FROM being £5,000 in debt to becoming a super saver, Hannah turned her life and bank balance around aged 21 after falling into financial trouble.
The now 24-year old Bingo hall manager from Bristol initially took out a loan when she was 19 to buy a car.
She was unable to keep up with the repayments for the loan due to excessive spending – but that all changed when she wanted to move in with her partner.
"I didn’t like having this debt as I was only young. There was also no need for me to have this debt, I am in a lucky position I live at home with family, so I didn’t need to get myself into this situation.
"My boyfriend and I discussed living together. He told me that he has been saving since he started working at 17 and had a good amount of savings.
"This was the push I needed, if I wanted us to start a new life together, I needed to sort out my money!"
To turn her debt around, Hannah started examining her finances in depth to see where all her cash was going.
She soon discovered that one of her biggest expenses was buying food, snacks and coffee at work, something that was costing her £10 a day on average.
She says: "I decided to meal prep which reduced my outgoings massively, which in turn enabled me to put more money towards debt."
She also started a side hustle selling planners and tracking resources on Etsy, as well as flogging her unwanted clothing and other items online.
She also started doing online paid surveys to boost her income and pay off her debt more quickly.
Making all these little changes, meant Hannah managed to clear the whole debt by the time she was 21.
She said: "The day I paid off the final balance of over £1,500 was an amazing feeling! I couldn’t believe I was debt free."
"[If you're struggling with debt] Take your time! It isn’t going to happen overnight. Also start simple. By me not being so lazy and preparing food for work meant I was saving a fortune!"
Since clearing her debts, Hannah has kept up her good money habits and also added some new ones.
For instance, she takes part in savings challenges each month. She says this helps her to appreciate the value of every penny she earns and put away extra throughout the month, rather than just on payday.
A common savings challenge is the bingo challenge that helps you put aside £1,378 a year by saving a certain amount a week and crossing it off on the board.
There's also our Christmas money saving challenge which helps people put away £1,000 in the month before Christmas.
Hannah earns £9.15 an hour at her main job and does a lot of overtime. By carefully saving everything she can and using her side hustles to make extra cash, she was able to buy her next car without taking out a loan.
She says: "My car was £3,500 and it was amazing to pay in full without borrowing money from the bank.
"It is an amazing feeling having the money saved, 2022 will be our year to finally get onto the property ladder."
Hannah's top tips for turning your finances around
Her top tip for anyone looking to boost their own savings is to plan carefully. She says you should make a list of all the expenses that are due and work out what you need to save.
She adds that joining a community and having someone to talk to can also be really helpful.
She says: "Definitely [try] saving challenges. They can be fun especially if you join a community like Instagram, where there are other people who are following along with you.
"Talking to someone you trust can help you. Once I told my boyfriend about my debt and money struggles it changed our relationship. We now budget days out and holidays so that has helped."
She also uses website PriceSpy to find deals. She adds: " It has helped me shop for a lot of products at a great price! I have been able to pick up some great deals."
Hannah also advises that people take advantage of the round-up features that are available on most online banking apps.
These work by rounding up your purchases and putting the difference into a savings account. For instance, if you spent £10.50, 50p goes into savings. Hannah says that while this doesn’t sound a lot, it all soon adds up.
In fact, rounding up your purchases could see you put away an average of £1.22 a day – or £445.30 a year – according to Which?.
While Hannah changed her entire lifestyle, she cautions that one pitfall to avoid is not having any fun at all, as it's not sustainable.
She says: "Yes, you are on a budget but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. When I started my journey, I didn’t go out and it was horrible. But now I set myself an allowance each month and I go out and enjoy myself."
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