Hot on the heels of my dislike of Christmas, is my general malaise towards January. I’m not quite sure why I don’t like it but I do know how happy I am when the 31st rolls around. To be fair, this January went by fairly quickly and we had a nice month seeing friends and sorting some life stuff out. I don’t make resolutions but I am up for our own personal challenge this year of finishing off saving for our house deposit (we’re aiming for £120,000 cash for our deposit, legal fees, stamp duty and furniture/decorating costs). Once we’ve got that cash, we’ll begin chucking money into our ETF’s again. It takes a bit longer to buy your own house when you’re saving every penny yourself and not handed the deposit by a family member (not bitter but that’s pretty much happened to all of our friends, hence why we’re one of the only couples still renting).
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.
I redeemed my Nectar Amex bonus points in January which is reflected in the groceries budget this month. Now we’re onto our next rewards credit card – we opened the Amex Gold which gives us 20,000 reward points after meeting the minimum spend. We’ll convert those to Avios as we’ve set oursevles the target of getting business class flights to New Zealand with Avios points (we currently have 45,000 and need about 125,000 so it’s a good challenge!).
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)||£1761.00|
|Utilities (electricity, water, tv, music, mobile phones, broadband, cloud storage)||£211.36|
|Food (groceries, household goods, food out (work lunch & eating out)||£541.20|
|Personal spending (own money, haircut, work clothes)||£611.03|
|Transport - train (commuting)||£143.50|
|Transport - car (petrol, parking fees & tolls, car tax)||£279.01|
|Misc spending (incl health spending)||£86|
Total £3,575.28 | Savings rate 47.8%*
*(excludes passive income)
notes on january
- out of the food category, we spent £266 on groceries as I redeemed all of our bonus Nectar points. Our groceries normally cost us around £425 a month.
- our car had it’s 2 year service in January which reflects in the car category.
- I spent £50 more than normal this month in my own spending. I did make valiant attempts to do well this month but there were two late-to-the-game expenses in the form of a training course for work and some summer shoes I bought in the TOMS sale at 80% off.
- our joined personal spending category was super high this month at £325 (normally a £75 budget). However, we front-loaded a lot of tickets for the things during the year including the theatre in March, Hamilton(!) with friends in May and the cricket in August at The Oval. I fully acknowledge the fact that we can drop a few hundred pounds like that and it doesn’t really affect things. Yes, if we did that all the time in every single category, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals but as a one-off we’ve got it covered.