Clara*, 29, is a clerical officer for a local government from Bristol, who was due to start a new career chapter when Covid-19 changed everything. This is her money month…
Keen to break that money taboo, we’re chatting all things personal finance from daily budgets 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…
I work Monday to Friday in a busy office doing everything from reception work to sitting in meetings and taking minutes. I was due to take over a new role but due to Covid-19 have been working at home for the last 8 weeks although still doing my normal hours the role has significantly changed.
Unable to work in the office and now working at home surrounded by noisy neighbours, this has flipped my work upside down also now dealing with helpline calls from people in desperate need of food, prescriptions and more. With the added stress of my flat sale falling through and now unable to pay off any debts I am back to square one.
Current account: £280
Savings account: £95
Monthly wage of: £1,408
Monthly wage post Covid-19: The same
Any other incoming payments: £330 from partner towards bills.
Bills: £405 including service charge, council tax etc.
Other: I have two credit cards which eat up £150, a loan of £160, Car finance of £235 and £110 to pay on a holiday each month.
Splurges: Other than a takeaway on payday and a bit of ebay shopping, one problem I do have is spending money on my lunch break as I work in town. I have no where really to do at lunch so spend an hour a day walking round the shops.
Weekly budget: I try to have a weekly budget of £95 a week for myself, food and fuel but I don’t usually stick to this. Also my budget includes pet food as we have a house rabbit.
What I spent this month: With lockdown I am spending about the same however a bit less on fuel. I feel like this would be the perfect time to start saving but yet again this hasn’t worked for me.
What I was left with: £20 in current account which is more than I usually have at the end of the month.
Credit card: I have two which I racked up when moving into my property as it needed new bathroom, painting, carpets etc these add up to around £7,000. I then have a loan as the boiler broke which is on £2,590.
MY MONEY THOUGHTS
What I want to save for: Somewhere nicer to live.
How I want to plan my money for the future (pensions/investments etc): My goal is to pay off all my debts once that has happened to start saving for the future and buy a nice car!
My worst money habit: Buying cheap tat from shops. I just can’t help it if I find a bargain.
My biggest money worry: Never being debt free.
Current money mood: ?♀️ ? ?
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS
Bargain. I’m all for bargain hunting but what does the B-word mean to you? So often we’re fed this idea that because something’s cheap it’s value for money: wrong! A bargain is something that has a good return on investment. In other words, something you enjoy using often and that will last a long time. Bonus points if it’s good for the planet too!
If you’re consistently going over budget, you’re not failing, the budget is. Have some self-compassion, take a step back and reset. There are 101 budgeting techniques out there but the one I always come back to is the adapted 50:30:20 which you can learn more about here.
Investigate balance transfers
I don’t have the details of your debt but if you are paying interest on your credit cards, it might be worth looking into a balance transfer. This is when you transfer your debt onto a lower/no-interest card. There’s sometimes a fee but it can save you £1000s. Always use an eligibility tool like this one to run a soft-search first before applying.
Re-think your lunch routine
Getting out of the office is often a must but it sounds like you’re spending time and money out of boredom rather than with intention. Browsing the shops could be your Friday treat but are there any free activities you could do on the other days? Read? Visit the park? Listen to a podcast? Go on a run?
Audit your bills
Your bills are almost 30% of your income which is pretty high so take some time to evaluate these. Are there any non-essentials you could cut just whilst things are feeling a bit tight? You might find you can get a better deal by using a comparison site like U-Switch or use an auto-switching service like Look After My Bills.