Sylvia*, 38, is a graphic designer who earns £33k a year and is a Eurovision Song Contest superfan.
She joined Monzo in 2019 and uses it to save money to attend the international song competition. She does this by gamifying her savings with elaborate rules based on her predictions and the eventual outcome of the contest (much more on this below).
Last year, she saved £648 to attend Eurovision this year. So far in 2023, she’s saved £282 to go next year – an amount she knows will need to increase substantially for her to be able to afford travel and accommodation.
The contest is taking place in Liverpool this year, after the UK came second to Ukraine, which is unable to host, in 2022. Sylvia is attending three Eurovision shows – two semi finals and the afternoon preview show of the grand final.
On the night of the final, she’ll be partying with friends and family, while rooting for her favourites – Finland (Käärijä with ‘Cha Cha Cha!’) or Austria (Teya & Selena with ‘Who The Hell Is Edgar?’) – to bring home the win.
Here, Sylvia tells us about her deep love of Eurovision, her multi-pronged approach to saving money for tickets using Monzo, and why it works so well for her.
“As a queer person, Eurovision has long been part of my life as it’s popular among the LGBT community”
I’ve always had friends and people around me who talk about it all the time. When I moved to the UK I started paying more attention to it. Not living in your own country sometimes gives you a sense of rootlessness and of not belonging anywhere.
That feeling of rootlessness coupled with how much you miss your country makes you cling onto things you never cared about before – like football championships and Eurovision. When my country won Eurovision I was already living in the UK. I cried! I don't think I would’ve if I was living there.
“I have a Pot to save to try to attend Eurovision the following year”
When Ukraine won Eurovision last year and the UK came second, I remember thinking ‘Wow, it might be in the UK, I need to make a Pot so I can go to Eurovision!' So I created one but didn't know how to start saving in it and how much money to add. I had no idea what tickets might cost.
“I’ve gamified the way I put money in my Eurovision Pot”
I created a system of adding money to it and this is what I came up with. First, I make lists and predictions for who will qualify to the final, who will end up top 10 in the final, placements in the leaderboard, etc. So I decided to use that for my savings – for each one I get right I put £12 In the Pot. Douze points!
Secondly, I choose my 15 favourite entries and put the same amount of money in the Pot as the number each of those entries ends up placed in. For example, if a song ends up being placed 24th I'll transfer £24 to the Pot.
Thirdly, I put money in the Pot that’s equivalent to the order in which those 15 favourite songs are performed. So, if a song in my top 15 performs fifth in the running order I’ll put £5 in the Pot.
“Gamifying saving turns it into a fun activity. It’s motivating!”
I get bored easily so I need to come up with ways to keep me motivated to do things. That's why I came up with all these different rules of saving for Eurovision.
My rankings and predictions lists keep me interested in Eurovision and make me love it more. Even when the next contest is a long time away, I still have a reminder in my account everyday that I have the money for it when it finally comes around.
“In 2022 I saved £648 to attend Eurovision this year. So far in 2023, I’ve saved £282 to go next year”
I'm planning to save much more in 2023 than last year as it might not be in the UK.
If I want to go I’ll need to save a lot more for travel and accommodation to wherever it will be held.
“I name all my Pots and virtual cards after songs and take great care choosing the photos for each Pot”
I was always terrible at saving money but I'm good at saving now and quite proud of how much money I’ve managed to save thanks to the tools Monzo provides.
Being a music lover and having lots of different pots for different things, I have nine Pots named after songs, mostly from the eighties, each with a custom image.
‘This Wheel's On Fire’ for transport expenses. Named after Siouxsie & the Banshee's cover of the Bob Dylan song. The image is a Pride-branded bus.
‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ for food and drink expenses. Named after the Duran Duran song. The image is of a nice meal I had at a restaurant.
‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ for events and entertainment related expenses. Named after the Cyndi Lauper song. The image is from a concert I went to.
‘Body Electric’ for medical/health expenses. Named after the Sisters of Mercy song, with an image of soap shaped like cakes I saw at a shop once.
‘Voyage Voyage’ for holiday expenses. Named after the Desireless song, with an image from a summer festival I went to.
‘Euphoria’ to save for Eurovision. Named after Loreen's song who won in 2012. The image is of projected lights on a wall.
‘There Goes a Tenner’ for a monthly membership that costs £10. Named after the Kate Bush song, with an image of a Pantone book as that relates to what the membership is for.
‘Everything Counts’ is my Instant Access Savings Pot where I also round up my payments. Named after the Depeche Mode song. The image is of a pig I photographed at a sanctuary to represent a piggy bank.
‘Out Of Touch’ is my Fixed Savings Pot. Named after the Hall & Oates song. The photo is of an old door with a pretty handle that I photographed.
“Because I take such care and spend so much time thinking of names and images for my Pots, it motivates me to keep my finances organised”
One way I do this is through Monzo Plus. I have colour coded virtual cards for my different day-to-day spending Pots. For example, an orange card for the ‘Wheel's On Fire’ Pot and a green card for the ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ Pot because I’m vegan.
I have all these cards on my Google Wallet and always pay these expenses directly from the Pots. This is a massive help because it means I put a certain amount of money in each Pot every month and already know that money is allocated to those regular expenses. And that everything else in my current account is available money for other non-regular expenses that come up.
Monzo Plus is £5 per month • 3 months minimum • Must be aged 18+ • Ts&Cs apply
“Surprisingly, I'm actually going to watch the live final with my family and friends at home”
I'm having a Eurovision party with family and friends at home during the evening live show. Many people think the Grand Final Live show is the show to attend live. But to me it’s such a special family moment that I wouldn't give that up, not even for the opportunity to watch it live in the arena.
We’ll have games and food from a few of the different countries that are in the contest. I’ll also be making a themed cake that relates to my country's entry. We’ll have flags and bunting representing our country as well.
We’re also doing fancy dress and I’ll dress as my country's entry in a big puffy dress. I tried to get my young nephew to dress as something fun and gave him a ton of fun ideas. He suggested Måns Zelmerlöw" (Sweden, 2015) to which I said "That's literally just black trousers and a grey shirt" and he said "Exactly". Nil points!
*We’ve changed her name.