In the past, when I had my part time job, I was able to build up a good chunk of money in my savings account. However, I have never been strict about keeping it there…I never used it for everyday things, but I used it when I wanted clothes or makeup that my student loan wouldn’t cover (I actually tend to use my loan for bills and food). There was nothing wrong with it at the time, because I didn’t have anything serious to save for, and my part time job money was supposed to be my money to spend on “fun things” but now that I’m getting closer to adulthood (Yes I said closer – I refuse to admit that I’m technically an “adult” already) I figured I’d start acquiring some actual savings this year.
When I first started looking into money saving tips, everything was so overwhelming, and didn’t seem like it would be in keeping with my lifestyle at all; I’m a student, without a real steady income and books to buy and bills to pay and a pretty small maintenance loan because my parents are considered “well off” even though we’re not exactly rich. I needed some small changes that still made a difference without stressing me out, so throughout January I tried out some things for myself, and I think now I’ve got the hang of it. The systems that I put in place have been working well so far, and I managed to save £300 in the month of January! This may not sound like much, but considering I’m a student with no steady income and a plethora of bills, if I could keep this rate up for the year I’d be doing pretty well.
I’m obviously not an expert, but I figured I could provide a realistic approach that seems to be working for me…
Tip 1: I budget
As a university student, I get a maintenance loan, which is distributed over the year in termly increments. I have to make the bulk sum I get given at the start of the term last for the whole term, so to me, the only solution is budgeting.
I have a spreadsheet set up, listing every week of the University year (Separated by terms), and at the beginning of each term, I get the money that I’m given for my maintenance loan and divide it by the number of weeks in the term. Then every Monday I make sure that I have that weekly amount in my account, and keep track of the money I spend, separated into categories (Food, bills, takeaways, nights out school supplies, etc.). I’m able to see my outputs and how much I’ve saved each week and in total, and it helps me evaluate whether I’m being sensible with my money.
Tip 2: I decide where my incoming money is going
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t have a steady income, so I have to really keep track of what money I do have coming inand where it’s going when I receive it. The way that I do this is pretty simple:
- I jot down my main sources of income (For me those are my maintenance loan, internship payments, blog income, and seasonal birthday and Christmas money).
- I separate that money into money that is “needed to live” and money that is “a happy extra” (Maintenance loan and part of my internship money is needed to live, and blog income and seasonal money is a happy extra).
- Based on their category, they are then sorted into their retrospective accounts (see the next tip).
Tip 3: I separate my bank accounts
Within my Natwest account, I’m able to have 3 separate accounts: 1 current account and 2 savings accounts. It sounds a little complicated, but I promise that it’s simpler than it seems, and allows me to separate my life out a little bit.
The current account is for the money that I use to make purchases, pay bills and so forth. During the University period, this is the account that I transfer my weekly amount into. Outside of term time, it’s where my spending money lives.
Savings account 1 is for the money that I know I’ll have to dip into semi-regularly,but don’t want to let loose into my current account. This is where the bulk of my maintenance loan lives, as I transfer weekly increments into my current account. This is also where half of my internship money will go, as this will be used as spending money outside of University term time.
Savings account 2 is for the money that I don’t want to touch. These are the savings that I’m trying to grow, that I don’t want to be dipping in and out of. My blog money goes straight in here, as I class it as a “happy extra”, as well as most of my seasonal money… However, I do allow myself to use some of my birthday and Christmas money to treat myself, as ultimately that’s what it’s intended for. I also put half of my internship money in here, because, again, I’m trying to save that.
Tip 4: I try a weekly challenge (When I can)
I read somewhere online at the beginning of the year about using micro-amounts of money to save during the year. Essentially, you transfer £1 into your savings account on a Monday, £2 on a Tuesday, £3 on a Wednesday and so forth during the week, until you’re transferring £7 on the Sunday and then you start again with £1 on the next Monday. It doesn’t sound like much, and retrospectively it’s probably money that you’d end up spending on small little things that you didn’t even notice. However, it ends up being £28 a week, which works out to £1456 if you’re able to keep it up for the year! Not bad for a small amount leaving your account everyday…
I really stress the when I can part here, because it’s not always possible for me. Sometimes my bills are bigger, or I’m spending a lot more of my weekly budget on food or social activities, and can’t spare that £28, but I try as often as I can, because I did it through most of January and I could already see it making a difference in my savings account!
And those are all my tips! I try not to put too much pressure on myself, because saving isn’t always possible and often life takes over, so here are some little things I do to make sure that it never gets too much for me. I do recognise the privilege that I have, in the sense that I live with my parents for half of the year and they stress that they’re always there for me if I’m running out of money or need a little help.
However, I try to do all that I can to be at least a little bit financially independent… Besides, I’d never ask, or expect them to pay for things such as clothes, or outings and holidays with my friends, so I do need and make savings by myself.
Let me know your best savings secrets in the comments!
Lots of love,