Ask Jenni

Ask Jenni: “I Make A Decent Wage But I’m Always Broke”

October 18, 2017 by
where is my money going

“Hi Jenni

I really want to save money to travel more but I never seem to have any money left at the end of the month to actually put in a savings account. I have two sisters and although they earn less than me, they seem to be so much better off financially. I feel like I need to sort out my spending but I honestly don’t know where my money disappears to. I take home £1,800 a month and once I’ve paid rent, bills, council tax, transport costs and have paid for food and spent time with my friends and stuff, it’s all gone. Sometimes I run out of money and end up in my overdraft. Please teach me to be good with money. I honestly don’t have a clue where it goes and I swear I don’t live the high life with loads of expensive things. I don’t even buy expensive stuff. I buy everything from Primark, Jenni!”

Stacey, 29, Manchester.


Hi Stacey.

First thing’s first, congratulate yourself on actually recognising there’s a problem and doing something about it. You might be stuck in a bit of a money rut, but the fact you sent this email to me suggests you really want to change.

Pay yourself first

My advice to you could be summarised in just two simple sentences. “Pay yourself first. Don’t save what’s left after spending, spend what’s left after saving.”

Rather than waiting until the end of the month to set money aside for the future, do it as soon as you get paid. Put money in your savings account before you even pay your rent and bills.

Track your spending

Since your entire pay packet seems to be disappearing into thin air, I’d strongly recommend tracking your spending for a month to see exactly where it’s going and identify ways to cut back the following month.

You could track your savings by jotting everything down in a notebook, adding it to a spreadsheet, or using an app such as MoneyDashboard.

I’ve tried all the above methods myself, but now use Starling Bank to track and monitor my spending. It’s honestly been a life changer for me. I’ve had a Starling Bank account for a few months now and it’s really opened my eyes up to where my money’s going. Every time I do some online shopping, buy food at the supermarket, or treat myself to a meal out, I use my Starling debit card, and within a matter of seconds I get a notification on my phone to say exactly what I’ve spent and where.

My spending also shows up in a handy chart on the Starling Bank app and enables me to see how much I’ve spent that day, week and month.

Once you’ve used the app for a month, everything will become crystal clear. Perhaps you’ll see that you spent £60 in Costa this month or you’ll realise you bought way too many drinks for your friends on a night out. Maybe your food bill is way bigger than it needs to be or you realise 30% of your income is being spent on clothes. Knowledge is power and whatever it is you’re spending money on, once you’re aware of it, you can start making changes.

Work out what matters to you

With the help of Starling Bank – or whatever you decide to use to track your spending – you can work out exactly how much you’re spending on essential things, how much is being spent on worthwhile purchases that make you happy (we all deserve enjoyment in our lives), and how much is being wasted on stuff that doesn’t really matter to you.

Use this information to draw up a budget. There are countless ways to draw up your budget and endless tutorials online if you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s a quick video tutorial from Lauren at The Financial Diet.

Set yourself some goals

Keep your goal in mind every time you’re tempted to spend money on other things. Whenever you approach a checkout, ask yourself “is this purchase worth delaying my travel goal?” I bet 9 times out of 10 the answer will be ‘no’ and you’ll pop whatever it was you were tempted to buy back on the shelf.

If you decide to open an account with Starling Bank, you’ll love its new Goals feature. The feature will allow you to set money aside for the things that really matter to you, without having to open a separate bank account. Everything’s displayed in a really visual way and you can set targets and track your progress. You can add money in big deposits (remember what I said about paying yourself first), or in small increments throughout the month. You won’t need to worry about accidentally spending the money on emergency Doritos because it’s held in a separate part of your account. You can move the money back at any time, but this will obviously require you to consciously make the decision.

This post was sponsored by Starling Bank but as always, all opinions are my own and I’d never promote a product or service that I wasn’t passionate about. Once you’ve achieved your savings goals and you have the money set aside to travel, Starling’s a fantastic bank to use abroad. Learn more about how Starling can help you save money while travelling here.

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