Personal: What Could You Save?

Who doesn’t like the idea of getting cashback on their everyday spending? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, wrong! Santander allow this to come true with their 123 credit card which offers cashback on supermarket shops, department stores, petrol stations and TfL- who could resist that!?

 photo a99dc03f-c9fd-43f0-abe9-1dce0111e743_zpsggkmutb1.jpgTaking on a credit card is a big decision, but if you do decide to go for one I’d definitely consider getting something with bonuses like this! Santander have also greater a pretty nifty calculator – just pop in your monthly income and it will calculate your expected annual cashback.

Based on my (excessive) use of rail transport it worked out I’d gain a massive £127 cashback a year. That’s a pretty immense amount of month, which could see me nearly doubling my food budget over the year, or even just treating myself a bit more. Makes the thought of spending so much on train fares a bit nicer too!

 photo 2015-06-15 19.43.22_zpsaizzicad.jpgSantander offered to send me on an experience with the money I would save, but due to my holiday (currently in the sun as you read!) and then moving it was causing timings to be a little bit difficult. Instead they decided to treat me to some items off my ‘I really, really want but can’t justify the cost’ list. These are things I’ve never, ever buy for myself as they are just too expensive. I literally squealed with excitement when the package turned up. And as it was delivered to my desk at work that was a teeny, tiny bit embarrassing. Ah well.

 photo 2015-06-15 19.40.49_zpsgz4semrd.jpgThe first thing on my list is Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid. I got a whiff of this back in January and fell in love. The scent is perfect, and it lasts so well on the skin. I sprayed in on my wrist mid-morning, travelled from Oxford to Surrey, slept and could still smell it at work the next day. At £72 this is eye-wateringly expensive, to the point I wouldn’t even put it on my Christmas list.

 photo 2015-06-15 19.38.24_zpszrvu7l8s.jpg photo 2015-06-15 19.41.23_zps6x5zztqp.jpgNext up was something Charlotte Tilbury shaped. I’ve lusted over Dolce Vita for months, but when I finally swatched it a few months ago I was less than impressed. Enter The Sophisticate. A palette of shades I don’t actually own, no glitter, only a little shimmer, and that beautiful, beautiful packaging. It’s something I wouldn’t ever treat myself too – I cried a little inside at spending £37 on 12 eyeshadows, let alone 4!

 photo 4158b62a-7cf8-4028-8164-8d07f7766f3e_zpsiy6wjsv4.jpgNow, a MAC lipstick. You may argue that I do buy MAC lipsticks, and you’d be right. However (I say a trifle defensively) I play it safe. I buy neutral colours, ones I know suit me. I’ve never picked up a bold from here, until now. Lady Danger is a damn scary colour, an orange-toned, bright, scary red. It’s gorgeous, I love it, and I’m hoping it isn’t restarting my MAC addiction. I’ll need more lipstick storage if so…

How much money could this cashback credit card save you? What would you do with the money you would save – an experience or some treats?

Lifestyle: My Budget & Money Tips

You may or may not have been an article featuring me in the news last week. I must say, it took me a little by surprise as I gave the interview to a PR agent months ago! Of course, the papers don’t exactly print the whole truth (and the headline is ridiculous!) so I thought I’d post a little something about my budget, how I try and stick to it, and why I try and cut spending.
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My budget is a lot lower than people assume.

I receive the minimum maintenance loan and my university town is one of the most expensive outside of London. Case in point: my room this year (commutable distance to London, and extremely nice) is costing me the same amount in rent as my student house was last year. Which was roughly the same as halls. I get a small amount of regular money from my grandparents (£10 a week – and the reason I get this is long, complicated and emotional, and not down to financial reasons), and my parents do as much as they can – lending me money for unexpected expenses and doing a big food shop at the start of term. I travel to see my boyfriend around once a month which costs between £30 and £60 on trains depending on where we are based. This all equates to my food budget being a strict £25 a fortnight, and my going out budget to be zero.

I do shop using vouchers.

My main point in my interview was that I don’t believe anyone should buy something without a quick google to see if there’s a discount..

Finances were a huge worry for me pre-university.

I very much have a tuition and maintenance loan. I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to university without this, and an academic scholarship that I worked damn hard to get. My criteria for choosing a university (after the course) was that accommodation was affordable (I was in the cheapest available) and the level of scholarship given.

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I am currently on a (well) paid placement for a year.

Hence the more ‘extravagant’ lifestyle posts that have featured over the last few months. I’m saving hard each month too, but have given myself a small budget to enjoy myself and see more of the country whilst I can. It’s also only in the last few months I’ve been able to really bump up my savings account again.

Even though I am earning a very good wage this year I’m still budgeting hard – I’ve upped by weekly food shop budget to between £15 and £20, mainly in a bid to gain more spices etc, and eat a wider variety. I’m generally spending close to £10 a week most weeks, with this upping to £20 when W comes to stay (he doesn’t appreciate more veggie-based meals!).

I’m also allowing myself a few more treats – buying Yorkshire tea instead of Aldi’s own, treating myself to a lipstick a month.

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Sticking to a budget is hard.

A few times recently I’ve had cravings for things that my budget just doesn’t allow for. Steak. I’ve love a good steak, but I just can’t justify the price – so this Asian Steak Salad using cheaper frying steaks is ideal. I’ve been craving Ben & Jerry’s lately, but I’ve discovered Sainsbury’s own brand of ice cream is pretty darn good – the salted caramel peanutty one is particularly divine.

And the shop for 6p thing is a huge exaggeration – and not what I stated. Nor what the press release stated either (because I approved it).

As a huge amount of people guessed, it was through clubcard points that had been saved up, and then used during the bonus exchange period. I highly recommend saving up points for big spends, rather than just little things like a chocolate bar. I find that stores actually send you better vouchers when you build things up – I quite often get 100 points for £5 spend from Boots for example. I do look for yellow-stickered items, but this is completely unrelated to the supposed “shop for 6p”.
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So, my top tips for sticking to a budget?

  • Know what your budget is, and be clear about it.
  • Don’t deprive yourself too much – if you are craving something, look for cheaper versions. I appreciate this may be impossible for some if your budget is really tight, but for students it’s generally fine.
  • Learn to cook – it’s far cheaper than ready meals in the long run. It might be more expensive first as you stock up ingredients, but the cost will level out.
  • Keep track of spending – I’ll be doing a post soon on how I do this.
  • I avoid carrying cash as I will spend it easier. If I happen to have cash (from unavoidable taxi journeys) I’ll immediately throw it in a jar or unused purse. The pennies mount up quicker than you’d think – in one term last year I saved nearly £50.

I hope this straightened up any questions arising from the article! Do you live on a tight budget? What are you top budgeting tips?

Blogger Link-Up: Managing Your Money At University

Another Saturday, another link-up post! I hope you are enjoying these? Anyway today we have Emily from Good Girl Gone Brum, who normally blogs about a whole host of topics – today she is talking all about money and university. I’ve found it a really helpful read, so I hope you will too! 

 photo IMAG0817_zps07bc9903.jpgMy mum bought me this purse from France. ‘I have more than a radish’ would be the opposite of ‘I don’t have a bean’ in English.

As a student, the world of loans, grants, rent and bills can feel like a bit of a minefield. Unlike having a job, your money comes in at irregular times in irregular amounts, making budgeting confusing and hard, especially if what is coming in won’t exactly leave you rolling in it.

There are however ways to manage our money and get the most out of the little we do have. So if you’re the type who dips into their overdraft a little too often, grab a pen and a notepad and use these tips to get in control of your cash.

Set up a student account and a savings account

  • Setting up two bank accounts will help you keep more control of your money, and now with internet banking it is super easy to swap money between them.
  • A savings account is useful for, er, saving – but it’s also good for unexpected expenses, like a friends birthday or having to replace the toaster.

Know what’s coming in and how long it will last

  • Student finance money should go into your account at the start of each term. Know how much this is going to be; if you’ve lost the original letter you can log in online.
  • Next, know how much your rent and bills will cost you until your next instalment. Put this amount aside mentally by writing it down –  don’t touch this money, treat it as if it’s not yours.
  • After you’ve taken this money away, a lot of us are left with very little. If you have a part time job, write down the realistic amount you expect to earn until the next instalment of student finance and add this on to the money that you have left to spend. More often that not, students have no other option than to rely on their parents to tide them over. The most important thing to do in this case is to make sure this money is planned. Work out with your folks how much you realistically need each month, and set up a direct debit – that way you can budget and you won’t need to call them again asking for more money towards the end of the term.

Make a weekly budget

  • You can do this by adding up all the money you will be getting, minus rent and bills, and dividing the total by the number of weeks between each instalment.
  • Once you’ve got this figure you can work out if it’s realistic – if it’s only £30 a week you might need to either find a job or get more support from your parents, but usually between £50 – £70 is a good amount, depending on how tight you’re prepared to be.
  • You don’t need to assign the money to what it will be spent on down to the last pound, but it’s a good to have a rough idea of how much you spend on your food shops, how much you need for a night out, how much it costs to do your washing if you use a laundrette and if you need to spend money on travel to uni.

Keep an eye on your spending

  • Be aware of keeping to your budget. This is especially important if you pay for things on card as often the money doesn’t get taken from your account on the same day, and you might forget how much you’ve spent.
  • Each week, grab a brew and sit down with your internet banking account. If you’ve got money left over from your budget, even if it’s just a fiver, transfer it to your savings. You’ll be surprised how quickly it can build up if you transfer a little bit each week. Likewise, if you’ve overspent, transfer the amount you overspent by from your savings into your current account to make sure your budget still works for the remaining weeks.
  • Every now and then, do some sums to make sure you’re still on track until your next student finance chunk comes in. By having a check every now and then, you can notice if you’ve somehow overspent, before you get to the end of the term and realise you have to use your overdraft.

So good luck with your budgeting—it is boring, but it’s all part of moving into the big bad world of adulthood. Having a budget isn’t meant to stop you having a life – in fact having your money in control is the thing that will mean you can still afford to go to the end of term ball when everyone else has run out of student loan.

Thanks Emily for taking the time to contribute a guest post on my blog! Be sure to check out Good Girl Gone Brum, and remember I’m still looking for people to write posts, so if you are interested please email me at [email protected] with some ideas!

What’s your best money-saving tip?