August Goals

2019, goals

Hello!

I’ll be honest, I’m thrilled that July is over – it was too hot, my finances were stretched to the tightest they could possibly be and I have so many plans that are taking place in August that July was just in the way to be honest.

So I’m genuinely excited to set myself some new goals – this month is super exciting with lots of lovely plans. First up, I’m taking my second driving test and whilst I probably shouldn’t be shouting and screaming about it because that really bit me in the bum last time, I’m feeling good about it – I feel much more ready this time! Then after that there’s volunteering at YouTube convention Summer in the City, a summer bbq with friends and family, a trip to York to see my godmother’s gorgeous family and getting the ball rolling on moving back down to the South!

I’m so excited! These are the five things I’m going to be focusing on this month:

  1. Find somewhere to live – long story short, I’m starting an MSc in Digital Media Production in September and my boyfriend and I are relocating to Reading in early September so I really need to find a property before I accidentally spend the deposit! (I’m joking, obviously… just to clarify!)
  2. Don’t use any savings money – since I bought my car, I’ve had to borrow money from my savings right at the end of the month and pay it straight back on payday. I had the money it just all happened the wrong way round. When I bought the car I borrowed a lot and it made July a really tricky month, at the end of this month I have to borrow a little bit just to pay the last of my bills and in August I want to be clear out of my savings again and back on top of my finances. I wrote a blog post all about how I manage my finances and I stand by that – it’s working really well for me and I have faith going forwards that I can add to my savings more than I take. I’ve saved nearly £500 this year so far so I’m not doing too bad!
  3. Make creative vlogs – and with finances on my mind, I’ve been working pretty nonstop – usually 4 days a week of 9-10 hours and it means that my weekly vlogs have been pretty dull to be honest. But being creative is something I prize myself at being able to do so I need to spend some time brainstorming some creative ways to make my vlogs interesting even when I’m not really doing anything interesting! Making it a new challenge will hopefully inspire me to do something different!
  4. Read one book – one of my goals for this year was to read 12 books – either one book a month or the equivalent. In July I’ve been really struggling to sleep well and it’s a circle of I’m too tired to read but scrolling through my phone before I go to sleep is probably waking me up but with the arrival of Louise Pentland’s new book Wilde Women (thoroughly recommend the whole series, it’s a really well written women’s fiction – it’s like watching a daily vlog!) I’m determined to get back into it. I started this year reading Wilde About The Girl and I’m going to let this wonderful series be my way back into fiction. I’m sure I can manage one book!
  5. Write 40,000 words – I do love a writing challenge! I’m going to write a whole blog post about training for NaNoWriMo later this week, but from July’s 35,000 word challenge (which should be a success – still one day to go!) I’m going straight into 40,000 words in August to prep for 50,000 in November. I’m so in love with writing at the moment and I’m very excited to start redrafting my original novel in November.

At the moment I’m bossing making really effective to do lists that are making me really productive and giving me more free time to play video games and play the Harry Potter game on my phone guilt free!

I might even get time to go out in the nice sunshine if it’s not too hot! I feel like I can’t find the words to really explain my excitement for this month – I’m feeling positive, there’s lots of exciting developments and I’m genuinely excited to see where the rest of the year takes me.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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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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June Goals

2019, goals

Hello!

How is it June?? By the end of the month we’ll be halfway through this year and that really baffles me, however stupid that sounds? But it does mean there’ll be a check in on my New Year’s Resolutions and we all know how much I love tracking goals.

May was busier than I anticipated and I didn’t get the time to work on my goals as much as I’d hoped, but I’ve adapted this months goals and my time management accordingly. So this is where I’m going to focus this month!

  • take my driving test – this one isn’t much of a ‘goal’ to be honest, because my test is booked for the end of the month, but I didn’t want to set myself the challenge of definitely passing my test because if it doesn’t happen I don’t need that extra pressure. I just want to take the test, I need to make sure I’m ready and if I pass? That’s fabulous, if not? It’s not the end of the world. Just want to take the test.
  • keep up with my uni course – I started a Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning last month and the first two weeks of the course have been a bit manic in juggling and balancing it with work and pre-booked commitments. I really want to do well in this and make it worth the effort so I need to put the time in!
  • run 3x a week – how many times have I mentioned it? Approximately three million times, but I’m doing this Couch to 5k app and I’ve been running for about five weeks now and that’s really huge progress for me. I’ve had to repeat Week 4 because I needed more time to adjust to it but I’m actually not hating it – it’s a challenge, in the best way. I can now run for 4, nearly 5 minutes straight and I’m running and walking for about 3k. I really want to keep it up and three times a week isn’t actually as difficult to commit to as I thought! So maintenance and progress is my goal this month.
  • find some local photography work – I loved taking dance photos the other month and I really want to do more and develop that. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it yet, maybe I need to just go to local sports matches and email every local dance school, competition and sports team I can think of, maybe I just need to work on networking and building up contacts. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to get my camera out more.
  • spend less and save more – May was an expensive month, but I’d worked hard and saved and bought myself a Nintendo Switch, don’t regret it at all, but want to be more mindful this month – put more into savings if I can. I’ve been using this savings plan so far this year and I love it. To be honest, I’m planning to upgrade my car this month, so I’ve not quite figured out where that fits in but I’ll figure that out at some point…

Towards the end of May, I think I was setting myself too much to do and expecting too much of myself so I want to focus on putting less value on productivity. I need to learn how to relax and spend more time doing the things I enjoy – video games, watching YouTube, cooking, family time.

Any tips? Because I don’t think I’ve really relaxed for about four years now!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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