How I Save: The freelance writer in London who saved £12,000 in lockdown

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.

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

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