‘I’m debt-free and make £200 a week on top of my salary’: How I saved while training to become a nurse

‘I’m debt-free and make £200 a week on top of my salary’: How I saved while training to become a nurse

In our ‘How I Live On…’ series, we’re finding out exactly how people in the UK spend, save and invest their incomes. This week, we speak to Carlene Harris, 27, a student nurse who paid her way through her studies using some good money-saving habits.

“I’m a student nurse and have been working in the field for three years now. The 12-hour back-to-back shifts are really physically taxing and there are aspects of working closely with people – particularly towards the end of their life – that can be hard emotionally as well.

“But it’s a really rewarding job and I’ve built great relationships with people in the community that I’ve nursed.

“I was really excited by a career in nursing but had to work really hard to put myself through college. I struggled to pay my bills at the time and only received £500 per month in the form of a government bursary – this was nowhere near enough to cover the cost of London travel, accommodation and daily living costs.

Carlene works as a nurse

“It’s not surprising that a lot of people decide to take an alternative career path when they realise they have to study hard and work harder.

“I quickly found myself in debt and looking for alternative means to support myself, so I started looking for ways to save and make money.

“I’m now debt free, about to qualify as a student nurse and typically make £200 per week minimum in addition to my salary.”

A talent for saving

“I love saving money just as much as I love finding new ways to make money from home. This is what led me to starting my website SimplyCashHacks.Com, where I share different ways to make, save and invest money.

“The majority of my money actually comes from doing side hustles at home. My favourite is matched betting, which is fun, quick and has given me a lot of financial freedom. Any profits you make are tax-free, too. It requires a bit of setting up but, once you’re familiar with the process, you can make extra cash. Websites like Profit Accumulator have guides on how to do it.

“My biggest money saving tip is to really utilise mobile banking. With any income I get, I always put the majority immediately into my savings account. Exact amounts can then be filtered back into my current account when I need it.”


— What is matched betting?

Matched betting has existed since the early 2000s. It uses the free bets and bonuses offered by many online betting firms to make low-risk wagers on both outcomes of an event, often sports fixtures, to reduce the risk to near-zero.

For example, if two bookmakers are giving away a £10 free bet to new customers, you could place two bets – one for and one against Andy Murray winning a tennis match – and recoup the winnings without spending any money.

Experienced players use it to turn a profit without spending any money. But it can be complicated, involves handing over personal details to betting firms, and can require an initial investment.

“If I happen to overspend in a month, I make sure that I use my next paycheck to cover any excess. These tips are now instinctive habits that hold me to account for my spending and force me to rethink frivolous purchases before I buy them.

“Frivolous spending really isn’t as enjoyable when you see your bank balance decline each time you transfer money to cover the costs.

“My family – pets included – are incredibly important to me so when we get together to celebrate birthdays or Christmas I spare no expense to ensure we have a great time.

“I do like luxury things as well and treat myself to these at least twice a year. I prefer items that retain their value, like jewellery, that can be passed down the generations.”

Tips for travel

“Being British Caribbean with family abroad, I need to be able to book a last minute flight to visit family if there’s a family gathering or emergency.

“When I started my journey to become financially secure, and clear my debts, this was the next goal that I set myself to achieve, and – most importantly – maintain.

“My goal right now is to buy a house. I’m currently living with family so don’t have housing expenses to pay, so everything left over from my pay and other side-jobs is going towards this. I have a savings account which I deposit into every month.”

Managing my money as a full time nurse

Net monthly income: £2,500

Monthly outgoings

  • Rent/mortgage: £0
  • Household bills: £85
  • Food shopping: £100
  • Travel: £20
  • Fuel: £40
  • Takeaways: £20
  • Eating out and socialising: £40
  • Insurance: £75
  • Gym, other subscriptions: £20

Total: £400

Amount left to spend and save: £2,100

Do you have your own approach to saving? Email business@inews.co.uk with subject line ‘How I Live On’