Welcome to Money Matters: GLAMOUR’s weekly dive into the world of finance – your finance. These uncertain times have reminded us just how much understanding our money matters and yet… how little we talk about it and how much it’s shrouded in secrecy.
This stops now.
Keen to break that money taboo, we’re chatting all things personal finance from daily budgets to ISAs and pensions. Each week, a woman in a unique situation will give us an honest breakdown of her finances, and our expert will tell her easy tips on exactly how to tackle it. So, grab a cuppa, take a seat, and let’s talk about money…
Coleen*, 27, lost her job just before lockdown and has taken on a Covid cleaning job ever since. This is her money month…
I am currently living with my partner in the south of Scotland. Unfortunately I lost my previous cafe job a few months before lockdown, but I was lucky enough to get a cleaning job in an office at the end of June, and now work around 45 hours a week. My job is secure for now, but my hours could go down depending on how the Covid situation plays out. My partner works an office job and earns roughly £1,300 a month after tax. We split all bills evenly since we earn similar salaries, and do have some joint savings.
However, he’s just been furloughed for the second time during lockdown and isn’t getting his salary topped up to the full 100%. He’s just signed up to become a driving instructor, and is hoping to be able to complete about half of the 6-9 months training course while working/on furlough, but may have to quit to do the last part as it sounds quite intense. I have about £10,000 from an inheritance, so we were going to use some of that to pay off the £2,500 cost of his course.
We’re generally quite good at saving, but the thought of potentially only having my minimum-wage salary (that could go down at any point) while he finishes his course and gets set up as self-employed is terrifying! We have my inheritance and some savings, but we would love to be able to also keep saving for a house/marriage/other future ventures. I also have no idea what to do with the remaining inheritance as it’s currently sitting in a savings account earning a measly 0.01% interest. How do we budget and manage to keep saving when the next year is so uncertain?
Current account: £150
Savings account: £11,400, plus £1,500 in joint savings
Annual salary: £19,567.68 pre-tax; £17,850.60 post-tax
Monthly wage: £1,630.64 pre-tax; £1,487.55 post-tax (although I get paid weekly)
Monthly wage post Covid-19: The same
Any other incoming payments: No
Rent: £220 for my half
Bills: £280 for my half
Other: £22.99 for my gym membership
Splurges: We sometimes eat out at the weekend or get takeaways, which can be £30-£40. I do sometimes buy new clothes, but I try not to spend more than £50 a month on that. We maybe have the odd night/weekend away every three or four months.
Weekly budget: I don’t really have one, but I try not to spend more than £200 a week inc bills/rent, so that I have money left over to go into savings.
What I spent this month: About £450 on bills/rent, £200 on Christmas presents, £30 on clothes and maybe about £350 into savings.
Student debt: Around £8,000.
Credit card: I do have one, but I only use it to buy one affordable purchase per month and pay it off in full every month.
MY MONEY MOOD
What I want to save for: A house, marriage, retirement, and for when my partner has to quit his job.
How I want to plan my money for the future: I’d love to be able to save money for when my partner and I get married and buy a house. We’ve just opened a Help To Buy ISA, so will probably put some of my inheritance into that but I don’t know how much we’ll be able to afford to put away each month on top of that.
I’d also like to be able to save independently for retirement. After struggling with part-time jobs I only have about £200 in my work pension so would love to be able to set something up for myself so I have my own pot for when I retire.
My worst money habit: Not paying enough attention to where my money is going and spending on little bits and bobs over the month and then not having much to put into savings.
My biggest money worry: That when my partner has to quit his job we won’t have enough to save at all as most of my wages will be going towards bills/rent, and if my hours go down I may struggle getting something full time as I’m not in an area where there’s a lot of jobs going about. Also not knowing what I want to do with my life means I struggle getting myself into well-paying jobs.
Current money mood: 🤷🏼♀️🙈
WHAT OUR EXPERT SAYS…
1. What’s possible?
You know what you want but it sounds like you’re not entirely sure what’s doable, so let’s start there. For this, you need two figures in mind: The income you absolutely need to live, pay rent and eat, and the income you need to do all of that and save for your future (wedding and house deposit). Use these figures to have a frank conversation with your partner about how you navigate the next couple of years (it will inevitably take some time for your partner to build his business).
2. The uncomfortable truth
It sounds like you have a great relationship and you want to support your partner through a career change, which is wonderful. But just make sure you’re considering your own health, needs and wants in all of this. You’re already worried about your own job security and you have some thinking to do about your career plans. It would also be amiss of me not to issue caution over using significant amounts of your inheritance money to fund your partner’s career change. The uncomfortable truth is, relationships do end. No matter how unlikely it is, it’s always best to make decisions around money with a consideration of your feelings. If the worst were to happen, would you regret the choices you’ve made?
3. Plan your savings
If it’s going to be difficult to live off your wage alone (as it would be for most couples!), but it’s not possible for your partner to keep his job, we need to look at how you’re going to grow your joint savings now. Remember that second figure in point 1? By how much are you going to be short, on your income alone? And for how long? (add 10% breathing space for good measure). Now use these figures to work out exactly how much you need to save now so that when the time comes, you can boost your income to meet your needs and wants. You’ve got your inheritance, but I’d think carefully about whether this is how you want to spend it. Could he get a part-time job over furlough? Some employers allow it with permission, and I hate to say it (we all love a Saturday night Deliveroo) but at £40 a week, a no-takeaway rule is an easy £2,080 saved a year!
4. Automate to the max
So you now know what you need to be saving each month. But to make it happen, you need to make saving as easy as pie and to do it before you have a chance to spend it. Standing orders are your friend. With whatever’s left, create a budget for both of your needs and wants.
5. Beat the rates
You’re right about the measly interest rates, but with your partner embarking on a new venture, you’ve got time on your hands. Perfect when the key ingredient to successful investing is patience (five years’ worth plus, ideally). You have a few options. DIY investing; where you pick your funds, stocks and shares. Robo-advisors; like a digital financial advisor, which uses clever algorithms to invest for you. Finally, you’ve got financial advisors; a real human who can give you bespoke advice.
Alice Tapper is the author and founder of Go Fund Yourself.
*Name has been changed. This column offers guidance, not financial advice. For personal investment advice, it’s always best to speak with a financial adviser.
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