I’ve teamed up with Natwest to write about my saving experiences – past, present, and future, whilst also letting you know the help Natwest offer when you are working towards a savings goal. For savings advice and tools from Natwest, check out their Fairer Savings page.
I’ve always been a conscientious saver. And I’ve always had the drive to take control of my own finances. I was never content to rely soley on the relatively small allowance that I received from my parents. I still remember the monthly conundrum of “Should I blow my whole allowance on one CD? Or will I need money for the bus or the cinema this month?”
The solution was to start earning, and start saving. Age 12, I walked into a local newsagents and became the first girl on their morning paper delivery rosta. At 14, I started doing after school shifts at a local pharmacy – stocking the shelves and serving customers. This led on to more work. I’d work a ten hour shift every weekend, and also during the school holidays.
I actually really quite resented having to work sometimes. Especially when some of my friends received an allowance equivalent to my wages. Although work provided the fuel for my social life, at the same time, it also conflicted with it quite a bit. I lived unusually far from my secondary school. It was over an hour away on two buses. My friends lived a lot closer together. So when we started going out in the evenings, I would bunk over at friend’s houses. If I had an early shift at work the next day, that became impossible, so I missed out.
What did I spend my earnings on? Well, it was mainly clothes and CDs, and later on, I spent a large chunk on nights out. But there were the occasional big purchases that I was hugely proud to have achieved by myself.
Mario Kart on the SNES was my favourite game ever. When I heard the N64 was coming out, with a new version of Mario Kart, I was desperate for it. I started saving everything towards it. I think it took about eight months, my wages, birthday and christmas money combined, and several jealous games at friend’s houses who hadn’t had to save at all, until I had finally saved enough.
I was also able to go away quite a bit during my teenage years and early twenties thanks to having a steady job. The post GSCE and A level holidays, my travelling stints, all of that was saved for with my earnings.
We’ve spent the last few years trying to keep on top of our general outgoings, with nothing left to put aside in a savings pot. But that has evened out recently, and we have a bit more financial freedom. Our main savings goals at the moment is to pay off the credit debt that slowly but steadily built up whilst we were trying to keep afloat, in order to get ourselves into a decent position to be able to upsize from our small two-bed to a family house with a bit more room.
As Sam’s job is largely commision-based, it’s difficult to accurately plan how much we can save, but we are hoping to clear our debt by the end of this year.
Natwest have a handy budget calculator that anyone can use to get a clearer picture of your earnings and outgoings and your potential to save.
For Natwest customers, there is also the Savings Goal tool, which works with your savings account to calculate a time frame for your savings goals and track your progress.
We don’t have any grand goals right now, we are just very happy to be in a position where it looks like we might finally be able to save a bit, for the first time ever. I think we will just be playing catch up for the near future, purchasing things we’ve had to put on the back burner, preparing for big purchases that we know will be on the horizon.
It will put our minds at ease to have an emergency savings fund, rather than credit being our only option. We would like to set up a savings fund for the boys’ futures. (We managed to set up a small fund for Arlo, but Rory got an I.O.U when he was born). It’s only a matter of time before our 1998 Ford Focus stops serving us as amazingly as it has. We’d like to be able to prepare for that time with a ‘new car fund’.
The teenage me would have jacked in all my jobs if someone had offered to just give me the same money for free – no brainer. But looking back, I can see that it was valuable to learn a few life lessons early on, and being a conscientious saver in my teenage years has definitely help prepare me for the grown up world, where nothing ever comes quite so easily where money is concerned.