I’m a 28-year-old marketing & communications manager living in Preston, Lancashire.

I also own my own writing business, but I’m currently not making any money through this – but still have website hosting, accountancy fees etc.

I earn £30,000 a year.

In my Help to Buy ISA right now I have £364.55.

I saved this much money by my parents giving me and my girlfriend an engagement present of £500, as well as my grandma giving us £500 – but then I had an unexpected VAT bill for the business, which I had to field somehow.

I’m saving for my girlfriend’s 30th birthday trip to New York in December 2020, as well as our elopement in New York at the same time. We also want to save for a house, but I have a huge credit card bill that I need to pay off before this can happen.

The main way I save is putting money away, then taking it straight back out before the end of the month. So I basically don’t save.

I struggle with saving because I’m spending a lot on petrol, food, credit card repayments, LIFE.

Monthly expenses:

Rent - £575.00

Energy - £60.00

Broadband - £25.00

Mobile phone - £37.00

Car finance - £199.99

Car insurance - £67.24

Car tax - £12.25

Gym membership - £15.99

Water - £23.00

Furniture - £22.00

Council tax - £110.00

Netflix - £8.99

Trinity lottery - £4.34

Spotify - £9.99

Accountant - £51.00

Website hosting - £21.00

Microsoft - £5.99

Prescription - £9.00

Contact lenses - £18.00

TV licence (paid quarterly - £38 usually)

-

Google - £9.20

Petro l- Approx £160.00

Wedding - £50.00

Credit card - £110.00

GF birthday - £150.00

Total money out

£1,754.98

Money from GF - £200.00

Wages - £1,786.08

Total money in

£1,986.08

Total remaining

£231.10

Weekly amount

£57.78

Monday

Had a course in Liverpool through work, which meant the ticket and travel is paid for. Paid 99p for some chewing gum at the train station, but took porridge, water, and some fruit with me, so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything else. Lunch was provided, but my work colleague and I got a cheeky pint before the train back – I paid for the round, which came to £7.34 for two pints (thank goodness for Wetherspoons). Made tea from the food shopping we bought on Sunday – think it was veggie fajitas and rice.

Tuesday

Lots of bills came out of my account today as it’s the first of the month, which means I know how much I have left for the month. I keep an Excel spreadsheet with everything on to ensure I know where everything is going, but invariably, I’m always struggling by the last week of the month. Felt inspired to make a cake for my girlfriend as the Great British Bake Off was on, so bought some ingredients from the newsagents around the corner, as well as a mini bottle of wine and I two Euromillions tickets too. Came to a surprising £10.14. Think it was the greaseproof paper that pushed it over. Made lasagne and chips from the weekly shop and had leftover fajitas for my lunch.

Wednesday

Uncle’s birthday is on Friday, so sent a John Lewis gift-card in the post - £50 for the actual gift and £2 to send it. Won £3.50 on the Euromillions, so used the winnings to buy some snacks on my lunch break – Philadelphia dipper and Pepsi Max I think, which went with the Snack-a-Jacks and Quorn chicken I’d brought with me. I also ordered some photo prints online too, which came to £3.59, including postage and packaging – my mum wanted some of me and my girlfriend. Made katsu curry and rice from the weekly shop. Girlfriend also transferred me her part of the bills and the half for the food shop on Sunday, so £235.

Thursday

Worked from home, so there wasn’t the risk of spending anything unnecessary at the newsagents on my lunch break. However, my girlfriend messaged me earlier in the day to see if I wanted to go for a pub meal for tea – we haven’t been for a meal mid-week for a while, so I was looking forward to going out. I paid for two mains and two drinks, which came to £35.20.

Friday

Brought Snack-a-Jacks and Quorn chicken again for lunch, but very peckish, so popped to the shop on lunch. Instead of food I bought a bottle of Pepsi Max and two scratch cards, coming to a grand total of £5.45. Won fuck all on the scratch cards, as per.

Saturday

Two new tyres are needed on my car, so I sourced some deals and managed to get them from a local garage - £100 in total, including fitting. It was supposed to be one of my friend’s baby shower today, but I just can’t afford a present or spending money on drinks, so I’ve declined. However, in the evening, my girlfriend’s sister invites us round for tea, and I have to buy my own veggie chicken for the meal, as she doesn’t have any. This comes to £3.45.

Sunday

Big food shop today, costing £57. This will feed both my girlfriend and I for the week, including lunches. I also needed to get the rest of my mum’s birthday present, which came to £52 for some charms from Thomas Sabo, as well as the box to send them in, which was £2.99. Then my girlfriend and I decided to walk into town to get brunch (she paid) and I needed a new mascara. There was an offer on Rimmel makeup, for two items for £10 – my mascara was £7.99, so I decided it would be better to get a new powder too, as mine had almost ran out – plus it was a couple of pounds cheaper to do it this way. We then decided to get the bus home as it was raining – unfortunately we didn’t have quite enough for two tickets, but the bus driver let us on anyway, which was so kind. I contributed 60p to the bus tickets.


You’re very spenerous (i.e. very generous with your spending)

Main vice

Over the course of the week, you spent over £150 on other people. Unfortunately, your bank balance probably didn’t feel much of the love.

The gifts you bought for family members clocked up to £106.99. If two £50 gift spends per month is a regular habit, that’s over £1200 a year.

We suggest capping your gift spending to £20 per person. Are there any cheaper, thoughtful gifts you think your family and friends would really love?  If they’re coming to the wedding, we think they’d rather you save for the big day than spend lots of money on them.

We notice that you didn’t make a single trip to the gym this week, so definitely worth rethinking the value of any subscriptions or memberships you’re currently signed up to.

For anyone reading: If you go longer than a month without using a service you’re paying for, maybe think about hitting the cancel button.

Where you’re going right

Love the Excel spreadsheet. We’ve also heard there are apps out there that help you categorise your spending…

Side hustles are brilliant, so we’re very excited about your writing business. Any ways you could try and help it pay for itself?

When it comes to yourself, you’re really rather frugal. Doing one big weekly food shop and taking your own snacks to work are fantastic habits when it comes to saving.

Spending plan

We’re going to give you a goal of getting 15% of your income (£298) into savings each month (and keeping it there). Every time you’re tempted to take it straight back out again, get on the Internet and window shop for the house you want to save for.

Judging from your current budget, when your wedding and girlfriend’s birthday present are paid for, you should be good to start putting 20% of your income into savings.

Bottom line

When it comes to buying gifts for your loved ones, sentimentality beats cold hard cash every time.