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Let’s do a quick recap on some of the things that I learned by analysing one month of my spending: 

  • I have multiple monthly subscriptions, some of which I could likely live without 
  • The miscellaneous/once-off and fast food spend can quickly add up and are not required 
  • I am spending far too much on grocery shopping 
  • I don’t have any sort of ’emergency’ fund 
  • I am not contributing anything worthwhile to Savings for future-me 

In this post, I’d like to talk about my review of my Subscriptions, and the changes (and savings!) I have made in a short space of time, without even leaving the house! 

The 5 monthly subscriptions that I have are: 

  • Netflix 
  • Audible 
  • Kindle 
  • Dropbox 
  • Spotify 

First thoughts – what is that Kindle subscription for and when was the last time I used Dropbox for anything… There’s two that should be able to go immediately. Though I do regularly use the other 3, I’ll also have a look into those. 

On checking my Amazon account, it looks like the Kindle subscription has been ongoing since July 2018, and likely something I signed up for prior to (or during) a lot of business travel last year. At £7.99 (€9.34) a month, as frustrating as it is to discover I have already spent over €120 on something that I have never used, I can fix that going forward. So with an extra eager click of the mouse, I have chosen the ‘Cancel Membership’ button. And while €9.34 a month might not sound like much, that’s €112.08 a year that was going down the drain and will now be mine again. And you know what – it feels good! 

Staying put in Amazon, I took a look at the Audible subscription. Now, I absolutely love Audible – I think it’s a great app – listening to the latest books, narrated by some wonderful authors and actors. Living in the midlands, with frequent long drives, I find the time flies when listening to a good book. I have a subscription that costs £7.99 (€9.34) a month and gives me 1 credit each month: 1 credit = 1 book. With some of the books priced at €20+, this is not too bad, considering I actually use it. However, on review of my account, I currently have 5 credits to use up, along with some previous books that I’ve bought, but haven’t yet read. As I really am committed to heading towards a lifestyle where I save more and waste less, this is another subscription that can go. I’ll choose 5 good books to use up my current credits, then cancel that membership. I won’t lose the books I’ve already purchased and I can always buy a book as a once-off treat without the need for the subscription. So there we go – another €9.34 a month, adding up to €112.08 a year. There’s that lovely “saving money” feeling again! 

Again staying in Amazon (seems I really like to give these guys my hard earned cash!), I take a look at my Prime Membership. This is an annual payment of £79, and amongst some other benefits; gives access to Prime Video (streaming service), Amazon Music and Faster/Cheaper Delivery. Now I’ve had Prime for a few years now, and really I don’t know why I haven’t cancelled it until now. I really don’t find it that beneficial for people in Ireland as we can’t use the Pantry for grocery items and we can’t avail of the next day delivery, though we can save money on delivery fees for most Prime eligible items. Personally, I don’t rate the offering of TV shows and movies available on Video and I don’t have a need for Amazon Music. So while I’m logged in to Amazon and on a money-saving roll, I’m going to go ahead and cancel this. It’ll also help me stop the frivolous purchases from late-night Amazon browsing. I’m paid up until the end of the year, and won’t lose the benefits until then, but at least it’s another step in the right direction for financing future-me. It’s £79 a year, and last year this worked out at €90.57. There’s another prime saving, excuse the pun! 

Spotify was next on the list, and this is one I use almost daily and at this time, don’t see the need to get rid of it. I pay €12.49 a month for the Premium Duo plan and this means both my partner and I can listen ad-free at the same time – can create and manage our own playlists, while also being able to share playlists with eachother. We both use Spotify a lot for music and podcasts – in the car, on the phone and on the speakers in the house. We don’t stream or buy music elsewhere and I feel it’s worth the monthly cost. Don’t get me wrong, if, God forbid, I was ever in a situation where I needed an extra few quid – this is not a life-essential and I would gladly pause the subscription until I was back on my feet again. But thankfully for now, I am happy with keeping this one and enjoying the great benefits. 

Next up is Netflix. We are definitely fond of an ol’ Netflix n chill in this house, and have so many box-sets and movies that we haven’t yet seen. I find the content is great, they’re consistently adding new series and movies and (once we both reach agreement!) will always find something to watch. We use it on so many devices – on the kitchen tv while making dinner, on the iPad while running on the treadmill, living room for movie nights and bedroom for a quick Ozarks/Black Mirror/Peaky Blinders fix before bed. I also find the Download feature really handy while travelling. So I know that Netflix isn’t something that I’d easily want to get rid of, but nevertheless it’s worth taking a look at my subscription. I am on the premium plan; this allows watching on up to 4 screens at a time, along with Ultra HD and is €13.99 a month. The next plan down is Standard; allows watching on up to 2 screens, and is €11.99 a month. The basic plan allows watching on 1 screen at a time and is €7.99 a month. Now, I know that this is a blog about saving money and I do want to (and need to) cut back where I can. However…we often watch at the same time (me cooking dinner, him on the treadmill!), and I stay signed in at my parents’ house to allow the grandchildren to watch when they’re over. So at this time, I’m not going to make any changes to my Netflix subscription. Though it is good to know the information on the different plans, and again, if I need to make changes in the future I know what my options are. 

Last on the list to review is Dropbox – the cloud storage service. I have had Dropbox for approx 3 years now and I signed up when I was making the move from iPhone to Samsung and wanted somewhere to store my photos rather than transfer them all across to the new phone. So over 3 years later and I haven’t yet taken the time to do anything with the photos, and I also haven’t found the need to use Dropbox for anything else. I am paying €11.99 a month for this. It pains me to realise that I have spent over €450 on something that I really could have done without. But this is all about learning from my mistakes, and now I can do something about it. The plan I have gives me 2TB of storage and I found that I was only using 15GB – and all photos. For now, I deleted a good few photos and copied the rest over to my laptop. Someday when I have some time, I’ll go through the photos in more detail and organise them better. But right now, I have cancelled the plan and will get a refund for this month. €11.99 a month adds up to €143.88 a year so this is another great saving – in just a few clicks! 

So there we have it – I was paying for services that I simply wasn’t utilising, some I didn’t even know I had. I haven’t dropped everything and the changes I have made here won’t dramatically change my life – yet I have just saved €458.61. This is simply by reviewing what I am spending, and comparing that with what I am actually using. This is a really positive start for me, and I’m so glad I’ve started on this journey! 

Why don’t you have a review of your own? Are you paying for monthly or yearly subscriptions that you don’t use or don’t need? Maybe you too can save over €450 in just a few minutes! Let me know how you get on, would love to hear. 

I did my Homework!

So as promised, and unlike when I was in school all those many moons ago, I did my homework. I reviewed every single debit over a one month period. And boy, did I learn a lot…  

Firstly, if you are going to do this – don’t worry about the timeline you choose to examine. I looked back over the past few months and saw large “once-off” transactions in every month. Originally I was thinking ‘no, this won’t be a “typical” month, but realised that’s just it – there will always be something. House Insurance one month, car tax, car service the next, dental treatment etc. So there’s my first lesson from this review – I need a money reserve for these once off/annual/ad-hoc payments. What if there comes a month where I need to pay the dentist, get the car looked at, buy birthday presents etc – all from the one paycheck along with the usual bills. I would be up the proverbial creek, without being able to afford a paddle!  

So I chose the period from June 25th to July 24th as I am paid on the 25th of each month. I logged into my online banking and listed out every single transaction for that period. I then split these into appropriate categories. The categories that were relevant to me are below. You may have other categories such as childcare, sport or education expenses, travel expenses, medical needs etc. Hopefully the categories I have used may be a good start for you too. 

  • Credits (Salary and any other credits to your account) 
  • Loans & Insurance 
  • Mortgage 
  • Grocery Shopping 
  • Annual Payments (House Insurance, Car Tax etc) 
  • Travel & Entertainment 
  • Eating Out 
  • Misc/Once Off 
  • Health & Beauty 
  • Savings 
  • Utility Bills 
  • Subscriptions 

I simply put all of these expenses into an Excel spreadsheet and totted up the figures. I compared all of the outgoings against the incomings. As shared in my previous post, apart from a very small amount going to an online savings account, there was a grand total of 60c remaining before the lovely payroll people at my company came along with my monthly salary for July. This is dangerous territory and not at all sustainable at this stage of my life. 

I then created a graph to better display the spending pattern for comparison, and I suppose – shock factor! Using the total for each category as a percentage of my overall monthly salary, I was able to see exactly where my money was going. And it’s safe to say it’s not going towards an early retirement… 

Here are some of the cold hard facts of the initial observations: 

  • I am spending almost the same amount of money on groceries as I am on my mortgage <insert shocked face here peeps> Quick reminder that there are 2 people in this house! 
  • The Annual and Once-Off payments I needed to pay over this period were 15% of my entire monthly salary. 
  • While Eating Out does not appear to be a large percentage of my salary, I can assure you there was no fine dining or Michelin stars to be had… So there’s 4% of my salary going on bags of chips or grabbing a quick sandwich. 
  • Savings is right down there at the bottom, with only 3% of my monthly salary going towards future-me. Confession time here too – this goes to an online saving account and is very easy to quickly transfer as needed. So you can imagine where that ends up in the few days before payday… 

So though I haven’t yet made any changes, I am now better acquainted with where my hard earned money is going each month. This will allow me to focus on a few key areas and identify where I could be making savings. 

Try it too guys – list out all your spending over the last month. I’m sure there’ll be some surprises and hopefully even help you to also identify where the quick savings could be made. 

I’ll be back to you all soon with updates on how I get on with my deeper analysis on my spending.  

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

…It’s a very good place to start! So, here I am – I’ve made the decision to take ownership of my finances and reduce waste – step 1 done. However, now it’s a matter of putting that into action and I’m learning it’s easier than it sounds. It’s rather easy to simply say “stop spending money and save it instead” – but when you’ve a lifetime of bad habits to change, starting off with a solid plan is going to be key to my success. Sure, I’ll make some mistakes along the way – but hey, nobody’s perfect… 

So first things first – where is my money going? I know for sure that I am spending far too much at the supermarket, we are a 2 person household and could easily host a banquet at any given moment. One thing I recognise is that this is simply not necessary and I don’t need to keep an Armageddon-style stock of fresh food in the kitchen. This will be a huge area of focus for me in my journey. One that I hope we will all take some tips from. But where does the rest of the money go to and why do I struggle to make it safely to payday every month…? 

Taking a brief look at the breakout of my spending on my banking app for last month (AIB’s app has a great way of breaking down your spending behaviour over various periods of time) – I am initially amused, then very quickly annoyed. There is only a 60 cent remainder when comparing the Money In with the Money Out. So, with the exception of a very small amount going to an online savings account, a grand total of 60 cent was saved last month!!! If I keep this trend up, I’ll be just about able to afford a cheap tent from Lidl to enjoy my retirement. If that’s not the wake up call I needed to see, then I don’t know what else could do it! 

So, though it may not seem like I am making great progress, I am now a lot more aware of how dire my saving habits have become and even more determined to make some serious changes. My immediate next tasks I am setting out for myself now are: 

  • Review every single debit from my bank account to actually see where it’s all going 
  • Using the knowledge gained from above, identify where I can make cutbacks 

This is obviously the start of a huge journey for me and I’m hoping to learn some really great tips and tricks to help me, and all of you too, along the way. In some ways, deep down, I know those tips and tricks already – it will be more about putting them into practice, setting my savings goals and cutting out waste. 

Stay tuned to hear how I get on with my tasks! I really hope to keep you all on this journey with me! 

My First Step from Spender to Saver

So let me start by introducing myself, along with a quick home truth! My name is Emer and I’ve become a terrible saver, but rather good at wasting. There – I’ve said it. Now to do something about it…. 

I should, I suppose, elaborate a little. It’s not that I’m running up huge debts, or can’t afford to buy the things I need. But, like a lot of us, I’m living paycheck to paycheck and it’s something I’d like to change. Who doesn’t love that elated feeling the week after pay day – when you feel you can afford to splash out. But then come two weeks before the next payday – that feeling is long gone and it’s time to tighten the purse strings. 

I have read about some folks in their 30’s and 40’s who have managed to live a frugal life, make sound choices, take early retirement and travel the world. Given that I’m in my mid-30’s and have no plans (or means!) to retire in the next ten years, I don’t see this as a feasible goal for me. However, after a recent review of my pension pack, noting the retirement date of 2048 and picking myself up off the floor; I have decided I can at least try work towards a goal where I am not going to the zimmerframe store on the way home from my retirement party! Or at least be in a position to buy the fanciest zimmerframe there is!! 

I want to work towards making changes to my life that will result in me having a rainy day fund – a financial comfort blanket if you will. I no longer want to waste money and I want to get out of the pattern of overspending at the start of the month, leaving me scrimping in the week (or often weeks) before payday. 

Along with saving money, I really want to reduce my waste. I don’t enjoy having to throw away uneaten food, see items go past their sell by dates or have a kitchen full of food with “nothing for dinner”. I also want to use what I have – I have a skincare & makeup stash that would rival any Boots pharmacy. And lastly, I need to start wearing what I have. Thanks to social media and it’s many fashion influencers, along with the ease of buying online, I have bulging wardrobes with enough clothes to dress an army. Albeit, a rather stylish army! 

So I’m starting this blog as a way of helping – helping me stay on track towards my goals and hopefully helping some of you as I share my tips and tricks along the way. I’ll have money saving tips, bargain finds, recipes, reviews and lord knows what else. So stick around, say hello, follow my pages and enjoy our saving journey together! It’s not about perfection, it’s about making better choices!