How I Save: The graphic designer who left a £27k salary and has £1,338 saved

How Sam spends:

Monthly expenses: My half of monthly spending is as follows:

  • Mortgage – £300.
  • Utilities – £50.
  • Childcare – £60
  • TV/Internet – £10
  • Council Tax – £75
  • Food – £150
  • Petrol – £80
  • Phone bill – £44
  • Apple Music – £9.99
  • Adobe Subscription (Photoshop etc) – £24
  • Train – £110 (ish)

Monthly income: It WAS around £1900 after tax, through wages and bits of freelance work.

Weekly spending:

Monday: I set up my new website and paid for all that, £61 for the year. My weekly train pass was £26.80. I bought a £2.45 bakery for lunch, and a £2.55 coffee. When I got to my work space I bought another couple of coffees for me and a friend – £6.00. It was cold when I got off the train so I got the bus back from the station, £2. My phone bill also came out, £44.74. Not the best day spending-wise.

Tuesday: Tuesday was a better day! Took lunch with me (proud), got another £2 bus but got a bit peckish on the way home so stopped off for a £2.45 pasty.

Wednesday: Missed my first train so got a £2 coffee while I waited for the next. Went to Tesco for a cheap lunch. Spent £6 on salad and cookies. Ate all the cookies.

Thursday: Took the car for a service, and sat in somewhere to work for the morning. Spent £10.40 on breakfast and coffee. Oops. Apple Music subscription came out (£9.99) .Then the £160 to Halfords for car repairs. Went to football in the evening, that’s £7 cash. It’s daylight robbery, and I played awfully. What a waste of everyone’s time, energy and money.

Friday: Spent nothing today. Utterly nothing. Not a bean.

Saturday: Nip to the shop for some bits, as the food delivery comes tomorrow, £8.65. Not too bad. Couple of treats in there. Relatively cheap day for a Saturday.

Sunday: Take the lad to football training, and get a £2 coffee and a £2 bacon butty. Then after we all go for breakfast – £29 but it all comes from the mysterious ‘joint account’ so that’s fine, right? Spending stops at midday, thankfully – the shop arrives that was paid for by that joint account again, but that’s it for the week.

I may have nipped out later for biscuits, £1.79

Total spend this week: £388.82

How Sam could save:

We spoke to the experts over at money advice app Cleo to find out how Emily could boost her saving (not that she needs to). Here’s their advice:

Let’s begin..

Main vice:

This answers the question every Londoner wants to know: what do you start saving for when you’ve already bought a house?

The answer seems to be pasties.

You made 16 purchases this week excluding bills. 56% of these were snack based. You’re on track to ‘pop out’ for biscuits or a coffee 520 times in the next year. If nothing else, that’s just a lot of extra human interaction scheduled.

Where you’re going wrong:

It’s pretty bold to go freelance with less than one month’s salary as a cushion (it’s also bold to share your ridiculously affordable mortgage with a demographic who spends £800 a month to rent a cupboard).

When you do the maths, there’s roughly £404 unaccounted for in your predicted month’s spending. A mysterious amount goes to your joint account, a mysterious amount gets rounded up by Moneybox, a mysterious amount gets automatically siphoned off by Chip and then you deposit a mysterious amount in a personal savings account.

This is totally fine behaviour if you’re in a salaried role and your only business expense used to be a £2.79 pasty to fuel you to your desk. But you’re not. Expenses are coming. Taxes are coming. The night is dark and full of receipts.

A shakedown

Business spending: £75.50 a week / £302 a month

This is what you’ve been spending on trains, snacks and software in a salaried role. This is how much you can still safely spend a month on freelance costs without changing anything.

Personal spending: £9.99 a week / £37.99 a month

If you take out the coffees and snacks built into your work habits, you only spend £7 a week on intentionally fun activities. I’ve added Apple Music here just to make it less depressing. It’s not inspiring me, Sam.

Joint spending: ??? a week / ??? a month

After bills and the wiggle room for car repair etc, you’ve probably got a free £400-500 to work with each month. You need to sit down with your partner and figure out how much of this can go into family savings, and how much can go to building a salary buffer for you. Absolutely no vagueness allowed.


I’m hijacking this space to get you to Google receipt and expenses apps. Get one. Now.

MORE: How I Save: The content creator who earns £40k a year but only has £577.36 saved

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