2020 took us all by surprise and I think it’s safe to say that none of us expected to be spending a large chunk of time at home and unable to work.
Last year in February I made the decision to leave the company I’ve worked for four years, despite not having a new role lined up. Having been working since I was 16 years old and always had ‘a plan’, this time, I found myself without a plan. I began applying for new jobs and figuring out what to do next – do I stay in marketing, content/blogger outreach roles or look to something new? Covid-19 took hold of the globe and I found myself working from home before I left work for three months.
Prior to me deciding to quit, Darren and I spoken about the financial aspect of it, living in one wage, the income we have vs our outgoings. Luckily, we both made the resolution at the start of last year to get into the habit of saving and with a couple of months salary stashed away, it wasn’t too daunting, knowing we could live our normal lives, however, we didn’t anticipate me not being able to work/find a role in my trained industry for a few months. So, with that said, I went through all of our bills to cut costs and reduce where possible.
I started by looking at our monthly bills that we pay together from our joint bank account and both pay £600 into monthly –
- Mortgage – Our mortgage is fixed for five years and 2020 was year two. We pay less than £400 a month for our mortgage, as we were in a similar financial situation when we bought our house and needed to ensure we could pay all bills on one wage, just in-case. In three years we’ll increase the mortgage and look to move, which will bring an increase in monthly payments.
- Gas and electricity – I switched our provider, which I do every time we reach the end of our contract to save money. I swear by Martin Lewis, which I guess many of us do in this current economic climate to get the best deal, and ensure we’re not paying above the odds. We pay around £75 a month for both, and that will reduce soon as we move into the warmer months and the heating won’t be on as much.
- Water – I don’t believe we can amend our water bills (correct me if I’m wrong!) but again, paying around £50 a month isn’t too bad, seeing as we’re both home all the time atm as have the washing machine and dishwasher on a couple of times a week.
- Internet – We do pay a premium for our internet package, which doesn’t include a TV package, however we have super-speedy internet, so that’s the trade-off. We had an awful experience with TalkTalk internet years ago in our second rented house, where the cost of the package was over the odds but the internet speed was awful. So we took the premium package from Sky. This was also the only provider available on our estate at the time of us completing on our house. Ideally we’d like to be with Virgin, so we’ll see if we can get a better deal when our contract is up.
- Council tax – Again, another bill that’s out of our control, however we’re in the second to lowest band in our area and it’s not that bad. We pay over 10 months so we can the two months ‘free’ which we’ve just had so the cost of Feb and March has been sitting in our account, waiting to be taken. Another handy advantage.
- Not sure whether it’s worth mentioning, as Santander are set to change the account type in the next month or so, but we use the 1,2,3 account for our joint account, meaning we earn 1% 2% and 3% cashback on direct debits, aka all of our bills.
It may only be pence each month, but it tots up and it’s a nice feeling to see that extra fiver each month that we’ve accrued.
In terms of my personal outgoings, I only have two, which I have been on the phone to reduce/close so I have minimal outgoings of my own:
- Phone bill – With everything going on and me being home for the foreseeable, I really wanted to reduce this bill down as much as possible. I currently pay £44 a month, which is a lot for my phone bill, however I opted for a larger data/download package when I took the contract out two years ago as I use my phone so much for my blog and social channels when out and about. However, now I’m home on wifi, I really could do with reducing that cost. From speaking to EE, this isn’t something I can do sadly but the contract is up in August so I have just four payments to make and then I can reassess my options. Most likely will be to move towards a SIM only contract to reduce the cost.
I really enjoy following the Instagram account, My Frugal Year as it goes to show that anyone can run up debt or simply have money worries. It’s not isolated to a single ‘type’ of person. If someone had told me at Christmas this is where I would be four months later I wouldn’t have believed them. Whilst we live well within our means, don’t really spend that much – I mean, I won’t be getting my nails done monthly or my hair done until I life returns to normal, but luckily we don’t have any large outgoings, bar Darren’s car, which he pays for, that we’re worried about.
I think the point of this post, similarly to My Frugal Year, is to normalise attitudes towards money, prioritising and saving. I think we’re guilty of sometimes being too worried about money, which is why we haven’t been on holiday in years or treat ourselves that much, despite being in desperate need of a new mattress and sofa – we don’t deem it a priority as we’re worried about being stuck later down the line. This attitude has paid off for us in this current circumstance and I think it’s healthy to address your outgoings frequently so you have a clear idea of where your money is going and if you could reduce a bill or cut costs somehow. I really enjoy reading these kinds of posts and thought it might be helpful for someone else who may be in a similar situation.
Last year I collaborated with The Nottingham to share my money money diary. You can read it here.