Hey! I’m Beth and I run the Instagram page Budget Jones Diary - which is an educational space for all things personal finance! I work full time as a Management Accountant too, so my day can look pretty hectic sometimes (but I wouldn’t change it!). In my spare time, I love hanging out with friends, baking the occasional treat and also love traveling (which I’m SO itching to catch up on!).
I got The Optimiser (prudent analyst), which came as no surprise to me! I’m an accountant by trade, so naturally a very prudent person. I’m always looking for ways to optimise my money and make it work for me. I'm also the go-to person in my friendship circle for financial help and goal-setting...And with my Instagram, I’m now able to help so many others to achieve their goals too. So, pretty spot on if you ask me!
In my eyes, there just isn’t enough education given around personal finances and budgeting can often have a bad stigma of being dull, boring, and a waste of time. Accountants too. I wanted to try and shift the pendulum and give more women the chance to learn how to make their money work for them and be more financially savvy. Social media can be a great outlet for others to educate themselves (for free!) but is also an amazing accountability platform. I’ve always had a passion for helping people (especially when it comes to money), so having somewhere where information could be accessed by a lot of people, sounded perfect.
I haven’t had the smoothest of rides when it comes to personal finance. I had all the tools in my toolkit, but I just didn’t know how to use them. For many years, I struggled with lifestyle creep, after receiving frequent pay rises for passing my accounting exams. Each time my income increased, my outgoings increased too. It got to a point where I wasn’t able to afford my lifestyle and I had to make serious changes. I created a budget and stripped away all of the non-essentials to start chipping away at my debt and increasing my savings. It was a very restrictive budget and this quite evidently didn’t suit me, as I found myself borrowing from savings to still enjoy my lifestyle. So I opted to give myself a small allowance for fun money each month, which gave me the breathing room I needed to enjoy my life whilst still achieving my goals. Budgeting is about constant reviewing and realigning to suit your needs - and it isn’t a one-size-fits-all, for sure.
In all fairness, in my time I haven’t actually received much money advice (which is mainly the problem I faced!!). One thing I always see floating around on Instagram is “if you cut back on buying coffees, you can invest X for your retirement”. Which yes, this is true, however cutting back on a £3 coffee isn’t going to make you a millionaire. I’m a huge advocate for spending on things you enjoy, and if having a coffee makes you happy, then buy the damn coffee. For me, it’s more about being intentional and aware of your spending - everything in moderation. Because then, that coffee stops being a treat and becomes just a normal daily expense.
Something which worked well for me when trying to cut back on spending was to have separate bank accounts for my bills and discretionary spending. Each month I calculated what I thought my bills would come to and this was transferred out into a different current account. I think it can sometimes get a bit wishy-washy when all of your money is combined, especially if you have bills being paid at different times of the month. Whereas this way, you know if all else failed, you would still have a roof over your head. Another thing I have started doing is printing out a blank calendar at the beginning of each month and writing down any events I have on. This gives me a much clearer picture of what I think my discretionary spending will be for the month and I can then adjust my budget accordingly.
Next on the agenda for me is saving for a house deposit. Which in this market is no easy task! My budget is mainly focused around saving as much as I comfortably can from my main job, to put into my LISA (lifetime savings account). I often do a review (usually quarterly) of my budget, to see if there are any costs I can cut or see if there are any better deals out there. I am also working on increasing my investment knowledge and portfolio.
I am a foodie at heart! So any opportunity to try a new restaurant or nip out for a brew and bake, I am there. I also love experiences - spa days, cocktail-making classes, anything which creates fond memories. I think it’s important to not forget about these sorts of things when setting a budget.
My main budget, I complete once a month - usually a few days before payday. Once payday hits, I do all my money shuffling, sending money to my bills account, transferring into my savings/investment accounts etc. This will then leave me with an amount in my current account for fun money/variable spending throughout the month. I usually then have a mid-month check-in, just to see whether I’m on track / whether I need to realign some of my budget categories, but usually, this doesn’t take too long. There is a fine line between checking in with yourself and obsessing over the numbers. I wouldn’t suggest checking your finances more than 4 times a month (or 5 if you’re paid weekly) as this could be overkill and seem too overwhelming.
If I was to give any advice, it would be to start by making some goals - goals that are relevant to you too (and not just what everybody else does). This will be the basis for everything that you do going forward and will give you a little structure right from the get-go. Next, I would suggest you start a budget, this will give you an understanding of where your money is being spent. This will not only help you try to decrease those expenses, but it also gives you a visual plan of how you can reach your financial goals. And lastly, be consistent and patient. It will take you time to find your groove and you’ll have many ups and downs along the way - but it’s important that you keep referring back to your goals, constantly reviewing your progress and celebrating any wins.
My main income is paid into one current account - this account I use for spending on fun money / variable costs only. So each month, I budget for how much my bills are likely going to come to, I then transfer this amount out of my current account and into a joint account which I share with my partner. He does the same and our bills are then paid via direct debit out of this account - so there’s literally no need for any manual input here. Easy. I have a LISA which is where I save for my house deposit. I also have a Monzo account which is where I save for all of my sinking funds: holidays, tattoos, annual car bills etc in their different pots. I have one credit card which is used to build up my credit score and also to receive benefits such as cashback/points. I also have multiple cashback sites which I use for any online purchases and keep these ticking along until cashing out for a nice little treat. As a standard for a newbie, I would say 5 accounts is a good place to start. Two current accounts - one for bills, one for spending. Three savings accounts - short, medium, and long-term goals. Having everything split out this way will make life so much easier.
I have my blog which has lots of helpful hints and tips for beginners starting their budgeting journey. I also have an Etsy shop which has tonnes of resources (excel and paper-based) for people wanting to dive straight in.
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