If you want £25,000 by the age of 25, you either inherit it, marry into it or have a super high income. That’s at least how the modern-day thinking goes. Well, I did neither of those things. I don’t have wealthy parents, wasn’t married at 25 and the highest income I earned during that period was £31,800! Instead, I had £50,000 saved in my bank account via the old fashioned way; I saved it.
So how exactly did I do it? Read on to find out.
I’ll start my story of at the age of 18. This is when one’s life really begins, and it is the age at which the decisions we make really start to affect us. At this point, I probably had like £250 in the bank having saved the bulk of money received as gifts.
I took the traditional route of an 18-year-old. Straight after doing my A-levels, I went to university. But unlike most students, I decided to live at home for the duration. Yes the commute was long and tiering as it was close to an hour each way to get to and from uni. But in life sacrifices need to be made. That was my sacrifice in order to avoid having a high cost of living. Luckily, I had the best group of friends and would often go back to theirs to crash on the sofa after a night out!
The first year of university my fees were approx. £3,000. Ahh life was simpler then. I was lucky to escape the extortionate fees of £9,000+ a year!
My next two years were covered via scholarships as the average marks for my modules were 85%! To this day I still don’t know how that happened. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly bright nor studious. I used to go on nights out twice a week, be on the football team, hit the gym so I did have an enjoyable and social university life.
I guess my advantage were with exams. An old teacher taught me a trick; towards exams season when revision begins, every night when in bed, close your eyes and go over all you have studied. Trust me when I say your retentions of what you’ve studied will increase tenfold!
Whilst at university, I didn’t have a part time job during term time but I did work full time during the holidays. The two notable ones were working in an accountancy practice the first summer holiday and working in a bank during the second. Having these jobs ensured I didn’t graduate with too much debt.
When I graduated, just shy of 21, I had a job lined up. Getting a job was one of the toughest experiences I’ve faced. You could argue it was harder than the whole university degree! I applied for countless jobs, did hundreds of online tests and went for numerous interviews. Rejection after rejection hits your self-confidence hard. But luckily right before I started my third and final year exams, I received a job offer. Perhaps this gave me the motivation to get a first. Humble brag!
My graduate job paid £28,000 a year – the average UK salary. I also had to move away from home for the first time.
But I had a bid advantage at this point. The benefit of living at home, working during holidays and having my second and third year tuition covered my scholarships ensured I graduated with very little debt.
I did spend a decent chunk of change on a lad’s holiday though – decent for a student at least.
My graduate job was a in a different city, so I had to move out of home for the very first time. Getting a place in a completely new city was daunting to say the list. I did everything only via spare room and a bit of help from google maps!
As I didn’t have much time between university ending, my lads trip and my graduate scheme starting, I had to act fast and secure a place to stay. The natural option was to stay a little out of the city to save on costs. But having commuted during my entire Uni life, I was sick of commuting to be honest. I thus narrowed my search to the city centre where I could simply walk in to work.
I happened to find a very decent apartment on spare room and buddy’d up with someone on the website as well. He was off a similar age and like me he needed to move asap. So before we could get to know each other, we decided to secure the apartment. I only met him for the first time the day we moved in!
Likewise with the apartment, the first time I saw it in person was the day I moved in. I went in expecting the worst but was pleasantly surprised when the pictures matched the place, And because the apartment was from spare room, it was advertised by a private landlord who didn’t ask for a deposit! I know landlords get a lot of stick, but this guy was a genuinely nice man.
The apartment was £725 a month excluding bills. For a city centre apartment (Not in London), I thought this was a steal. Looking back over the bills, my share of the rent and bills were as follows:
- Rent: £325
- Electricity: £25
- Water: £13
- Broadband: £12
- Council tax: £80 (Why is council tax so damn high!)
That was it. My living costs were £455 a month! And because I was living in city centre, there was no transport costs etc.
I was pleasantly surprised by the low electricity costs considering it was an all-electric flat. The one advantage I had was I never ever switched on the heating throughout my time living at the flat. The flat was naturally warm throughout the year! I’m not sure whether it’s the build quality or heat moving upwards from other apartments. But the flipside is that it can get really hot in the summer months!
The only other fixed costs I faced was £10 for my sim only mobile phone deal, £15 for my gym, approx. £250 on food (I became a fitness addicts so cooked rather than ate out), £50 for miscellaneous items and £100 for going out.
All in all, a cheap lifestyle of £880 a month. I always have this conversation with my friends who moved to London and I can’t quite believe how expensive it is to live in the capital. What I spend on all my expenses, they spend on rent only! I don’t think I could stomach paying London prices!
Considering I was earning £28,000 a year before tax, this works out to £21,997 after tax or £1,883 a month. This gave me a cool £1,000 a month to save each and every month!
Saving a grand a month adds a pretty quickly over time. All it takes is 4 years and a bit to save £50,000!
At the age of 22 (22 and 364 days) , I had roughly £12, 000 in bank account and at the age of 23, that figure grew to £24,000!
I got a slight pay increase two years in to my graduate job with my salary being bumped up from £28,000 per annum to £31,800 per annum. At this point I was now taking home just over £2,000 per year.
The important point here is when I got the increase, I didn’t let my expenses go up. I didn’t allow life style inflation to creep in. Instead I kept living like a student and the extra £200 a month I was getting went straight to my savings!
As a result, I managed to see my net worth hit over £50,000 when I was 25. I could have done it slightly quicker, but I did take a couple holidays in between. What’s the point of saving when you don’t enjoy yourself in between? Enjoying the journey helps make the end goal easier.
Well, in truth, my net worth was over £50,000 by the age of 25. There are two reasons for this:
- I used a magic money box – A box where I put in £1,000 and the amount automatically increases to £1,500! I told you it was like magic! That magic money box is possible via tax relief and employer contributions. And the great news is that everyone has access to this magic money box. I hope this magic money box has caught your attention because I called it by its proper name, you would have read right past this paragraph. For those that have not caught on, I am talking about a pension. I believe every young person should research pensions and not leave it to old age as they provide immense benefits!
- Investing – Along the way, I started to invest the money I had saved in order to make my money work hard for me and grow over time. In its simplest form, investing is putting money away today so you can have more money in the future. And with modern apps like Freetrade, anyway can now invest in the stock market via the touch of a button. But I’ll leave But I’ll leave this part of the story for another day (or go over to the my journey section of this site to see the stocks I invest in) . As this post is focused on saving £50,000 by the age of 25, I’ll keep it simple.
So that is how I managed to save £50,000 by the age of 25 on the average UK salary. If I had to summarise it, it would be as flows:
- Don’t go in to debt or keep it as low as possible
- Keep your expenses low i.e. don’t live in London give the choice.
- Live like a student for as long as possible.
- Don’t let lifestyle inflation creep in. Don’t spend any salary increases, instead save it. You don’t miss what you don’t have!
- Learn about pensions and investing
Having said that, I would argue the he number one reason I was able to save over £50,000 when I was 25 years old is because I made savings a priority. Everyone has priorities in their life. Whether it is travel, that big TV or that new car or that awesome bag or shoes they saw. People consciously or subconsciously prioritise what they want more of in their lives. If you want to have more money, you need to make saving and investing your number one priority. If you want to stop being broke, you need to make savings an investing your number one priority. And if saving and investing is your priority, trust me you will find ways to earn and save more money. You will become creative with your finances. If you are bitten by the savings bug, there is no return. If you know the power of passive income, compounding and financial freedom you’ll want to save as much of it as possible.
For example, I don’t have cable TV or a car as I know that at this point in my life I don’t really need them and the extra money I save can go in my investing accounts. I also sacrifice certain nights out with friends in order to save on costs. That doesn’t mean I live like a hermit. Life would be too boring if you focus on costs. I still go out and socialise with friends but unlike most of my friends I don’t go out every weekend. Life is about trade-offs so you can either live it up big today and blow all your money or you can put a savings plan in place to ensure your future self is secured financially.
So if want to see a healthy bank balance every time you look at your account, start by making savings a priority. Get out of debt, live cheap, learn about pensions and investing and you’ll be surprised how quickly your net worth rockets up.