One of the great joys of my business is that I get to help people to make major changes in their life, by helping them to sort their money out. I love this story, because when Claire* signed up she was purely wanting to get her money in order. She didn’t even realise that she was about to also have a major life change.
Claire came to me because a friend of hers had used my services and had told Claire that she would really benefit from them too. Claire is a young, single professional woman, who works hard and parties equally hard.
After returning from University, she had gone back to her home city and was living at home with her mum and step-dad, paying only a small amount for her “keep”. A couple of her other single friends had recently bought their first properties and, although she had no intention of buying a property, she couldn’t understand how they had enough money to do this. She never had any money left at the end of the month, let alone enough to save up for a deposit. However, she was beginning to wonder if she should really be saving some money each month.
Claire had a little debt, a car loan that was almost finished and a few hundred pounds on a credit card, but she was quite ashamed of this. She had struggled to save up for her holiday earlier in the year, and that was why she now had the credit card debt. She felt a bit ashamed hat her friends were buying properties and she couldn’t even manage to save for a holiday!
Claire’s first thoughts after signing up to the challenge made me laugh – she has a fab sense of humour!
“Oh great. I thought I would start the challenge in my lunch hour – little did I know that half an hour later my mascara would be running down my face! OMG I didn’t expect to feel so emotional when trying to work out what I really want. I want to buy my own flat! I have already chosen the wallpaper for the living room!”
It is surprising how emotional it can be when you are going through a process of working out what you want and how you are going to get it. The great thing is that these emotions are really powerful in helping you to achieve what you want in life. The fact that Claire was already choosing wallpaper is amazing – it would help to keep her focussed on her goals and would help her to reach them more quickly.
“Taking the first step and, accepting the problems I had with debt, left me feeling positive and I stopped beating myself up. Eileen made e feel comfortable and supported which was excellent, especially when dealing with unexpected emotions.”
The road ahead
Once we had identified what she really wanted, we needed to look at how she was going to get there. Claire was on a good salary and had very few regular outgoings at present, so in theory it should be easy for her to start saving towards a deposit. However, she had been unable to save anything in the past, so we really needed to work out what was going wrong for her.
Claire had always kept receipts for purchases, so it was easy for her to go back through 3 month’s worth of expenses and categorise them into different areas. Her spending fell into two main areas – socialising and shopping. She spent more than 70% of her income on these two areas, which added up to a considerable amount of money every month. She knew that she needed to cut this spending, so that she could start saving something towards a deposit for her flat.
We still need to live!
When we started discussing solutions, Claire suggested that she could only go out once a month! When I suggested that this was a bit drastic, she was very insistent that she needed to make sacrifices in order to have what she wanted. While this might be true to a certain extent, from what I had already learned about Claire, I knew that only going out once a month would make her miserable. I reassured her that a 20-something, single girl SHOULD be going out each weekend and SHOULD be socialising and having fun! I encouraged her to think of other ways of compromising, that would still allow her to have fun and enjoy her life.
She decided that she could cut back on the number of concerts that she went to, could have a couple of alcohol free nights out and avoid the coffee & cake trap that she had fallen into a few times a week after work.
Getting Your Money Sorted is absolutely not about being miserable. Instead it is about focusing your spending on the things that mean the most to you and cutting back your spending on the areas that mean less to you. None of the things that Claire had chosen to compromise on caused her any distress, but she knew that giving them up would allow her to save towards her flat.
While investigating Claire’s upbringing, and how she had felt about money as she was growing up, she discovered some interesting things. She had never before given it any thought, but came to realise that, in her teens, her parents had always been very generous with her. When Claire’s dad left, both he and her mum showered her with gifts, and all through her teenage years, she knew that if she wanted something all she had to do was ask. She was now wondering if this had contributed to her habits now. If she wanted something, she just bought it. She realised that she never thought twice about spending money and that she had a wardrobe full of clothes that had never been worn.
This spurred her on to thinking about her shopping habits, and she came up with loads of strategies that would help her to avoid spending on clothes.
Claire then set herself some very lofty goals – she knew that she wanted to be on the property ladder, and that she wanted to be on it soon. The prospect of owning her own flat, was so exciting, that she decided that within 2 years, she was going to be a homeowner! With monthly targets set, for saving into a Help-to-Buy ISA and her savings progress tracked using a savings app, she was making a great start. She also decided that she wanted know what she was spending on each month and signed up to a free online accounting software that allowed her to easily track her spending.
Claire was fantastic to work with, because once she had put her mind to it, there was no stopping her. I got an excited text at the end of the first month because she had over £300 left in her bank account! That was after she had already put money towards her deposit for her flat and some towards paying off her debts.
Her other piece of news was that she was going to treat herself to a new top that she had seen. She had tried on a couple of times, liked it, but then decided not to buy it. When she then saw it in the sale, she was delighted and decided that she would treat herself, because she had done so well with her savings this month. I just loved this!
What did you like best?
After the challenge Claire was asked what was the best thing about the challenge:
“I feel like a different person with increased self awareness and self confidence and I am now in control of my finances which is absolutely priceless.”
She also said:
“I found the challenge very informative and easy to follow. I loved the fact that I could go through it at my own pace and that I could refer back to things. It was also really easy to do a little bit every lunchtime, which helped me to avoid the shops!”
The end result
Fast forward 17 months, when out of the blue I got a photo of a set of keys! She had only gone and bought her flat 7 months ahead of schedule. This was down to her sheer determination to get on that property ladder, because she now realised what a difference that could make to her life and to her future.
Claire was an absolute pleasure to work with, because she was so determined to make changes and to improve her life. Even though she came on the challenge expecting to sort out her money, she was surprised that she had improved her life so much by buying a new flat. She is now continuing to save, this time towards a summer holiday with her friends, as well as putting a little more towards her pension.
“I have got a totally different attitude towards money now. I don’t waste half as much now and am actually excited that I have got an emergency fund! It seems very grown up, doesn’t it? Or maybe it just seems sad…..but I don’t care – I love it! You are amazing Eileen – I couldn’t have done it without you, so I am sending big smackers to you xxxxxx”
Would you like to find out more about how I could help you to achieve your personal and financial dreams and goals?
*name changed to protect client identity