new job which will also help with getting on top of your money anxieties. A job is also a key ingredient to buying a property so park those big questions for now and take it one step at a time.
4. Trimming your spending
Deliveroo and clothes shopping must be two of the greatest weaknesses of our generation. Firstly, well done for looking at the eye-opening stats of how much you’re actually spending here. With that in mind, let’s get a budget in place. This doesn’t have to be across all your spending (at least not to start with) but at the very least, set clear spending limits for these two categories. In terms of your plans for summer, nearer the time and when you’ve a better sense of your disposable income, make a budget for that too. A ‘post-Covid fun fund’ if you like. Don’t buy into the lies that you need to be doing everything that everyone else is to have fun. ‘Keeping up’ is a losing game that benefits nobody.
5. Vicious circle
Money and mental health are inextricably linked so it’s not surprising to hear about your money based anxiety spirals. Poor mental health means managing money is harder and worrying about money makes mental health worse. Hopefully my recommendations will be a good start but on top of that it could help to keep a diary of your spending. Try to record what you spend and why and keep a record of your mood too. This could help you get to the bottom of any triggers or patterns.
Alice Tapper is the author and founder of Go Fund Yourself.
This column offers guidance, not financial advice. For personal investment advice, it’s always best to speak with a financial advisor. *Name has been changed.
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