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Anwar*, 28, is a junior doctor based in Birmingham. He earns £39k a year, which includes income from work he does alongside his main NHS role.
As someone with a busy and demanding job – he works 50 hours a week and often works weekends and nights – Anwar particularly values being able to automate his money. It saves him time and mental energy which he can spend on socialising and playing sport instead.
Pots, the 1p Saving Challenge and round ups help him save without needing to think about it. So far, he’s built up £9k in savings. His goal is to save £20k for a house deposit, which he’s now confident he’ll be able to achieve.
Before he joined Monzo in 2018, Anwar often found himself without enough money left at the end of the month. He tried budgeting using Excel or withdrawing cash but it didn't stick and he wasn’t strict with himself when it came to saving.
Nowadays, he rarely finds himself in a tough spot – he accounts for his necessary spending as soon as his salary comes in and uses Monzo to automate his savings.
“Before joining Monzo, my approach to money was a lot less controlled”
I'd be roughly aware that a bill was leaving my account on a certain day. But sometimes I would have issues. For example, I may have gone out, spent loads of money and then realised I didn’t have enough money to pay for upcoming expenses.
I would sometimes need to ask parents for help or I’d need to transfer money out of my savings to get through the month.
“I tried a few different budgeting techniques but couldn’t stick to any of them”
During university I tried the method of withdrawing the cash that you're going to spend in the week and when that’s gone, that's it. That didn’t work for me at all. I didn't like carrying change and once the money was gone, I’d just withdraw more from my account.
I also tried keeping an Excel sheet to help me stick to a budget each month, but it was a lot trickier than it is now with Monzo. Near the end of term when student loans ran out, it would always be a struggle money-wise.
“Separating my money means I always have enough for my essentials”
Since getting Monzo, I haven't had a situation where my bills have come in and I can’t afford them because I've been silly with my money. Pots, in particular, are super helpful. Now I put all my money aside that I need for bills and keep my spending money in a separate place.
This is really easy to do with Monzo. I keep my spending money in my current account. If that money runs out I’m unlucky, but at least that way I don't dip into savings I need for other things.
“Pots and automation have revolutionised the way I manage my money”
I think reducing your cognitive load is important. It allows me to use my energy on more enjoyable things.
I got paid yesterday and all of my money's already been moved automatically into my Pots. So I know, when I look at my current account, that this is what I have for the month to do whatever I want with.
My main money goal is saving £20k towards a house deposit. I have about £9k in total in my savings at the moment, which includes everything in my Pots.
When I get paid, I put about £500 a month into a Pot for my house. I have a Pot for my bills, where I put £200 a month. I have one for my bike because I cycle a lot of places now and I want to keep my bike in good condition, which gets £5 a week. There’s one for holidays, where I put £100 a month. And I have a car Pot in case my car breaks down. I’ve stopped putting money into it now but it was previously £50 a month.
I have a Pot for my emergency fund and another for random change, where my round ups go. Every now and then, if I look in my round up Pots and there's £5 or £10, I use it to treat myself.
“Being able to automate my savings means I don’t have to think about it”
As a junior doctor, I love knowing I’m making a positive difference in people's lives and the fact I'm always coming into contact with new and interesting people.
But my time outside of work is limited, so it's nice not having to spend it on organising my finances. I often have to work weekends or nights so maintaining a healthy work life balance can be difficult. Thankfully I've managed to keep on playing sports and seeing my friends.
It's reassuring to know that if something bad happens, I have money saved without me even having to do anything. Because my savings are automated, I don't need to check my accounts every day. I just look at them every so often to see what I have available.
It means that I don’t have to think about actively saving. It helps me to be more organised with my money.
I wouldn’t say it stops me stressing about money, but it’s reassuring knowing that I’m slowly building a nice little saving Pot.
“My favourite way to save using Monzo is the 1p Saving Challenge”
For years I’ve been doing the 1p Challenge through Monzo and IFTTT. The money leaves my current account and automatically goes straight into my emergency fund Pot. Most of my emergency fund actually comes from it, so it's pretty useful.
Towards the end of the year it gets a bit challenging, when it’s £3 or more leaving your account each day. My aim is to have £1k in there. It's slowly been building up and there's about £500 in there now.
Having an emergency fund helps me avoid situations that I had prior to Monzo, when I had no money left. If I do run out, I have my emergency fund that I can dip into. But I try to avoid that and I haven't had to for a long time. I keep my emergency fund Pot hidden so I don't get tempted.
“I have custom images on my Pots to keep me on track”
My bike Pot has a picture of a random bike I found on the internet. My emergency fund is a photo of me in hospital with a swollen ankle. My holiday one is just a beer in the sun that I took a while ago. My car Pot is a little bit of a motivational one. It's a graph [showing that] if you keep on putting in little bits, it will eventually turn into a lot.
“Monzo’s budgeting feature helps me keep tabs on my monthly spending”
Sometimes I spot patterns that surprise me. I realised recently I was spending a lot on useless and weird things. I forget to cancel loads of subscriptions. I was paying for a GoPro subscription that I should have cancelled last June. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if it weren’t for Monzo.
“I wouldn’t have as much money saved now if it wasn’t for Monzo”
Monzo features like IFTTT and Pots that I can hide away or lock have made things far easier. It has opened up budgeting for average people. I won't say I'm particularly amazing with my money, but I've managed to build up some savings which I’m super happy about.
Before Monzo, if I wanted to put money into something resembling a Pot, I’d have had to move money to a separate bank account. That was a hassle. Having constant access to my savings was quite tempting as well, because you still have the card so could just spend the money if you need it.
“My advice to others with a savings goal would be to save little and often”
Little things like the 1p Saving Challenge really emphasise that little bits help. It’s also helpful to separate your money. The best thing for me has been setting aside money for things I have to pay for right from the start. Move the money elsewhere and just accept that it's gone. Deal with whatever is left over. At least that way, you know that every month, your bare minimums are sorted and go from there.
Remember, this is just one person's story. Do you relate to Anwar's experience? Share your point of view.
*We’ve changed his name.