Along with my ups and downs of getting my shit together, finances are what I must control better. The money situation of mine? Erm… Not so good. BUT! Much more controlled than it ever was in the past.
At the moment I have very little savings. If I’m absolutely honest, I literally just started to put aside some money. I have a goal, and I’m going to stick to it, and I’m seriously determined to achieve it. I’m going to save up to buy a property. Yes. A property. A big goal, especially for someone who lives from month to month. I will say it out loud: I am 31 years old, have no savings, live in a rented bedroom, and on top of that I’m in debt. What a catch I am, right? But everyone has to start somewhere.
I’ll tell you a story.
Thirty-one years ago a miracle happened. A little girl called Joanna was born, she was the youngest of the two and spoilt af for that matter. She was brought up to respect hard work and money, yet no one ever said no to her when she simply asked for them.
Yep, you guessed it. This short story is about me. I always had everything I asked for. Well, obviously to some reasonable point. Or maybe I should say, I did not have a tough childhood where I had no food or wear ragged clothes. If there were tough times, I did not know about them. I did not miss anything. My parents always knew, and still, know how to manage money very well. They were not born into money, they just worked their ass off and managed money as best as they could. Hence little Joanna had all of the candies she wanted. My sister took all this money wisdom with her, and now also manages the finances very well. I, on the other hand, must have slept through all the lectures my parents gave us because I’m utterly shit at this.
When I moved to England I was like “Hell yeah, this is my life now, I don’t have to listen to my parents anymore, I’ll be earning my own money now and I’m all independent.” Well, it was just me from that moment, and I did earn some money. Enough for rent and nights out (apparently it was all I needed in my 20’s). I would pay the bills and spend the rest of my money on parties and some irrelevant shit that was never needed. I would so slap my-brainless-self in the face if I only could go back in time.
Few years in still no savings, still renting some shitty bedroom on a budget, living like a student but not getting a degree. Just wasting myself and all this money. I did not earn a lot but if I did put some money aside maybe I would never get to the situations in the near future at the time. In 2013 I’ve left my full-time job because I was fed up. I had no other job aligned, and I was overly confident that I will find a new one with no time. I was wrong. I couldn’t get a new job for several weeks, maybe even months. I don’t remember exactly but it felt like the longest time in the world. I eventually found a part-time job at the cocktail bar but it was poorly paid and on a bi-weekly basis, by check what means, I had to wait for the money to appear on my account another week. I needed money now. I was already behind with paying my rent. Thankfully, at that time I was renting a bedroom at my friend’s house who was very chilled about money and didn’t pressure me with that. I found a full-time job at the coffee shop, kept the barmaid role for the weekends, and working fifty to sixty hours a week, paid off all money I owed but still didn’t put any to the “emergency pot”. How very stupid of me.
As if I didn’t learn my lesson I decided that I want a MacBook air. It’s cool, it’s trendy, I wanted it bad and I wanted it now. So I took a fucking PayPal credit. Didn’t know much about credits, interests, and all that jazz. Didn’t do any research either. I was paying it off and I’ve noticed that the more money I put back in, the more I can spend. I thought it was a one-time loan but turns out I can spend this money over and over again. So I did. I got around £1,600 and kept spending it on stupid things like clothes, cosmetics, shit I didn’t need nor I had the money for. You can imagine what happened next. The allowance limit increased, and I could spend more. Also, pay more interest, and basically a few years after I ended up with over £3k debt. What a fucking moron, right? I just got into that loop of spending money I didn’t have.
Anyway, in the meantime, I decided to change my job. I’ve learned my lesson, I got a new job before I left the old one. You see, I do learn sometimes. However, I did not calculate travel costs, reduced hours, food costs (I had free meals at the coffee shop). So even though I was earning more per hour at my new job, I did not earn more overall. The costs of it ruined me. The new job was at the airport so you can imagine how much I was spending on a cup of coffee or food. There were restrictions on what I can take with me through the security checks. At one point I was broke. Literally broke. I was behind with two or three months worth of rent AGAIN, did not have money for food. I was actually starving every now and then. I kept loaning money from friends and got into serious shit with that credit of mine. I did not pay in time what means charges. Not small charges. If I remember correctly it was around £12 per day and sometimes I had to wait weeks for a paycheck, so you can do the maths of how much of charges only I had to pay. Not to mention letters from PayPal containing LAST WARNINGS before they send bailiff. So stressful.
I desperately looked for a new local job. And eventually, I found one. I give you some good advice. No matter how desperate you are don’t start a job before signing a contract and setting the rules of employment upfront. I got a job at my friend’s franchise at the opticians. A bit boring but I could at least walk to work, no travel fees! And to think that if you work for a person you know, you could feel kind of secure, right? Bull-freaking-shit. I worked there for a year and a half. Never got a contract, was earning the shittiest money ever, and when I asked basic questions like “How much exactly my salary is?” I would get an answer “Ahh, I don’t know, something between £14k-£16k per year” (it was the year 2017-2018). An absolute travesty of a choice. I got payslip once, I had to beg for it. It included the amount of money I received, which I could also see on my bank account so not a very informative payslip. Nothing else was visible on it. I get new grey hair every time I think about this joke of a job.
I was still broke, still spending money that I didn’t have, and still deep in debt. I got a part-time job in a restaurant. Again doing around sixty hours a week. It was a good move though as finally I started to gain some sort of control over my money. Eventually, I fucked off from opticians and gone full-time as a waitress. Even though it was a hard job I was happy that I’ve had enough money to regularly pay monthly credit instalments and buy more irrelevant shit. Because I was fake-secure with the money I kind of stopped worrying and forgot about my plan on putting some money aside.
Not long after I got a promotion. One and another, and I started earning a tad more. At that point, we’re in 2019. I was already with my current partner who is so fucking good at managing money that it sometimes annoys me. I am really grateful though. He’s some sort of saviour sent by a dating app to me. He made me aware of so many things I can save up on and motivated me to take actions towards my finances that now I am this annoying money nerd. From getting rid of a shitty phone deal, through deleting unnecessary direct debits and account fees to finally saving up on groceries, resisting impulsive buying, and many more.
I will tell you why I trust him with all this financial stuff. He’s 28 and he’s just got his own flat. All by himself, without anyone’s help. Just saving up on everyday products and putting money aside instead of buying irrelevant shit. All done in a couple of years. Simple as that.
I reduced all of my expenses. Before I buy something I think ten times, do research, and compare prices on different websites, and basically put a lot more thought into it. I’ve quit smoking and it saved me over £3,500 in a year and a half time. By the end of this month is my last payment towards my debt. I sit down once a month and do my budget, move my money around, and finally, I put some cash into ‘My Very Own Nest’ pot.
For once in my life, I’m satisfied and feel kind of safe when it comes to money. I say I only started to save up recently but it’s been a little longer journey, maybe a year since I worked on reducing my expenses and planning hard through tears and pain and lots of conversations with my very own financial advisor. If you’re anything like me, and you have to be told what to do in order to get your shit together I will breakdown all things I did and do in the next post. It is not easy and will not happen overnight. I still make mistakes, and I’m still very far from the title of financial guru but, with all the shit I’m dealing with at the moment in my life, I can proudly say that I control my money, not the other way around.
Lots of love, Selfish Jo