tracking joint finances + setting savings goals!

2021, goals

Hello!

If you’ve read any of my bullet journal, goals or organisation posts, you’ll know how much I love planning and making lists. Tracking my finances is no different – I implemented finance tracking in my bullet journal when I decided I wanted to get out of my overdraft before I left uni (still one of my proudest achievements). I set myself a weekly budget and used my weekly spread to make sure I stuck to it, in third year I kept receipts for everything because it was easier to remember how much I spent and I managed to buy myself a new phone outright before I went to New York in 2018 so I used to be quite good at managing all my finances!

At the end of 2020 I saw this video from Hannah Witton about tracking her joint finances with her husband and when I’m shown a pretty spreadsheet, obviously I want to make my own.

So I made it one of my 2021 goals to monitor our spending – I thought this would be especially helpful as we’re saving for a 2022 wedding and we really need to get some money together to pay for it and it can give us a clearer idea of where we’re overspending, where we can save and how we can reach our financial goals (which makes us sound way more grown up than I really want to be).

To set up my spreadsheet, I essentially watched Hannah’s video through really slowly, pausing often to type categories and things in my own Excel document and decide which colours I wanted for each heading.

 

Once I had the basics of income, savings and expenses all set up with our own personalised categories suitable to our life and expenditure (I didn’t know I knew that word tbh), I then got to my favourite bit – using equations to automatically add things up.

At first it was relatively simple – addition sums at the bottom of each column to calculate monthly income/savings, addition sums at the end of each row to calculate yearly totals in each category and then in the bottom right hand corner of each section, another addition sum to see our total income, savings and spending for the year.

But there’s more…

I then thought about being able to include a running total of our bank account – knowing how much we had leftover at the end of the month and using that as a starting point for the beginning of the next month. And in conclusion – this is my beautiful spreadsheet that I have to work with.

It might be harder to appreciate how beautiful and efficient it all is without any of the data (there’s some things I know I definitely shouldn’t share online) but I’ll talk you through it.

The top category – where we track what goes into the account, starting with what was leftover from last month and any additional finances we pay into the account (not necessarily everything we get paid). The total figure here helps to calculate the remainder figure at the bottom of the sheet which in turn becomes the ‘balance on the 1st’ figure the following month.

The last category is the fun one purely because there’s more data to put in and balance and equations and it makes me feel clever, but it’s simple enough – put what comes out of your bank account in each of the categories, total expenditure is an addition of the savings and expenses category and then remainder (or current bank balance, however you want to word it) is total income minus total outgoing, and that remainder uses a very simple ‘=[CELL NUMBER]’ equation to carry over to the next month.

And then I did it all again for my personal finances.

In all honesty, it’s not complicated – it’s a few addition equations, remembering to continuously update it (hence the cell that says ‘Last Transaction Input’ at the bottom) and maintaining everything I’ve already learnt about budgeting and not spending more money than I have.

I’ve been finance tracking for a long time on paper, but it’s never really had a purpose – it’s just been for the sake of being aware of what I’m spending. Doing it this way means I can see a generalised view of my year and I can see if I notice any changes in where we’re spending more or less, perhaps where we could save money and hopefully where we can save more for the wedding and one day getting on the housing market and all the other gross adult things that cost too much money.

Like Hannah said in her video, I’m the one that does all the finance tracking – I tried to show my fiancé and he said ‘that’s nice’ and went back to his video games, so as long as I can tell him how much we need in the joint account and whether he can justify buying the new Samsung phone (he can and he’s very excited that it’s arriving three days before it’s official release).

I love tracking a lists and this spreadsheet means that my finance tracking in my bullet journal is completely unnecessary, but I think I’ll keep doing it because there’s something really demoralising about having to put it in writing when you did a sad spend and ordered too many things online. Although demoralising sounds like a bad thing, sometimes it’s the nudge you need to stop unnecessary spending and avoid popping into McDonalds after I’ve finished the Asda shop (which is good for both the diet and the bank account!).

It’s not life changing – it’s not going to make me a Saving Wizard and give me more money than I have, if anything it’s depressing to think about how much money is spent on boring adult things like bills but it’s helpful in the long run, just in that boring ‘adulting’ way.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals + January Goals

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

really want to start this post with a joke about ‘I’ve not written a post since last decade’ because really I’m the closet King of Dad Jokes but instead I thought I’d just tell you about it. I think that might be worse.

Either way! If you’re a close followed of this blog, you’ll know that I love goal setting, organisation and planning. If you’re new, hello! Join the party – I love goal setting, organisation and planning. To the extent that I lull myself into this false sense of security thinking I’m getting stuff done but I’m actually just writing lots of to do lists and not doing very much.

This is something I actually got better at in 2019 – I really reevaluated how I was productive with my time and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. This time last year I thought I was embarking on this amazing freelance digital media career (which fell through pretty much immediately) and now I’m working towards a masters degree, I have my own place with my boyfriend, I had a job and now I’m looking for a new one, I’m spinning a lot of plates and somehow they’re just about not falling.

Having looked back on my 2019 goals (I was going to write a blog post but I think personal reflection was more appropriate), I’m actually really excited about my 2020 Goals because I was inspired by videos by Doctor Mike and Hannah Witton to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals that are actually going to be relevant to me over the whole year.

So let’s try and keep this succinct – please do let me know your thoughts on goal setting! Do you like setting goals as they become relevant? Are you a fan of New Years, Fresh Starts? Do you make SMART goals or more ‘bucket list’ style goals? I’d love to hear all about it.

My goals are split into two different types – I have three categories (Professional, Personal and Home) each with three goals as well as 9 stand-alone ‘bucket list’ style goals. Here goes!

Professional:

  • Finish my Masters in Digital Media Production at Oxford Brookes University
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October
  • Learn website design

I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters (and the end of 2019 really gave it a good shot!) but this first semester has been a massive learning curve and I want to really make the most of my time in Oxford so next semester is going to be a bit more level headed.

Finishing what will be my third degree (BA Hons Multimedia Journalism, PG Cert Professional Development Planning and MSc Digital Media Production, thank you) should lead to being able to get a job and starting my career journey! I’m a bit nervous about this one, because this is what I anticipated when I graduated from my undergrad and I’m still struggling with incredibly low self-esteem about my worth in the workplace, but by the end of October I want to be working full time, even if it’s not in the industry I want to stay in forever yet.

And I want to learn website design! 2020 is my fifth year of blogging and I still don’t know anything about code, hosting or designing a pretty blog and that’s a skill I think will really benefit me. So if you know of any good courses or online tutorials please do let me know!

Personal:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week

I made some amazing progress with saving in 2019 and I was so, so proud of myself but moving, starting a masters and a personal crisis of sorts led to me using most of those savings just to pay bills so once I’ve figured out my financial situation, I want to get back on the savings wagon because it’s so satisfying.

Film photography is something that’s intrigued me for a little while – just before Christmas my dad revealed he had a bunch of film cameras that he was willing to let me have and after spending £10 on one roll of film I’ve been studying the manual and experimenting with lenses as much as I can. It’ll take the film being developed for me to know if I’ve actually learnt anything but I’m really excited to take this little camera on adventures this year.

And eating veggie has been on my radar for a while – last year when I was doing really well with healthy eating I was ‘veggie till dinner’ and when my boyfriend and I moved out of my mum’s house and he started being away a lot with work, I tend to eat veggie when I’m on my own because it’s cheaper and I love vegetables. But I want to learn to cook more veggie meals and experiment with more ingredients this year.

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please)
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account

Pretty simple – I don’t want to move in 2020. It will be the first year since I moved to uni in 2015 that I haven’t put all my stuff in boxes and had to settle somewhere new. But obviously it depends on income, whether they want to put the rent up after the first year and if the location is still relevant to what we need.

Travelling is always a goal and last year I got way too excited and overambitious about where I thought I could go. For Christmas, my boyfriend has said he’ll take me on holiday and I’m thinking a beach holiday in the first week of October just to CHILL after my dissertation is handed in but I’m a little blown away by the whole thing so advice please.

Lastly, I know I said I want to make a plan for my personal savings account but I actually have three (personal, joint with the boyf and a help to buy ISA). I think this amount might be a tiny bit optimistic but smart goals have to be measurable – I currently have £10 in there so only £490 to go? But for real, I really want to start saving for a house this year and any amount is a good amount to start.

And onto…

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November NaNoWriMo)
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal (not confident enough to share this on the internet yet, soz lads)
  • Get another tattoo!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket

Also maybe figure out a blogging and YouTube schedule but tbh, I want to keep it chill this year so we’ll see how that goes.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this year! I was going to do my January Goals in a separate post but I figured most of it will stem directly from these goals so I’m going to tag them on the end here.

January Goals:

  1. Write 9000 Words for Writing Challenge (I’ll be real, I didn’t twig that I wanted to do a writing challenge this month until the 3rd when writing this so that was a nice realisation)
  2. Register at the doctors – I’ve been collecting my anti-depressants from my home doctors at my mum’s house since I moved nearly four months ago so I really need to get onto this
  3. Find carb-alternatives for lunch food – a sandwich is so easy and what worked for me last year was not eating carbs or meat until dinner and I want to find a way to make this less boring. I don’t really like salads that much, I love couscous and roast veg but I can’t heat it up at uni. Need to do some research!
  4. Launch new blog…
  5. Spending ban – except food, bills and my boyfriend’s birthday

And so I don’t forget my two monthly ‘bucket list’ goals…

  • Read 1 book
  • Have a date night!

Now that is a long ass, self-indulgent post about what I’m hoping to achieve this year! But I find reading and hearing other peoples goals is so inspirational so let me know all about your goals in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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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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