I’ve never been great with money, saving is simply a concept that I’ve never grasped. Money literally burns a hole in my pocket and I compulsively spend it on nothing. I’m too impulsive to be an effective saver and hate the thought of restricting myself in any way. I have no discipline. At all.
But things are having to change. I’ve had a job since I was 15 years old, I’ve always been employed, even working full time at Uni. I can’t honestly say I know what I did with all the money I’ve earnt in that time. I don’t have much to show for it, but I’ve always had the security of a regular pay check. That’s about to change.
After working for various Digital Marketing agencies, I finally realised that working in an agency is not for me. In fact, working in a company no longer feels like a good fit. I am tired of the inflexibility that comes with a 9 to 5, trying to book appointments around work or sitting in an overly air-conditioned office while the sun is shining brightly. I’m tired of not being able to choose which clients I want to work with and having meetings about having meetings. So, at the end of this week, one day before my 32nd birthday, I’ll leave the agency world and go freelance.
The opportunities are endless, I’ll be able to go to the gym in the mornings, work as a freelance Social Media Consultant and dedicate more time to the blog, something I am truly passionate about despite having neglected it a bit for the last year or so. I’m even thinking about signing Bruno up to a pet modeling agency to make some extra money. I’m feeling positive and really motivated for the first time in ages and as if I have exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
But with the freedom I gain from working for myself, I lose that of having a guaranteed income. I understand the nature of freelance, some months I’ll no doubt make less than I am now and others more. I lose the security of real sick pay; additional maternity leave and paid holiday.
The reality of all of this means that now, more than ever I must take control of my finances. I need to save money to have back up for slow months, allowances for holidays and security for when Joe and I start our family. Then as if by pure serendipity Plusnet mobile offered to give me a helping hand and provided me with a few things to help.
Plan to prepare or prepare to fail
One of my biggest pleasures is food, working in the center of Brighton I was surrounded by way too much temptation. I was lazy and rarely made packed lunches, or would buy the food but forget to take it. As I’ll be working from home, that will no longer be an issue, I can reduce spend on food and get back to healthy eating. The easiest way to do this is to plan your meals, making this magnetic planner so useful as I can just pop it in the fridge.
Find the best value for money on your food. I can get 5kg of chicken breast for £20, freeze them all up and use them up throughout the month if I use it effectively. Chicken is versatile, I can grill it with vegetables for kebabs, use it in a salad or throw it in a curry and freeze it for a backup meal later in the month.
Food planning goes hand in hand with batch cooking. Save money and eat healthy by snooping out reduced vegetables or meat at your supermarket, and then use them to feel your freezer with food. Veggies are often cheaper than meat so use them to bulk out your dish. Buy Quorn or mince to make chili, lasagne or cottage pie, adding plenty of vegetables to make the meal go further and keep the calories down. Then put it into foil trays or freezer bags and freeze the extra portions for later.
Saving means we must consult our means rather than our wishes
Budgeting. The word almost leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but this is going to have to change. Currently, I allow myself to be blissfully unaware of my bank balance, so dangerous. Writing a budget in my book and sticking to it is essential. I guess that to me budget means boring. The idea of not going out for drinks or a meal here and there will make me miserable. As the saying goes (and the title of the handy book Plusnet sent me), The best things in life are free. So it’s time for me to discover them.
I love visiting museums and looking at architecture. Hove museum was on my walk home from school. I often popped in, spending ages there taking in the history of Brighton. Here is my chance to discover all the stories and art I can in Brighton and Hove’s plethora of museums and galleries.
I can become more active, taking long walks with Bruno, or go hiking across the downs with a picnic along. As a treat, I can swap our Natwest cash back for Cineworld tickets. It’s better value for money, and eat out sticking to a spending limit.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves
It’s crazy how quickly loose change transforms into a pleasant chunk of cash. I’d like to think that I could stick to something like the 365-day 1p saving challenge, but I know my limits. The idea is that you fill your piggybank up in line with the day of the year it is. So, on day one you put away a penny, day two, 2 pence, and so forth. The early days are easy, towards the end of the year it’s £3+ a day. However, it soon becomes £667.95.
A more realistic way of saving pennies for a rainy day is to empty your pocket change into your jar every day. Or I could use an app like Moneybox which lets you set a weekly saving target and automatically rounds up every purchase on your card to a pound and transfer the change to a savings account.
Never let your loyalty make you a fool
One thing that I do quite regularly is shop around for my regular services. I am always on top of when it’s time to switch my utility bills and shop around to get the best offer. Saving a couple of quid on each bill a month adds up over the year. But it’s also worth thinking about what other things you pay regularly that you could shop around for. Could you have a better current account? Just because you’ve been with the same bank since you were 10, doesn’t mean you have to be loyal. Banks don’t reward loyalty.
The same logic applies to my phone contract since I am going Sim only with Plusnet. I’ll paying less than half of what I was paying with O2 and increasing my data from 1GB to 3.
A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but its persistence
I need to stay motivated to save, diet and pursuit my freelance career. No procrastinating with Netflix. I must be focused and driven, things that I feel I have lost in recent years. It’s important to have a PMA (positive mental attitude) going into this new chapter of my life. I’m sure I will use this light box to fill my home office with inspirational quotes.
Any tips for saving, or helping me stay on track would be really appreciated. Please comment below.
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