BBC Scotland’s Theresa Talbot asked us for some help in the way she manages her money. She’s trying to save £9000 or so to help her fund a Masters Degree in TV Drama Writing and reckons that she needs to improve the way she uses her money.
The first task we set her was to keep an absolutely accurate note of everything she spends for the month of April.
We’re halfway through the month now and we caught up with her to see how it was going. The obvious first question to ask was whether she has been doing what she was told to do. “I haven’t kept a note of money I’ve taken out of the bank but I have kept a note of all of the money that I have spent. And I have been very honest. It’s quite hard because you forget so you spend then forget you’ve spent it but I’ve taken my little notebook with me and I write it down when i get home.”
That’s a fair answer and it doesn’t really matter if Theresa keeps a note of what comes out of the bank as long as she keeps a note of where it all goes, and she’s doing that so all good so far.
This was a difficult month for the task we set since Easter fell in April this year but Theresa reckons that has helped cut down her spending so far. “I haven’t been drinking because it’s Lent. But that finishes this weekend so lock up your sons.”
And it’s not only a lack of alcohol that has saved her money so far this month. “One of the reasons I never wanted a boyfriend was because it would cost me too much money because I always insisted on paying but I’ve been taken out for dinner a couple of times this month so haven’t spent as much as I thought I would have have done.”
And Theresa has had a few changes at work that haven’t caused her a problem with this month’s task but which we will need to discuss over the coming months as they will have an impact on her ongoing budgeting. “My tax-paying status has been changed at BBC so I will be getting taxed at source in future. But they are also going to pay me on the 15th of every month. This will make it easier to budget I would imagine but I will be budgeting with less money because of my new tax status.”
It hasn’t all been positive news though, and Theresa has had one or two expenses that she didn’t anticipate. “I spent £72 on Tony Bennet tickets. But he might die soon and I just had to go. I couldn’t get anyone to go to Placido Domingo with me or that would have been another £130. It seems that gardening takes up most of my money so far. I paid about £150 for some plants, some scented candles and outdoor gardening things.”
Overall Theresa has found this budgeting exercise a positive experience. “It’s been really good. I’ve been surprised because I have actually spent less than I thought I would but that’s probably because I have been much more aware and careful. I’ve asked myself if I really needed to buy whatever I was buying. Well apart from when I was at the nursery!”
We’ll speak to Theresa again early next month for a final tally on the exercise and to set her some onging work over the summer.