If you wondered where I was for 2 months then you might have discovered that I met bae – who I’m really into. The defining thing about our relationship is that our top love languages are “touch” yet we live on different continents. This means that we struggle with the distance possibly more than other people and come up with wonderful little ways to cope. Ultimately though, we both figured that it would be too expensive to see each other at the frequency that we’d like for a very long period of time. So, a big change is afoot by the end of the year.
Why do I need to save £5,000 so quickly?
We shortlisted a number of cities that would be OK to live in and part of her visit to Europe was to check out London and a couple of those cities. Out list of criteria on which to evaluate all the cities includes “bikeability”, cost of living / income potential, availability of cultural experiences, diversity (of people and food), community/friends, (temperate) weather
We have to move and moving costs money.
She could move to London: This is probably the most expensive of our options and the least likely to happen because it is very difficult to get a freelance visa in the UK. Furthermore, the cost of living is high and we’d both need to earn a lot more money to get the lifestyle that we aspire to. While it scores well on diversity and community, the weather does not
We could both move to a new city: Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Malmo, and Glasgow have been shortlisted. All of those cities are substantially cheaper than London and some are easier to get a visa for (Barcelona, Amsterdam, Malmo and Berlin). However, we’d need to pay for shipping stuff and visas cost money too.
I could move to her city: This is currently our favourite option because I already checked and as long as I got a firm job offer, I’ll be able to get a visa. Even if I freelance with UK/EU clients and mostly worked remotely or freelanced in her city, it would be much easier to make enough money to keep me in the lifestyle that I want to lead in her city. She already lives in a wonderfully cheap apartment so as long as I could move in with her, there’s so much potential to keep our expenses much lower here than anywhere else.
If I decided to move in January (current timeline) then I’d need to ship my stuff over / sell it and buy new stuff over there; sort out a job (possibly involving a trip or trips for interview); and possibly pay for a visa (at around £1,500/£2,000 this won’t be cheap).
I’m nervous about my pension
I currently get a 6% contribution from my company and pay 5% towards my pension. In October, when I turn 35, I’ll start getting an 8% match. This isn’t anything to be sniffed at. I worry that if I left, I wouldn’t get a pension that matches that rate. I also worry about what happens with leaving my pension in the UK / not contributing anything here for a couple of years. I’m assuming that I need to match my projected pension savings rate regardless of where I live. Having some cash on hand that I could invest / pay into a pension even if I don’t earn enough in my new location would be handy.
I want options
Bae freelances / works for herself already. This means that she can work from anywhere in the world but she also has 1 major client and can’t predict what will happen if she lost them. The quickest way to move might be freelancing with UK/EU organisations. I might need time to find the right employer (getting less than the 5 weeks of vacation time I get now is already stressing me out). Having cash will mean that I could potentially exist at bare bones level for a few months with no pressure.
How to save £5,000 in 6 months
1. Commit to a savings rate of at least 50%
Honestly, I’ve spent rather outrageously (relative to my goals) in the first half of the year. The focus from July to December is to try to spend ONLY on things that are in line with my values and save much more than I have. I averaged a 22% savings rate (including my pension contribution but not the company match) for the year to June and need to more than double that. In order to help me do this, I signed up for the Frugalwoods’ uber frugal month challenge. I also started using my interest paying accounts so that I get a few more pennies a month.
2. Pay myself first
One of the reasons I have struggled with saving as much as I want to is that I have only been partially paying myself first. When I set my intentions for the year, in January, I set up standing orders for my FI fund (£250 a month) and big-ticket fund (£383.33). I’ve kept up with them but I have waited till the end of the month to “see if I could save some more”. So far I haven’t. From July, I’m doing things differently. I’ve worked out all important expenditure – basic expenses like rent, discretionary but joyful stuff like travel etc. – and worked out that I can save another £50 per week. So, I moved £250 at the start of the month to a new savings account.
3. I’ve “gamified” my spending
For months, I tried to motivate myself to eat better, get fitter and lose weight by earning my “fun money”. This didn’t work out because I wasn’t really hiding the money anywhere. In June, Monzo announced that they had incorporated IFTTT applets. Total game changer! I immediately set up applets to trigger savings if I met my step goal or lost weight.
This has the double impact of getting me to take my fitness more seriously (including cycling everywhere) and eating more at home (thus saving on food and transport).
4. I’m rounding up my spending
It used to be that every time I spent with my Lloyds card, it rounds up the pence and deposits that into a savings account. The problem was, I didn’t use my Lloyds card that much (because Monzo) so I’ve not really managed a lot of savings so far. I discovered the coin jar in Monzo and it now does a similar thing and I’m saving a bit more every time I spend. I’m also depositing my side-hustle payment into my savings account as well as any windfalls or (forgotten) repayments such as my mobile phone cash back. Finally, every time I get a £2 coin, I stash it away.
5. Sell stuff
I’m moving! It’s going to cost money to ship stuff that I don’t need. Like tens of books that I haven’t read or clothes that I haven’t worn because I’d never fit into them. I have to move out of my current place in 2 months so I’m going to make money from my clutter and save twice by not having to move them across London or to my new country.
How will these add up to £5,000?
To be honest, I’m not totally clear on that. Here’s what I know so far.
- £50 a week for 26 weeks will be £1,300
- Working 3 shifts a month (on average) at my theatre job will generate £774
- Sales of random stuff I own could raise another £200-500
- £2 coins netted me £428 in the first half of the year so I anticipate saving a similar amount.
- I have 1 more mobile phone cash back of £55.20
- 11 days of uber frugal month + repayments has netted £240.79 so if I assume I’ll save roughly £140 extra by cycling and eating at home then I’ll have about £840 by the end of the year.
- I’ve saved £11.75 in my coin jar in 11 days. Over 6 months, that should be about £200.
- I referred a friend at work so will get a bonus of £600 after tax.
TOTAL known(ish) savings = £4, 647.99.
Clearly, nothing here says earn more money doing my day job because that’s not completely in my control. However, it’s on my radar so I expect to at least pick up one freelance task to make up the difference. I asked for a pay rise from my director and he said he’s going to commission an industry review of our pay to see if we should be paid more. Watch this space!