Head out of the sand. Saving for a shiny future

I’ve decided to do a shiny savings diary. I always considered myself good with money and relatively frugal... until I actually analysed my spending... oh boy 😬 I was NOT. Turns out I spent at least £500 a month on “stuff” and over £250 a month on food (for a single person!). I’d been buying anything I wanted as soon as I wanted it and hadn’t really clocked how bad I’d been. Time for change!

im 35 and realised I hadn’t got anywhere near enough pension provisions having only started one with the implementation of auto enrolment. I’d just not even considered it before. After a mini (ok big) panic I picked myself up and decided to turn things around. I downloaded the whole of my 2019 bank statements, categorised every line and came up with a monthly average spend.  I then set more realistic budgets and everything spare going straight into savings on the day I get paid. I’ve gone from saving only £100 a month to now saving £813 a month from my base salary. £100 of that goes into a LISA (will actually be changing that to £146.43 from May as I’d calculated my base salary wrong (using wrong tax calculator).

I pay 5% of qualifying earnings into my company pension and my employer 3% of qualifying earnings. They won’t match higher hence why i
opened a LISA for additional savings. Everything I earn in monthly commission goes straight into my LISA and i got a 2nd job that I do 7 days a week from home and everything I earn from that also goes straight into my LISA (will factor in 20% tax set aside once I earn enough from it). I also immediately pay into my LISA anything I earn from surveys or selling belongings online. Last month I paid over £519 into my LISA with LISA bonus on top. 

I don’t know if this will be enough as I have tried various calculators and I can’t for the life of me work out what I’m estimating to end up with as they vary so wildly 🤷‍♀️

I’m also saving up a goal of £10k emergency fund (currently at £5,368). £10k will give me over 6 months expenditure without cutting back at all. 

I do also need to upgrade my car at some point as it’s 13 years old but refuses to die and just keeps going so I’ll keep it as long as possible as it’s so reliable and no point wasting money on a car until I need it. As much as I would love a more luxury car it doesn’t fit in with my savings goals so if I need to eventually I’ll probably just buy a slightly newer version of my current car. 

Salary after tax  £2,224.32 
Will be slightly higher from April pay due to higher personal allowance and actually this figure I had been using the wrong tax calculator which didn’t take into account pension contributions being from qualifying earnings so this is actually wrong too but I’ve been basing my figures off this 🙄 
Mortgage £448.95 
Council Tax  £95.76 
TV Licence £13.20 
Energy £48.00 
DVLA £12.68 
Water £12.00 
Car Insurance £19.91 
Dog Insurance £125.68 
Dog Food £52.00 
Petrol £123.75 
Food £125.00 
Hobby  £100.00 
Other Spending £150.00 
Dog Other £20.00 
Eating Out £34.00 
Entertainment £30.00 
Gifts ANNUAL £25 £350.00 
Health ANNUAL £5 £60.00 
Sports ANNUAL £25 £300.00 
Vets ANNUAL £50 £600.00 
Home Improvements  ANNUAL £25 £300.00 
Car Maintenance ANNUAL £50 £600.00 
Building Insurance (DEC) £8.33 £100.00 
Prime (DEC) £6.50 £78.00 
Random £19 £228.00 

LISA Then SIP once full (auto)
S&S ISA (auto) £100.00 
Natwest Saver (auto) £50.00 
Virgin Saver (auto) £250.00 
Marcus Saver (auto) £219.00 
Marcus Saver (manual extra) £94.39 
Budget Total £2,224.32 
So far I’ve managed to used my “other spending” budget for vets/car maintenance instead of dipping into the money I put aside each month for this so I’ll continue to try this but it’s saved aside if needed. 

Other things to note. I paid off my credit card last month!! Now debt free other than mortgage (£128,209 😱😩), and student loan (£2,200 ish left) should have that paid off in the next 12 months!!! Then I’ll have another £150+ per month spare to save 🙌🙌🙌.

trying to decide if I should be allocating some money towards overpaying the mortgage(1.54%) or paying off my student loan quicker. I’m definitely not in my final home.  This is my first home which I bought 4 or so years ago. I love it here but it’s a 1 bed maisonette with a small garden. I’d definitely like somewhere a little bigger.  If house prices crash I might be tempted to shop around although for now this is very comfortable and highly affordable.   I have £14,000 set aside in a renovation fund too as I intend to replace the bathroom, kitchen and windows. Struggling to bring myself to spend the money though even though I’m sure I’d be happier with the work done. I also have proven myself incapable of choosing tradesmen and EVERYONE I have previously hired has done a terrible job and I’m not feeling confident in myself to get more work done. 

Sorry to waffle on...

I’ll be recording my savings journey, additional money I earn and just generally rambling on this thread. Hopefully someone finds this interesting 🧐 



  • kazwookiekazwookie Forumite
    13.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Dog insurance is that per week / month or year?
    How many dogs do you have?
    :) Sun, Sea :)

  • kazwookie said:
    Dog insurance is that per week / month or year?
    How many dogs do you have?
    That’s per month. I have 2 dogs 🙈 I’m aware it’s very expensive but I feel trapped with the insurer. It’s a for life policy so all preexisting conditions are still covered for life. They get £4,000 per condition per year each. Annoyingly their excess also went up this month to £250 for my older boy and £150 for the younger one. It means I’ll only be able to claim for big vet bill now. I have had a lot of claims over the years as my older dog has had neurological issues and cancer (recovered from both now) and other claims too. In hindsight I could have treated them cheaper without insurance I.e. using local vets instead of specialists. For example my dog had a crown fitted for a broken tooth at a specialist... I could have had the tooth just removed at a local vet cheaper. But it gives me reassurance that I’ll never have to think.... can I justify the cost of treatment. I’d hate my dogs to suffer or have less than the best care because I cancelled my insurance 🤷‍♀️ 
  • Just spent £60.60 from my “other spending” budget on some brackets to fix my fence. Didn’t NEED so many brackets but I decided to fix a bracket to every rail so it looks tidier and will prevent further rails coming loose. Had to buy some more screws too. I also bought some silicone to fix a badly fitted door/window frame which has a gap around it and some clear silicone for the bathroom... not sure my DIY skills are up to this but heck ill have a go when it arrives next week. 
  • savingwannabesavingwannabe Forumite
    16.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
    Hello forestbluebells, welcome everyone is friendly and we try to help.  To be honest I didn't really start saving properly in a pension till I was 30 and I have added AVCs which helped. I am sure kind members on here can give you pensions advice. I am doing some cleaning will be back later with some ideas.

    Aiming for a minimal spend 2022
  • Hello forestbluebells, welcome everyone is friendly and we try to help.  To be honest I didn't really start saving properly in a pension till I was 30 and I have added AVCs which helped. I am sure kind members on here can give you pensions advice. I am doing some cleaning will be back later with some ideas.

    Thank you 🙏 I’m doing what I can to turn things around and enable a brighter future. At least I’m now aware and trying. It’s harder on a single salary but all I can
    do is my best. It’s so confusing with all the pension calculators as I just can’t quite figure out what to expect from my efforts as they all vary so wildly. Then on top of pension do I pay off my student loan early and get the extra £150 ish a month spare to save/invest or over pay my mortgage 🤷‍♀️ 🙈 it’s a bit overwhelming as to what is best. I’ll probably feel a bit better in a year once my emergency fund is higher but then if I need to replace my car that’s a chunk of my emergency fund gone although it does seem to just want to keep working so 🤞😂

    I’ve been looking on Rightmove yesterday to see what’s available, I live in such an expensive area that if I could move 40 miles away I could get a 3 bedroom detached house instead of a 1 bedroom maisonette 🙈 I’ll probably keep an eye on the market just in case anything good comes along although I did just redo my mortgage for 5 years 😬 If house prices drop a bit I could afford something with slightly more space not too far away but we shall see. As it stands currently i couldn’t find anything better locally but I’d love a little more space. Maybe one day.... I think
    sorting my pension is top priority currently as i only have £4,200 in a company pension and £1,200 in my LISA currently 😱😢
  • Couple of no spend days, there’s been a few things I was tempted to buy online but held back. I was thinking about getting a steam mop but decided I can make do for now. I’ve felt a bit lonely recently but went for a run today which boosted my mood.  

    It’s a bit overwhelming the journey to a better financial future. Do I overpay the mortgage, do I pay off my student loan quicker (about 1 year left on it), am I paying enough into my pension? I’m not earning much commission lately as it’s hard in the current climate to earn any bit I still have my 2nd job. My payment this week is late I assume to the bank holiday, hopefully I’ll get paid tomorrow. I’ve also applied for a 3rd job 🙈 not heard back on that yet. I’ve not been getting many prolific surveys recently either, I’ll keep checking. I swapped around some standing orders today as my NatWest savings builder interest rate is dropping later this month so I’ve moved my standing order over to my Marcus account and also upped the monthly amount I pay into my pension from my base salary to £146.63 as I had calculated my after tax salary wrong. Didn’t truly make a difference as I was still paying all my commission straight into my pension anyway but now more just comes from my direct debit. Kind of looking forward to working tomorrow to break up the monotony on being alone all the time. At least I’ll probably have a few phone calls to have some kind of human contact this week. 
  • It's a time to really think things through if you don't want to keep the extra in cash savings I would pay off mortgage in this climate. It's sunny here which is nice.
    Aiming for a minimal spend 2022
  • I’ll start allocating some extra to overpaying then. I had a spare £94.39 each month I wasn’t sure where to allocate. I put it in my savings this month but I’ll set up a standing order to overpay the mortgage from next month:) if I keep that up indefinitely I’ll save £7,588 in interest and pay off the mortgage 6 years and 8 months early 🙌 not that this is my final home (I hope!!) but I guess building up the amount I own is still helpful should I ever be able to upsize on my own. 
  • Got paid from my online job so that’s £55 straight into my LISA. 🙌 bit lower than normal but I was having trouble for a few weeks with the tasks. 
  • Well done on your online job earnings. I hope you have a good day.
    Aiming for a minimal spend 2022
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