I was paid in cash for my very first job, being based overseas pre-Euro and not having a local bank account. Every month I would get Deutschmarks in cash and tuck them into an envelope in my underwear drawer. I took out bits and pieces as I needed it but in theory, I was saving the bulk of the money I earned towards the expenses I would have in my first year at University.
In actual fact I blew the whole of my University Savings on a trip to Paris with my then-boyfriend. I wasted every last penny I had, and came home richer for the experience, less naive about men and ready to become a student. I was much more careful with money after that, not least because I rarely had any. In my last year at University I worked four jobs whilst trying to finish my degree, trying to cover rent, living expenses and the associated costs of job hunting. I would carry my pay home in my bag, calling in at my landlord and the supermarket, and it was all gone by the time I got back to my underwear drawer. In fact after that I mostly forgot what it was like to have savings to fall back on.
If I could go back to that girl, with the benefit of nearly twenty years experience, I would tell her that the most important thing she should have done before heading to University was to learn to use a budget calculator. That way the money wouldn’t go out as fast, and in some cases, faster, than it came in.I would tell the graduate living in London that taking out a credit card to cover a one-off expense was a risk that would take five years to pay off. I would tell her that a Savings Goal* would have given her the financial buffer that made that credit card unnecessary.
Oddly, I am far better with cash than I am with a cash card. Spending with a Debit or Credit card is a theoretical for me. Much like the trading of millions of pounds on the Stock Exchange, it is merely numbers on a computer screen. But cold hard currency is something I like to squirrel away like a, well like a squirrel. I don’t enjoy spending it, but when I do I am much more aware of what I am spending and on what. I like the jangle of coins in my pocket, the feel of crumpled notes in my hand, the security.
The security is what makes me tuck pound coins into a jar in my bedroom and keep emergency tenners in hiding places. It’s why I collect five pound notes like they’re Emma Bridgewater mugs. Obviously it would not be a savings strategy that any financial institution would endorse. It’s not one my husband endorses. Some- most, in fact- would call it outdated. I prefer the term “retro”. Whatever you think, it’s what works for me. It’s My Saver Story.
What’s your Saver Story? Share it with @NatWest_Help on twitter using the #MySaverStory hashtag. For more information on Fairer Saving go to the NatWest website.