Amy McDonnell


Moving in with your partner is an exciting step in your relationship that can be simultaneously amazing and terrifying. 

No matter how much time you previously spent with them, living and being responsible for a property together adds a new level of stress to a relationship because you’re no longer just spouses – you’re cohabitants.

Don’t get me wrong, living with your boyfriend/girlfriend is marvellous, can strengthen your relationship and be a lot of fun. However, there’s a lot of shit that no one talks about. 

Below are just some of the brutally honest things I’ve learned about living with another human being that I’m also in love with. 

Compromise is key

It’s a cliché for a reason. You’ll both bring habits from your old home, and they don’t always match each other. In fact, they rarely do. You both need to make compromises and even better, create new habits and traditions together. 

James doesn’t like making the bed, I do. Therefore, we make the bed. See, it’s easy! 

All jokes aside, no matter how much you cringe when they hang clothes up, you’re both trying your best and need to give each other space to learn.

Looking after a home is hard work

Combining the thrill of moving in with my boyfriend with the stress of running a home for the first time was difficult. 

All you want to do is hang out with your other half, but you also need to put some washing on and set up your council tax. 

Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to do everything and share the responsibilities between you, otherwise, you’ll burn out quickly and be stressed. 

I love organising (obviously), so I took control of everything bill-related when we moved in and I was left feeling stressed and often snapped at James because I resented that he wasn’t doing anything. Instead, I asked him for help in other areas so I wasn’t left doing everything through stubbornness.

You need to create boundaries

I rely on social interactions a lot more than James does. I like to chat constantly and be in the company of others. He, on the other hand, is more introverted and needs a lot of alone time. 

For both of us to get our needs met, we’ve created boundaries. If he needs some space, he’ll let me know (in a respectful way), and if I need to socialise, then I’ll ask (less respectfully). 

Outlining these boundaries prevents resentment in the future and ensures you both practice self-care and prioritise your needs.

You’ll argue 

A lot. Moving in with your partner can create a lot of friction in the beginning. You don’t like the way they hang clothes up (I’ve repeated this because it’s honestly painful to watch), and they hate you insisting on hoovering every other day. 

We once got into a screaming row because of a teaspoon in the sink – true story. 

Finding your groove and getting used to each other’s habits can make you bump heads, but it’s completely normal. However, the key is to talk after to figure out what the problems are and how you can solve them in the future. 

Avoid passive-aggressive comments and be open and honest about what you’re frustrated about. This way, you’ll solve a lot of issues quickly and prevent repetitive arguments. 

Alone time is difficult

As I mentioned, James needs a lot of alone time. When you live in a 32m² studio, achieving that is pretty tricky. 

Fear not though, there are a few different solutions to this. The easiest, in my opinion, is investing in a good pair of headphones. 

Not only does it mean you can both share a common area, but you can focus on reading while they’re playing games or you can watch that Netflix show you love while they catch up on some work. 

You can’t be a martyr 

I’m guilty of bringing up the past to prove a point. Telling your partner that you did the washing up is not a valid argument as to why they should hoover the bedroom. 

Don’t get me wrong, it can be frustrating when you feel like you’re responsible for too much, but ask for help before you shout at someone for being lazy or unthoughtful. 

If you always take out the bins, your other half may never think to do it or offer. Use your words and communicate what assistance you’d like and 9/10 times, you should get what you need.

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When we first saw our flat, we were impressed that it had a utility room. It’s rare for a studio flat to have a second separate room, let alone one dedicated to laundry.

The utility room when we moved in. Did they think the washing machine would work there?!

Once we moved in, we immediately mounted storage for the must-haves like our ironing board, hoover and mop. We also put shelves up to store excess toilet roll and some other bits and bobs, and for the most part, it worked.

However, during lockdown I focused on renovating the entire room. Partly because I thought the room could work harder, partly because I’ve consumed more DIY videos than I care to admit.

My main concern was that I hated the way it looked and no matter how hard I tried, it’d become cluttered in a matter of days. Things were constantly balanced on the water tank and even the drawers I’d bought weren’t really working properly.

This was the room before I became obsessed with how to renovate it.

So, I went on Pinterest and started looking at some inspo pictures, obviously. I quickly realised that I’d have to be creative as most laundry rooms didn’t have a huge water tank in them. 

This meant I had to understand my priorities and focus on solving the main issues, rather than making the room aesthetically pleasing.

What we wanted to achieve

1. A place to hang our washing

Our washing lived in the bedroom on an oversized drying airer, which did the job. But, because washing is an endless task, meaning the dryer was up 24/7/365, I was fed up of staring at our clothes every night.

I wanted a mounted drying rack so we could leave the washing out of sight and keep the bedroom a place for sleep, not laundry.

2. Worktop to store bits and bobs

The utility room is the perfect location for storing things while they’re not in use. However, the only surfaces were the (already filled) shelves, the top of the washing machine and the water tank.

This meant that the room always looked cluttered because there’s always something that needs temporary storage. That’s why I wanted a worktop to go along the back wall to double the surface space.

3. Hide the water tank and storage unit

The utility room wasn’t cohesive or finished, so I wanted to hide the water tank and drawers behind a curtain. 

This wasn’t a necessity, but it’d mean I could store large items like our spare airer or an umbrella out of sight. It’d also create depth to the room and would make it look larger. Plus, we were already installing a worktop, so it made sense.

How I did it

After curating my Pinterest board, I created a template of my plans on Photoshop to make sure everything I wanted would fit. Then, it was time to find the items I’d need.

Fortunately, this makeover only needed a few things, a worktop, mounted drying rack and a curtain.

For the worktop, we had a major issue — so many pipes! If this wasn’t the case, we could have had a bit of plywood cut to size at any DIY store, however, we needed custom cuts to accommodate the pipes.

Fortunately, my best friend’s partner is a carpenter and offered to build our custom worktop. I gave him the measurements and he did a wonderful job! It was a pain to install because I had to get it over the pipes and under the fuse box, but after a few bashes to the wall, I did it. 

My dad then installed a bit of timber below to secure it on one side. The water tank supported the other side.

Next, I made a custom curtain out of fabric I bought at Dunelm using my sewing machine to hem the fabric. I also created a loop on one side so I could slide a tension rod into to act as the curtain pole.

Lastly, I found this IKEA wall mounted drying rack for £29. It was the perfect size for the space I had, plus I had an IKEA voucher, meaning it was entirely free. We installed this into the wall and the project was complete!

Overall, the project cost under £10 as I got the worktop and drying rack for free. But if I hadn’t it would have still cost under £50 and has made a huge impact. 

Not only do we have more space to store things, but having the laundry in a different room has made our bedroom feel cosier. Plus, getting rid of the airer means we can renovate our bedroom to build a custom wardrobe and dressing table — watch this space!

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Before I start this post, I know that I’m fortunate enough to talk about lockdown positively. Myself and my partner haven’t been financially affected by the crisis and our jobs don’t appear to be at risk.

I know this isn’t everyone’s reality, so please don’t assume that I’m not considerate of other people’s experiences. Because that isn’t the case.

I’ve constantly counted my blessings over the past four months because I’m aware that even though I’ve struggled with staying at home 24/7, especially in a studio flat, I’ve still worked throughout and no one I care about has lost their life or been hugely affected financially.

That being said, lockdown has affected my personal finances, for the better.

Daily budgeting doesn’t work for me

Before lockdown, I swore by my daily budget. I transferred my spending money into a Monzo pot on payday which automatically withdrew a small amount daily.

The problem, however, is that I don’t consistently spend a small amount each day. Some days I spend nothing, others I’ll order some new jumpsuits from ASOS. Therefore, I found myself withdrawing from the pot and changing my scheduled payments.

Instead, I’ve learned to trust myself, because the money I’m referring to doesn’t include my bills, food shopping or any savings. So it’s entirely up to me how I spend it. 

If I fall short towards before payday, I’m not going hungry and the mortgage has still been paid, so it usually just means I can’t splurge on an unnecessary purchase or order a takeaway.

Daily saving also doesn’t work for me

On January 1st, I started a new challenge of saving £1.50 a day. The idea was that I could save £500+ over the year by sacrificing a small amount of money each day. 

It was going well, and I liked seeing my savings increase slowly. But it became unsustainable and I wondered why I didn’t have much money left at the end of the month. 

My old budget meant that anything left over after paying my bills and saving £250-300 was mine to spend. But while my savings pot was growing quickly I was actually cutting myself £45-50 short by saving £1.50 a day.

I still think it’s a good idea for some people who struggle to save, or perhaps have a bigger salary than me.

However, I’ve decided to only save at the beginning of the month and let myself enjoy everything else without feeling guilty.

Commuting was very expensive

I work in London, which is my choice and I knew that it was expensive before I accepted my job. Fortunately, my company has a work from home policy, meaning I already saved at least one train ticket a week.

However, at £17.65 a ticket, I still spent around £300 a month travelling to the office.

I’ve saved £1,012 since lockdown, which has primarily been because I haven’t had to pay to get to work. 

But this has reinforced to me how important flexible working is and I don’t think I’m going into the office five days a week for the rest of my career.

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When we moved into our studio flat in December 2018, we knew everything would be a little bit cramped, especially our bedroom.

Because although our bedroom is unlike a typical studio as it’s sectioned off by two walls with two gaps for ‘doors’, it’s still a very small room.

Fortunately, we’ve created a very liveable space that stores everything we need, whilst also looking cute. So, here are my tips for decorating and furnishing your tiny master bedroom.

Keep it minimalist

Your Pinterest board may be filled with beautiful bedrooms with glamorous ottomans, a dressing table and king size bed, but in a small space — less is more.

We have a bed, two bedside tables and a wardrobe. It’s tight enough with those three items, but it’s functional.

You should also opt for lighter coloured furniture to make the room look larger than it is. Dark furniture can close a room in while is the opposite of what you want if you don’t have much space.

Maximise under the bed

Ottoman beds offer a substantial amount of space, but in reality, you can’t access anything if someone is asleep in the bed.

We chose the IKEA MALM bed with four large drawers which are 59x92cm because it gives us so much storage. Plus, if you use dividers or boxes, you can create multi-use spaces.

Mount bedside tables

Bedside tables can take up a lot of room but are pretty necessary. Instead, opt for a wall-mounted one like this, or keep it simple with a floating shelf.

I’d recommend getting one with a drawer because smart storage is key in a small bedroom.

Create a built-in wardrobe

You need space for your clothes, but a boxy wardrobe isn’t always the right choice for a small bedroom.

We bought a huge wardrobe when we first moved in because we prioritised storage over practicality. Unfortunately, we’ve realised that it was a mistake as James has to crab walk down the end of the bed to get to his side every night. 

Instead, we’re creating an open concept/built-in wardrobe like this to increase the space around the bed and even make room for a dressing table. Watch this space for a makeover video because I’m super excited about it!

We’re using Kallax units and a clothing rail to create a budget built-in wardrobe.

Use felt hangers

If you hang your clothes, the best way to maximise space is to replace any mix-match hangers with uniform ones. In particular, these slim felt hangers are ideal because they’re non-slip and create more space in your wardrobe.

Store your shoes elsewhere

Shoes can take up a lot of room, so we chose to install this shoe cabinet in our hallway. Not only did this free up space in the bedroom, but it also added a surface in our hallway and shoes are honestly better suited next to the front door anyway.

This is a really old picture of our entryway, but there’s a makeover pending.

Make use of high ceilings with shelves

If you have the vertical space, put shelves up high and use cubed storage boxes to keep items you don’t use often like seasonal clothes or spare towels.

Give everything a home

Make sure everything in your bedroom has a home. This means you’re less likely to end up with clutter piles of things you have no idea where to store.

If you have too much stuff, you might need to declutter your belongings by donating or selling them. 

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While I’d love to have a huge kitchen with a floor to ceiling larder and more cupboards than I need (this is literally my in-laws’ kitchen), I don’t. We live in a small studio flat and while our kitchen is lovely, it’s very small.

Our kitchen has an oven/hob, dishwasher, fridge freezer, three large cupboards, four slim 30cm cupboards and a thin corner cupboard. We have no built-in drawers (why?) and very limited counter space meaning that we had to plan the space to work for us. 

After playing around with the layout for the past year, I’m finally happy with how we’ve organised it and want to share some of my tips with you. 

Prioritise what you actually need

When buying things for your small kitchen, you have to prioritise the items you’ll actually use. For example, if you’re a keen baker, this may be a fancy mixer or lots of large bowls. 

If it’s your first home, I’d recommend buying the absolute minimum and then working up from there. It took us over a year to buy a wok because we worried it wouldn’t fit in the cupboard, but it was clear how often we’d use it. 

If not, audit everything and be ruthless. If you don’t use something often or have duplicates, it’s okay to bin or donate them. It’ll free up space for the things you actually need.

This is also why you should avoid specialist tools where possible. You probably don’t need a toastie maker, blender, popcorn machine and health grill, plus they take up a lot of space. If you can, get multi-use tools and use the traditional method for things you rarely make.

Keep similar items together

This might be obvious, but until recently, we stored our drinkware and tea/coffee separate, plus they were nowhere near the kettle. 

So, I moved them to the thinner cupboard above the kettle, freeing up the larger cupboard for food. This small change impacted how everything flowed and made using our kitchen easier. 

Also, keep larger and least used items at the top and most used at the bottom for ease of use. 

Double your shelf space

Use shelf organisers to increase your shelf space and fit even more in your limited cupboard space. 

You can use shelf risers to stack multiple items in the same area such as food containers or plates. 

Shelf steps are my personal favourite because you can store tins and jars with better access and visibility to what you have. 

Utilise tops of cupboards

If you have space above any cupboards you can expand your storage options. We use these Curver plastic boxes to store items we don’t use very often like our Pyrex dishes and health grill.

Use cute, matching boxes to keep them in theme with your kitchen and look like they belong there. 

Hang things inside cupboard doors

Cupboard doors are a great place to hang utensils, chopping boards or knives which can free up space inside them for bulkier items.

Joseph Joseph has a range of kitchenware specifically designed to stick to cupboard doors. We have these kitchen knives which free up space on our counters and inside our drawers. A magnetic strip could also work if you already have your favourite knives.

We also use small self-adhesive hooks to mount our chopping boards.

Decant your dry food

Not only will this make your kitchen cupboards look like a Pinterest board, but it’ll make storing your food easier. If all of your containers are the same size, you can stack them and remove visual clutter from your cupboards, making them look bigger than they are. 

It also means you can keep some of your most-used food on the counter for ease of use and as cute decor if you want. Make sure you label your containers otherwise your partner might use risotto rice in his pesto rather than pine nuts (true story!).

Use boxes to separate multi-use spaces

If you’re living with a small kitchen, it’s likely you’ll need to use some cupboards or drawers for multiple things. Keep things organised by using storage boxes to create clear sections. 

This post contains affiliate links which means, at no extra cost to you, I earn money if you click through and buy anything.

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We’ve lived in our 32m² studio flat since December 2018 and as it was our first home together, we didn’t have too much stuff. However, while looking through ‘essential things you need for your first home’ lists, we had to be careful as we didn’t have the space that these blogs were clearly aimed at. 

When living in a small space, it’s all about prioritising, so what I think is useless might be a necessity for you. However, below is a list of some of the common household items that we’ve had no problem living without. 

1. Books

This is controversial if you’re a bookworm, but I donated most of mine when we moved in. We didn’t have space for a bookshelf and they were taking up room in drawers. 

I use Audible or borrow books from a library and friends. Of course, if you love books, then you’re never going to part with them, but if you have a few random ones you’re holding onto even though you’re never going to read them again, consider donating to loved ones or charity shops.

2. Kitchen drawers

This is obviously very niche, but when we moved in, we realised the builders hadn’t built drawers into our kitchen. Why? We have no idea.

However, with careful planning, you can adapt to any space or storage issues that come with living in a small home. You just have to think a little out of the box and look for innovative solutions.

For us, we chose to invest in Joseph Joseph kitchenware because its products are of good quality and perfectly designed for small kitchens. We use this cutlery holder in a cupboard, this cupboard mounted knife set and holder on the door and this utensil carousel set on our countertop.

3. A microwave

When you have limited countertop space, you need to pick what’s on it wisely. We didn’t have the space for a microwave and it hasn’t affected our cooking ability. 

Of course, there are a few times where we’d love to warm up a plate, pop some corn or heat up the milk. However, a microwave makes cooking certain things easier, rather than being the only way to do it.

4. Speciality appliances

As great as toastie machines are, you really don’t need one. This also goes for popcorn machines, air fryers, choppers or any other kitchen gadgets that you only use twice a year.

If you do need some appliances, make sure they’re multi-use. For example, we bought a Kenwood Multipro Compact for all our slicing, dicing and blending needs.

5. DIY tools

Whenever we have a DIY project, we borrow tools from my parents. Fortunately, they live minutes away because otherwise, we’d have nowhere to store a toolkit! 

It’s handy to have a few things but keep your kit limited. I’d recommend having a tape measure and a screwdriver bit set as a bare minimum. 

6. Lots of mugs 

If you have a small home, it’s unlikely you can seat enough people to justify having 35 mugs. If possible, keep all your cups similar so it’s easier to store and stack them.

7. Printer

I haven’t had a printer for years as most things are paperless now and when I need to print something, I use my office one. You can also use the library’s printer or a friend’s if you’re really stuck.

8. Dustpan and brush

I’ve never missed having a dustpan and brush because we have a cordless hoover which makes cleaning up quick and easy.

9. Spare bedding for guests

It might be nice to have your friends over, but if you don’t have a second bedroom, it’s unlikely to happen more than a few times a year. 

In these cases, we either ask our friends to bring their own bedding, or they can use our two blankets. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than storing another duvet and pillow for most of the year. 

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When designing our bedroom, we decided to choose white everything because it’s a tiny room and we thought it’d make everything feel bigger. 

While that worked, it also made the room look surgical and cold. It’s bothered me for ages and after I discovered this IKEA headboard cover, I was convinced that changing the headboard would solve my problem and make the room feel homelier. 

We thought £90 was a bit steep, so I thought I could do it cheaper. And then somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered seeing someone stick vinyl planks to furniture to make it look wooden.

After a quick search, I found this video of someone upgrading their IKEA MALM bed and knew I had to do it. 

In the end, it cost £15.43 as I borrowed the tools from my dad and I can’t explain what a difference it’s made to the bedroom. Obviously you can do this with any headboard, but below has all the measurements for an IKEA MALM double bed. 

Hope you enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • Self-adhesive wood vinyl planks (we used these ones)
  • Spray adhesive (we used this one)
  • Stanley knife
  • Metal square
  • Measuring tape
  • Clamp
  • Protective equipment (plastic bags, cutting board, etc)

How to do it

Getting your wooden planks ready

  1. Measure the width and height of your headboard and work out the m² using an online calculator. Ours is 149.5x62cm, meaning we needed enough wood vinyl to cover 0.93m².

    We bought this pack of floorboards which contained seven 91.4×15.2cm planks. It covers 0.97m². 
  1. Next, you need to figure out how to arrange your planks. Divide the height of your headboard by the width of your planks to calculate how many rows you can fit on. Our planks were 15.2cm, meaning we could fit four rows (62/15.2=4.08) with a tiny gap at the bottom.
  1. If you can’t find planks to fit the entire width (which is unlikely!), you ideally want two planks per row. This means you’ll probably need to cut one of the planks to make up the width.

    For example, our planks were 91.4cm long, so we needed an additional 58.1cm to cover the 149.5cm width. With seven planks, this meant we needed four full-length planks and four cut bit. Obviously that doesn’t add up, so we did the following:

We used the scraps of a cut plank which ended up being 33.3cm long. If you’d like, you can cut another one of the planks to fill in the gap, but we chose not to because the gap sits behind our mattress and you can’t see it. But it’s your choice!

  1. Now you’ve finished all that math, it’s time to cut your planks. Measure your planks and mark with a pencil on the back where you need to cut. 

    Using a metal square or ruler (the square makes it easier to get a perfect line), place your plank on a cutting board and cut a line using the Stanley knife. 

    You’ll need to do this a few times to get a clean cut. Also, make sure you’re not cutting directly towards your body!

You should have four full-length planks, three cut planks and one ‘scrap’ plank if you’re following along. Remember to arrange it like the image above, alternating between lengths, as it’ll give it a professional look.

Now it’s time to mount the planks! I’d recommend taking your headboard off and laying it flat somewhere as we had a few issues doing it straight onto the headboard. 

We initially stuck the planks to the headboard using the self-adhesive, however they all fell off throughout the night so we used a spray glue adhesive to secure them properly. 

Mounting the planks

  1. If you have a small gap at the bottom like us, start from the top of the headboard. Spray your adhesive on both the plank (after removing the protective backing) and headboard, making sure to protect the surface and wall if you haven’t removed it from your bed. 

  2. Wait the recommended time (around 30 seconds) until the glue is sticky and then press the plank firmly to the headboard. 

  3. Then glued a plank directly below it and used a clamp where the edges meet and wait half an hour.

  4. Repeat until the entire headboard is covered!

It’s not difficult to do, but slow but steady works to make sure your planks are secure and flush. 

If you’re working directly onto the attached headboard, the planks will probably slip down (thanks gravity!). As I said earlier, I’d probably take the headboard off if I did it again, but where I couldn’t use the clamps in the middle of the headboard, I used some tape to try and hold it in place which worked.

Finally, once your headboard is completely dry (wait 24 hours to be safe), wipe off any excess glue and you’re finished! A beautiful rustic headboard for basically £15!

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Ever since I was a kid, I was taught about the importance of saving and the value of money.

When I was 8-years-old, I went to Disney World. However, for the 12 months leading up to it, my dad promised me that if I saved £100 to spend, he’d double it. I kept my pocket money, did extra chores and anything else a child can do to earn cash.

My uncle gave me the last £20 I needed and sure enough, I had plenty of bucks to spend on overpriced souvenirs. You might think this made me an expert at saving – it didn’t.

Money has always been a taboo subject to discuss, but in an effort to open a conversation and help, here are some money mistakes we all make – and how to be better in the future.

1. Not opening a separate savings account

People find it insane when they find out how many bank accounts I have. Some think the idea of having more than one is weird.

Keeping everything in one account is suicidal. Yes, you’ll tell yourself that you’re capable of separating your spending money, bills and savings – but you’re not.

Opening up one or two savings accounts helps you visually see your finances grow. Having a savings account for your long-term goals and for ‘fun stuff’ is the best way to do it in my opinion. So instead of spending your house deposit on festival tickets, you can save for both without sacrificing either.

Or, if you have a Monzo account, you can use Pots to save some money away for gigs or a holiday.

2. Saving at the end of the month

Too many people have told me that they save whatever’s left in the bank at the end of the month. This is a sure-fire way to end up with £0 to your name.

You need to create a budget and save at least 5% of your wages. Everyone is in a different financial situation, but keeping funds aside for emergencies is never a bad idea.

There’s nothing wrong with putting whatever is left the day before you get paid into your savings account, in fact, that’s an awesome idea. But, you need to do it at the start of the month (or whenever payday is) if you want to ensure financial security.

3. Saving too much money

On the flip side, have you ever saved at the beginning of the month and then a week later, you’re transferring the money back to your current account? Have you also done this every single month? Yeah, me too.

If you can’t live on your assigned budget, you’re either spending or saving too much. Both need to be assessed because those morning trips to Costa might be throwing your spending out of whack.

Bye-bye vanilla iced lattes, I’ll see you on Fridays.

However, there’s absolutely no point in putting away 10% of your wages if you’re only going to end up with 1% left. Be honest with yourself and if you can’t afford to be saving so much – stop.

Consistently putting £10 away is better than constantly dipping into your savings every other day.

4. Not looking at your accounts

Do. Not. Bury. Your. Head. In. The. Sand. EVER.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your finances. We have the technology to check our bank accounts at any hour with just the scan of a fingerprint.

I recommend checking your account daily. Not only will this help you avoid spending all your money before payday, but it can also help you to detect fraud.

It’s not fun seeing your balance in the negative, but it’s something you have to confront if you’re ever going to get into the positive.

5. Living off your credit card/overdraft

Your overdraft and credit card limit is not your money. It’s the bank’s money, and they’ll get it back eventually.

Using your credit card occasionally (to build up your credit or insure your purchases) and dipping into your overdraft is not the end of the world. But constantly living on borrowed money is a vicious circle.

This is a tricky one because the reason one person uses their overdraft/credit card is different from someone else. For many, it’s almost impossible to pay it off and I’m certainly not making light of this.

Start by looking at your income and non-negotiable outgoings (include food shopping, child care and anything that you pay for monthly). What’s the difference?

If you have money leftover, assess your spending habits and see if there’s anything you can give up for a bit until you’ve paid your debt off.

MoneySavingExpert has a great article for those who need more specialist help with this.

6. Buying things you can’t afford

We’re all guilty of this. We all like nice things and think we ‘deserve’ a treat, but not at the expense of your financial health. It’s good to splurge on yourself every now and then, but stop buying things that aren’t in your budget. 

Eating out every single day is expensive. Designer bags are expensive. Cocktails are expensive (sob). If you’re living a life that is above and beyond what you can realistically afford, then you need to reassess. 

I don’t care what your friends are doing. They’re not going to reimburse your life savings after a night of 2-4-1 cocktails in the Slug and Lettuce.

Be realistic, be selfish and be sensible.

What is your best financial tip? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @amywritesthings 🐦

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For years, I tried finding a solution to my biggest financial struggle – budgeting my day-to-day spending. 

In general, I’m pretty good at the big picture stuff, i.e, my home budget. I transfer my outgoings into separate accounts and save money as soon as payday hits.

However, when trying to make my daily budget last, I really struggled to keep my balance above £10 a week before payday. 

Enter Monzo. 

I’ve used Monzo for nearly two years and it’s hugely impacted my relationship with money. If you haven’t heard of Monzo, don’t worry – I’ll be going through what Monzo is, how it’s helped me and why you should get one too. 

What is Monzo?

Put simply – Monzo is an online bank. It doesn’t have any branches and doesn’t offer other products like credit cards or mortgages that traditional banks might. 

But, it’s a certified bank authorised in the UK by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and protected by The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that your money is protected and up to £85,000 is guaranteed by the British Government if anything goes wrong.

So, it’s a bank, what’s the big deal? Well, the app has lots of unique features such as bill splitting and a virtual piggy bank, making managing your money effortless and kinda fun. 

But to fully explain how I use Monzo to budget, I need to introduce you to its flagship feature – Pots. 

Separating money using Monzo Pots

I’ve always believed that keeping all of your money in one bank account is a bad idea. But Monzo has changed my mind, sort of. 

Monzo allows you to separate your money into virtual ‘Pots’ that are excluded from your available balance so you can’t accidentally spend the money in them. 

While I still don’t advocate keeping your life savings in your current account, this feature has changed my financial life.

I currently have the following Pots:

Daily Budget: My day-to-day spending. This is explained more in the Scheduled payments section below.
Travel: I work in London, so I keep my train fare in this pot so I can always pay for my commute.
Home Savings: I’m planning to move the money to an ISA eventually, but I’ll discuss my saving habits in another post to explain fully.
Fun Stuff: I explain below.
Emergency Fund: I keep up to £100 in here for, well, emergencies.

Scheduled payments

I’ve tried sticking to a monthly budget, but I’d usually spend it all in the first two weeks and have nothing left for the month. I’ve tried weekly budgeting, but the same thing happened. 

The only way I’ve successfully budgeted is with a daily budget. 

So basically, once I’ve subtracted my non-negotiable outgoings and savings from my salary, the money I have left is divided by the number of days until my next payday and deposited into my Daily Budget Pot. 

I then use the scheduled payments feature to create an automatic withdrawal every day until the following payday.

As long as I refrain from withdrawing any more money, I no longer run out of money throughout the month. 

Fun stuff

The only problem with daily budgeting is socialising. While I may have enough money to have dinner with friends, it’s split up throughout the month. 

Before creating my Fun Stuff Pot, I’d withdraw money to pay for social events and then run out of money at the end of the month because I didn’t account for it. 

So, every month, I look at my planned social calendar and estimate how much each event will cost. Then, I put it in the Fun Stuff Pot and lock it up (more on that below), so my daily budget is only ever that — a daily budget. 

Lock it up

You can also lock your Monzo Pots, restricting access to your money for a set amount of time. You can unlock it if you really need, but having the extra step helps stop it. 

It’s another way I manage my budget. I lock my savings Pots long-term, but I lock the Fun Stuff pot until my next social event.

This stops me from taking out a fiver here and there, meaning I always have the money when bottomless brunch comes around.

Should you get one?

If you want full control of your spending habits, then I’d recommend Monzo. It’s quick and easy to set up – it took me about five minutes and my card came within two days.

Some people are sceptical about app-only banks, but I think they’re the way forward. Plus, the 24/7 customer service actually makes it a better bank than most when you have problems.

Monzo is also incredibly community-focused, taking suggestions into serious consideration with many of its features coming from customer ideas.

Have you got a Monzo card? What do you think of app-only banks? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @amywritesthings 🐦

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