“Why I’ve started building a sinking fund to save for life’s little surprises”

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The information in this blog is accurate at the time of publishing. For the most up to date information check the Monzo website.

Rosie*, 28, lives in Farnham, Surrey, with her fiancé and dog in a house they recently bought with a mortgage. She works for a construction company and earns just over £33k a year.

Until four years ago, Rosie’s attempts at saving were unsuccessful. She didn’t consider what she was actually saving for and as a result, would need to dip into her savings whenever she went over budget.

Pots have transformed Rosie’s approach to saving. By giving her money a clear purpose, she’s now more motivated to stick to her targets. (It helps that she has a wedding and house renovations to save for.) 

Rosie has also become better at planning ahead by starting a Pot for life’s little surprises, which she calls her “sinking fund” – money separate from her savings which goes towards unexpected expenses or irregular payments that are outside her normal budget.

Saving for her future self in this way means Rosie no longer has to dip into her savings when a birthday crops up or something needs fixing at home.

"I used to have a difficult relationship with money. It didn’t seem real"

I could never save effectively – I was good at putting money away, but I’d always take it out again. I’d put a round number into a savings account and then if I was running low on money, I’d dip into the account and spend it. 

Because my savings weren’t separated – I had just one savings account with a big number in it – I didn’t think anything of taking out £50 here and there. This meant my savings never really grew and I spent any money I hadn’t accounted for.

"Whereas with Monzo, because you can split up your savings for specific things, I can hold myself accountable"

Using Pots reminds me there are concrete things I’m saving for. At the top of my screen it tells me how much money I've got overall and that’s a big number, but each individual Pot is smaller because they're all for specific things. The smaller numbers mean more than when my savings were just a single number.

It also helps me budget better because I can see where my money’s going and how much I’m left with. Rather than me putting something away and just spending the rest, without knowing what I've spent it on.

"I’m much more motivated to save than I used to be"

I love being able to set a savings goal so I can see how far away I am, percentage wise, from hitting a specific target. Monzo is so much more visually useful [than other banks] and helps me wrap my head around where I'm at with my money.

Before I joined Monzo, when I’d save for general things like wear and tear on my car, Christmas, gifts and holidays, it was easy to chip away at my savings rather than build them.

Monzo has flipped it the other way. I don't want to withdraw money, because I can see how close I am to my goal. And with Savings Pots you don't get the money until the next day, which also puts me off wanting to withdraw because the transfer isn’t immediate.

"Right now I’ve got two big savings goals: our wedding and house renovations"

We got engaged in September and plan to get married in 2024. We don't know what our budget is, but we don't want it to be huge. I’ve put a savings goal of £5k on my Pot because I don't want the target to be too unrealistic.

We're still looking at venues and things are expensive. I’ve only been putting £25 a month into the Pot and £5k definitely isn’t enough. But rather than panicking, at least I'm starting somewhere.

We moved into our new house last May. It's a two bedroom, terraced house which used to be a rental property. For my house renovations Pot, I’ve set the goal as £2k for now. We wanted to do big things like the kitchen and the bathroom. But the quotes we got were over £10k so we're scaling it back now, looking at doing one room at a time so we don’t have to save as much.

Future You Fund Pots

"I use round ups and a mixture of Easy Access Savings Pots and normal Pots to help me save"

Pots have been game-changing for my savings. I have seven Pots including the ones for the wedding and renovations. The first is for my round ups – I want to keep that separate from other savings so I can see what I accumulate throughout the year. It’ll probably just go towards a treat for me. It's not really money I'm missing because it's just a few pennies here and there. 

I have a Pot for my car, where I put £315 a month and I pay my car tax directly from it. I put money in, the payments go out and then whatever's left stays there for the service, MOT and anything unexpected my car might need.

Another Pot is for general savings and acts like an emergency fund. I put £15 in there each month and if I need something, instead of relying on a credit card I’ll dip into that. I also have a Pot for my dog, where I add £10 pounds a month to go towards her being spayed. That’s going to cost a few hundred pounds. But because I've been saving for the last six months, the impact of the bill is going to be much less. 

"I’ve started a sinking fund to help me stick to my budget when there’s one-off events or surprise expenses"

My seventh Pot I created most recently, it’s called Sinking Fund and there’s £75 in there so far. I’ve read about the benefits of putting money aside for things like birthday celebrations and birthday gifts. Things that often come up that you don't factor into your monthly budget. 

For example, it’s my colleague’s 40th birthday soon and we've just arranged a brunch. A sinking fund could go towards that – it's not an activity that will be normal for me and I don't want my monthly budget to suffer for this one-off event.

"My savings goal isn't to have loads of money just sitting there, it's to make sure I'm not putting myself in financial difficulty for one-off events or surprise expenses"

I want to make sure I’m not putting myself in financial difficulty if something unexpected happens, and I'm not having to rely on a credit card that's going to have interest payments. I'm trying to build up the savings for emergencies and things that crop up unexpectedly. I want to be prepared for all eventualities. Saving little and often is helping me keep on top of things.

"I upgraded to Monzo Plus last year and now love virtual cards"

I originally signed up for the fee-free withdrawals before we went on holiday. The more I look into Monzo’s features, the more I find things I like. I recently discovered virtual cards and set one up. I used it the other day when I bought something on my phone – I don't need my card, I just go copy it paste. It's not my real card details, but it’s still my money, which is very clever.

Monzo Plus is £5 per month • 3 months minimum • Must be aged 18+ • T&Cs apply

"I still have a way to go, but Monzo has definitely improved my relationship with money"

It keeps me accountable. I can see where my money should be going and where I’m spending it. The Trends tab allows you to reflect on where the money's gone. If I went over budget by £100 in a given month, it helps me consider how it happened. Do I need to amend my budget for the next month? Or was it a one off because I had these events?

Before, I was hesitant to face the truth of my finances. I always found it easier to see how much I was spending when I physically handed money over. Contactless payments make me feel like my money isn’t real.

Seeing things broken down on Monzo makes it so much easier for me to see that it is real money. Previously my money was going down, now it's increasing.

Remember, this is just one person's story. Do you relate to Rosie’s experience? Share your point of view.

*We’ve changed her name.