How to track your budget in a new country (and currency)

How to track your budget in a new country (and currency)

When I first decided I was moving to London from New Zealand, I thought oh shit! How on earth am I going to be able to budget for living life over there?… let alone understand what the Pound looks like against the NZD.

I had a budget template I was using back in NZ and decided to convert this into Pounds, job done. Well not quite… to understand this whole Pound-to-NZD thing I had a play with the sheet to see if I could use it as a tool to have an overview of both currencies – and it worked!

This spreadsheet has been my go-to budgeting tool whilst living in the UK, and although I’m earning and spending in Pounds it’s still nice to have a view of how this converts into NZD, particularly if you plan on sending money home from time-to-time, you’ll know exactly when is the right time to do so.

Below is a link to this very template:

DOWNLOAD HERE

How do you use it?

1. Fill it in:

Each month fill in your budget spreadsheet with the relevant category amounts (i.e. rent, power, groceries). The handy thing is once you’ve done this, you’ll notice on the left-hand side of your month’s Pound column it’ll show the live Pound-NZD exchange rate.

2. Lock in the rate:

Once you’ve done this step you then need to ‘lock’ in the NZD rate within the month you’re in – this will stop it constantly changing. To do this we’ll go old-school, you re-enter the NZD rate in each row (if someone else has found a simpler way of locking this I’m all ears!).

3. Forecast and repeat:

Don’t just set and forget. Every few days open up your spreadsheet and see how you’re tracking against your budget for the month – Ask yourself are you within your limits? Are there any new expenses coming up? What are some things you could save for now to make life easier in the future? (and not have to dip into debt). By keeping track, you’ll have complete visibility of where you are, plus the ability to navigate steps to get you to reach your goals!

By doing these steps you won’t have that “Pocket draining as soon as you walk out into London air” feeling, you’ll be in control, and ready to conquer the big smoke!

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Coffee is one of those things that if you’re like me you couldn’t go without – although hopefully, you don’t end up as cranky as I do without a liquid fix in the morning…there’s nothing worse than an uncaffeinated Holly.

Despite my dependence and borderline addiction to the stuff there’s so much to love about coffee and the culture surrounding it – walking into a cafe in the morning and smelling the morning buzz, exchanging banter with your favourite barista, watching the creamy liquid being poured into a perfect fern shape, hearing the sizzle of the steam nozzle – it’s electric and it’s addictive.

With the start of the new year I wanted to get an overview of just how much I was investing into this little liquid love affair, so I did a tally of coffee spend in 2018, and it added up – £1,006 to be exact (yes I geek sheeted this out). My daily morning routine stopover at F Mondays for an Oat Flat White the largest proportion of this amount (at a £2.90 per cup) – quite a staggering amount considering that could have paid for a trip home and back.

Coffee is something I enjoy and adds value to my life, but I knew this amount was going overboard – the thing is if you enjoy something and it’s not doing you much harm you don’t have to give it up (and I certainly wasn’t going to put up with an uncaffeinated self anytime soon), but you can be more intentional with how you allocate your money towards what you value.

I’ve seen people carrying their reusable cups in the morning, imagining some kind of dishwasher liquid swimming around under the rim, but if I wanted to reduce my spend and do good for the environment I needed to suck it up, stop being a snob, and give it a go!

Cam had a nice Frank Green reusable cup, so I gave it wash, purchased some supermarket ground beans, a bottle of Oatly, and pulled out the flatmate’s French Press – to my suprise I enjoyed the taste too.

Going to a cafe everyday isn’t essential, and not necessary to enjoy coffee. Being more intentional means cutting back and ultimately valuing more. I’ve pulled back on my weekly coffee spend and still enjoy a cafe brew on the weekends, but now when I do go out I value that liquid fix so much more.

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

Turn the clock back to 2016. When Ed Sheeran was serenading our speakers, cauliflower steaks were all the rage, legends were lost  – Bowie, Prince & Glenn Frey to name a few, and we got Trumped. It was a year of great gains and great losses.

It was a year of uncertainty, of instability and a reflection of my feelings in my own life. I decided to not let these feelings carry through into 2017, but to take control of what I could, starting with money.

I’d never been one to care much about where my money went, or what I did with it. I got my paycheck and very quickly converted it into superfluous purchases – Bento Boxes, Free People clothing, debt payments, plane tickets, weekend trips away, and lots and lots of coffee. Not surprisingly at the end of the month, I had nothing left.

My problem – I had no visibility of where my money was going, and I quite simply didn’t care.

If I wanted to take control I needed a goal, and I needed a plan to get there.

The goal, move to the other side of the world (I’ll do a post about that later)

The plan… I still needed one.

I Googled, I YouTubed, I Podcasted, I asked, searching for that hidden gem of an answer – but time and time again one simple thing popped up that we’ve all heard about before, The Budget.

It’s a very simple task – you write down your income, you deduct your expenses and then you see what you have left to play with.. this is either your Bento Box money, or it’s your savings money (more posts on this later).

It’s something so simple, but so many of us don’t do it. I used this very basic Excel template to build my budget, and still do to this day.

What the budget gave me was a plan to meet my goal, 2019 and 3 years later I’m in London. Granted there are days when I don’t always feel in control, but by having a budget I can plan and build a pathway to financial freedom.

It’s this very simple tool that got me going and that’s opened my eyes to a world where you can take control, you can have choices, and you don’t need much to get there!

What’s my new goal? To spread the word, and help others build their own pathway to financial freedom.

THE LADDER GIRL