It felt like Easter took forever to get here this year and so I was very happy when April rolled around. We had a lovely Easter weekend away and I had another week off work which was nice to just chill at home. Overall on the spending front, we went around £200 over our ‘guideline budget’ but I did get myself a tattoo(!) and we hadn’t actually budgeted any money for our Easter weekend away, so those two things pushed us over what would have otherwise been a decent month. I say we have a ‘guideline budget’ as we don’t have a religious budget we stick to – we track our spending and have done for so many years that we know pretty much what we spend on things and so we have advisory numbers next to categories in our budget. I like to spend as little as possible within reason to maximise our savings rate but I think that because our household income is pretty healthy I sometimes am not as absolutely frugal as I could be. Which is fine – we’re happy with where we’re at, the savings are coming along nicely and we are still side hustling at least £100 extra a month.
April also saw us cancel our broadband and mobile phone deal as the 18 months we signed up for is ending in May. We found some good deals on TopCashback and so got £160 of cashback and will be paying about £8 a month less on our broadband. Our phones are also £2 a month cheaper each for 5GB more data than we had! Always got to be on the lookout for those deals!
credit cards: how we buy everything
easier to track expenses
We track every single penny we spend. So, we like to do most of the spending on one card. I also have my card linked to my phone so I’ll get a notification every time I use it – easy to pop the expense in our budget tracker right then & there.
After meeting the minimum spend on the Gold Amex to get the 20,000 bonus points and with news that Amex is changing up its sign up rewards for the worse, I thought I better get in quick with the BA Premier Amex which was next on our list to apply for. So, I applied & got the card, meaning we’re working towards the 25,000 Avios sign up bonus. We need to pay for a holiday we’re taking in July soon, so we can smash a big proportion of the minimum spend with that. We’ll keep the Gold Amex for the year whilst it’s free.
build our credit
For simplicity, we could just pay on our debit card for everything, particularly as it would be even easier to track expenses that way instead of using a credit card and debit card (when our Amex isn’t accepted in some places). However, it’s important to build up our credit history and maintain a good credit score rating. For all that I profess to be knowledgeable about personal finance – I had one glaring error staring me in the face this whole time. All the credit cards I’ve ever had have been as an additional card hold on Mr NC’s accounts and so I’ve spent all these years not building my own good credit report with sensible use of credit cards. Since opening the Nectar Amex in October, my credit score has gone up a significant amount!
And yes, we pay off our credit card in full, every month.
how we organise our expenses
As I alluded to in an earlier post, we track every single penny – more on our budget strategy in this post here. So what we generally do is put numbers next to categories but those numbers aren’t set in stone. We generally try to spend as little as we can, with those figures there to guide us. In my report, I haven’t added the planned numbers, just the actual spend.
what you won’t see here on a month-month basis
We pay for some things up front on an annual basis – all our insurances are paid this way. Those expenses will pop up in the month they’re paid.
|Housing (rent & council tax)||£1849.76|
|Utilities (electricity, water, tv, music, mobile phones, broadband, cloud storage)||£194.38|
|Food (groceries, household goods, food out (work lunch & eating out)||£686.83|
|Personal spending (own money, haircut, work clothes)||£446.01|
|Transport - train (commuting)||£138.60|
|Transport - car (petrol, parking fees & tolls, car tax)||£116.67|
|Misc spending (incl health spending)||£321.52|
Total £3,790.47 | Savings rate 68.9%*
*(excludes passive income)
notes on april
- we renewed our lease for another year so our rent has gone up and we incurred a £42 renewal fee from the letting agent (for doing absolutely nothing) which is why our housing costs are higher this month. Also 5% council tax rise. Excellent.
- food was high but that included a spendy dinner out with friends and our Easter weekend away.
- car spending was higher this month with petrol for our weekend away.
- we got our oven cleaned which went into the misc spending category and I also had a couple of physio appointments for some ongoing muscle issues.