Going back to basics – expense tracking

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Every financial blog post, podcast, Youtube and article that I have read over the last two years have contained this one piece of advice: ‘track your expenses’. This was usually followed by: ‘create a budget’.

I have during different periods of my life definite phases:

  • the ‘I have no money so what’s the point’ phase
  • the ‘Not having a budget works for now, why bother’ phase
  • the ‘I need to track my spending obsessively with loads of charts phase’
  • the ‘I missed a week, I give up!’ phase

You may recognise yourself in one or more of those. I know that I have cycled through these quite often at different times. However, there was a golden period of 4 months were I did have it down to a tee. That’s what I aspire to go back to.

So what should I have done differently at the time?

Find a really motivating long term vision.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/ToNic-Pics-3001971/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1573529">Tom und Nicki Löschner</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1573529">Pixabay</a>
A long term vision.

In that golden era, I recorded all my spending and savings and knew exactly where every single £1 went. I saved enough for my yearly car insurance with a sinking fund; I even saved for Christmas presents. However, there was one problem that affected the sustainability of my system: I didn’t have a long-term goal.

At the time I hadn’t even heard of the FIRE movement. I didn’t have any concrete financial aspirations. I had never even considered investing in the market or real estate as an option. So when I saved money, though it did feel good, I didn’t have a clear purpose for it other than spending it later.

Since getting more interested in personal finance, I have discovered the caveat of not saving/investing for retirement. I have learned how inflation very slowly gnaws through savings. As a result, I have found out I cannot afford not to invest in my future.

Know your milestones

As you saw in my last post, there are some resources out there that can give some realistic and broken down milestones for financial goals; whether it is saving 3 months of expenses for an emergency fund, investing enough to cover basic living expenses, or just striving to be debt-free.

Creating a long term plan with realistic and achievable goals is the one vital thing I didn’t do during that 4-month golden phase. As a result, the £10 I saved on my phone bill, the £5 I didn’t spend on drugstore make-up and the £3 I saved by packing my lunch that day just got absorbed by my everyday spending.

What I do in those moments now is take out a calculator to work out how much closer to my goal I would be if I didn’t spend that amount. Even if it’s 0.00012%, I know that it is making a difference. Charting progress on a graph can also help to see this change visually.

Learn the art of delayed gratification

This is by far the most difficult one for me at the moment. I want to see progress and I want to see it now!!!

I know how frustrating it is to see number creep up super slowly. Times where I have set backs and times where I overspend. And times where I think to myself ‘is it really worth it?’

I want to throw in the towel, give up the hard work of going through my accounts everyday, writing everything down, planning every expense and be disciplined in my spending. I just want to live in the moment, ‘Carpe Diem’ and buy that thing I really want.

However, I need to remind myself that though the process takes time, it will be completely worth it one day. I know this because of the inspiring testimonials of people who have done this before me.

To conclude: This is something I am starting to work on from now. I hope to be able to share this journey to inspire and motivate people on their own journey.

Our Rich Journey

For today’s Inspiration Station, I wanted to share here a video from this special family. Amon and Christina are part of the FIRE community (Financial Independence Retire Early) and share in this video different levels of wealth that can be aimed for on the way to financial independence.

It can be so easy to become overwhelmed when setting huge goals or ambitious projects. I love how they have broken it down step by step into more manageable goals.

I highly recommend their channel for inspiration and practical tips in your own financial journey.

To conclude: A great reminder that baby steps all count!

I will definitely be using their stages in planning my own financial journey to the coveted million £££!

Canceled a subscription? Do this one thing to actually save money

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

You have finally taken the plunge. You have canceled a subscription (Netflix for example) in order to save money. You may feel good about yourself. That £5.99 is going to matter, it is going to help you towards financial independence.

However, the risk is that in three months’ time, this additional money is absorbed by your costs of living. It is easily done with £5.99. Two nice cups of coffee at a well-known coffee chain and you could forget how much self-discipline it took you to save that money in the first place.

Therefore, there is an additional step that is essential for that money to make a real difference.

Pretend that you still have to make those payments, but to yourself.

You may have managed to live with this monthly or quarterly bill for quite some time. Years maybe. Somehow, it would just get lost among all the other bills as an ‘essential’ or as a ‘fact of life’. Unless you have had to cancel subscriptions because of a financial emergency rather than an attempt to live more frugally, the likelihood is that you would still be able to cover your essentials as well as the odd little treat without this sum ever being in your bank account.

The solution, therefore, is to create a standing order to your savings account for that exact sum , on the day that it would be due.

For example, my Netflix subscription was due on the 21st of every month. I have set the standing order up for the 21st of every month and labeled it under ‘SAVINGS NETFLIX’.

With this all automatically set, you can just carry on with life, knowing that your discipline and dedication to your new frugal way of life is paying off, £5.99 at a time.

To conclude: I wish I would have thought about this in the past. How much more would I have saved ? How much closer to my goal would I be ? (Maybe not more than £150 overall but still!!)

3 reasons I love watching motivational videos

They have grabby titles, eye catching thumbnails and bold claims on how they can change your mindset: the motivational video movement seems to grow year upon year on video platforms.

Although my introduction sounded a little sarcastic, I genuinely love watching and listening to this type of content. I am listing here three reasons why I love these videos and will link to some of my favourite in this post.

1) Motivational videos are often well edited and pleasing to the eye.

Okay, so this first reason may not be ‘the best’. But hear me out.

You are taking time out of your day to listen to or watch content on the internet. How much more enjoyable is the experience when the background music is epic, there is a cinematic feel of the editing of film extracts and the true grit demonstrated by some of the people in the video makes you feel you could do the exact same thing?

Motivation video

2) Motivational videos give some good advice

There is many a time when I have sat down to watch one of these videos and thought to myself: “Yes, that is indeed good advice”. Who would disagree with the suggestions of watching less television, eating healthier and becoming more proactive in life?

Most of the advice is sound and can be laid out in a different way so as to make it click. Who knew that a change of perspective could give such Aha! moments. I admit that agreeing with the advice doesn’t mean that I always find myself applying it afterward, a fact which I will explore in another post. In the meantime, I am grateful every day that I have such free access to the internet and the billions of tuns of information that comes with it.

3) Motivational videos are … motivational

I love that feeling after watching a motivational video. Finding that gem, then listening intently to all its content and feeling a sense of accomplishment and change. It feels like research, like an essential component to get or keep going. I am bettering myself. I am learning.

Despite the caveats to this that I will explore in another post, I thoroughly enjoy the rush of purposefulness that follows watching this kind of content.

One of the lectures that I have enjoyed watching in the past is the following:

To conclude: I have heavily focused here on positive aspects of this kind of content that I enjoy, but I am sure that you can tell that there is a darker side to all of this… To be continued… 😉

Why I have decided to give up Netflix for good

Netflix

I am writing this today as a commitment to my future-self: I thereby promise not to subscribe to Netflix ever again.

Although for the longest time I had been able to resist the siren calls of this subscription, I eventually gave in to the promises of entertainment that my colleagues raved on about constantly.

“This series is amazing!”, one of them would comment whilst sipping her cup of tea during our lunch break, “you don’t know what you’re missing!”.

Was it FOMO (Fear of missing out) or the ubiquitous statement that “everyone has it” that enticed me to sign up for the free trial? What I didn’t know at the time is that I had willingly entrapped myself into a snare that I would struggle to get out of: binge-watching.

I have on occasion watched four episodes back to back. Korean dramas, rom-coms, chick flick movies, films off the beaten track. Days upon days of free time have been swallowed by the films and series this platform offers. Some of them have been great discoveries and have provided great entertainment. Others have been utter disappointments.

I can see people coming from afar and saying: “5.99/month is not very expensive, it would save you money rather than buying and renting films”. And they would be right. It could potentially save money if it wasn’t for the fact that not all films that I would like to see are on Netflix and that despite the overwhelming choice, I have found myself with “nothing to watch”! How paradoxical, given the huge choice of films and series that are available.

Another argument in my favour would be that it is very enticing to consume content that is readily accessible and provide 1 hour and 40 minutes of fun. However, in this new £1,000,000 mindset, I need to focus on becoming a ‘producer’ rather than a ‘consumer’.

So farewell Netflix, it is with a sad and heavy heart that I let you go.

As a comforting last thought, I have included a screenshot of a financial freedom calculator that shows the hypothetical free time I could ‘buy’ yourself by choosing to save a given amount rather than spending it. This is for one month subscription for a hypothetical retirement fund of £1,000,000 (with an estimated growth of 6% and inflation rate of 3%).

To conclude: for every month I save on a Netflix subscription, I am hypothetically ‘buying’ 0.1 days of freedom in the future.

Inspiration Station: Grant Sabatier

He went from having less than £3 to his name to being a millionaire in 5 years; Grant Sabatier has become a huge influential figure in the financial freedom community thanks to his incredible story and his popular blog millenialmoney.com.

He has published a book called ‘Financial Freedom‘ that got some very positive reviews from readers on Amazon. I have yet to read it but I have definitely added it to my ‘To read’ list.

I watched a couple of his interviews on Youtube and I highly suggest watching this one, which really captures what he believes in and the process by which he became a millionaire by the age of 30.

He also has some cool calculators available on this website including:

To conclude: I love a ‘rags to riches’ story, proving that anything is possible!

(This article contains an affiliate link which gives me a small commission if you purchase using the link at no extra cost for you).

June 2020 (b)

A very short post to say that I have another £100 invested this month.

This brings me to a grand total of… £200 invested towards my £1,000,000 goal.

So this is 0.02% of my goal; better this than 0% I suppose.

Consistency, consistency, consistency.

June 2020 – My first £100

I have this very ambitious goal… of becoming a millionaire! I am just an ordinary woman, with an ordinary just-above-minimum-wage job.

Is it possible without becoming obsessed with money?

Can I do this whilst sticking to my values?

Can an anxious 30-year-old-something person really become a millionaire?

The short answer is: probably not. However, I wanted to find a resource somewhere that would enable me to do that. So why no create it myself? A diary of the ups and downs on this journey, which will lead to growth and better self-awareness whether I succeed or not. I realize that I am in a better starting position than most people as I live in a European country and don’t have any consumer debt. I can also afford to save something every month, for which I am very grateful. I am doing this for my future-self to ensure a good life for my future children and our retirement.

So I am officially starting at £100 with my first investment in a stocks and shares ISA. Wish me luck!

Fun fact: it would take over 833 years for me to become a millionaire with my current rate of saving …