“Overspending to keep up with friends got me in £2k debt – until I started talking about money"

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Rachel, 31, lives in South East London with her boyfriend and earns £38k a year.

Rachel first joined Monzo when she moved to London seven years ago, but it was only recently, after turning 30, that her mindset towards money shifted. She got her spending under control and started talking about money.

During her twenties, Rachel spent beyond her means to keep up with friends on higher salaries. She’s still paying off credit card debt for a holiday to Ibiza she took with a friend at 24.

Today, Rachel divides up her money into Pots at the start of the month. This has helped her stick to a realistic budget, curb her spending and develop a long-term savings habit. 

Sorting out her finances has helped Rachel open up conversations about money with her boyfriend and friends that she wasn’t having before.

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“I’ve been in and out of overdrafts for years, often because I was trying to keep up with friends’ lifestyles”

When I first moved to London I was on terrible pay and everyone else around me was earning significantly more. I was spending beyond my means on everything from going out for drinks to going on holidays. I was constantly living in my overdraft or spending on my credit card.

It was a horrible feeling. It was always there at the back of my mind. Money was a night-time worry. I'd be panicking about it but not doing anything to get myself out of the situation.

“I’m still paying for a holiday to Ibiza I took when I was 24”

I racked up £2k of credit card debt when my best friend and I booked a holiday to Ibiza. I’m still paying the credit card off. It’s about £100 a month but at least it’s interest free.

I didn’t have a budget either, I was terrible with my money and would do stupid things. I was a bit in denial. 

“Turning 30 made me decide to finally get my money under control”

When my boyfriend and I moved into a new flat late last year, he said we needed to sort out our money situation. He’s really good with money and has realised how satisfying it is to have proper savings. 

When you're in your thirties, you suddenly feel like everyone around you has got their lives together. When I turned 30 I thought I should be doing that, too.

The most helpful thing has been dividing my money at the beginning of the month into my various Pots and Savings Pots. I also have another Pot for general spending money that I pay myself at the start of each week, around £100 a week.

Rachel's Pots

“Monzo doesn’t make me feel scared of checking my account, unlike my previous bank”

I’m still quite new to managing my money the way I do now. Even opening my old banking app made me feel terrible about myself. I tried to get my money under control with them, but their app didn’t make it easy to do.

These days, I’m full Monzo. When I use the app I no longer feel as if money’s a terrible subject.

“Notifications make managing my money less scary”

Monzo’s notifications make me much more aware of my spending. When using cash was more common, it was easy to know your money was going down. Notifications give me the same feeling. I’m now aware of what's in my bank all the time and I’m not scared when I open the app.

“My main money goal right now is to keep building my savings so I feel more secure”

I really want to feel like I've got some proper savings behind me. This will give me security if I go to the dentist and I get a £1k bill, for example, or if something goes wrong in my life.

I have an Easy Access Savings Pot which I put £2 a day into, which I don't even notice, and all my round ups from my transactions go there as well. So that’s saving money in the background, which is good. At the beginning of December I put an extra £20 into that account to bump it up. 

“I use Pots to divide up all my money at the start of the month and I use virtual cards to spend from them”

At the moment I have one Pot for travel and lunch when I go into the office twice a week, with a picture of a London bus. I put £110 a month in here and use a virtual card through Monzo Premium, so I can pay for my commute and food directly from this Pot using Apple Pay.

It’s nice knowing I’ve got money there for my travel and food while I’m at the office. I’m not going to get to the end of the month and be like, ‘Oh crap, I haven't got enough money left for commuting’. It sets you up so you know how much money is left to spend on anything you want after all your essentials are covered.

I also have a Pot for my personal bills, which I put £330 a month into. And this month I've got one called Scotland because I've got a trip coming up.

“Pots make it a lot easier to manage household bills and spending with my boyfriend”

We put £1200 each into our joint account at the beginning of the month. We've got one Pot called ‘Bills, bills, bills,’ which has a picture of a light bulb. We put £2000 of the £2400 into the bills Pot, which is more money than we need in there but this means we know we’ll have enough. Everything left over is for food and other things we need.

“I feel like I can finally talk honestly about money”

I didn’t even used to speak with my boyfriend about these things at all. I can now talk honestly about it and look at the reality of how I can get to where I want to be and feel financially secure.

It’s really helped me be able to talk about money with friends, too. They also use Monzo. And being able to share the ways I’ve started to save and manage my money using the Monzo tools has helped open up conversations. 

I’m still on a journey to get there, but I’m not in an overdraft anymore and that’s great. Every month I’m stable and my savings are going up. It’s made me feel like I have control and it feels a lot easier to manage. 

Remember, this is just one person's story. Do you relate to Rachel’s experience? Have you ever struggled to open up about money? Share your point of view.