Well I must say I have really surprised myself, as someone who previously would have spent every last penny I had (and more), I did save a massive (to me anyway) £1649.98 in my Emergency Fund. This was an increase of £1220.70 since February 2020. Okay I admit the ‘Lockdown’ helped, as I couldn’t go out spending, nevertheless, this was quite an achievement for me! However, I did get two windows replaced in my house, so that amount is now £1049. One of my 2020 financial goals was to save £3000 by January 2021, although I have now revised this to £2000, as I am trying to clear one of my credit cards, which should be cleared by November 2020.
As mentioned, I did have to withdraw £680 towards getting two new windows fitted in my home, they were approximately 25 years old. However, the main reason for their replacement, is the rear bedroom (Lodger’s room) is like a greenhouse in summer. The room had two very small windows which were completely inadequate to keep the room at a reasonable temperature, so yes, I did use some of my emergency fund to get those windows fitted. Whilst this may not be an ’emergency’ to some, this room brings me a passive rental income and I want my lodger to be comfortable, plus there are a number of maintenance jobs need doing on my house, so it’s progress. I didn’t want to wait until I had the money to replace all the windows at the back.
I have increased my net worth from £38,842 in February to £41,506 in July, an increase of £2664, money I never even knew I had, and I would previously have wasted.
My New Financial Habits:
I now have (and actually use) a budget book (Fox Legend) from Amazon. This is a monthly budget book which I find motivating to use. I have tried budget books before, spreadsheets etc. which for me are too laborious, this book fits in with what I am trying to achieve; my financial goals. The only part of it I don’t always use is a breakdown of every penny I spend, as long as I keep within my budget I am happy.
Net Worth Excel Spreadsheet
I have never before considered keeping a record of my net worth. I always thought this was more for companies and organisations, not personal finance. However, I have learned through the reading and research I have undertaken, that you should treat your personal finances like a business. I have found this one of the most helpful new financial habits I have incorporated.
I keep a Net Worth spreadsheet which includes all my Assets, e.g. savings and house value and all my liabilities including total debts, mortgage and credit card amounts. My Net Worth spreadsheet is updated monthly and I must say it is really motivating to see my finances improve in ‘black and white’. Without this, I would have thought I wasn’t making much progress, but I clearly am.
So why is this working for me now? when I have tried to save and get out of debt before?
It’s because my mindset has completely changed, I no longer believe I am destined to struggle financially throughout my life, like my parents have. Putting money in to a savings account has become an essential budget item for me, each time I get paid. It is non-negotiable, yes some months I save more than others, but it is a standard budget item. I have my financial goals and am determined to achieve them to get out of the financial struggle I have been in for so many years or more accurately most of my adult life, through my own limiting beliefs and mismanagement of money.
Now, when I purchase items, I really shop around. I recently purchased 3 x Strata storage boxes from ‘findmysupplies.com, at a saving of almost £20. I no longer automatically go to Amazon or Ebay as I have recently seen an increase in goods, some are just blatantly ripping people off, ever since Covid.
Okay so this is not really a knew habit for me, but I have now made it an almost weekly and sometimes daily habit. I am getting better at this, all the time.
I have been decluttering quite a bit, I had a huge stash of things under my stairs ready to donate, once the Charity Shops opened, after lockdown, but got impatient, so donated via a local Facebook group called ‘People Help the People. I purchased the storage boxes to store books as they were stored in cardboard boxes in the loft, some of which where torn. I have now moved them to a more accessible place, so I can access them to read until I can purchase a narrow bookcase (hopefully in 2021).
Now you may think how is this related to personal finances? well it’s not directly, but for me you cannot be organised with clutter. If I am organised in my home, I have more time to ‘dedicate’ to improving my finances, whether that’s by reading about personal finances, ways to save money, increasing my income, updating my Net Worth spreadsheet, completing my budget book or simply researching ways to improve my financial life.
Also, for some reason decluttering makes me feel in control and the fact that I am taking action to improving my financial future gives me a huge feeling of control rather than feeling my lack of financial freedom is destined.
I have 2 x sub bank accounts linked to my current account, one is for clothing and the other for socialising, I put money into these on a monthly basis so when I need to purchase clothes or want to go out, there is a small pot of money there for me to do so.
I have also started to grow my own vegetables, I am doing this very slowly and cheaply, using a garden pot I already had, and the seeds cost just a few pounds. I am growing spinach and it is looking rather nice so far (see below). I can’t do any further seed sowing now until October time and hope next year to buy a 3 foot high raised bed, so my vegetables are not growing in containers all over the patio, as I have no actual garden / soil. I have also installed a water tank / butt in my garden, to save on my water meter and make it easier to water vegetables and plants in the garden.
I have also been looking for home energy saving items of which I have identified a few; automatic radiator bleeders, insulation foil (for behind radiators) and a smart electrical socket strip. I will be adding these in my budget over the next 6 months. I have also just reduced my annual gas and electric bill by £267.
All this has happened in a six month period (February to July). I have so much going on at the moment, I am highly motivated to make changes, particularly around my finances, and feel like I have achieved more in 6 months than in my lifetime and all because I believed I could!
Tips to Start Improving Your Finances:
There are many ways most of us can improve our finances, it doesn’t matter where you start, just start! These are just some of what I have incorporated, and they seem to be working for me:
- Believe you can and will
- If you think £1000 is completely unrealistic for your emergency fund, aim for £100 or even £50, start small, put £1 in a tin, hell, even 50 pence. Just make a start and commit to this money being for ’emergencies’ only.
- Organise your bank accounts; have different accounts or sub-accounts for different allotted spending; e.g. clothes account, holiday account, savings account. I would definitely have a separate account for your ’emergency fund’, preferably without a cash card.
- Start a Net Worth spreadsheet to keep track of your progress and motivate you to keep going.
- Use a budget spreadsheet or book, shop around to see what appeals to you, or just create your own.
- Review Your Bills, just spend a few hours seeing what deals are out there, for your utility bills, mortgage, mobile phone etc. even a £10 monthly saving can make a difference, especially if you use it to clear debt or for your emergency fund.
- Could you grow your own fruit and vegetables? even if you have a small balcony, you can still grow there.
- Consider other ways you could save money, a water butt for example if you are on a water metre.
- Consider whether solar panels are viable and affordable to cut your energy bills
- Are there any relatively cheap gadgets you could purchase that will ultimately save you money?
- Review your budget, net worth, at the very least monthly, but preferably weekly.