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finances

If you're anything like us, a huge chunk of your hard earned cash goes towards filling you wardrobe with clothes you probably (definitely) don't need. 

You might be living off beans on toast for the last week of the month, but hey, at least you've got a killer collection of designer heels, right?

Well, staying on top of the latest trends is nice, but have you ever stopped to think about what percentage of your wages is actually spent on clothing and accessories? 

According to Cosmopolitan, financial expert Peter Dunn reckons he's found the magic formula that allows you to strike the balance between stylish trendsetter and fully fledged adult. 

And it's all in the number five, apparently. 

He recommends that you should only spend about 5 per cent of your take home salary every month – which, when you break it down, isn't an awful lot. 

For example, if your €25k a year, your shopping budget is capped at €1250 annually which equates to roughly €100 per month.

Now, on first thought that doesn't seem so bad, but it only takes one flash ASOS sale to spoil your finances for the month. 

Our advice? Save the splurging for special events and experiment with new ways to style the clothes you already have.  

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OK real talk. Does anyone is their twenties ACTUALLY know how to manage money? 

I'll be the first to amit that finances aren't exactly my strong suit. Sure, I've got a roof over my head, food in the fridge and a Netflix subscription to keep me going, but when it comes to savings and long-term planning, I may as well be back at square one. 

However, I'm slowly but surely learning how to make better choices when it comes to spending, and there are a few golden tips and tricks I've picked up along the way:  

1. Thou shalt keep a budget book

Budgeting is hard, OK? And in an age of paperless money, it can be easy to lose track of your finances. 

One way to combat this is to keep a budget book, mapping out all your incoming and outgoing expenses for the month ahead, including every single purchase you make. 

Break down your earnings using the handy 50/30/20 ratio – 50 per cent goes towards living expenses, 30 per cent is disposable income, and 20 per cent goes into savings.

2. Thou shalt take advantage of loyalty schemes 

Whether you're earning points on your club card every time you do a food shop, or simply getting a free coffee every two weeks, loyalty schemes are a great way to save the pennies without feeling like you're missing out. 

A number of banks also offer reward schemes, allowing customers to earn cash back when use their cards at selected retailers. 

3. Thou shalt limit my online spending 

Sure, the half price ASOS jacket might seem like an absolute steal, but it's a slippery slope.

First the jacket, then the shoes, and before you know it, you're basket is full to brim with items you probably (definitely) don't need. 

4. Thou shalt refrain from taking out loans 

Unless absolutely necessary, try your best to work with what you have.

But if you do find yourself in a position where borrowing money is the only option, make sure to shop around for the best interest rates, and make paying it back an absolute priority.

5. Thou shalt bring my lunch from home

OK, so this one's a bit of a no-brainer, but eating out is pricey AF. 

Give the artisan breads and lavish salads a break and start getting creative in the kitchen. 

Pro tip: Make more than you need to eat for dinner so you can use the leftovers the next day.

6. Thou shalt eat more veggies

Meat is by far one of the most expensive parts of any meal, so it's no surprise that cutting it from your diet will do wonders for your pocket. 

Can't commit to the full veggie life? Start with meat-free Mondays and go from there. 

Your bank account will thank for for it. 

7. Thou shalt entertain at home 

Save the big nights out for special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, going-away dos etc. – and do the rest of your socialising at home. 

You'll save a bomb on taxi fares, cover charges and over-priced cocktails, and hey, you'll probably have more fun. 

8. Thou shalt save as much as possible

Got a few quid left over at the end of the month? 

Rather than indulging in an unnecessary spending spree, put your precious pennies towards a bigger spend. 

After all, that two month trek around South East Asia isn't going to pay for itself. 

9. Thou shalt learn about taxes 

OK, so this one is easier said than done, but it's important to know where your money is going every month. 

For example, Irish workers are entitled to a number of benefits including dental and optical, as well compensation for absence due to illness. 

It's also worth checking whether you've been emergency taxed in the past four years. You could be owed a small fortune and not even know it! 

10. Thou shalt splurge responsibly

While it's essential to stay on top of your finances in your 20s, it's never fun to deprive yourself of the things you want. 

Whether it's the designer handbag you've been lusting after, or the holiday of your dreams, it's important to treat yo'self every once in a while. 

After all, you worked hard for the cash – just spend it wisely! 

 

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OK, we'll be the first to admit that we could use some help in the finance department.

Between the increased cost of living in Ireland, and a minimum wage that doesn't even nearly reflect this, finding enough money (or any at all) to put away for a rainy day can be a real struggle – but hey, we're trying.

We all remember that millionaire who said millennials would be able to afford house if they stopped buying avocado toast, right?

Well, if that observation was enough to get your blood boiling, you're not going to like what this new study has to say.

Research conducted by insurance company, Direct Line, found that millions of young people are only spending their money on things that will improve their 'status'.

Apparently, almost 25 per cent of 18-34 year-olds surveyed admitted that reality TV shows influenced them to put an emphasis on wealth and luxury possessions.

Over a third revealed they had boasted about new possessions on social media and 20 per cent said there was no point owning something nice if other people didn't know about it.

In an attempt to explain why the focus for the millenial generation is on short-term satisfaction from luxury goods rather than long-term goals, Liz Emerson, the co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation spoke to The Independent.

She said:  “Today’s young professionals already face a marginal tax rate of 41 per cent after student loan repayments, national insurance, and income tax. That is before the depressing reality that younger workers are unlikely to ever own a home of their own, or have adequate pensions, unlike their parent’s generation.

“Even moving out to rent has become increasingly unaffordable due to declining wages and the high cost of housing. With a third of graduates now in non-graduate jobs there may be little to look forward to in the future beyond a luxury purchase now and again.”

So, basically we need to start looking at the bigger picture when it comes to our finances, but given the depressing reality of the economic climate, it doesn't hurt to treat yo'self every once in a while – am I right?

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My torturous four weeks of not spending any money are finally drawing to a close, and frankly, I couldn't be more delighted.

Having free reign over my financial choices has always been something I've taken for granted, frittering away my wages on exorbitant rental prices, ordering in, and glasses of gin that are much too fancy for the likes of myself. 

Embarking on the 30 Day No Spending Challenge was definitely no walk in the park (though I took many of those, seeing as it's free), but I definitely learned quite a bit about my personal spending habits during my fiscal fast.

For those who don't know, the 30 Day No Spending Challenge focuses on benefiting your bank balance through a tight budget for four weeks. 

Most adventurers into this monetary management challenge stick to a budget of about €50.00 a week, to spend on groceries, transport and socialising.

The challenge omits things like rent and utilities, as it is all about making the most of your disposable income rather than getting you evicted.  

The most difficult part was willing myself not to give in to my random splurges. 

Seriously, the list of things I didn't buy this month because I was embarking on the challenge includes a gold coin festival bra, a faux Gucci belt (I was looking at too many bloggers' Instagrams that week) at least eight takeaways, a series of ASOS items and a selection of cacti. 

As someone who takes Carrie Bradshaw's famous quote about liking to see her money hanging in her closet quite seriously, not purchasing clothes for an entire month was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, but hey, the gold coin bra is still available so once pay day rolls around, it's mine. 

Not caving to my food cravings was also pretty hard, and I'm not going to lie, there was an occasion where I did order in, completely blowing my weekly food budget on one delicious but ultimately unworthy meal. 

The most valuable part of the whole venture wasn't the money I saved (though we will get on to that later) but the realisation and clarity that the challenge gave me when assessing where my money would have been going. 

I kept a record of the things I didn't buy, a hangover from my oh-so frugal life as a student when I used to jot down all my expenses in an Excel sheet on my laptop, and I saved around €400.00 just by not giving in to my random coffee cravings and willing myself away from the computer screen during the ASOS sale. 

To anyone considering taking on the challenge, I strongly recommend keeping track of everything you do spend and everything you don't spend on the way. 

If opportunities come your way that you know are out of budget, jot them down to give yourself a better idea of how much you are saving per day or week as you go along to help keep you motivated. 

My only other tips are to get used to public transport and make budget supermarkets your second home, but for a lot of people, those are very normal aspects of their lives anyway, myself included.

The trick here was to plan your journeys to be as cost efficient as possible, and also prepare your meal plans in advance so there is no opportunity to get side tracked at the supermarket.

Honestly, one day I had an intense longing for a pain au chocolat, and had intense separation anxiety from the bakery section after my trip, and that was because I hadn't quite prepared well enough for my grocery shop.

Avoiding the junk food and bakery aisles like the plague is a must.  

As soon as I finish this final week of no spending, I'm buying enough pain au chocolats to block out the memory of my pastry-free month. 

So, the big question, how much did I save and what am I going to to do with my freshly stashed dosh?

Well, if you must know, I saved €800.00 over the course of the month, most of which I'm going to put straight back into my student loan and get three or four months ahead in those loan repayments. 

The rest is going on a good hair cut, a trip to my eyebrow technician, a packet of pastries and an absolute vat of gin. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Would I do it again? Well, as a means of saving for something big like a rental deposit or a holiday, this challenge is ideal, so I'd never say never to undertaking another fiscal fast in the future.

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Ah Easter, the time of excessive eating and Good Friday house parties. 

Week three of the 30 day No Spending Challenge is underway, and honestly?

I cannot wait to be released from my prison of personal finance.

In case you are wondering why in the name of God anyone would try to survive without two cents to rub together by choice, here's a bit of background.

I am embarking on the 30 Day No Spending Challenge (you can see how I prepared for it here), and I am officially over it. 

The 30 Day No Spending Challenge focuses on benefiting your bank balance by sticking to a tight budget for four weeks. 

Most adventurers into this monetary management challenge stick to a budget of about €50.00 a week, to spend on groceries, transport and socialising, but essentials like rent and utilities are excluded.

After all, it's hard enough to get a house these days without potentially pissing of your landlord by not coughing up that "very reasonable, considering the area," sum of monthly rent. 

€50.00 is definitely a sorry sum to try to get by on for the week, but after you minus my travel expenses, I'm left with €20.00 to spend. 

This week, Easter was looming, and being in possession of an assortment of younger siblings, chocolate had to be purchased to satiate the Lent-mad masses.

The challenge does allow you to put an event or two aside that you have already committed to ahead of the challenge, during which you can allocate yourself a budget to spend during the event outside of your chaste weekly allowance, and Easter was my time to shine.  

 

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I gave myself an egg allowance of sorts, and splashed out on fancy confectionery items for my immediate family, as well as a bottle of gin for myself in preparation for the Good Friday madness. 

In order to minimise my spending, I split the cost of the gin, tonic and limes with a friend. 

It was definitely a spending savvy move, but it did remind me of my late teens, where pocket money would be pooled between friends to purchase a large bottle of blue alco-pop to be consumed with haste in some drizzly field. 

Though the beverage was an expense, my guilt was minimised by the fact that it was a house party rather than a night out, so the expenditure was dramatically lower than it could have been.

While I did not go outside my egg budget, I counted on the Bank of Mum and Dad to get my train ticket back to my home county of Galway for the family festivities. 

I have been in the process of detangling my finances from my parents for a number of years, which is probably the same as most young twenty-somethings, and now all that's left is my phone bill. 

Getting kicked off the family phone plan will truly be the moment the cord gets clamped, but the Bank of Mum and Dad does remain open for occasional necessities like this pilgrimage to Galway.

It is completely cheating on the challenge to allow other people to buy you something, but after splurging on eggs and gin, I couldn't get any more in the red than I already was. 

After the short but sweet visit, I returned to Dublin to be greeted with bare cupboards, a svelte LeapCard balance and limited plan for what I intend to spend my twenty quid on this week. 

I'm sure there's some way to conjure some broken, leftover Easter eggs into three square meals a day, right? 

Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!

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Struggling to find a gaf in Dublin?  Oh, we hear ya.

Between the Internet, an improving minimum wage and decent public transport links you would think that finding a place to live in the country’s capital shouldn’t be overly taxing.

But if this latest gem on Daft.ie is anything to go by, that assumption is nothing short of being completely and utterly bonkers.

 

According to this Daft ad, a nicely furnished double ensuite room in the popular village of Ranelagh will cost you a cool €1,250 a month BEFORE you pay any of your bills.

Granted the room is located only four minutes from the closest Luas stop and is part of a recently restored Georgian house which “boasts all mod cons”, but is that really enough to justify paying €15,000 per year to share a decent house with two other people?

 

Sadly this situation is quickly becoming the new normal as late last month a Daft report revealed that rents nationwide have now surpassed what they were during the Celtic Tiger era.

The report suggested that renting in the capital will now cost you 5.2 percent more than it would have in early 2008 and since landlords are taking full advantage of this situation, is it any wonder you could end up paying well over a grand a month for a house share?

So if you find yourself going completely daft as you search through, well, Daft, just know that you are by no means alone.

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Charlotte Church has admitted that she is just like the rest of us. The Welsh singer, who was worth £25 million at just 17 years-old, has admitted that she’s going to have to work for the rest of her adult life if she wants to maintain her lifestyle: “I will have to work for the rest of my life. Not because I want to but because I have to.

“I always understood that all that stuff isn’t important and my career was not the be and end all.”

Charlotte’s millions have been falling over the years, despite launching a successful enough pop career (her song Crazy Chick was a top three hit). In 2010, Charlotte was down to £11 million. She divorced Gavin Henson around this time so no doubt that wreaked some havoc on her finances. Last year, the Sunday Times Rich List said she was down to £8 million – which is still a fairly hefty amount of money to be worth, but Charlotte says her real worth is far less, “The tax man is looking at my accounts wondering where I’m hiding all my money.”

The star is now recording her own music in a home studio in her back garden after setting up her own record label called Alligator Wine, and by the sounds of it, despite her dwindling finances, she’s happier than ever: “My life is so full and so rich I definitely feel like I’ve had the good side of the deal.”

Though that’s not to say she doesn’t still want the big bucks: “I haven’t got a lot of money. I’ve got enough to be comfortable if I was reasonable for the rest of my life, but I’m not reasonable, so I will have to find a way to sustain my lifestyle.”

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