The Truth about Budgeting…


Three glorious years of university. Three years of money going into my bank account, that I could spend as I pleased…


Three years of going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, getting my nails done once a week, buying club night tickets (a lot more than once a week), taking cabs, having a gym membership (that I didn’t touch), and three years of generally living the life of Riley. Sure, the wine at the Hyde Park pub in Leeds was 99p a glass (for real!) so living was cheap as chips, but the point is I had disposable cash that I didn’t have to work for… yet!

The problem is, no-one really told me enough at the time that the life of Riley wasn’t real life and that soon, much sooner than I thought, I would need to be much more careful and much, MUCH more considered with my spending. I also quite heavily ignored the fact (and still do) that it’s called a “student loan” for a reason… because it’s just a loan.  Now (firmly in the real world), every month I can see it glaring at me, that hefty figure on my hard earned pay check that goes straight back to the government – who so kindly funded my first class degree in alcohol consumption (just kidding – I got a 2:1 in English Lit and Theatre)
So you leave uni, you move off campus to the big city (for me, that’s London) and you suddenly realise that no one is going to inject your bank account with money any more and that actually on top of paying that all back, you have to support yourself. How do I manage this I hear you ask?
Well you start the process and you get a job, for some it’s any job and for others it may be the job of their dreams. Whatever it is, essentially you will need it to pay the bills, which (along with taxes) are a certainty in life! Starting salaries will of course vary from person to person, but the likelihood is that you will have to take dosh from your monthly income and put it into the following pots:

  • A roof over your head
  • Heating and watering that roof over your head & all other bills you don’t think about, like a TV License.
  • Keeping yourself alive with food.
  • Travel around the city / wherever you are.
  • Council Tax (this is my BIGGEST bugbear. Some Boroughs are much higher than others and it’s not always the ones you think, so watch out for that).
  • Mobile phone bills.
  • Flat or house maintenance (e.g. cleaning products)

After all of that has come out, what is left over is for spending on luxury 🙂  e.g.

  • Eating and drinking out
  • Shopping for things for yourself (all my money goes on stupidly expensive smelly candles, certainly NOT a necessity)
  • Gym membership
  • Beauty treatments and/or grooming (boys.. um… hair cuts?)
  • Taxis (for me Ubers – so easy, but oh so mean to my bank account)
  • Weekend treats like the cinema / museums / galleries etc

This list could go on and on and on….
So how do you make that pay check go as far as possible? How do you maximise the amount you have to spend on fun stuff?
I’m Jewish, and it’s no secret that us Jews are notoriously quite good with our money. I love a bargain and I love a deal. I find it genuinely exhilarating sticking to my budget plan in certain places, so I can have fun with my cash elsewhere. I play a game with myself and see how much above my overdraft I can stay each month… I imagine I might have lost you now.

Here are just a few tips to get you started…

Save & Move

If you are a keen cyclist (I’m not and I can only cycle when it’s attached to the ground in a spin class) then maybe you can save yourself that travel card a month (which by the way is a whopping £134 per month for Zones 1-2 in London). This also helps save on your gym membership too, two birds: one stone.  Please God wear a helmet though… K. Thanks.

Save & Clean

If you are near a £ shop, they sell pretty much all big branded cleaning products, washing tablets, washing detergent etc, for… you guessed it… £1 – you can save SO much money by buying products there and don’t worry, they don’t say ‘This only cost me a pound because I’m really cheap!’ on them.

Save & Drink

I am a coffee drinker, a fully committed coffee drinker. Unfortunately, I realised at the end of last year that my morning coffee habit (£2.80 – 5x a week) was costing me approximately £56 a month. That’s a whole meal out. That’s just stupid. So, I bought myself a nice looking coffee carrier (I chose this one by Corkcicle). Now I make my coffee every morning, shove it in that and look like a total geek on the tube.  But I’m the smug £56 richer geek, so whatevs!

Save & Eat

This is not only where most people’s money goes without thinking, but also my favourite saving game: how many meals can I cook for under £15 a week? Turns out basically all of them. I have so many tips on this, from filling lunchboxes to take to work, to big Sunday stews for entertaining on a bootstrap and lots of really easy to cook, healthy recipes. But that’s for next time!

So really this is just a starting point, a note to say that life in the big city is expensive and scary, but by teaching yourself some tips (with a little help from us here at Hello Grads) … it can easily be done!!
Remember: You work to earn money, but there is more to life than just paying bills! So, (with some saving tips from a nice Jewish girl who loves to budget) let’s find ways to be smart with our money and make life more fun!
More to come… 🙂




Grace O'Leary

Grace O’Leary

Junior Talent Agent at Independent Talent Group | @graceoleary
Likes: Cooking. Wine. Cooking with wine. And being bang on time
Dislikes: When your sock slips down in your boot but you are in public so you can’t rearrange it