Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Purse Strings - they need tightening

I’ve always been intrigued by how others organise their money.  I think it’s because I’m not that great at organising my own.  I can think of nothing more interesting than having a nose through someone else’s bank statements, wondering how they decided upon each transaction and understanding their approach to getting through the month. 

I remember in magazines when I was younger I would get so excited if there was one of those spending diary articles; you know the sort where different women had to keep track of their expenditure each week day by day.  There would always be one diarist either end of the spectrum (spendthrift and tightwad), and I never knew where I would be if I had to feature in something like that.  You see I would love to be the sort of woman who knows when her car insurance is up for renewal and puts enough cash aside throughout the year, who pays her mortgage off early and saves a ton of interest, who has a monthly clothing budget and sticks to it.  I have the best of intentions and I cannot tell you the amount of excel spreadsheets I’ve started by typing in ‘Income’ in cell A1.  

But then the Boden sale catalogue will arrive or I’ll get a desperate need to buy some allium bulbs and all that sensible planning evaporates.


Momentarily enough for me to purchase the must have item. 

And later in the week when examining my dwindling bank balance I’ll think - Why.  Did. I. Do. That?

I then imagine I’m one of the women in those magazine articles I remember, and realise in a moment of terror that I would be typecast the spendthrift!  The woman with all of her purchases laid out for readers to study the details of incredulously.  And that’s not who I want to be.  

So if you’ve been here and come through to the other side let me know how you did it.  What changed your relationship with money?  How did you become the spender you wanted to be?

Disclaimer - this post contains a sponsored link.


  1. I'm the spender I want to be. I just need to have a corresponding income. (I've tried doing it the other way round but it didn't work).

  2. Love the comment above from love those cupcakes!!

    Two things happened that changed me and my relationship with my finances. Firstly I really, really wanted to have a baby but knew we couldn't afford to pay for everything if I took maternity leave (thus would need savings - a newfangled concept). Secondly, the economy started going, well, the way it has gone and I didn't want to get stuck if I lost my job. As it turns out the company I was working for went pop (luckily I got another job)and I'm now on the long planned for maternity leave! So I suppose it was a case of really wanting something and not being able to have it otherwise. x

  3. for me Anna for the first time in my life I am not working through my own choice, moving to a new country and all.

    By tightening the purse strings it had made me appreciate that I can take a bit of time off to sort my things and make some plans and has made me look at how little you can live on if you have to!!! Will see how it goes.

    Also downsizing to apartment for the meantime has helped and along with getting rid of the baggage called stuff!! before I came here, with the intention of buying no more!!!

    We have started a folder which we keep cash in for all our outgoings and we are only allowed to spend that amount for food, petrol etc, a polly pocket for each thing right down to the dog food and groomers!!! The rest then goes into savings and a little left in the a/c to have a few treats, coffees, cinema, clothes if we need them.

    It was taken off the Oprah Diet Debt plan has worked for us. Whatever you have left over can goe towards putting away for insurance, it may not be much but a start.

    Another tip that I did when at home was saved two pound coins, every year this paid for two car taxes!!!! one less bill to worry about they soon mount up.

    Hope this helps, good luck. Mx

  4. When I was young I was my father's daughter. He believed if you earned a fiver you should spend a tenner and have a damn good time doing it.
    I was the same.. if I wanted it, I bought it.
    Then after I bought my first flat I got into some financial difficulty and gradually I began to morph into my mum, who was the sensible cautious one in the family.
    Without Mum, my Dad wouldn't have bankrupted us exactly, because he was a good provider.. but they would not have enjoyed any financial security.. which in fact they did.
    When you're 23 [as I was] you feel invincible, and can't imagine that financial security could ever feel better than that new pair of boots you've had your eye on... or that stylish notebook that's calling to you.
    But the more I saved [by paying down the mortgage] the better I felt.
    I think it helped that I didn't have anyone to rely on but myself. Made me self reliant and probably a bit driven.

    From a practical point of view, this is what I did.
    I opened 3 bank accounts.
    A current acct.
    A bill payments acct.
    A savings acct.
    I then wrote myself a monthly budget..
    No spreadsheets.. just a piece of A4 and a pencil. ;o)
    I had all my bills converted to monthly budget plan so they were the same amount every month... then made a list of them all, plus the date they were due.
    I treated savings like a bill too. I set an amount I could afford and put it on the list.
    I also added all the things you pay for once a year and divided them by 12. Ins, Car tax etc.
    Add up the list = Total monthly outgoings.
    I then set up a transfer for that amount to come OUT of my current account and go INTO the Bill payments acct ON payday.
    I then set up direct debits for ALL those monthly bills.. to be paid OUT of the Bill payments acct.
    The savings went into the savings acct.. I'd suggest an ISA.
    I also sent the 'annual bills' money to the savings acct too. That way I earned a bit of interest on it through the year and at the end you'll had enough to pay the bill.
    Setting this all up from scratch would probably take half a day.. but the truth is most of us have more than one account already and most bills are already direct debit. Plus once its set up.. you can forget it for a year.

    I created this system so that whatever was left in my current account on payday, [after the bill transfer] was MINE. And if I spent it ALL, then the bills STILL got paid, AND I was still saving.
    It works, because if you don't have the 'bill' money floating around in your current acct, you won't be tempted to spend it.
    Btw.. Make the bill account difficult to access.. don't have a debit or cashpoint card on it.
    Oh and I didn't have a credit card. I just had VISA debit.

    Sorry Anna I've wittered on far too long I get a bit carried away.
    Anyway.. that's what I did.
    Jo xx

  5. Wow - thanks all - there are some very wise words here.

    Good to know I'm not alone in this and it's something that has to given some thought to get right.

    I'll be sure to update once I've worked out my strategy.

    Thanks again - your input is very much appreciated :)

  6. Argh, I struggle with this too. I keep trying to, and I'm slowly getting better, but all it takes is one little thing to knock me off balance (doesn't help I'm on incapacity, so not much to spend anyway).

  7. Carin - it is tough isn't it. One step at a time me thinks!

  8. I got married to a Banker's son and we've survived three bouts of redundancy. I had to change my spendy ways.

    Back in the day I was so bad with money I forgot to pay my electric bill. I did just forget. Got it turned on the next day, but what a nightmare. And when I wanted to go to grad school I rolled my credit card debt into my mortgage - a major no no. These things make my husband sick just thinking about them. The colour his face turned when he saw my overdraft charges!!

    I am reformed now - working helps. No credit cards, only my debit card and Mr. Money Saving Expert helped me get all the bank charges back. I think my new years resolution will be sorting out paying extra on the mortgage. Good idea!



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