I’m 27 and living with 2 friends in a house-share in Coventry. I work full-time as a project manager earning £30,000.
I enjoy my job and I’m lucky that I’ve made loads of friends at work. There’s a group of us that goes out most nights after work for some beers, or to the gym. Plus, I grew up not far from here, so I’ve still got a lot of my mates from school nearby. I’m quite a sociable person – I prefer spending time with people and having a laugh – I get bored if I’m on my own too much. I’m single at the moment, but even when I’ve had a girlfriend, I’ve never been that bothered about staying in.
I probably go out a couple of times a week on work nights. And most Friday and Saturday nights end up as pretty big nights out. I reckon I spend between £30 and £60 a night when I go out. Sometimes more at weekends. I’m quite generous with getting rounds in (especially if I’ve had a few drinks already). I like to have fun and I don’t mind paying for some of my mates who don’t earn as much as me.
My dilemma is that a couple of my friends from home have started to settle down with their girlfriends and think seriously about marriage and children etc. It’s made me feel a bit weird, like I’ve suddenly fallen behind or something. I thought we were all roughly at the same level. Hanging out and having fun. Not being too serious. But it feels like it’s changing. One of my mates told me that he and his girlfriend have already saved £4,000 towards their own flat and I couldn’t believe it.
I haven’t got any money saved. Don’t get me wrong, I can save up for short-term things – like holidays. I just haven’t ever bothered to save for anything more longer-term. I prefer doing stuff with my money. I’ve always had the attitude ‘you can’t take it with you’. Any birthday money I’ve had from my relatives has just been spent on whatever I wanted at the time: clothes, nights out, trips away. I also don’t mind lending friends a few quid if I have it. If I’m honest, I’m a bit embarrassed about asking for it back, as I don’t want to seem tight, so I probably lose some that way!
I don’t want to get left behind. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. It’s like other people have secretly started to save money and do more serious stuff and I just haven’t noticed it happening. I would like to see myself in the future living like a bit more of a grown up. Perhaps even getting a place of my own one day. But at the same time, I’m really enjoying my life. I like having the freedom to go out. I love seeing friends so often.
So I’m not sure whether I should start being more serious now, or just wait until I meet someone and actually want to settle down.
Out for a good time
Dear Out for a good time
There are certain times in life when you start to look around and realise that things have shifted between you and your friends. This is one of them. One minute you’re carefree, spending loads of time together, having adventures. Next, they’ve moved out to the suburbs, bought an estate car and all they talk about is property prices and extensions. Well, maybe it doesn’t happen quite that fast, but it definitely creeps up on you!
First of all, give yourself a pat on the back for where you are in your life right now. You are living independently, with your friends, with a full-time job and an opportunity to regularly go out socially with them. You’re doing pretty well for yourself.
Life has a habit of making all of us grow up, eventually. You say in your letter that you are torn between keeping your fun and spontaneous lifestyle, but at the same time you have hopes for the future of settling down. I’d say that’s pretty normal at your age.
There’s nothing wrong with looking around occasionally, and realising you want more from life. There’s no getting away from the fact that money plays a big part in all future life planning, and that’s exactly what it takes – a bit of planning.
Don’t concern yourself with what has gone before, and don’t feel guilty, it’s a wasted emotion. You’re still in your 20’s. You’ve got time. You can expect another 30+ years of working life and saving before you retire (I don’t know whether that feels like a good or terrifying prospect?!).
There’s a few rules of thumbs around money, which are sensible whatever stage of life you’re at. Number one is save up an emergency fund, so that if something happens to your job, you can cover your missing salary for at least 3 months. You say that you’ve managed to save for things like holidays in the past, so this isn’t anything new to you. But you might need a slight change in mindset to save for something that isn’t exciting, or immediate.
By my calculations, you’re spending somewhere between £300 and £1,000 a month on going out. That means you’ve got plenty of scope to start saving. Set yourself a challenge. For 3 months, commit to spending no more than £30 each time you go out. Take it out in cash and leave your cards at home. You want to separate the fact of going out and having fun, with the act of spending money.
At the same time, decide on an amount that you’re going to save each month. Make this a priority for yourself now, to give yourself options in the future. Don’t scrimp on savings. Be as generous to your future self as you are to your mates now.
Here at Lifetise, we can set up a payday savings reminder for you, which will pop up and remind you how much you wanted to save that month, before anything more interesting comes along to distract you.
When you have worked out an amount to save, set up a Direct Debit, which will take your money out of your account, hopefully before you have a chance to miss it. You could even put the money into a hard-to-access savings account, removing the temptation completely. If you want to know where you should put your savings, read this.
This save-before-you-spend mentality will help you feel more in control of your money. When friends ask to borrow from you, you’ll be able to tell them truthfully that you can’t, because it’s locked away in a savings account. Sometimes we need protecting from our own generosity, so moving the money where you can’t accidentally spend it will be a huge changing point for you.
After your 3 month challenge, see how you feel about things. If you’re able to put £350 away each month into savings, you’ll have over a grand saved already. I’ve got a suspicion that seeking your savings increase will be really motivating and it won’t make any difference to your social life.
Good luck and happy saving.