For the last six years or so, I’ve been on a proper mission to save up enough deposit to buy a flat.
I’d love to tell you I was super-organised, but honestly, for the longest time my boyfriend and I were pretty half-arsed about it.
I had an ISA we would put money in, but find I’d dip into it a few weeks later when we wanted to go on holiday or if something better came up.
We learned the hard/slow way that if you really want to save money for an end goal – there needs to be organisation and a rock solid plan.
And I’m in the same position again! We’ve managed to buy the flat (which seems to be falling apart!) and have talked about the things we need to save up for (there are a billion things), but haven’t actually put any money away yet.
But from experience I know we need to implement a plan ASAP.
So here’s what I figure we need:
- An “If everything goes wrong fund”: I would like £5k to be sitting in that account if we lost jobs/house fell down/someone got ill etc. I idea of having that banked away really calmed my financial anxieties.
- A flat extension fund: We paid extra to get the attic included in the flat purchase so we could extend up and have a two bedroom place. We’re imagining we’re going to have to spend between £15-30k on this (If you’re an attic extension pro – please do get in touch because we don’t know what we’re doing!)
- Holiday: We love our holidays and frankly have spent an obscene amount on them in the past. So I’d like to be able to keep going on brilliant holiday, but will have to make sure we can afford to do it – so will need to save.
Calculators, maths and spreadsheets have never been my strong-point (urgh, school flash-backs!) so I’ve been looking into apps that can help – introducing the Squirrel budgeting app.
What is Squirrel?
You know when you see something and think – why haven’t we been doing that for years?!
Well, that’s that’s Squirrel for you. Sure, it’s a saving/budgeting app – but it does something a even better in my opinion. It’s basically a buffer from your employer to your bank account which you control, meaning you can squirrel away cash (Oh, I see what they’ve done!) and allocate money really easily.
That’s perfect for someone like me, because when I’m saving, I can’t have the money “around me”. I don’t want it in a piggy bank, or in my bank account where I can see it and transfer it within five seconds.
Look, i’m pretty good with money (saving money has been my job for years) – but I know myself and I can’t NOT touch it if it is around. I’m the same with chocolate and puppies… I’m just human!
I’d never advise it – because you should never put your money in the hands of anyone else (or your health – but that’s for another blog!)- but I would give my flat deposit savings to my boyfriend to keep in his separate bank account.
As much as I trust him implicitly (we’ve been together 11 years this month!)… I still didn’t love doing it. There’s always that thought in the back of your mind that if he up and left – there was just no chance of getting those thousands of hard earned pounds back. But I did it, because it was what worked for me at the time.
So with Squirrel, there’s just no need to do that – you can keep the money out of the way, create a budget and then easily save up.
How the Squirrel app works
So first off, you download the Squirrel app and it gets asking you questions.
As much as you want an app to work well (and Squirrel does), it’s always really attractive and clickable which is important. I just can’t be bothered with clunky, unappealing apps.
Once downloaded, you sign up by entering your email address and password.
The screen tells you: “Squirrel is a separate account that helps you budget. It pays money into your main bank account only when you need it, so you don’t fritter it away.
“It keeps your money safely out of sight and out of mine, so you’re not tempted to dip into savings.
“You can hold back money in your Squirrel account until bills are due.
“You can pay yourself a weekly allowance to make budgeting simple.”
It then asks for your monthly salary, so I put in the made-up number of £1,000 to use as an example. It then divides the money up based on what it thinks you will need to spend and what is left for savings. You can of course change this to be a specific as you want – or save as much as you like.
In the app, you’re asked to pick an end-goal, which makes saving a million times easier to do. They ask if it is to clear debt? Avoid running out of money? Prepare for a family? House? To save regularly or something else?
I picked “something else” because I want to concentrate on the ‘What if everything goes wrong?’ fund because right now, and with the pressure of paying a mortgage – that’s the most important to me.
The app lets you distribute your money evenly in weekly instalments that will stop you spending as much money than you would if you received your funds monthly.
How much is the app? It is legit?
You can get a free trial for three months– and then it costs you £3.99 a month after that – but it’s easily to cancel if it’s not for you.
Enter your salary and bank details and it sets up a bank account that sits between your source of money and your current account and helps you manage or filter your money.
And you don’t need to worry, the app is secure and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What I think
Look, if you’re one of those people is super organised, has incredible self-restraint and loves a spreadsheet – do it the free way. As long as you’re saving and it’s working for you – keep doing that.
However, for a lot of us, this app is going to take away that anxiety by acting as a total savings, budgeting and bill management tool. If you’re just not getting the savings results you want – you should try it.
I honestly think it’s a game changer. You can get at your money if you need it, but once you have a goal (Christmas or a holiday etc), you can get on it without ever thinking about it (or noticing).
I think it’s 100% worth downloading it and giving the free trial a shot anyway to see if you like it, and if you save more than you would usually. If it doesn’t – cancel and dust off that calculator.
Squirrel app or not – I really urge you to come up with a savings plan of some sort – because the peace of mind it brings you, and the knowledge you’re working towards a financial goal is an awesome feeling.
An FYI – this is a collaborative post – but you know me, no brands can tell me what to write – and nothing gets featured if it is rubbish.
Let me know if you’re trying out Squirrel and have thoughts!