#JanuaryJoy – Make a Budget or Savings plan.


Image via Who What Wear

When I was growing up one of my abiding memories is of my mum checking off receipts against a pile of bank statements. Aways a big list maker, every penny in her bank account was accounted for as it went out and double checked. I always thought it was funny but joking aside, my approach to money couldn’t have been more different to my Mum’s. A child of the credit years I sailed through uni living in overdrafts and student loans, which might as well have been monopoly money. When I finally graduated aged 24 and started work I was incredibly fortunate to have a well paid job and progress through the ranks that saw my salary rise. It wasn’t without hard work of course, but the old adage work hard, play hard could well have been written about junior doctors. Of course there were times that I made budgets, but it was always more of a retrospective activity and an eye opener as to how much I was spending.

However, there have been periods in my life where I have saved, and saved hard, when we bought our house and the most notable being prior to our wedding. At the time we decided we wanted to save a certain amount, worked out how much that was and divided it month by month between the two of us. We managed it but fell back into bad habits after the enforced saving pre-wedding and a few months of treating ourselves turned into years.

Back in July, I wrote the post Dutch no More, where I shared Pete and my financial plans to go fully ‘joint’ in the banking department to try and save money towards our next move. There were 65 comments from those of you reading sharing your own financial arrangements and a few of you asked for a future update on how it went for us. 6 months on I thought it was time to recap.

When we started out, I don’t mind admitting was worried. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough in one account to cover both of our outgoings and our new financially savvy life would be austere and devoid of fun. I got my joint account card and didn’t want to use it. I suddenly felt so much more responsible for my money and accountable for where it had gone. In reality Pete doesn’t tell me what I can or can’t spend and when I have come home with shopping bags thankfully he’s good humoured about it. Those shopping bags are definitely fewer and farther between however. Everything I spend I think twice about and fripperies I might have splashed some extra cash on often go unpurchased. I do think this is in part because of the mental investment I have made in what we’re trying to do, how much I want the next house we’re saving for. The biggest adjustment has been remebering that his account (which we now live off) is not ‘his’ money, but ‘ours’, no more than the money that earn and save is ‘mine’. I joke about shopping bags but Pete reminds me that where I may spend more on clothes, his car costs a lot more than mine to run and maintain, so it all balances out.

It has been surprisingly easy to get used to shake off that feeling of spending somebody else’s money and the most rewarding thing has been that talking about money, previously something we took care of individually, has become a part of our relationship. It’s another element to the best feeling that marriage brings. That feeling that you’re in it together and we’re working towards our future together. And I’m pleased to report our bank balance has never looked healthier so it’s working too. More than anything I’m glad we did this before we had a family. I now have the confidence to know we can manage without my salary and it will be one less adjustment to make if and when the time comes.

Now it’s your turn readers. Did my post 6 months ago inspire you to change anything about your finances or are you, like we are, saving for something inspiring?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. I have concentrated on saving here as that is most relevant to me at the moment but if you’re thinking of making a budget definitely head over and read this brilliant article by Sarah on Any Other Woman.

The Plan…

Quite often, it’s the women around me that inspire the posts I write here, particularly when it relates to issues we all face day to day and thoughts we may have. Back in January I had dinner with a good friend and the conversation turned to our plans for the year, both practical and aspirational. Both at a significant crossroads in our lives, we covered everything from moving home to moving careers, financial decisions to starting a family, holidays and quality of life. The conclusion was that my friend had a plan and it made me think, I never really had a plan.


Image: Creature Comforts blog

The magazines always tell us women have a ‘plan’ and I know that studies have shown that women with a plan are more likely to achieve it, but it left me wondering, what was your plan and how does life compare now? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard friends say they ‘want a baby before they’re thirty’ (the majority now have,) to be married by X age or to move house in three years… The majority of my friends are also doctors, so I don’t hear as much as perhaps some of you do about career progression – with us it relies on the completion of a training program that is fixed in time. But now many of them are GP’s I hear maternity benefits and the pros and cons of partnerships being discussed and planned.

And me? Well, apart from never really having a plan, I still don’t. My friends would probably be surprised at that but apart from single-mindedly knowing I wanted to marry Pete, otherwise I live very much in the moment. Looking back, many of the plans, perhaps better termed ‘ideas’ I’ve had in recent years have been blindly pushed ever backwards. Moving house postponed as we don’t really need to until we have a baby, and that baby remains 2 or three years in the future, much as it was 2 or 3 years ago! Career wise, I’m treading water, and enjoying it. I’m not progressing on the career ladder, but I’m looking around me all the time and learning about what I do want in the future. Not needing maternity benefits means I also don’t need the benefits of a steady job.


Image: Portillon

Reading all that might make me sound relatively relaxed about it, which I mostly am, but every now and then, I freak out and wonder what on earth I’m doing. If I don’t get a job, when I do want a baby I’ll have to wait until I accrue maternity leave. If I wait much longer I’ll be competing with all the newly qualified GP’s that start work in August. If we don’t move soon, house prices might change, we might lose money on the house or end up buying a house that needs loads of work with a small baby. It’s easy to spiral into panic. I need a list, we need a plan!

But I don’t, I have to remind myself it’s ok, I’m almost thirty with so much ahead of me, there’s no rush. I’m kind of glad I never made a plan, as I don’t have anything to compare myself to, to make me feel bad, to feel like I haven’t achieved what I always thought would happen naturally. And you know what they say, the best laid plans…

All that leads me to thinking about you readers. What was your plan and how does where you’re at now in life compare to where you thought you would be? I love hearing your perspectives on things and think a problem shared is a problem halved, so lighten the load a little and let’s hear your story.

Love, a plan-less-but-happy
Rebecca
xo

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