how I manage my finances without a budget

2019, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

Figuring out my finances is something I’ve had to watch very closely this month – with buying a car on finance and the end of last month and spending my wages before I got them, this month has been and will be very, very tight but in the months leading up to buying my car and this month of tight budgeting I’m so proud of how well I’ve managed them that I’ve decided to share!

I’m someone who feels inclined to spend money when they’re sad so being able to tackle that and being at a point where I know I can save reliably and buy myself a car without dipping into my savings is a big step for me.

And the biggest thing for me is not having a set budget – I’ve tried apps like Yolt and Cleo and I just found they weren’t flexible enough for real life. Saying ‘I’m only going to spend £X this month’ doesn’t allow for spontaneous plans – paying for trains for a job interview,  having to pay for more bus tickets than expected or even going for a last minute coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time can effect your budget and I just found that it didn’t work for me. So this is more about tracking your finances and making sure you can hit all your goals – whether that’s saving a certain amount, not spending over a certain amount (I guess that’s having a budget) or just making sure you can pay all your bills, these are my tips and tricks for flexible financing.

*obviously I’m not an expert and I’m not claiming to be, just sharing tips from someone who using half her savings to live last year and now has bought herself a car on finance*

1. Have somewhere to track your finances

I only mention my bullet journal in basically every blog post I write but for me I have a spread in my journal for my finances each month. On the left I have notes which I will expand on and on the right page is where I write down everything I’m spending as it comes out of my bank account. I don’t track cash spending because either I will have drawn that cash from my bank which I track or it’s cash that I’ve been given for whatever reason so it doesn’t effect my bank account. I tried tracking as I spent but then it got confusing with keeping receipts and it’s better for the environment if not so now I just track my spending as it comes out of my bank account.

Either way, I recommend writing it all down! Whether it’s a note on your phone, a notebook that you have specifically for finances or in a bullet journal like me, write it down!

Normally it’s neater than this, but having somewhere to really know how much I’m spending it important to me

2. Plan your month

I like to break it down with my income at the top of the left hand page, then a list of all my bills and when I’d expect them to come out (then I can tick them off and it’s very satisfying) and then a list of any costs I know I’m going to incur.

So this month I had to pay for a tattoo (because car and tattoo timing ended up being awful), two driving lessons, my savings challenge and bus fares and having it all written out makes it much easier to track.

My savings challenge, for anyone that’s interested, came from Facebook last year – you save a pound more every week for a whole year (so £1, then £2, then £3 etc) so it was really easy in January but now I’m saving just under £150 a month and by the end of the year it’ll be a lot per month but I’ll have over £1300 saved in a year which I’m so proud of and I haven’t done it yet, but it’s important to me and I want to complete it!

So knowing what my month is going to look like is really helpful – taking my bills and planned payments into account means I know how much money I have to play with and depending on how much I want to save and what it is I want to spend my money on I can figure out my spending from there.

3. Focus on what you need and not what you want

It’s so easy when you get an email about 20% off on ASOS or you fancy some Bourneville Buttons to just go and buy them, but if you really want to make the most of your finances you have to think about what you really want from them.

If a treat every now and then is in your budget then go for it, if you’ve had your eye on a jacket that really fills a gap in your wardrobe then go for it, but if you really need to save and you’re looking at buying a new notebook for the sake of it then you really need to think about if it can wait.

Another thing I find helps with this is having a post it note or section in your journal towards a ‘big spend’ – if there’s something that you want or need to spend slightly more money on. I have a big spend post it note that I transfer to each monthly finance spread with each month and what I would like to be my ‘big spend’ if I can afford it. It’s meant that because I could plan it out, I bought myself a Nintendo Switch in May, a new car in June and I’m hoping to be able to get prescription sunglasses and pay the deposit on a rented property in August. It really is achievable if you set your mind to it!

It’s a difficult skill to master discipline and nobody’s perfect, but trying your best is the best you can do.

So there’s my top advice for helping manage your finances in a more realistic way than most of the apps will let you. I personally find them all too fiddly and they never track my bills right, but maybe I’ve just not put the time into them.

I think I’ll always be a pen and paper gal myself, but I hope this helps in some way!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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August Mini Goals

2018, film, lifestyle, photography

Hello!

How July flew past – between trying to survive the heatwave and adjusting to life as a graduate, it’s been a bit of whirlwind. But let’s jump right in with reviewing my July goals.

[ J U L Y   G O A L S : R E V I E W ]

  1. Content – stick to the plan! I’m actually really proud of myself with this one, I’m feeling much more on top of this goal and I feel like I’m making stuff I’m actually really proud of!
  2. Portfolio – my portfolio on my blog is all done and ready for updating as and when I have something new to post (you can have a nosy here), my showreel was a much slower start but I knuckled down, made a list of everything I wanted to include, sourced all the footage and started cutting it down – so it’s not quite finished but it’s nearly there!
  3. Workout – I decided against making too much of an effort with this one because it was just too hot to workout and it wasn’t worth the hassle. But I have been making an effort to try and do lots of walking and just yesterday I started using my mum’s treadmill and I’m going to start working up from there – I did a whole rant on my Instagram stories which I saved to highlights (and I will write a full blog post on it soon!) if you want a sneak peak.
  4. Work experience – I was struggling a bit with this one because having finished my degree and in the midst of applying for career starting jobs, applying for work experience all felt a little backwards – I was unsure about what I wanted from each company I was looking into but I’ve done a bunch more research and sent a few emails off the other day.
  5. Applying for jobs – I actually, no joke, lost count of how many jobs I’ve applied for in the last couple of weeks. I lost my mojo a little bit at the end of June but by mid-July I’d pulled up my metaphorical socks and told myself I am worthy of a cool job in an industry I love, I just need to keep going to get there and that’s what I’ve done. Hopefully I’ll hear back from something soon but in the mean time, I will keep applying.

That was long, but let’s jump right into August!

[ A U G U S T   G O A L S : L O O K I N G   A H E A D ]

I wanted to shake things up a little this month – I felt like my goals had been basically the same for months I needed to adjust my focus a little bit.

  1. Write 15,000 words – in July I had a go at Camp NaNoWriMo and though I didn’t hit my target word goal, I did find the same kind of enjoyment out of writing that I used to when I was a teenager and I want to maintain that this month.
  2. Finish my passion project – I’ve had a video project for my YouTube channel on the backburner for a little while now and I’m determined to finish it this month. It’s a little out there but it’s something I really want to make and I can’t wait to share it!
  3. Focus on my Insta content / take more photos! I’ve been really enjoying Instagram at the moment and working on balancing a theme and pretty content with real life photos that match up to what I’m actually doing day in day out and I want to work on that even more. I want to take more photos and make my instagram the best it can be!
  4. Start budget tracking – I’ve not done any kind of budget tracking since I got my penultimate loan instalment in January but now I have no upcoming loans and I don’t have a lot of money, so I need to keep track of what I’m spending and where I’m spending it to make sure I have enough money to keep me going.
  5. Watch more films! I don’t necessarily mean go to the cinema more but there’s a lot of classic films that I haven’t seen, some because I know I won’t like them but a lot because I just never got round to seeing them! My mum has a pretty spectacular DVD collection (that I just databased and alphabetised) so I think we’re going to start working our way through that.

A little bit rambly this month, but I graduated in July so there’s been a fair bit of self-evaluation. I’m feeling productive and creative at the moment so hopefully that follows through!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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