I’m a 24 year-old blogger, writer and consultant living in London.
My hobbies mean I travel around the UK a fair bit, but I base myself between London and Somerset.
I earn around £55k a year but being freelance it varies a lot!
In my savings account right now I have £75k. I try not to think about it too much because I’m worried I’ll spend it.
I’ve saved this much money by working hard of course, but also by being extremely lucky with my job. I blogged for 4 years without earning a penny, back when Instagram first started and when I was still at school, so it’s nice that the work is finally paying! Before it did, I was working as a waiter and hostess in my university holidays, as well as during less busy times at uni. I worked for a year before starting university too, so I would have some savings.
I’m saving to be able to move in with my partner – currently we live over 3h apart but have been together for over 4 years (2 of which have been long distance), so hoping to buy a place together within the next couple of years.
The main way I save is by spending less. People always talk about earning more, but I was able to save even when I was earning much less, because I try to spend very little (less so now that I’m earning more, but certainly when I was younger). I’m also lucky that I’ve not had anyone else to support at home – I’m sure this would be different if I were to have a family or dependent parents. In London saving is easier said than done, but I still have the student mentality when it comes to money. I’m also lucky that my job involves a lot of food at events, so often I can reduce spending on groceries this way.
I’ve also just about got to the point with my job that I will ask for more money if I think I am providing value to a brand/person/publication. For so long I was embarrassed to even bring up the topic of fees, but I can’t imagine there are many other professions where the expectation is that you’ll do things for free, and if you ask for money it’s seen as grabby!
I have a savings account and an ISA as of quite recently because I was fed up of being money illiterate, so I did some research on how best to save for the future. I still have no idea if I’m doing the right thing, but it feels good to have some money going into a deliberate savings account each month. I still don’t really know what an ISA is but I have one and I think that’s good?
I sometimes struggle with saving because it’s hard to keep the end goal in sight when it’s so big. Sometimes I’ll want to go on a big holiday, but knowing my end goal is a house, I have a long way to go until I’ll hit that! Obviously it’s all about balance, not living a miserable existence, but there’s plenty of fun to be had in the UK, so I’m trying to enjoy staycations more than travelling abroad!
I’m not a big spender when it comes to frivolous things like new clothes, alcohol and takeaways – I prefer to just wear what I already own (also more sustainable), drink gin I get given as presents and I love cooking, so takeaways are reserved for emergencies and special treats, maybe once a month.
There are pros and cons to being freelance too. Because I never know when my next work is coming, I’m permanently in ‘survival mode’ when it comes to spending. I’ve finally got to the point where I have regular consultancy clients and writing work month to month, which helps, but my income is so variable that if I had big monthly expenses I think it would quickly become impossible to save. Also as a blogger (probably one of the most hated professions?), I don’t know how long my job will be able to earn me what it does now, so I don’t want to be silly with money when social media could crash tomorrow and take the majority of my income with it. I’m slowly moving away from it all, but obviously want to enjoy it while it’s here. Strangely, being freelance therefore makes me a better saver, which I don’t mind, but I also wouldn’t mind a bit more predictability of income!
How I Spend
£80 bills (water, wifi, gas & electricity, council tax)
£240 on an editor
£100 on lashes (my most shameful spend but oh so freeing to not have to wear makeup, which is my justification, but I realise the makeup savings don’t exactly offset the spending!)
£67 Soho House membership (which is also my gym)
£3.99 on carbon offsetting
£13.39 phone bill
£12 ‘Who Gives a Crap’ loo paper subscription (eco-friendly and long lasting. This is for my whole flat and they pay me back for some of it. I foot any small extra cost compared to non-eco loo paper because I know they don’t care if it’s sustainable or not).
£3 on my bank account (it’s a sustainable bank so there’s a monthly charge for their current account).
Groceries – price varies hugely, as I’m not always at home, so often don’t buy lots. I always have things in the freezer/dried/tinned foods and tend to buy fresh veg and bread at the beginning of every week depending on how much I’m around and throw together easy meals that I can eat throughout the week with various additions. Thankfully vegan food takes a long time to go off!
£6.50 on lunch and a coffee – a nice café near me does 50% off on Mondays, so I tend to treat myself (I need it on a Monday!). I always get something I know I couldn’t make at home myself.
£1.50 on tube journey to a meeting.
Leftovers and homemade cake for dinner
Walk to work (no money spent)
£12 on work lunch
Thrown-together ramen for dinner (my favourite cheap and warming meal!) and more cake
£5 on the tube for various events
Lunch meeting so didn’t pay for lunch
Dinner at an event
£3.90 on the tube for events and meetings
£3.60 on coffee (oat milk flat white to be specific)
Leftovers for brunch (I tend to re-jig the same leftovers for the whole week e.g. I made chili-non-carne on Sunday, which I then added more vegetables to it on Monday and ate with pasta, then ate the remainder on sourdough on Thursday with vegan cheese and hummus).
Dinner at event
£3 on tube journeys for event (breakfast at event)
£37.55 on single train ticket to Somerset (travel to and from Somerset is one of my biggest recurring expenses, as a return costs around £60 with a railcard, but this is where my partner lives so I’ve bitten the bullet and refuse to take a 6h Megabus).
£6 on day pass to the gym (I don’t bother getting a gym membership outside of London because I visit so sporadically, but will get about 3-4 day passes a month).
Nothing spent. I went on a long run and then lazed around for the rest of the day eating bread. The dream.
Well done. Your eco-conscious approach to money has left your bank balance looking green!
You’ve clocked it yourself but £1200 a year on lashes is, well, a lot.
If you’re not already saving into a pension, this feels like a good move. It’s a good habit to get into, especially when you’re freelance.
Where you’re going right
You’re aware of the value you’re providing and aren’t afraid to set fees that reflect that. This is ace. We’d be keen to know how you got over your embarrassment around talking pay (we know this is something that loads of people struggle with).
That student money mentality is a winner. Making use of leftovers at mealtimes ups the chances of leftover money at the end of the month.
If it’s a regular habit, the day you walk to work each week saves you around £20 a month - that’s £240 a year (or 2 sets of lashes and loo paper for 3 months).
As you mention, ISAs can be really helpful for getting into good saving habits and you don’t have to pay tax on any interest or returns you make.
For anyone reading: there are various different kinds of ISA out there, so it’s definitely worth putting in some homework time.
Your money management looks to be as sustainable as lots of your other habits. Good luck with buying that place together!