If there’s one thing I have never been good at, it’s money management. I’ve never been a saver, and often I’ve been the epitome of the ‘money burns a hole in his pocket’ idiom.
It is something I’ve grown up doing, spending without much thought and care, and failing to really save. Before I went to university I worked for almost two years at a supermarket, making just over £1,000 almost every month. At the end of that 23-month spell, I had little to show for it, and splurged most of what I had left on the first semester of first year living the student life. Now that I can only work part-time and am in full-time education, I wonder how on Earth I made my way through so much money in such little time.
Then came the overdraft. Once feared and assumed as a last resort, it is now a temporary home for my finances with my student loan only just covering the cost of rent, resulting in a minus balance under my name. It seems like an age ago since I opened my student account, when the advisor who I was dealing with said I should start saving: “even if it’s only five or ten pounds a month, it creates a habit for later in life.” Those seemingly wise words were probably right. But listen I did not, and so be the predicament that I’m currently in.
Now, thanks to this travel blog and a need to travel if I am going to make anything out of it, I’m finding myself utilising my overdraft more than ever before. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem a sustainable tactic. How can I afford to go to Oslo, Belfast and Brussels in an 11-week period at the beginning of next year if there’s a minus sign before my bank balance?
The answer is simple. Stop spending money on crap.
My main vice has to be food. You wouldn’t believe the amount of money I spend on meal deals, fizzy drinks, sweets and other snacks. It borders on absurd, and in addition to costing a lot, also isn’t good for my health. The average cost of a meal deal is £3. That’s for a sandwich, a packet of crisps or a snack and a drink. For that price, I could probably buy a loaf of bread, a pack of sliced meat and a bag of multipack crisps that would last a week. Throw in a pound or two more, as a one-off payment, and I could have a reusable water bottle, too.
There isn’t a great deal else I really need to cut down on. Perhaps I could stop spending money on magazines, or get rid of my Spotify subscription. But the better plan would be to create a spreadsheet to organise my finances, and cut out throwing money away on food and drink. Maybe I’ll even go one further and put some money away each week.
I’ve never really been good at money management. But then again, I suppose I’ve never really tried.