When I was 19, I got my first full-time job. My starting salary was £12,000 and I remember thinking WOW, that is so much money, am I like rich now? …
My (original) plan was to be an actress; get in a Hollywood film and become a star.
Then when I was 22, I made a last-minute decision to go travelling with two of my best friends. I was working at the same company, so quit my job, got a one-way flight to Australia, and travelled for 7 months around the other side of the world, experiencing the most insane things: Scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef, sky diving in one of the only places where you actually land on the beach (you get a lot of sand in your knickers), sailing around the Whitsunday Islands for 3 days, feeding Elephants… you get the point!
And to make it even better, I only had to work for the last 6 weeks out of the 7-month trip.
How?! Because I managed to save £15,000 in 3 years and decided to spend all of it to fund the trip.
Initially, I ‘quit’ my job in July with the intention of starting a full-time acting course in September of 2015. Then in August just before I was due to leave work, the opportunity came up to go travelling, but I only had two weeks to decide.
Fortunately, I had been saving my money (at the time, with no real goal or plan on how to spend that money…) so the final decision was not a question on whether I could afford to go or not. The decision was literally a choice of if I wanted to go or not.
Had I not saved that money; the decision would have been made for me. And it most certainly would have been a no to travelling. From that day, I have truly understood the importance of saving and the freedom that money can give you, both mentally and physically.
It is not about how much money you earn; it is all about how you manage that money.
Timeline of events:
October 2009 – 16th birthday, got a job at Argos and didn’t save a penny of my money #regretz
October 2011 – 18th birthday, opened an ISA (Savings Account) at Barclays
October 2012 – 19th birthday, had about £37.62 in my ISA (got to start somewhere…)
November 2012 – Started my first proper job (as an Account Exec for a data company)
October 2013 – 20th birthday, had a total of £2,100 in my savings account
October 2014 – 21st birthday, had increased my savings to £7,408.89
July 2015 – Planned to quit my job to start a full-time acting course in the September
August 2015 – Changed my mind (very last minute) and decided to go travelling instead
October 2015 – 22nd birthday, reached my savings goal of £15,000
December 2015 – Flew to Australia and my travels began (lived in Sydney for 3 months, travelled for 5 weeks up the East Coast to Cairns. Went to Asia, spent 6 weeks in Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia then flew back to Australia and lived in Melbourne for 10 weeks, finished in New Zealand)
July 2016 – Flew back to the UK and spent my last bit of savings on a car
August 2016 – Had £0 in savings, moved back home and got my old job back
October 2016 – 23rd birthday, set a savings goal of £15,000 within 3 years (again)
October 2017 – 24th birthday, had £5,002.30 in my savings
July 2018 – Moved out of the family home and into a flat in London with two of my best friends
October 2018 – 25th birthday, had £16,226.00 in savings… but also had £4,300 on a credit card
April 2019 – Half-way to my 26th birthday, completely debt-free and aiming for £15,000 savings
It may seem an impossible task to save money and still do fun things with your life. But learning how to manage your money makes anything possible.
Over and above the 7 months I spent travelling 6 countries, I have also had fun experiences, holidays, festivals, trips away, and even made some big purchases:
- 11 holidays (Greece three times, Ibiza three times, Cyprus twice, Malta, Turkey, and Nice)
- 4 weekends away in Europe (Berlin for Xmas markets, Dublin for NYE, Amsterdam and Lisbon)
- Weekends away in the UK (Bath, Bristol, Wales to climb Snowdon, Lake District to climb Scafell Pike and more)
- 6 Festivals (V Festival twice, Creamfields twice and We Are FSTVL twice)
- Bought two cars (both Vauxhall Corsa’s, both died)
- Moved out of the family home and into a flat in London
I am super savvy with my purchases. I love researching and scouting out the best deals. I am that girl who tells everyone she is going on hols but follows up with “oooh it was a right bargain, it only cost us £___”.
Please do not think I am just boasting about all the stuff I have been able to do, but I am proud of what I have achieved because all of it was funded out of my own money. And I want to show you it is possible for you to do the same, regardless of your current financial situation.
I am still figuring stuff out (I still have no clue how a mortgage works, or the best place to invest).
Sometimes I buy things I don’t need, I dip into my savings, I go way over on my monthly budget, but I am learning every day and having a good time doing it. And I hope sharing my experiences will help others along the way.