Amy Cunningham, 38, lives in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, with her husband and three children. She’s a civil servant and earns £26k a year.
Amy was living in her overdraft for a decade before she decided to take control of her finances and pay back her debts when she joined Monzo in June 2019.
Amy has a current account as well as a joint account with her husband to help them manage household bills. By organising every aspect of her money into Pots and enabling round ups, Amy repaid what she owed and found herself debt-free for the first time in 2021. She started 2022 with £2k in savings and has vowed to start every year with money in the bank.
"I was living in my overdraft for 10 years and couldn’t get a credit card"
I had a £2.5k overdraft with a previous partner and I used to buy house stuff and didn’t pay off. When I became a single parent and started renting by myself, the debt grew to around £6-7k. It was things like an old SSE electricity bill that I’d run up because I couldn't afford to pay all my bills on my own, council tax bills and maybe an old credit card. I wasn't in a position to save money at the time. My credit rating was as poor as you can get.
I met my husband seven years ago and we got married in 2019. I knew I needed to start being open and honest about my finances.
"Lockdown made it easier for me to pay off my debts and start saving"
I first found out about Monzo at work and I heard about Pots. When I realised I needed to get myself out of debt, especially during lockdown when I wasn’t spending money, I thought, ‘Right, now I need to really pull back’. I created a Pot for every debt I had and used a snowball effect. I paid the smallest debt off first and then when that was done, I put money towards the next debt. That way, I could see my total debt reducing.
Any spare money I had, I’d put towards the next debt. Then I agreed with my bank who I had the overdraft with, that I’d pay back a certain amount each month. That's what I did for about two years.
It was easier to save during lockdown than it would’ve been otherwise. All the money I wasn’t spending on going out or buying clothes, I used to get me out of debt. By August 2021, I had about £500 left outstanding on my overdraft and my husband gave me the money to pay it off.
"I couldn’t believe I'd done it. I never thought I'd ever get out of debt"
Having been a single parent, and then moving in with somebody, getting married and having to be open about my finances, I had a drive to do it. Using Pots and being able to see my debts reducing over time, kept me going.
I even started 2022 with £2k in savings in a hidden Pot. With three children, I thought I should start saving for Christmas in advance, so I’d been putting money away. I'd never been in a position where I had money saved after Christmas before.
"I’ve got 19 Pots set up to manage every aspect of my money"
I have one for phone insurance. I’ve got a credit card Pot which all my credit card payments come out of. I have a gin craft club Pot – I like gin so every two months I try to treat myself. I also have a Pot I’m trying to put £100 a month in for birthday gifts.
Doing this has changed how I look at money. I separate all my money into Pots as soon as it comes in, leaving my main account with nothing in it. If I’ve got nothing in my account, I wouldn't go into a Pot to take anything out.
Last month, I had an email from Credit Karma saying, ‘Congratulations, you've now reached fair’. I never thought I'd be in that position.
"Every bill has a Pot in Monzo too"
The mortgage comes out of there. That’s just increased to £570 a month. We're in the middle of a house extension, so we’ve taken out a £12k loan and the £278 monthly repayments come out of that account, too. They’re our biggest bills.
We also have Pots for repaying a car on finance, that’s £200 a month. Council tax at £160 a month, our TV licence is £14 a month, our EDF electricity and gas bill are £200 a month. That’s gone right up recently. Our Welsh Water bill is £55 a month. Car Insurance is £32. Our Sky bill has just gone up from £36 to £50. Then we’ve got smaller ones like Netflix at £16. We’ve also got a Pot to pay off a credit card I use for food shopping. I use it every week to boost my credit score, showing I can use it and pay it back.
Then we’ve got savings Pots. One for Christmas, which my husband and I put £150 into jointly every month. One for a holiday we’re going on next year to Cyprus, as my husband's a best man. We’ve also got an Ibiza Pot because it's our anniversary and we’d like to go away next year.
"Having custom images for each Pot helps me stay on track"
I screenshot company logos and assign them to each Pot. This means I can see straight away exactly what that Pot relates to. Rather than naming the Pot, I put how much money I need to put in each week and in brackets, the date it comes out of my account. Immediately, I can see if I’ve got what I need in each Pot and once all the Pots are filled, I know I don't have to worry about my bills.
"I use Salary Sorter to spread my money across my Pots"
Every month, I go to my salary that comes into my Monzo account and underneath there's a button called Salary Sorter. It remembers how much money you put into your Pots the month before, so I just have to check the right amounts are listed press ‘Confirm’, and all the money automatically gets spread between everything. It’s so helpful and hardly takes any time.
I didn’t sort out my salary at all before Monzo. I’d have to log on to my internet banking, work out on paper which bills were coming and what I needed to put away. By separating the money into these Pots and seeing them all in one place, I know my bills are sorted for the month.
"Money doesn't go as far as it used to because of the cost of living crisis"
Certain bills are going up. My husband and I have had to increase what we’re putting into the joint account. Our electricity and mortgage have gone up, so we tried to see if there was spare money in other Pots to compensate.
I'm more conscious now when I do a weekly food shop. That's gone up as well. I used to budget £70 pounds a week, now I'm spending £100 and it still doesn’t cover the full shop anymore, so I’m trying to find cheaper options. I like to cook from scratch and cooking healthily is quite expensive.
"I use round ups to save small change into my Christmas Pot and I also use IFTTT to boost my savings"
Last year I saved £150 by charging myself £5 every time I went to McDonalds. I’ve dropped it to £2.50 because of how often I was going to McDonald’s for coffee. I also did the IFTTT rainy day challenge but living in Wales, it was too expensive. Every time it rained £1 would be taken out of my account, but if it rained three times in a day, £3 would come out. I stopped because I don't tend to leave money in my main account, it’s all in my Pots.
"Monzo Flex allows me to spread the cost of purchases"
I used Monzo Flex to buy a Ninja air fryer last year and I just bought a new Shark hoover. I had to pay only a couple of pounds in interest for the Ninja. And if you pay off extra, Monzo tells you how much you’ve reduced the interest by.
I like that it's interest-free over three instalments and it's all kept in Monzo, so I don't have to go onto another app. Any spare change I have, I can put it straight towards the purchase because I'm already in the app.
Monzo Flex is credit for eligible 18+ year olds. Pay in 6 and 12 instalments at 24% APR representative (variable). Consider the cost of credit before a purchase. Missed payments can negatively impact your credit score and you may lose the interest-free rate on existing plans. Representative example: 24% APR representative (variable). £1200 credit limit. 24% yearly interest (variable).
"My advice to others with a savings goal? Use Pots for everything you want to save for"
There are 20 Pots available, use them for everything. By seeing what you’ve got coming in and going out, it helps you manage your money so much better. You know exactly where you are in life.
Especially now, when everything is so expensive, and obviously if you're in debt as well, by splitting all your money and putting the debt in front of you, it gives you the drive to want to pay it off quicker.