I have been regrouping for the last few months and just getting to know my life in the UK again. It is been a rough transition, to say the least, when you are used to a lifestyle and a living dynamic, to have that completely changed in the space of days can be disruptive.
Let’s face it, I have never been a fiscal guru. If you put my credit history on a graph it would resemble something like a mountain skyline. From considering selling my kidney to marrying someone so that they can get a visa for cash, older generations and friends quiver at my traumatic financial stories. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have influenced them to make a ridiculous purchase at some point in their lives and will also tell you of all of my ridiculous purchases. I am impulsive and I am very into the “Treat yo self” and “Preward” mantras (Preward is where you reward yourself with a gift before doing something to encourage yourself to do it). Some of these tips coming from me may sound hugely hypocritical but believe me I have gotten better.
1. Clear up your money
I separated my bank accounts, it gets super murky when you have everything coming in and out of one account, I never know where I stand with things. At the beginning of this year, I opened three accounts. 2 x checking accounts and a savings account. I then split my paycheck three separate ways, my company allows you to decide how much of your paycheck goes into each account which has helped me tremendously. I have a savings account which 10% of every paycheck gets automatically put into for a rainy day/emergency, I never see it, it is just great to know that it is there. Then I sat down and wrote out a budget for myself, I have a set amount that goes into my “bills” account, this is where all of the direct debits and standing orders are set up. Finally, the living account (my favourite) I know that any money in this account is for me to live (brunches, massages and clothes) and I can feel guilt-free spending it because I know that all of my other bases are covered.
2. Round it up
I started using a fun app called Qapital, it basically rounds all of my purchases up to the nearest $1, this does not sound like much but I have been using it maybe like 3 months and I checked the other day and I have $150 sitting there. You can also make really fun rules for yourself. If I shop in Nordstrom Rack (my sanctuary) then $10 from my account automatically goes into my savings. Like a punishment that is actually helping you. If I eat at fast food joints then I get a $10 charge that goes into my savings, not only has it made me question my decisions but it has also been kind of fun to see the numbers building up without realizing. Another great feature is that if you balance drops below $100 then the transfers get automatically paused so that you do not go overdrawn unexpectedly.
3. Don’t ask, don’t get.
Now credit cards and I are no strangers, and I have been battling the balances for years. This morning whilst doing my weekly financial review, I decided to just phone up my credit card company and ask for an APR reduction and the conversation went a little like this.
Operator: Hello Mr Dowler.
Me: Hello, I have with this company for 2 years now and I think my APR is pretty high, I would like to inquire about a reduction.
Operator: Sure Mr Dowler, you are eligible because of how long you have been with us, I can reduce it by 4% for you today.
Me: That’s great thank you.
It is that easy and the change of APR was effective immediately.
4. Offshore accounts *flips hair*
I have a Monzo current account, and whilst this account is invitation only, if you have a friend with one, they can invite you to it (I happen to have an invite spare for anyone who reaches out). It is an international card which is based in £GBP and you can use it in any country and it will convert the currency to the best rate and you will not get charged. I use it as a buffer between my UK account and my US account and it worked great to transfer money between the two. You also get instant notifications on your phone when your account is debited, which is great for staying on top of the monthly bills. The transfers are also instant which is great for those who are impatient like me. Monzo also has the round-up rule, so you can round-up your purchases to the nearest £. I plan to make it into my main current account when I move back home next month.
5. Dig deeper
Don’t be afraid of coupons and discount codes, I will never make a purchase online unless I have at least googled “discount codes *name of the store* 2018”. I minimum I have gotten is free delivery and I think the max I got was 40% off some full-priced clothing that I had been wanting for a while. It really helps. I have an app called Honey which automatically searches for discount codes for the websites that I am on, sometimes it finds amazing deals and sometimes not so much. The minimum you should do before making an online purchase is simply typing “Discount codes *insert store name* 2018” to make sure that you can rule it out.
Now while I am no financial guru, I hope that these tips might help some of you. I am still that brunch going, designer-loving, half-millennial hybrid but I am doing it in a slightly smarter way now.
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