"I used to split my cash up into money bags each month, now I just use Pots"

Read the article

Rob, 44, lives in Nottinghamshire with his mum, who he cares for after she recently had a stroke. He’s a deputy store manager at B&M and takes home around £1,300 each month.

Before he got Monzo three years ago, Rob says his relationship with money was “casual”. While he “didn’t worry about it’, Rob never felt fully in control of his finances. To control his weekly spending, he’d withdraw his wages from the bank and split it into money bags. But he didn’t have any financial goals and would spend any money he had and then some. He found himself in credit card debt of £12k by “buying bits and bobs” over time without realising.

Today, Rob uses Monzo to set weekly and monthly budgets, save small amounts and to help him pay off his debt before he starts saving up for bigger things. 

"I never used to budget or think about my spending"

I was always someone who thought, ‘I owe about £3,000 and I need to save about £100’. Random figures that were close to reality but not exact. That's the reason that Monzo has been amazing for me.

I had £12k worth of credit card debt when I saw an advert for Monzo three years ago. It mentioned that you could save money into Pots, which I thought sounded interesting. That was the start.

"I combine Monzo with a physical budget binder to manage my money"

I've got a budget binder, which is a paper book that allows me to keep track of my debts and savings. Every month I write down how much I owe in one section and how much I’ve got saved in another. Each month I see can the value of my savings increase or fluctuate, while my debts go down.

I've never felt in control like this before and it feels fantastic. I know what's what. There's no estimating because every single month I can put a figure on my debts and savings.

A Monzo Pot called Winter Rates, containing £55.30

If I didn’t have Monzo and I needed to save money for Christmas or for the ground rent on my mum’s caravan in Skegness, I wouldn’t know exactly how much I needed to save. But with Pots I can hit that figure. I can save a couple of thousand pounds for ground rent and then move on to the next thing and the money is safe until I need to access it. When you've got a bank account with X amount of money in, it’s difficult to mentally segregate that money.

"I give myself a weekly allowance of £50"

The simplest way I’ve found to budget with Monzo is to pay all my bills first, then whatever’s left I save and divide up. I usually have £200 left and I divide that into four to give myself a weekly allowance of £50. In the first week of the month, I’ll put £150 into my Weekly Top Up Pot and £50 into my main account.

If I gave myself £200 for the month, it would probably run out by week four. But if you've got £50 for a week and £10 left to last you two days, it's not a big deal. If you're strict enough to not go into next week’s budget, there’s not long to wait until you get the next £50. This strategy helps me ensure I can do whatever I want with my money. It's manageable.

"I’ve got nine Pots"

One is called Save The Change, which is where my round ups go. There’s £215 in there at the moment and I want to see how long I can go without spending it.

A Pot called Save the Change containing £215

I've got a Birthday and Christmas Gifts pot, which I top up throughout the year and use to buy presents. I've got a Pot for ground rent on my mum’s caravan and another for winter rates for when the caravan closes. I've got a Pot for my car to pay for things like petrol, road tax and the MOT. 

Rob's Pots

I've got a Pot called Skeg named after Skegness, where the caravan is, for spending money when I'm on holiday, and another one for spending money for my birthday, because that's in December. 

I've also got one for a wedding I’m going to soon, for buying a wedding present and to spend on the day. I don't want to be spending on drinks all day without knowing where the money will be coming from.

"Back in the day, I used to use physical money bags to divide my money. Monzo makes this technique much more convenient"

I used to pay what I needed to pay, bills etcetera, and then I’d withdraw my monthly wage from the bank. But I’d always get to the third week and be short on money. So, I started dividing my money into four bags, one for each week of the month. This made it easy to see how much money I had left for the week.

I use Monzo in that way, too. I give myself £50 a week to spend from my Weekly Top up Pot, which I transfer into my current account. With Monzo, I'm not physically having to draw all this money out and stuff it into bags. And then I've got round ups on top as well. Not only am I saving what's left and putting it into a pot, I've also got money from each purchase going into another pot. I'm saving twice in a way.

"I like the neatness of using virtual cards on Monzo Plus"

For the extra £5 I spend on Monzo Plus each month, I get about £1.70 back in interest, so it costs me about £3.30 a month. With a virtual card, I can pay for caravan bills straight from my caravan Pot using its unique card number, expiry date and security code. The money comes straight out of the right place without me having to move it. It's really clean and simple, which I like. 

When I have more spare money, maybe in the new year, I’d like to use Plus to increase my round ups, too.

Monzo Plus is £5 a month with a 3 month minimum. 18+, T&Cs apply.

"I didn't used to worry about money or care – if I wanted something, I’d just go and buy it. Now, I plan everything and it feels good"

I used to have a casual approach to money. If I wanted a record I’d just go and buy it. I didn't think about what it would mean to spend £20 or £30. I just paid for things as they came up. I didn't plan or pre-plan anything. I used to go on holiday with my friends and I didn't save for that holiday. If I had the money, I'd spend it. If I didn't, I’d buy stuff on a credit card. I've always paid my bills and met the minimum payment on my credit card. But I didn't care about it. I've never been excited about money. 

A Monzo Pot called Ground Rent containing £2,430

My attitude now is definitely different. I plan everything. There are always going to be unexpected things cropping up. But if something’s coming up that’s inevitable, like the ground rent or payments on my car, I need that money to be there. If I've saved enough for the service, the road tax, the MOT, and then maybe an extra £150-200 just in case, I can stop thinking about it and move on to the next thing. Everything is more planned now. It feels good.

"I’m about to start saving double for our energy bills"

The energy price rise is really affecting us because of my mum's situation. After her stroke, she lost her ability to walk and her speech, and she's on blood thinning medication. She gets really cold, so we've got the heating on all day. The amount I'm paying currently isn’t going to be enough to keep covering our bills, even with the government support.

I currently pay about £70 a fortnight combined [gas and electricity]. Yesterday I was washing and drying and our smart metre was £12 for the day. I’m going to have to start saving double what I was before.

"I’ve said ‘bye bye’ to luxuries to save money"

I’m shopping around more, changing the brands I buy and trying to buy less. I’m cutting back on just about everything. I don't drink alcohol very often and I don't go out because of my mum’s situation, so I don't really miss things like that. But I do like fizzy drinks. Swapping Coca Cola for cheap cola has been a big deal, but once you start drinking it, your taste buds adjust.

"Seeing my money growing motivates me to stick to my tight budget"

When all you’ve got is £20 saved, it’s easy to spend that £20. But when you see your money increasing, it's exciting. Especially with me using the budget binder for the money I've got going into premium bonds and elsewhere, to see that increasing each month is quite calming.

Up until three years ago, I've never saved for anything. But now if I needed to take that money out, I'd find it difficult. I don't want to! 

I feel a sense of security now. I know where I am. I don't have to guess anymore. I've got exact numbers and I can see them with the touch of a thumb print.