Betty is a freelancer who’s managed to quadruple her savings in 2020 (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Welcome back to How I Save, our weekly series looking at how people spend and save their hard-earned money.

Each week we ask someone to share the ins and outs of their saving habits, as well as tracking everything they spend for a week – then give them some expert advice on how they can boost their savings.

This time around we’re chatting with Betty*, 29, a freelance writer living and working in London.

How Betty saves

I earn around £38,000 a year and in my savings account I have £16,000.

I work pretty much all the time. A self-professed workaholic, I upped my game in lockdown, taking on more than I have before and saving as much of it as possible.

It’s tough on my mental health sometimes, but I am used to the workload.

I have a savings account that has gone from £4,000 at the start of the year to £16,000 as of October, 2020.

I am saving to buy a flat. I’m single and I don’t have the Bank of Mum and Dad to help me out (although the Bank of Brother might chip in a few grand).

My method for saving money is pretty basic; I have three bank accounts – one for daily outgoings and incomings, one for savings and one for monthly payments (stuff like rent). When I get paid, I will simply transfer over a certain amount to each account, and then don’t touch it if I can help it, although that doesn’t always work.

I tend to waste lots of money on takeaways (because I will work late, forget to eat and suddenly be starving) and coffee. I have at least one fancy coffee every day, but I am OK with it as I rarely shop for clothes. I also quit smoking this year, so that’s more money in the bank.

I struggle with saving because I am constantly flitting between the will to just enjoy my life because I work so hard and to hold on to my cash for the greater good (that flat, I’ll get it one day). I have my eye on an exposed brick wall loft space in Manchester, where I can move in with a dog. Either that or a holiday home in Italy that I want to do up and rent out.

Betty finds herself spending on takeaway food and fancy coffees (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

How Betty spends:

Monthly expenses:

  • Rent: £768.90
  • Bills (electric): £25
  • Internet: £29
  • Phone: £40
  • Spotify and Netflix: £16
  • Therapy (bi-weekly): £90
  • Coffee: £80+

A week of spending:

Monday: Stayed in my local area, popped into the cafe for two black coffees (£5.80).

Total spent on Monday: £5.80

Tuesday: Spent nothing, stayed at home working until 11pm.

Total spent on Tuesday: £0

Wednesday: It’s my day off. I spent £2 on postage for something I sold on eBay, so technically it was free and treated myself to brunch for £17.

I went to after-work drinks as it was for a special occasion and spent £13 on a pint, a bowl of chips (forgot to eat again earlier in the day) and a shot of tequila.

I can’t take public transport during rush hour for health reasons, so I had to get a cab home, which cost £17. Bought a mouthguard for £25.

Total spent on Wednesday: £74

Thursday: I booked in a restaurant to review with one of my best friends. All I paid for today was my travel to the restaurant, and a coffee, so that’s £9 in total.

Total spent on Thursday: £9

Friday: I worked from a local cafe in the morning, and spent £3 on a coffee but I’m a regular so I also got a stamp on my card towards a free drink.

In the evening, I went to central London for another restaurant review (all free) but picked up some late night snacks for an off license for £4, plus travel to town for £4.

Total spent on Friday: £11

Saturday: Had brunch in town for £18 and then enjoyed a free dinner out (another review) and did a walk of the city.

Total spent on Saturday: £18

Sunday: I spent £4 on travel, but also spent a large chunk of my day walking around the city again, window-shopping.

I went to Sainsbury’s and spent £25 on food but it will last me for most of next week. But then I fancied a pizza, and spent £10.

Total spent on Sunday: £39

Total spent this week: £156.80



How Betty could save:

We spoke to the experts over at Plum, the smart app for managing your money, to find out how Betty can put aside more (and what we can learn from her spending). Please note that tips from Plum do not constitute financial advice.

Here’s what they said:

Hi Betty, thanks for sharing your week with us!

To be honest, we’re already fascinated by your fierce independence when it comes to money management. But let’s dive in and see whether there’s any quick improvements you can make to help you get closer to the goal of home-ownership.

Spending

Your total spend this week was £156.80, with most of your spending going towards coffee and eating out.

However, with long hours of work like yours, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee or takeaway.

While you’re already splitting your money into three different accounts, some people find the 50/30/20 rule useful when deciding how much to spend each month.

That is, allocate 50% of your income to essentials (like bills), 30% as spending money and 20% to your savings. Once you’ve set a specific budget for each category, you may find it becomes easier to keep yourself accountable and check you’re not overspending.

Feeling guilty about spending money is something we can all relate to! When it comes to the spending vs saving dilemma, the best strategy is to find a balance that works best for you.

A good way to ease your guilt about spending is to round up spare change. Lots of apps do this automatically for you, so each time you spend you save a few pennies too.

Saving

Since the start of the year, you’ve quadrupled your savings. At Plum, our users choose how much to put away using different ‘moods’; we have to say you’ve definitely been on Beast Mode this year.

As you say, in order to get closer to your goal of owning a loft space or holiday home in Italy, there’s some more work to be done. You’re already smashing it though, so you can now focus on optimising what you’ve saved and finessing your saving strategy even further to turn those pennies into pounds.

You’ve now set aside a reasonable amount of money so it’s worth considering how you can best make it work for you.

With many regular banks slashing the interest rates on their savings accounts, it could be beneficial to check whether you can get a better deal elsewhere. Sometimes you can get a better return if you keep the money locked away for a set amount of time, so do some research and look for something that suits your needs down to a tee.

As you’re a very busy bee when it comes to work, you can also think about automating your regular savings so that putting money aside is one less thing to worry about. With your budget set you could even create a standing order to put away a lump sum on payday, and then regularly stash extra money away when possible by using an app like Plum.

With just a few quick improvements (and automation), you’ll have those house keys in no time!

*Name has been changed.

How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing ellen.scott@metro.co.uk.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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