On the Money with Emma from Bee Money Savvy

bee money savvy

In the latest edition of On the Money we meet Emma from Bee Money Savvy. Emma is a 20-something recent graduate who is in the process of saving up for a deposit on her first home. Whilst a student, Emma had to find ways to make her student loan stretch further while working part-time to fund her masters.

Emma created beemoneysavvy.com in 2017 to pass on her financial wisdom to her fellow millennials, aspiring home buyers and anyone looking to gain financial freedom.

Conversations with Money Bloggers: Bee Money Savvy

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

When I was around 6-years-old we would visit my great-grandad every few months. He would always save pennies in a jar for when we visited and we would take them to be exchanged for notes. I can’t remember what we spent the money on, but I remember admiring how saving small amounts of money could add up so quickly.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Growing up I would often see my parents just getting by with their finances, so I’ve always been very money conscious. I’ve never really allowed myself to get out of control. I’m happy to admit that even from being a teenager I’ve always been a bit of a cheapskate.

What was your worst money decision?

A few years back, and in the midst of being love-struck, I decided that my wardrobe wasn’t ‘cool’ enough for the person I was dating. To impress him I bought a ton of branded clothing, including a jumper that cost me £150! I’ve worn that jumper twice!

What was your best money decision?

I was a very sensible student (the majority of the time). As soon as I enrolled on my degree I knew that my student loan wasn’t going to cover my living expenses so I went looking for a part-time job. I worked throughout my degree as a lifeguard, fitness instructor and sports coach. On top of that I managed to earn enough to open a savings account.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Regularly switch energy providers! If you haven’t switch energy providers for over two years you could save around £200-£300 just by switching.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Go card free! If you’re an impulse buyer then pay with cash. Only withdraw the exact amount you need for the day/week. That way you can only spend what you have on you and you can see exactly what you’re spending.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Shop for the best deals. It’s so easy to get blinded by shiny new technology/clothes/etc. and not consider that the shop next door could be offering a better deal. Check multiple retailers before making a big purchase and haggle where appropriate (phone providers are always worth haggling with). I have been stuck in so many over-priced phone contracts throughout the years.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

bee money savvy

I was pretty happy with the broadband deal I got last year. I managed to find an £18 a month deal but then went through a cashback site and got £110 cashback plus a £50 prepaid card. With the money from cashback and the pre-paid card my broadband works out at £56 for the whole year!

What was your most recent purchase?

My partner and I went 50/50 on a new game for our Nintendo Switch. We managed to save money by buying a gift card, getting cash back, as well as earning some Nintendo loyalty points in the process.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

I’m not strict when it comes to budgeting, but I am always hyper aware of what I can and can’t afford and how my finances for the month are looking. As well as my banking app, I use a chat bot to send me updates on how much I’ve been spending.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share? 

I’m hoping to buy my first home in the next year or two. I’m currently in the process of saving up for a deposit (and convincing my partner that we should move away from renting and towards buying).

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

If I won the lottery I would pay off any debts that my family has, treat myself to a holiday, buy my partner a car (I will definitely get brownie points for that answer) and start looking for a house!

Thanks so much to Emma for her contribution. Great advice about switching energy providers and using cash back sites such as Top Cashback and Quidco. Check out Bee Money Savvy for more of her tips.

You can read more of my On the Money series here and here.

This post contains affiliate links.


Charity shop haul: my latest bargains

charity shop haul

I felt a bit better yesterday morning so popped out for a bit of charity shopping with my daughter. We got a great charity shop haul! I paid for it later with a migraine and lots of neck pain, but I can’t sit at home all day, every day. (If it’s your first time here, I am off sick at the moment with some kind of disc problem and a trapped nerve. Not fun!)

Both of us want to start a proper reselling business. I have been reselling on eBay in a minor way around my full time job for a number of years. My daughter preferred Mercari and was doing really well, but sadly it didn’t take off in the UK and closed.

You Tube inspiration

I have been watching some UK eBay resellers on You Tube to get advice, hints and tips on what sells well. So far, with a few exceptions, I have only done clothing. I have discovered an English couple who make a good living selling on eBay and Amazon selling all sorts. Check out Nic and Andrea Hills. They are inspirational. It’s not an easy life and they seem to work very hard. However, they are their own bosses and have flexibility about how their day goes.

My eventual aim is to work part time for an employer and run an online business and blog the rest of the time. I am fed up of the 9-5, particularly since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last summer. I feel as if work gets the best of my energy and creativity, leaving very little for when I am at home! Being off work, although I am in pain a lot of the time, has made me appreciate the value in having time to myself.

Here is some of my charity shop haul, to give you an idea. We are lucky to have a £1 clearance store run by the local hospice. A lot of our charity shop haul came from them, but we visited a couple of others too.

Adult clothing

charity shop haulA beautiful Phase Eight beaded dress in perfect condition. This was unpriced, so I assumed they would charge at least a fiver. When I got to the till they took just a pound! This was my bargain of the day and if it fitted me I would have kept it! I think I can get £30 for this.

charity shop haulA coast bustier, £1. These sell for £5-10.

charity shop haulA pink Alfred Angelo evening dress for £2.50. I had never heard of this brand, but they seem to go for anything from £5 to £50! I will try it at £15 I think as it’s in excellent condition.

charity shop haulAn absolutely gorgeous Monsoon floaty sequinned skirt for £1.50. Bit screwed up so I will steam it.

charity shop haulTalking of screwed up, a pink Karen Millen dress. It is so ruched you couldn’t iron out the creases, so again I will try it with my steamer. This was more expensive at £5, but Karen Millen can go for silly prices.

charity shop haulA Fat Face dress and a skirt too. These cost £1 each and should sell for a tenner each I reckon.

Other stuff

charity shop haulI don’t usually sell toys, but found a lovely wooden camper van with two figures. They sell for £26 new, so I might get a tenner on it. I only paid £1.

A cute Toyland Noddy soft toy for 50p.

charity shop haulA wicker tray. Andrea on You Tube snaps wicker items up in good condition and says they sell really well. We shall see!

charity shop haulA Monsoon dress for a baby for 50p. It is beautiful, but I don’t think children’s clothes sell for much.

My lodger Katie beat me at the bargain hunting though. She found what she assumed was probably a fake Chanel bag in a charity shop for £3. She had it checked out by a friend who works for Chanel and not only is it genuine, they sell for £750 new! £750 for a handbag!! Who has this kind of money? No one I know.

I will let you know how I get on as an eBay reseller. Had anyone else had any bargains from a charity shop haul? Do you sell on eBay? I would love to hear your hints and tips in the comments. I have a couple of posts about eBay reselling here and here if you are interested!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Making money and saving it too #fivefrugalthings

Making money

As I said in my Monthly Money Wins post the other day, I pretty much sailed through my no spend January.  Despite being at home the whole month, I didn’t resort to surfing the internet buying stuff I didn’t need! Instead of spending it, I have been thinking about making money – and saving it too.

Finally got a water meter

I have been meaning to get a water meter fitted for ages! When we first moved here all three daughters were at home, which meant lots of hot water for baths and showers, at least one load of laundry each day,  more running of the dishwasher, etc. We decided it would be cheaper at that point NOT to have a meter. Now, with only one daughter living here just some of the time (she is at university) and a lodger who spends most of her time at her boyfriend’s, we use much less water.

Making money

I am trying to make the best of being signed off from work by catching up on all of these little jobs I never get round to. Today a nice gent came to check all was well and decide where to put a meter. The engineers will be out next week. He left us with this little water saving pack for the garden.  It contains lavender seeds, a water saving hose nozzle, some swell gel, a water retaining mat and water stick for our pot plants and lots of useful information. As we live in one of the driest parts of the UK, the guide to drought tolerant plants leaflet contains great tips for good plants for our garden.

Making money with eBay reselling

I have decided to get serious about my eBay reselling this year, and make it a proper business. Now is a good time to hit the charity shops as many of them have been inundated with donations before and after Christmas. There are lots of fantastic reductions to be found. Selling on eBay is a good way of making money.

Making money

I focus mainly on clothes as I know what will sell already and have spent about £90 on stock in the past week. However, I have started looking at the many You Tube videos on reselling to learn more about other items to look out for. That is for the future. For now, I am washing, ironing, photographing and listing my clothing purchases. I managed to find two Karen Millen silk dresses, one for £2.99 and the other for just £1. When I looked at what these are selling for I was amazed. At least £30-40, which would be a fantastic profit.

A good start to my efforts toward making money.

Festival time

Making money

At this time of the year, I need something to look forward to. We fancy a festival, but prefer a smaller, more chilled out affair with a few interesting acts, rather than a frantic and very expensive V Festival type experience with huge headliners.

For a few years I have wanted to go to the Green Gathering, so I contacted the organisers to see if they would give us free tickets for a review. They were happy to do this, so watch out for a post on this fantastic looking festival! It looks eccentric and fun!

Part time veganism continues

Regular readers will know that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to eat vegan two days a week. This has been surprisingly easy, as I already eat a lot of vegan dinners. I bought oat milk for my porridge, a nice Tartex mushroom from the health food shop plus hummus for sandwich fillings. Other than those things, I didn’t need to buy anything.

Making money

Being a part time vegan is making us try some different recipes. Eating less meat, fish and dairy is cheaper and healthier I think. I made a yummy aubergine and chick pea tagine and will post the recipe next week. We will be eating that again as it was really tasty.

Free haircut

I was going to book myself in for a cheap haircut at the local hairdressing college. They charge just £7.50 for a cut and blow dry. Then I remembered that a salon in town was advertising a student night and asking for models. I rang them and they charge nothing at all! The down side is that they are super booked up so I will have to wait a couple of weeks. I don’t mind this for a free hair cut.

So, that is the summary of my week of making money and saving it as well. What are your frugal achievements this week? Have you managed to save a few pennies and are you making money with any side hustles?

This week I am linking up with  Cass Emma  and Becky in their Five Frugal Things linky.



On the Money with Joleisa.com


Jo and Leisa are twin bloggers who both gave up the ‘joys’ of teaching to enjoy their second passion: writing. This lead to them starting two successful blogs: joleisa.com and joleisareviews.com. They hail from the sunny isles of Jamaica but have called the UK home for nearly two decades. They lead a simple, frugal lifestyle and aim to inspire others to do the same. Their blog led them to having a spot on Channel 5’s Shop Smart Save Money, which gave them a bigger platform to promote awesome frugal living ideas.

Conversations with money bloggers: Joleisa

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

As little girls we used to get a little bit of money to buy snacks. The shop was not far from home so we would walk to the shop and eat the snack on the way back home. Saving any money didn’t even cross our minds! Those were the days!

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes, certainly. Before the frugal bug hit, we used to spend without a care in the world with little or no thought of saving, etc. Even as grown teachers, we used to be sympathetic to any and everyone who needed to borrow money (most of whom never repaid), we would grocery shop when there was no need and we would buy more clothes for the entire family than was necessary.

What was your worst money decision?

Perhaps one of the worst money decisions made was being duped into having a credit card. It was the most stressful time ever! Soon after getting the card, the spending spree began. Not being money savvy at the time and having ‘free’ money, I was certainly caught out. I ran up a bill that seemed impossible to pay off. That’s when I decided: ‘Never again!’. I pledged that if I ever paid it off I would never ever get one again. That was over 14 years ago and I have kept to that promise, thank God.

What was your best money decision?

Debatable, but perhaps investing in real estate, both here and abroad. That way we have somewhere to stay for part of our vacation when we go abroad and also our properties  give a good rental income. We think that is a good investment as well for other reasons: when the stress gets too much, we can sell on or if the market is very favourable for sellers, we can benefit.  I wish I understood the stock market more, though, because I hear there is some money to be had that way.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?


In a word (or two, in fact) MEAL PLANNING. Man, we have wasted a lot of money on food! But not any more! We plan the meals for up to a week, shop for just those ingredients and then execute the meals. Along with that we also batch cook and freeze or  refrigerate meals for the family.

One good tip: if there is a glut on the market for a particular food  produce, then it is usually reduced in price so that is a good time to buy the produce and get your culinary creativity going. Look at various ways to use the product, who knows, you might even invent a recipe! We have invented quite a few and have saved lots of money along the way.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Plan, plan, plan.  Plan for as many incidentals as possible. Think, will I be out at lunch time? Should I pack myself something to eat or am I making a conscious decision to buy a ‘treat’ lunch? Is my destination near enough so I can walk, saving me petrol or bus/train cost? Just think, think, think. Don’t be caught out by making impulsive purchases. It’s so good to do a little victory dance when you are back home and you have stuck to your plan.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Learn how to make and use a simple budget. The simple parts should be:

  • Money coming in
  • What I MUST spend
  • Savings
  • How much do I have left to spend

I find if this is simplified for youngsters, they are more likely to understand and to take it in. Many have no knowledge of money management (a sad state of affairs in schools). We should not sit back and think, they are 18 and they are adults now, so they should know. They can’t know if no one teaches them. So teach them the simple way and eventually they will get it.

Warn them against using money that is not theirs (credit cards!). Advise them to save up for what they want rather than buying things on the spur of the moment and paying for excessively long periods of time and with interest. Let us try to spare them the hell we went through because of lack of knowledge.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

Recently, on the Channel 5 show, Shop Smart, Save Money, we managed to purchase ingredients for three meals for a family of four for £9.00! That was a real bargain. Needless to say, we won that challenge!

What was your most recent purchase?

Hair products. We are doing a no spend January (except for must-buys). My hair is breaking badly so I have bought some products which promise to heal it. We will see!

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

In a word, yes. However, we are so adept at the budget now, it is not written. However, it does follow the same format as detailed above for under 18’s.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

Yes. We would love to become debt free by the end of 2019 (except for our mortgages). Hopefully we can retire at 60, by which time we should have paid off all mortgages. The plan is to be healthy enough to do some travels.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Well, first thing to do is to pay off all debts including mortgages, then retire earlier and start the travelling earlier too. Of course, we would support some worthwhile causes and make some  family members and close friends financially set for life.

Thanks so much to Jo and Leisa for this brilliant and interesting contribution. Check them out on Shop Smart, Save Money too! If you enjoyed this, check out some of my other On the Money interviews here and here.


What went well in January: my monthly money wins

monthly money wins

Here is  a round up of the small and the large achievements in my financial journey this month. I am trying to save money where I can, as well as to make extra. So here are this month’s money wins.

No Spend January

I have found my no spend January surprisingly easy. I didn’t feel the need to buy anything! It helps to have a goal, and I am motivated to put any extra money into my savings. I am desperate for a holiday to France this year, plus I need to start a car fund. My old girl may not last that much longer!

I have been putting off one expense though, and that is a new car tyre. Now that January is over, I will be getting that sorted straight away. Other than that, I don’t plan to go crazy and spend all the money I managed to save on my no spend month.

Did I have any no spend fails? Just one. I took some bags of items to donate to the charity shop and spotted a really thick Jack Wills hoody for a fiver. This is something I really wanted as I only have one hoody to my name, so I caved and bought it.  I am glad I did as this morning I woke up to snow – I need lots of layers to keep warm. We also had a cup of tea at the hospital, as I said in one of my week Five Frugal Things posts. Not bad for an entire month though!

Zero Waste Shop

monthly money wins

This is only one of my money wins in a roundabout sort of way, but it should save  money. I am over the moon that Colchester now has a zero waste bulk shop. A proper one with big casks of cleaning products so that I can refill my own bottles, alternatives to plastic items such as a loofah scourer and a range of shampoo bars. They also have loose food items such as potatoes, pasta, pulses, cereals, rice and herbs and spices.

An Ethical Life hopes to expand quickly and offer more products soon so I will be supporting them and I hope others do too. Refilling should save me money on the Ecover products I currently buy. I make a lot of my own eco-friendly cleaners too, but handily this shop also allows refills of white vinegar, a key ingredient. Annoyingly, Asda has started selling their white vinegar in plastic instead of glass bottles so I will take my old glass bottles and refill them.monthly money wins

Selling my old stuff

I thought January would be a quiet month as far as selling on eBay went and it was. However, I made the time to list all of the things I had lying around and sold some of them more or less straight away. I made £108 from my old stuff. Not a fortune, but better than a poke in the eye!

Making a bit extra from the blog

I am a long way from making my blog my full time job (though I would LOVE that!) but I do manage the odd bit of affiliate income and some sponsored posts. This month I have made £450, which is a great start to the year. This has gone into the car fund. I intend to keep this up every  month and try to improve on it as much as I can in my spare time. It is hard to make my side hustles pay working full time hours and running a house . I would love to work fewer hours as an employee and be partly self employed. Maybe this year will bring more opportunities to do this.

What have your money wins been this January? Let me know in the comments below.



On the Money with the Money Principle

money principle

This week we meet Maria Nedeva, a business school professor and the creator of The Money Principle, where she teaches people in financial trouble how to build sustainable wealth. You can follow Maria’s work on Facebook and Twitter. 

Conversations with money bloggers 

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money? 

I was probably four or five years old. Growing up on my grand-parents farm meant I didn’t have much awareness of what money was or how it worked outside of fairy tales. When living back with my parents, I remember having a stash of small coins. This was my treasure. I discovered chewing gum and bought some…I couldn’t believe that all my treasure was gone. This is my first experience of ‘paying pains’. 

Have you ever felt out of control with your money? 

Oh yes. I was not in control of my money until approximately nine years ago. And it wasn’t only a feeling either – I really had no control. This means that I didn’t know how much I earned, how much I spent and how much things cost. I had no savings and no investments, at least not substantial enough to mention. I just wasn’t interested. Having wealth in property and pensions was accidental rather than a thought through strategy. 

Nine years ago, we reached a crisis point – we were £100,000 in consumer debt. This is when I decided that things will change, and I would become a ‘money master’. We paid off all consumer debt in three years and continued to increase our wealth by investing.   

What was your worst money decision? 

money principle

In the mid-1990’s, John and I decided to invest some money (approximately £6,000) in the stock market. We had to do the old-fashioned thing: select shares to buy and make sound decisions about the (small) portfolio later. 

Instead of reading up on some companies and learning about value stock investing, I put some of the money in a company because I liked its name. Okay, I wasn’t that shallow – it was also in biotech and I suspected biotech would be big. Yep, you guessed it – within several months I lost 95% of my investment. 

Since that time, I’ve made money and I’ve lost money; but I’ve never bought shares without doing my homework. 

What was your best money decision? 

My best money decision was to learn about, and experiment with, investing in businesses. Businesses not only yield unrivalled returns; they also make money by contributing value to people and society rather than speculation. 

What is your best tip for saving money at home? 

When I analysed our spending for the first time (nine years ago) I found that up to 80% of overspending on our budget was from: 

  • Wasting food; 
  • Overpaying for insurance; and 
  • Entertainment. 

I would also emphasise that saving around the home, or any saving, for me is about reducing waste. Hence, my tips would be: 

  • Make a weekly menu a buy for what you are going to cook; 
  • Batch cook and freeze meals; 
  • Snap out of  the ‘I don’t like left overs’ mentality. What is left from dinner is your lunch, not rubbish. 
  • Check your insurance payments regularly; use comparison sites to do this. Even our life insurance is a fraction of what we used to pay (and we are decades older). 
  • ‘Entertainment’ is only what makes your life more enjoyable. How much of this is free? 

What is your best tip for saving money out and about? 

At first, I thought to say that I don’t do this.  But I do, I just do it differently. I focus on two things: buying quality and training myself to want less. 

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance? 

People will tell you that mastery of money comes from learning how to save and invest it. Don’t believe them! Money mastery comes from learning how to spend money mindfully. 

What was your biggest ever bargain? 

Our house, I suppose. Its value has increased five-fold in 25 years. 

What was your most recent purchase? 

A pair of shoes. I was in Capri and my shoes were killing my feet (at least this was my excuse for buying a lovely, and comfortable, pair of Italian shoes). 

Do you stick to a monthly budget? 

This is difficult for me to answer. If you ask me whether we have a monthly budget, and stick to it, the answer will have to be no.  Still, I know exactly what we spend every month and the ‘God knows what’ budgeting line when I do our budgeting is very small (no more than several pounds). 

There are two things behind this apparent conundrum. First, we minimise our spending by controlling our wants. And second, we have built a positive monthly cash flow that affords us spending flexibility. 

Do you have any longterm financial goals you would like to share?

I used to dream about a time when no employer would control my life. This is no longer a ‘long-term’ financial goal – I’m already in a position where continuing in my university professorship role is a matter of choice. 

My long-term desire is to build enough wealth to start a foundation to deal with some of the most acute problems of humanity. One of these is inequality in all its manifestations.  

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 

First thing I would do is let it rest for several months – this way most of my emotions would have settled.  After that, I’d start researching businesses to buy/invest in. (I know, this sound far too boring, but my foundation is not going to build itself.) 

Thanks to Maria for a really interesting perspective on money. Check out her blog, the Money Principle! You can read more gems of wisdom from my On the Money series here and here.

How to get everything cheaper

get everything cheaper

They say the best things in life are free and to a large extent that is true. The things I truly value – my family and friends – are there no matter how much is in my bank account. I am grateful! However, we live in a world where you need money for many of the things you want to do. But it is also true that with a bit of thought and creativity you can get hold of a lot of great stuff and experiences really cheaply! Here are my ideas on how to get everything cheaper.

How to get everything cheaper

Cheaper holidays

get everything cheaper

You can save a ton of money on your holiday accommodation if you are prepared to do a little work for it. For example, Trusted House Sitters connects pet loving travellers with pet owners who want their beloved animals and houses looked after whilst they are away.

Today’s favourites are asking for someone to look after a family cat in Twickenham, someone to travel to Fiji to look after a pair of dogs (with free use of a car) and reliable people to take care of dogs, cats and chickens in a fabulous barn conversion in Shrewsbury.

You still have to get yourselves there, but these are real home from home holiday experiences that could save a fortune on your accommodation so you can get everything cheaper.

Another way to get your holiday accommodation free is to do a house swap. There are a plethora of organisations online that you can sign up with to do this. I have personally tried this 5 times with great success.

If you just want a holiday through an organisation, we have found the prices on Teletext Holidays to be very competitive and travelled through them to Majorca a couple of years back.

For more of my ideas to get cheap holidays read this post.

Cheaper clothes

get everything cheaper

Dress for less! (credit @makeupbyisobel)

The best way to get everything cheaper when it comes to clothes is to have a rummage at the boot sale. I have found brand new designer gear for just a few pounds on a regular basis and love it when the boot sale season comes around. Charity shops can be good too, although I have found that some have started charging a lot more than they used to. Incidentally, if you can’t be bothered to trudge round the charity shops for your vintage bargains, Oxfam now have an online shop!

If you prefer to purchase your clothing new, my favourite discount fashion site is easily everythingfivepounds.com. It does what it says on the tin – every item, even footwear, is just £5. I have found some great bargains on there.

Auction sites like eBay are still good for picking up second hand and new items at ridiculously low prices. Just don’t get carried away with the bidding. You can use Auction Sniper to set your top bid and then forget about it.

I have a post on frugal fashion here.

Cheaper make up

get everything cheaper

Making up is hard to do…

The first thing I would say about makeup is to use up what you have first! We often have a ton of stuff that gets purchased but never used. I have three daughters with a passion for the stuff and it drives me mad! One of the best sites my daughters visit regularly is Beauty Bay, particularly their outlet section where everything is 50% off.  You can pick up some massive bargains.

Cheaper glasses

Annoyingly, my once perfect vision has gone downhill in the last 10 years, meaning frequent changes of spectacles as it changes. They cost a flipping fortune! The next time I need glasses, I swear I am going to get my optician in town to give me the prescription and buy them online more cheaply. They have had enough of my money to keep them in holidays!

One site that offers good value on glasses is SmartBuyGlasses. If you like designer brands, you can pick up a pair of Raybans sunglasses on there for less than £90 or, if you aren’t fussy about a brand, many of their Smart Buy prescription specs cost less than £30.

Cheaper pets

Our beautiful rescue, Lola

We Brits love our pets. However, if you buy a pedigree puppy or kitten they can cost you the proverbial arm and leg. You can easily spend £1000 plus on one pampered mutt or kitty.  However, if you go to an animal rescue you can re-home a pet in need for a donation of around £100. You get a new pet and the animal gets a loving home, which is a win-win in my book.

I have never had an animal that wasn’t a rescue. Even when I kept chickens, they came from an egg farm down the road.

Cheaper exercise

It is lovely to have membership of a fancy gym if you can afford it and will use it regularly (and if you do sign up for a gym chain check to see if they are on any of the cash back sites first. See below for more details).

get everything cheaper

However, there are many cheaper ways to exercise. Many people buy brand new gym equipment that they swear they will use but never do. If you have the space for an exercise bike, cross trainer or running machine, it pays to buy second hand. I picked my cross trainer up for £40, used it for a few years and got bored with it, so sold it again for £30. Gumtree and Facebook are good for buying second hand gym equipment locally.

You can find pretty much any exercise class you like on You Tube. Here is a nice, gentle yoga class for beginners.

Walking and running are free, or at least once you have paid for a decent pair of trainers or walking boots. We walk a lot and like to use an app such as Map My Walk to track how far we have travelled. My 58 year old sister started running using the Couch to 5K programme a couple of years ago, and is now running half marathons! She puts me to shame….

And who has bicycles gathering dust in the shed (hides head in embarrassment). Pump up the tyres and go for a cycle! This is nice for all the family to do together on a sunny day.

In the New Year there are also lots of bargains to be found on exercise mats and clothing. They have some cheap, eco-friendly yoga mats on Amazon, such as this Calmia Lotus Print one, as well as a huge choice of sports gear. Some of the supermarkets are good too. Tesco’s have a decent range of items such as jump ropes, resistance bands, exercise mats, weights and gym balls at very good prices.

Staying fit doesn’t need to cost a fortune and you don’t need a personal trainer!

Cheaper hair and beauty treatments

get everything cheaper

The best way to get cheap hair and beauty treatments is to find a student willing to practice on you! You can get everything cheaper, from hair colouring to massage to eyebrow waxing. I recommend checking out your local further education college.

At mine, you pay £7.50 for a cut and blow dry, a luxury manicure or pedicure for £10, a bikini wax for a fiver and a slim and firm body treatment for a tenner.

Some hairdressers also have evenings when their students are cutting hair and they frequently charge nothing at all. Be prepared to book up well in advance though.

Cheaper meals out

Again, the best way to get a first class restaurant experience at a massively reduced price is to find some student chefs to cook for you. Again at our local FE college they run a restaurant, staffed by the students but supervised by the tutors.  You can have a fine dining three course lunch with coffee for £15.  Here is a sample of their current menu, which I think looks splendid!

get everything cheaper

Another way to get everything cheaper when eating out is to sign up as a mystery shopper. Sometimes you even get the full cost of your meal refunded. There are loads of mystery shopping sites, but one that is aimed at diners is Mystery Dining by HGEM. They don’t need shoppers in my area at the moment but I keep checking! Francesca over at From Pennies to Pounds has a good article on mystery shopping here.

Cheaper food

I am a big fan of the discount stores such as Lidl and Aldi. They sell goods that are of excellent quality, but they really are much cheaper than the bigger supermarkets! I reckon I save around 30% on our grocery shop.

Yellow stickers are another obvious way to get everything cheaper when it comes to food. However, you have to get your timing right! Late in the day, especially on a Sunday or bank holiday, is the best time to shop. Make sure you are prepared to eat or cook and freeze your cheap goodies though. Wasting even yellow sticker food isn’t going to help you save money.

Approved Food is another great place to shop for bargain food, especially branded items. I like the ethos behind this company. The food is beyond or close to its best before date so you save money and help prevent food waste at the same time! I find it is an excellent place to stock up on store cupboard basics such as pasta, rice, sauces, biscuits and snacks, drinks, etc. They also have amazing one day deals. I recently saw full boxes of Cadbury’s Milk Tray for £1 each, reduced from £4.25. Brilliant if you have a present to buy.

Another fantastic idea for reducing food waste that means you can get everything cheaper from cafes, restaurants and retail outlets is Too Good to Go. It’s an app that links you up to places that are selling their food cheaply at the end of the day. For example, I can see that Yo! Sushi will let me have a magic bag of sushi for £3.50 between 9.30pm and 10pm or I can rescue a selection of sandwiches, pastries and cakes for£2.50 at a local bakery this afternoon. This works best if you live in a city, and is worth checking out.

Free coffee or tea

Even better than cheap – it is possible to pick up some freebies if you sign up for a few loyalty card or apps. Waitrose still give free coffee and tea to loyalty card customers if you make a purchase, but there is no lower limit on this, so you could just buy a carrot or something. It’s quite nice to get the Sunday papers from them and read them with your free coffee though!

If you sign up for a Family card at Ikea you can get a free hot drink without a purchase.

Cheaper utilities

When it comes to your utility bills, always shop around and don’t be afraid to phone up any of your providers and threaten to leave if you see a better deal. They suddenly become amazingly flexible on price when they think they may lose your custom.

I heard a lady on the radio recently who had spent 2 hours on the phone to all of her providers and saved £800! That is time well spent. However, if you do decide to switch, make sure you go through a cash back site (see below).

Cheaper housing

Housing is a huge cost to most of us. Unless you still live with your parents, your mortgage or rent could take up to 40% of your monthly income.

There are ways to reduce this. One is to become a property guardian through an social enterprise organisation called Dot Dot Dot. They make renting in London and other cities more affordable by matching empty buildings with guardians. The catch, if you can call it that, is that you have to volunteer for 16 hours a month at a charity of your choice. Dot Dot Dot states:

“On behalf of owners, we take good care of buildings that would otherwise be empty. We provide guardians with good quality housing which is much more cost effective than the private rental market. And we make a positive difference to communities by ensuring our guardians are great neighbours who volunteer for good causes while preventing the blight that empty buildings cause.”

You could also help cover the cost of your mortgage by renting a room to a lodger, by hosting foreign language students or via Air B&B.

Don’t forget the cash back

Whatever you are purchasing, don’t forget to see if the merchant you are buying from is on a cashback site. This is money for free! You get cash back on so many things, from switching your utilities or buying a holiday, to banking, buying clothes or shopping for home ware. I love Top Cashback but also use Quidco from time to time.  These are my refer a friend links and we can usually both claim a reward if you choose to click through from them to make a purchase. I earned over £85 just for doing my Christmas shopping through them.

Swagbucks is also worth checking out. You earn Swagbucks points with your online purchases then redeem your points for free gift cards for retailers such as Amazon. Alternatively you can get cash back from PayPal. You can even earn Swagbucks points just for doing a an internet search!

I hope you like my tips on how to get everything cheaper. You can live well without busting the budget! Please add your money saving tips in the comments.

This post contains some affiliate links and referral codes. If you click through and make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Earn more money: 13 side hustle ideas that aren’t run of the mill!

earn more money

I first published this post at the beginning of last year. However, at a time of year when many of us are feeling the squeeze I thought it was worth revisiting. If you are on a no spend January as I am, it is good to have some things to do that don’t involve spending! Here are some ideas to earn more money.

Earn more money with these side hustle ideas

There are bound to be times when, for one reason or another, you need to boost your income. Perhaps you are paying off debts or saving towards a particular goal. We have had to be creative at times to earn more money and make sure we stay on track financially.

I have taught yoga, sold stuff on eBay, flogged makeup door to door and even appeared in the newspaper to earn more money. We also make good use of our spare room, taking in lodgers and language students.

Here are my ideas to boost the coffers and earn more money.

Language Students

If you have a spare room, even if this is only some of the time, have a look to see if you have a language college nearby. If you do, the chances are that they will need host families. I have worked with our local college for many years now. We take in students from all over the world, usually for a week or two at a time. However, it is possible to host for up to a year.

My advice is to set ground rules from the start. It is your house, not a hotel. With the youngsters particularly, I always make it clear what time I expect them to be home in the evening, when their meals will be ready and that they are to text me if they are going to be late.

Under the Government’s Rent a Room Scheme, you can earn up to £7500 per annum. If you cross this threshold you will need to complete a tax return. My full post on how to earn money hosting language students is here.

Take in a lodger

We also take in lodgers much of the time. The advantage here is that they can sort their own meals, do their own laundry and clean their own bedrooms. It is also a more dependable form of income.

You need to be pretty easy going I think. Whilst your lodger is living with you and paying rent, it is their home too, so you can’t constantly hog the TV remote and need to be prepared to share the kitchen and bathroom.

Taking a lodger also comes under the Rent a Room scheme rules.


If you have a particular skill, you could try teaching it to others. As I mentioned, I have taught yoga on and off for many years, both for the local adult community college and in leisure centres.

You used to be able to teach pretty much anything from sewing and cookery to woodwork and photography without a qualification. However, the adult colleges are increasingly insisting on a teaching diploma. It’s worth asking what their requirements are. For very specialised leisure courses and workshops it may still be enough just to be a subject expert.

If you have a degree in something like a language, maths or English you could do home tutoring. I know some teachers who are now out of the profession but still do this. If you have a grammar school locally, there is usually good demand for 11+ coaching. Be creative. If you are a great guitarist or pianist,  you might also be able to teach one to one in your own home.

You can register with an agency such as First Tutors. If you plan to teach children you should apply for a DBS check.

I have a friend who is a native French speaker who used to earn more money running small after school clubs in French. My kids loved that! She just asked around in the playground and had a lot of interest.


I have a work colleague who hasn’t paid for a holiday in years. He usually wins at least a couple of breaks every year, as well as household goods, days out, tickets to events and all sorts of other goodies.

Competitions are his hobby. For fun, he sits for a couple of hours each evening and enters as many as take his fancy. He recommends that you set up an email account just for comping. Otherwise, you will start to get overwhelmed with junk mail.

He uses Loquax and MSE to find his competitions. You will also find more to enter and advice at Super Lucky Di.
Obviously cash prizes are the only ones that will directly give you money in the bank, but they will certainly save you some and you could sell some of your unwanted prizes.

Matched betting can earn more money

Having heard stories of people winning thousands with matched betting, I did attempt it. However, I just couldn’t get my head round it and didn’t have the patience required.

However, I have come across other bloggers who are so good at it they regularly bring in an extra couple of thousand pounds each month. If you want to try it, I recommend looking at Katy Kicker for information on how to get started.

Online Surveys

A lot is promised by survey sites but can you really earn decent money? Skint Dad reckons you can, although he admits that surveys can be time consuming. He suggests that if you sign up to multiple sites and do a few each day you could earn as much as £200 extra each month. His guide is here.

I don’t have time to do that many but I do pop onto Prolific from time to time as they seem one of the best payers. I got fed up with answering loads of questions before being screened out on some of the others.

Mystery shopping

When my kids were still at school I signed up to do some mystery shopping. I had to go to a café in a department store and order a particular meal in one case, then had to enquire about opening a new bank account for another.

What I really wanted were some fabulous three course meals with wine or a stay on a hotel, but it wasn’t to be!

Emma Drew reckons you can make some decent money and have some fun experiences as a mystery shopper. She published a blog post called Everything you need to know about mystery shopping in the UK, which also lists some of her favourite mystery shopping companies.

Rent your driveway

If you live near a town or city centre, you could find your garage or driveway is easy to rent out to commuters. I have a colleague who does just this. She uses her car to get to work so her driveway is empty all day – or rather it isn’t as a lady in an office nearby pays her to park there. She undercuts the local car park!

As with everything, there are several websites where you can list your parking space if you do an internet search, or ask businesses near to where you live to pass the message to their employees.

Selling online

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of eBay. I buy and sell on there. You can easily make a few pounds clearing out your house or garage and selling your things on. You can also use Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

As well as those having a declutter, there is a growing army of entrepreneurs making a living out of reselling on eBay. They source items cheaply via auctions, boot sales, charity shops, etc and then sell them on at a profit.

I do this from time to time, focusing mainly on clothing. I have a couple of guides here and here.

Feature in the press

earn more money

Would you believe it, the press aren’t only interested in stories from celebrities! They are frequently looking for ordinary people to write about and will often pay you as well. You could submit your story to publications like Take a Break, although they tend to focus on the tragic or the sensational.

If you prefer something more run of the mill, I recently discovered a Facebook group called Feature Me, run my Daily Mail journalists. Every day they make requests for people (mainly women) to take part in stories. They usually pay £100-200 upon publication.

I recently did this and they came to my house to give me a makeover and take photos. That was fun!

Work as an extra

This isn’t going to make your fortune, but if you like the limelight you could meet some interesting people and see your face on TV or film. There is an interesting article here about how to get started.

Love animals?

Francesca Mason of From Pennies to Pounds makes money dog boarding at home. She gets paid to look after cute dogs whilst their owners are away. If I was at home more, I would definitely go for this (although I’m not sure the cats would approve)!

It may not work if you already have a dog, however.

There is no reason you couldn’t offer this service for other creatures too. Francesca uses an organisation called Tailster. You can sign up for pet boarding, dog or cat day care and dog walking as well.

Help at the local elections

Your local council regularly recruits polling clerks for elections. I worked as one during the last general election  to earn more money. It was hard work and a long day, but very interesting. I plan to do it again  for any more local elections. I worked a 12 hour day, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.

You can progress to being a presiding officer, which pays a bit better. Rates of pay seem to vary between councils, so approach yours for more information. Now is a good time as many will have parish and council elections coming up in the summer.

Don’t forget your tax obligations

When you earn more money you are, of course, obliged to pay more tax. Keep good records and receipts and be prepared to complete a tax return. Go to Gov.UK for more information on self assessment.

What are your ideas to earn more money?

Five free things to do on a no spend month


free things to do

How is your no spend month going, if you are doing one? January can be a depressing time. It is cold and dark and you don’t feel like doing a lot. In addition, most of us don’t have a lot of spare cash after Christmas. To stop you dying of boredom, here are some ideas for free things to do during a no spend January.

Visit your library

Libraries are full of books that you can read for free! If you can’t find one you want, you can usually order it in online. I have done this many times. Even if you think you want to buy a book, it gives you the opportunity to try before you buy.

Libraries offer loads of other things too, including e-books, films and various community events. Ours does toddler groups, art exhibitions and book clubs, for example. You can go and sit in a warm library and read free magazines and papers. When my children were small, we spent many a pleasant hour sitting on the bean bags and reading books.

As reader Jo pointed out a few days ago, the library service in the UK is under threat from funding cuts. However, it will be a lot harder for local authorities to justify those cuts if the libraries are well used. Use it or lose it.

Discover your local parks

We are blessed with some lovely parks in Essex. There are huge country parks run by the county council as well as smaller play parks run by the borough councils. We often take a walk out and see them at different times of the year. To stop unnecessary spending, we generally take a flask, water and a picnic (or a snack at least), even in the colder months.

Do an internet search to see where the parks are in your region and go explore.

Go on a nature walk

Whilst you are out and about, how about taking a camera and notebook and recording some of the interesting things you see? Kids love this! You can borrow books from your library to help identify the wildlife that you see. Nature walks are one of my favourite free things to do. Mr S is a mine of information and can identify a lot of birds, butterflies, trees and flowers as we go along.

Check out free museums and galleries

Even small towns often have free museums and galleries to visit. Cities are even better for free things to do when it comes to culture. We have a toy museum, natural history museum and a big art gallery in our town so we are lucky. However, as these are all funded by the local authority they are another facility that it pays to use regularly to justify the cost of keeping them open.

Have a wardrobe declutter

Do you ever go through your wardrobe and find barely worn items you forgot you owned?  Yes, me too and I don’t even have many clothes. A no spend month is the ideal time for a wardrobe clutter.  You can rediscover clothes and remember why you bought them. It will also help you resist spending on new items.

I hope you enjoy my ideas for five free things to do during this no spend January. You can keep up with more of my ideas by following me on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter!

As ever, I am linking up with  Cass Emma  and Becky in their Five Frugal Things linky.As ever, I am linking up with  Cass Emma  and Becky in their Five Frugal Things linky.


On the Money with Sam from the Money Nest

money nest

In the latest in my On the Money series, I meet Samuel Jefferies from the Money Nest. Sam is on a mission to educate a generation. He aims to help 20-30 year olds who’ve missed out on the benefit of personal finance education in school, and breaks down everything they need to know about money now and in the future.

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

My earliest memory is from the age of 5, when my parents had decided to start giving me pocket money and it felt felt like a new world had opened up to me!

My pocket money, however, was just 20 pence so I was limited to a 20 p vending machine offering two choices – bubble gum or miniature trolls!

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

At 19 I started a paid one year internship overseas, it was the first time I was totally responsible for my own finances. Part of my wage came from funding via a European government agency, the payment was paid in two tranches and shortly after moving over a decision was made to delay and reduce the initial tranche.

I had been relying on this coming through; my planned income suddenly crashed yet my outgoings remained the same. Worse still, I had to complete a planned internship as part of my university course so couldn’t simply drop out.

The bills kept pouring in and money really started to dominate my mind. It’s difficult to explain how this feels unless you’ve been in a situation like this. Thankfully for me, this only lasted several months, not years. I clawed myself out of the difficult situation by moving to a cheaper shared apartment, negotiating a salary increase by a factor of almost 100%, taking out an additional student loan and having my kind parents lend me £500 until the student loan came through.

money nest

In hindsight of course, I look back at this as a huge life lesson in financial planning, frugality and saving. It definitely taught me a lot and I’m glad I learned these lessons in my early adult life.

 What was your worst money decision?

My first investment was in silver. I’d come across some of these scaremongering articles and thought since the fundamentals were positive and it had recently dipped it was the perfect time to buy. Unfortunately for me, it carried on declining (and still is!).

Thankfully I didn’t bet the house! But it definitely taught me the importance of good asset allocation.

What was your best money decision?

Books! The perfect example is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It. Written by an ex FBI hostage negotiator, the book teaches others negotiation advice. It cost me less than £10 but has made me at least several thousand pounds through negotiating rental contracts, cars and employment contracts.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

A classic but a clear winner for me is ensuring you compare all your insurance/energy/internet/phone providers every time your renewal comes up. The reduction in car insurance alone has saved me thousands.

An extra tip is buying your car insurance early. From my own research I’ve seen the cost jump by 20% or more when buying a week before compared to a month or two.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Try and make it easy on yourself by buying weekly groceries online against pre-planned meals. This way you avoid the temptation of wandering through grocery stores several times a week salivating over all the tasty snacks!

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Take it easy on yourself, everything will fall into place in time.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

In our previous apartment we knocked £100 per month off the monthly rent as we were able to move in the next week. It was a great spot and originally outside of our budget, so I was pleased I worked up the confidence to ask!

What was your most recent purchase?

Hmmm, difficult! I tend to spend my spare cash on investments, books and travel. We came back from a week’s road trip around the Scottish highlands recently – does that count!? It was awesome.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

I automatically deduct my investments the day after I get paid, we shop online and I have a generous phone allowance so that only leaves socialising and clothes. I’d say I stick to it by around 10%. I’m not perfect but if I can get 90% there I’m happy!

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

We recently started planning to purchase a house, so that’s the big one. They’re expensive where we live (£300k for a 2-3 bed) so it will require a fairly chunky deposit!

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Buy ourselves a home, mortgage free!

Thanks to Sam for his interview. Head on over to the Money Nest to see what else he has to say.

If you enjoyed this post see my On the Money interviews with Mean Queen Ilona and with Emma Drew.

This post contains affiliate links.


Perplexed by pensions? PensionBee makes saving for retirement easier

This post has been written in collaboration with PensionBee.

Why you should care about your pension pot

pension pot

When you are young it is easy to think you have loads of time to save for your pension. However, time soon runs away with you, so the younger you start the better. A decent pension pot will give you so many more choices in later life and ensure you have a comfortable retirement.

By the time you hit your 40s and 50s, it is likely you will have several pension pots sitting with various ex-employers. I know I have! It can be hard to keep track of them and there may even be some you have forgotten about. It is really important to track these down when you are attempting to forecast what your pension pot is likely amount to. If you want to find a lost pension, the Pension Tracing Service may have contact details. Alternatively, PensionBee can help trace and transfer pensions.

I am now 55, so I am actively planning for my retirement. Ideally I would like to retire in 5 years time. Because I have pension pots all over the place I have decided to sign up with Pension Bee to get them all in one place and work out exactly what my monthly pension will be and when I can afford to retire. I can see whether I need to pay in more or whether I can afford to withdraw any early if I want to as well.

Calculating your income

I used the PensionBee calculator, and was pleasantly surprised to find that, if I continue contributing as much as I am currently, I will hit my target of an annual pension of around £24,ooo per year. This includes my state pension, which I won’t actually be able to claim until I am 67, however. To bridge the gap (and because I want to do some writing on a self employed basis anyway), I think some kind of part time work will be essential in my case.

pension pot

The calculator gives you the opportunity to mess around with factors like your retirement age or adding a lump sum from an inheritance, for example.  I might decide to keep working until I am 65, in which case my projected retirement income will increase to over £28,000 pa.

If it was a lot less than I was expecting, I could choose to start adding extra to the pot now. Perhaps I could scrape together another £100 a month to ensure a better retirement fund.

Please note, however, that the estimated retirement income the calculator gives you is a projection based on buying an annuity and is not a guaranteed income. 

Some interesting stats

I am pretty happy with my projection, as according to PensionBee’s analysis the average pension pot across the UK is just £21,441.  The situation is better or worse depending on which area of the UK you live in, with a clear north-south divide.

Women are generally predicted to be worse off than men in their retirement. The average female pension pot in the UK is only £16,083, whereas men have saved £23,416 on average, according to PensionBee. With more women working full time, this may improve in years to come, but we still tend to take on more caring and childcare responsibilities. This means more part time work, fewer opportunities for promotion and more career gaps.

I am glad now that I always chose to pay into a pension fund with pretty much every employer I have ever had.

As I am 55, I could withdraw 25% of my pension pot tax free. However, as I am still earning I have decided that this wouldn’t be the right option for me at the moment. I  would urge you to get independent financial advice before withdrawing funds from your pension pot.pension pot

What will your state pension pay you?

It is also worth checking your state pension forecast, which you can do on the GOV.UK website here and you can also find out when you allowed to claim it here.

pension potThis is what mine tells me I will get, but I can’t claim until 2030! If you are young, I would say not to count on any form of state pension. It seems they are increasing the age you can claim all the time. My 26 year old daughter won’t be able to claim hers until she is 68!


PensionBee charge a single annual management fee, unlike some other providers who add all sorts of other fees that can eat into your pension pot if you aren’t careful. For more information on these fees, see here. PensionBee is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is a member of the Association of British Insurers.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice. 


50 More Ways to Save Money in 2019

save money in 2019

New year, same goals – to live as good a life as possible on the least amount of money! Some years ago, I wrote a post 50 ways to save money now. I thought it was time to extend this. So to help you to save money in the new year, here are 50 more ways to save money in 2019.

50 Ways to Save  Money in 2019

  1. Leave your credit and debit cards at home and carry just the cash you have budgeted to spend.
  2.  To save money in 2019, how about a skill swap? If you are a great mechanic but would like to learn to cook or sew, or you are willing to swap babysitting skills for gardening know-how, you can find someone to trade skills with at swapaskill.com.
  3. Always do a comparison before renewing utilities, insurance, etc. You may not even need to swap. Just call your provider and tell them you have found a better deal. They are likely to match it.
  4. Go through your bank statements regularly so that you know what is coming in and going out. You can also make sure you aren’t still paying for things like insurances for appliances that are long gone.
  5. Sell items you no longer use. It makes no sense to have things sitting gathering dust when someone else could be making good use of them and you could earn money. Try Marketplace on Facebook, eBay, Schpok, etc. or do a boot sale.
  6.  Move your credit card debt to a zero per cent deal. Money Saving Expert is a good place to find the best offers.
  7. To save money in 2019 and beyond, make your resolution to cancel your unused subscriptions to the gym, to magazines or online music providers. So much cash is wasted on these!save money in 2019
  8. Pay yourself first. Set up a direct debit to your savings account and arrange for a regular amount to be transferred as soon as you are paid.
  9. Have a no spend month. I do this every January and sometimes October too. Join in my challenge and kick start your bid to save money in 2019!
  10. Go to the supermarket late in the day (3 pm on a Sunday or before a bank holiday is usually a good time) to get the most reduced items.
  11. Similarly, go to the market near the end of the day on a Saturday – they often have amazing reductions on stuff they just need to get rid of.
  12. Don’t buy pre-prepared chopped food (unless it is a yellow sticker item). You will pay a lot extra for the convenience.
  13. Check the world food section at the supermarket for items such as rice as they often retail in larger packs for a cheaper price.save money in 2019
  14. Buy cotton wool from the baby section rather than the cosmetics shelf. It is exactly the same, just much cheaper.
  15. Only buy food that you can eat quickly or freeze to prevent food waste.
  16. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, make your own home made oat milk.
  17.  Consider using powdered milk rather than fresh for sauces, porridge, custard, etc.
  18. Don’t buy the little one portion sachets or cups of microwaveable porridge. Oats are microwaveable anyway!
  19. Keep your vegetable peelings in a pot in the freezer and when you have enough make nutritious vegetable stock. It is so superior to the powdered stuff.
  20.  Meal plan. Having a plan means you will have the ingredients in and will be far less likely to get a takeaway or end up eating rubbish.
  21. Eat your leftovers. Take them to work for lunch or freeze them for when you are too busy to cook.
  22. Invest in a slow cooker such as this large Morphy Richards one. They cost very little to run and make cheap ingredients more tender and tasty.save money in 2019
  23. Purchase generic versions of over the counter drugs and remedies. The pharmacist will advise you of the generic equivalent to the expensive brand names.
  24. Understand what a bargain really is – don’t get fooled by the BOGOF offers if you weren’t planning to buy the item anyway. If you were and will definitely use them, stock up!
  25. Consider buying an electric blanket or heated throw to save money on your heating bills.
  26. Make or buy thermal linings for your curtains. You will really notice how they help to keep the heat in.
  27. Use a money jar to collect your coppers. Save them up for Christmas, then take them to the bank or a cash counting machine.
  28. Pay your phone bill and other regular bills on time so you don’t get any extra charges. It is best to set up a direct debit.save money in 2019
  29. Take cuttings from your houseplants to make extras. Some even provide you with little mini plants that just need to be rooted and planted, like spider plants.  We are filling the house up with plants nowadays as they help to clean the air.
  30. Buy the best you can afford to save money in 2019. Durable and long lasting items may cost more to begin with but will pay their way.
  31. Buy everything that you possibly can second hand. This helps the environment as well as your bank balance. Charity shops are also likely to benefit from your custom.
  32.  Rent out your home when you go on holiday. You can do this through organisations like Air B&B.
  33.  If you want a change of scene but can’t afford a holiday, you can join an organisation such as Trusted House Sitters, where you look after people’s pets whilst they are away. You can stay in the UK or travel all over the world!
  34. When you make a purchase online, always check Top Cashback to see if you can make your purchase through them and get cash back. If you go through my referral link you will earn £5 extra as soon as you make your first purchase.
  35. Value your possessions. Look after them. Learn to repair them. If you value the things you own it will save you buying a replacement.
  36. Wash your clothes less. Unless you work in a manual job, your clothes can probably be worn more than once. This means that you use less hot water and laundry soap and your clothes will last longer.save money in 2019
  37. Air dry your clothes rather than use a tumble dryer.
  38. Use it up! Dilute the last of your shampoo or conditioner to stretch it; cut off the end of your toothpaste or foundation tubes, etc.
  39. Go for reusable sanitary products instead go of disposables, such as a Mooncup.save money in 2019
  40. Use your grey water (that is, your waste water from washing up, showering or bathing) to water your plants outside.
  41. Share your bathwater. I generally shower but if one of my daughters runs a bath we will often share. We aren’t that grubby!
  42. Go skip diving.
  43. Plan ahead to avoid convenience purchases. For example, if I am going into town or out for a walk I always take my water bottle and often a snack and flask too.
  44. You can save money by buying a no contract used phone then sign up for a super cheap sim only deal. We use Tesco Mobile and pay around £12 a month for all the calls, texts and data we could possibly need.
  45. Don’t go near the sales unless there is something specific you wish to purchase.save money in 2019
  46.  Having said that, the post Christmas sales are the best time to buy all of your cards, wrapping paper, gift sets and decorations for next year. Just don’t forget where you have put them and buy them again!
  47. Write yourself a monthly budget so that you know exactly what you will be spending, saving and what you will have left over.
  48. If you are a fizzy drink fanatic, buy the large bottles and decant to smaller ones rather than continuously buying small bottles when you are out and about. Alternatively, stick to fizzy water and mix with squash.
  49. Pay your car insurance annually rather than monthly, if you can afford to.
  50. If you like a lot of days out, subscriptions to English Heritage or the National Trust can be a worthwhile investment and save money after just a couple of visits.

Whatever you need to save money in 2019 for, I hope these ideas help. Please add your own in the comments.

This post contains affiliate links.

No Spend January: the cure for a Christmas hangover

For the past few years I have greeted the New Year with a no spend January. It is the perfect antidote to the excesses of the festive season and always on my list of resolutions. Indeed, it is often the one New Year’s resolution I manage to achieve…

The benefits of a no spend January

When your bank account is feeling empty, a no spend January gives you the opportunity to regroup, to refill the coffers and to take control of your finances. If you are in debt, a no spend January will give you extra resources to pay off some of what you owe.

Beginning the year feeling anxious and out of control can set the pattern for the months ahead, whereas a no spend month can help you break free of some of the negative behaviours that made you over spend in the first place. A period of limited spending gets you out of bad financial habits. It makes you more creative and appreciative of what you already own.

If you do have problem debts, take a look at Debt Camel or the Money Advice Service for expert help.

The rules

A no spend January means not buying anything that isn’t essential. So, you pay your rent or mortgage, your household bills, transportation costs and buy groceries. However, you ignore the sales, you don’t buy any new clothes, furniture, books, music, films, makeup or treats. You don’t go out to dinner, to the pub or to the cinema. Having said that, my daughter’s birthday is in January. This year it is her 21st, so we will go out for a meal, but this will be planned and budgeted for in advance. Her presents are already purchased!

I always find it amazingly liberating to have a no spend January, or any no spend period I happen to set myself. It is easier than telling myself I will spend as little as possible. If someone asks me to do something or go anywhere that costs money I will simply explain that I am doing a no spend January. They are usually really interested and some even join in!

Generally I find I get out of the spending habit and this spills over into February too.

No Spend January

Hints and tips to help you stop spending

If you are somebody who enjoys shopping for fun, a no spend January is the ideal time to rethink your hobbies and interests. What can you do instead by yourself, with friends and family instead of shopping?  Could you go for a nature walk or cycle, host a pot luck supper, find the films you always wanted to see on Netflix or watch your old DVDs? Do you have a shelf full of books you have never got round to reading or a half completed craft or knitting project to finish? How about starting a daily journal?

I find a no spend period is a good time to cook some thrifty recipes. Baking is something I enjoy, so rather than spending money I can devote more time to creating delicious cakes. Let’s face it, most of us have a cupboard full of flour and items like cocoa and dried fruit that probably need using up!

Shop your wardrobe. This is a great time to reorganise your wardrobe and dig out little worn clothes, rather than spending money on new items that you don’t need. You could even sell items that you know you will never wear on eBay to make a bit of extra money.

Set goals

Set yourself some savings goals to inspire you and make you more determined not to spend any money. If your money isn’t going towards paying off debt, could you put some away in an emergency fund? Would you like a family holiday? Do you need to kick off your teenager’s university fund or are you likely to need a new car in the near future?

For me, redecorating our tatty hallway is a priority so I will be saving towards that. I also need to start a car fund as my old banger isn’t going to go on forever.

Low spend grocery month

Getting into no spend mode tends to focus my mind on keeping our grocery spend as low as possible too. This is the time to do an audit of your cupboards, fridge and freezer and see what needs using up. Plan your meals to incorporate what you have. If you have sausages in the freezer but no potatoes, use your stores of pasta instead to make a sausage ragu. Think of a recipe to make to use the couscous that has been sitting there for a year. Use more pulses and beans instead of meat and eat vegetarian a couple of times a week.

I always make sure our larder is stocked with the essentials to make quick, easy and frugal meals. Having items like eggs, rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna and sardines, cans of chick peas and frozen vegetables helps to keep our grocery spending low as I can always throw something tasty together with those.

Who is in for a no spend January? Let me know what you think and give your advice on achieving a no spend month in the comments. You can also come and find me on Instagram where I will be posting regular tips and updates on my no spend month! I am @shoestringcottage.

Good luck everyone!

On the Money with Mum on a Budget

This week we meet Mum on a Budget, Nicola, who tells me about her money wins and mistakes, and how happiness comes from accepting who you are – not from buying stuff.

mum on a budget

Conversations with money bloggers: Mum on a Budget

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember being allowed to go into the MetroCentre (a huge shopping mall) with my friends when I was about 13. I was given £15 pocket money (in exchange for doing chores) and I always made sure I spent every penny, even if it meant buying a few penny chews to eat on the train home! I wasn’t always as thrifty as I am now.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

When I first started earning a salary, I used to try and keep up socially with my colleagues who earned much more than me – going to expensive bars after work each Friday, followed by clubs with £10 entry fees. I soon realised that not only could I not afford that lifestyle, it actually wasn’t making me happy.

What was your worst money decision?

I bought a flat in 2006 – as everyone knows, the global financial crisis hit two years later. As I was moving abroad, I had no choice but to sell it in 2010 and ended up losing £25k overall. It taught me that property is not a short term investment.

What was your best money decision?

Moving to Australia for a few years after I got married. Going over there wasn’t a financial decision at all, but we were lucky enough to be working in Perth during the mining boom which meant that salaries were high. We were able to save a lot of money and put down a large deposit on a house when we returned to the UK.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

When I need something new, I always consider whether or not I could buy it second hand on eBay or Gumtree. I just picked up a never-used steam mop on Gumtree for half the price it was selling brand new.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

One of our biggest expenses when out and about is family lunches. We never go anywhere without a discount voucher. Most family-friendly chains these days do special offers if you’re willing to do a little bit of planning in advance. Vouchercloud is a good app for finding restaurant deals.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Ultimately, happiness doesn’t come from buying new clothes and make up. Work on accepting yourself as you are.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

mum on a budget

A couple of years ago we were at the rubbish tip, getting rid of some things. A car pulled up next to us and the driver got out and pulled out a Peppa Pig bike, ready to throw it into landfill. My husband stopped him – turns out there was nothing wrong with it, he was only getting rid of it because his daughter had outgrown it. We happily took it off his hands and now riding it is my daughter’s favourite thing to do. I since learned that Argos still sell it for £80. It makes me sad that some people are so wasteful.

What was your most recent purchase?

Some vests for my kids to wear under their clothes now that the weather is getting colder.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Yes – my husband and I use an app called Goodbudget to set our budget each month and to track our spending. I find accounting for everything we spend helps us evaluate whether or not we really need to buy something.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

We are on track to be mortgage-free by the age of 40, so I’d love to hit that milestone. I would also love to be able to help with the financial costs of my children going to university, if they choose to go.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

It’s very practical and boring, but I would pay off our mortgage, and the mortgages of our close families (luckily my husband and I have small families!). If there was any left over, I would love to take the kids to Disney World.

Nicola blogs at Mum on a Budget.  Having given up her job as an accountant in order to stay at home with her two young children, she loves sharing her tips on how to life well on a restricted budget. 

You can meet more money bloggers like Mum on a Budget here and here.

On the Money with Sue Foster

In my latest On the Money guest spot I welcome Sue Foster, who blogs about practically everything! Her blog is great for money saving and making money too. See the link at the end.

One common theme I have seen throughout my On the Money series, is that everyone, being older and wiser, says that they wish they had saved more when they were young. Sue is no different. How do we get this message to our young people?

on the money

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember my first pay packet. I was so excited. I went out and treated myself to some clothes.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes, through my divorce when my husband stopped paying into the house and left me and my
daughter short of money.

What was your worst money decision?

Nothing specific comes to mind. There are probably plenty of things I have wasted money on and
not really needed.

What was your best money decision?

Buying a run-down flat and doing it up as best I could with the little money I had. It had its problems
but was worth it in the end as I made a good profit and it got me on the housing ladder.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Always at the start of each month take off your outgoings, allow for shopping and a bit of spending
money, then put the rest away in the savings.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

on the money

Shop around and find the best price. Don’t buy the first thing you see. Also, never go supermarket
shopping on an empty stomach!

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

To save more, but at that age you spend your money on going out and buying clothes and don’t
think of the future too much.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

An old Ford Escort Estate car I bought for £400. It served me well for a few years then I traded it in
for £1000! (This is also my approach to cars!)

What was your most recent purchase?

School clothes for the kids.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Yes, I’m very good at sticking to a budget. I have a book where I write down all my outgoings at the
start of each month, so I know exactly what I have to spend.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I’d like to eventually run my blog full time and work from home, then relocate.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Put my house up for sale and move, plus buy a newer car.

Sue Foster is an online retailer and blogger. She blogs about making money online, saving money,
running a business, WordPress and various lifestyle information, which includes topics such as health
and fitness, beauty and pets. You can read Sue’s blog here.

I am happy to have had a lot of frugal and personal finance bloggers take part in On the Money to date. You can read some of the others here.

It’s good to talk: #talkmoney week

This post has been written in association with the Money Advice Service.

Why are some folk so embarrassed to talk about money? I’m not saying we should all discuss our money woes, savings or pensions endlessly. However, there seem to be few social situations where it is OK to share your views on money and learn from each other. Talk Money Week aims to change all this!

Talk Money Week, 12th-18th November

Talk Money Week is a new public awareness week from the Money Advice Service aiming to change our general reticence around discussing money. It is being held from 12th-18th November and will include events  across the UK designed to help people have more open conversations about their finances.

Money was never really discussed much when I was growing up. I knew we didn’t have much, but we always got by. School provided no financial education either. I could have done with talking and learning about money in my teens. If I had I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes later in life! In my eyes, Talk Money Week is a great initiative and I am happy to support it.

My money story

talk money weekI was hopeless with money until I got divorced after my first marriage and suddenly felt responsible for my own finances for the first time. It wasn’t that I was a spendthrift, as I am naturally frugal, but I never had any kind of financial education and I just wasn’t interested. At various times in my life I have been in debt. It never occurred to me to put any money away for a rainy day or to save for purchases. If I needed a new TV, car or sofa I didn’t hesitate to take out a loan or put it on my credit card. Talk of savings, investments or interest rates would cause me to instantly zone out.
Looking back, I was lucky to have worked in local government and enrolled in a decent pension scheme. I was never unemployed or reliant on benefits. My physical and mental health was good. Now that I am much more aware of personal finance issues, I realise it would have taken only a small change in my circumstances for me to have suddenly been in big trouble financially.

Missed opportunities

Almost every money blogger that I interview in my On the Money series says that they would tell their 18 year old selves to put money into savings and investments. When I think of the money I wasted before I had children on takeaways, nights out, clothes and general tut that I didn’t need I regret that it never occurred to me to put any of my salary aside.
Now we save a small amount every month into a contingency fund (see my post on why you should have an emergency fund here), some goes into a pot for Christmas, birthdays and holidays, and we often have a fund for a particular goal or project alongside that. Our back patio doors and our front door have just been replaced. We didn’t take out a loan for this, we saved up!

Living within our means

talk money week

We don’t waste money buying things we don’t need and anything we do purchase is more often than not second hand. As the person in charge of food, I always plan our meals and shop using a list. It is very rare that food is wasted at Shoestring Cottage. Mr Shoestring is super handy and great at repairing stuff and DIY. All this means that we no longer have any debt and we can afford the days out and holidays that we really enjoy!

But there is more to learn. Mr S has always been more savvy than me and started investing from an early age. This is something I want to do more of. I also talk to my daughters about personal finance so that they can avoid some of the mistakes I made and will be encouraging them to check out Talk Money Week. This is exactly what the Money Advisory Service aims to promote: for Brits to sit down with their friends, loved ones and family to speak about their personal finances – from saving to using credit cards, from pocket money to pensions.
Talk Money Week is designed to increase financial well being among Britons by encouraging them to discuss personal finance issues including savings, debt, using credit, financial education and retirement. If you would like to find out more, please visit the Money Advice Service here. Remember – it’s good to talk!

On the Money with Corinna from Inspiring Life Design

This week’s On the Money guest is Corinna from the blog Inspiring Life Design (link below).

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

From as far back as I can remember, I recall my grandmother giving me 30p every week which I had
to put into my silver piggy bank. I wasn’t allowed to spend this, though (Mum monitored that!). My
first memory of having money that I could spend was when I reached about 10 years old. I would
get £1 pocket money a week and I was allowed to go to the shop over the road to buy crisps or

on the money

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes. In my mid-twenties I got into credit card debt. I wasn’t particularly spendy, it’s just that I lived a
little beyond my means month after month (mostly spent on entertainment, buying clothes or
home-ware items). Before I knew it I’d racked up several thousand pounds of debt that I didn’t know
how to pay off. Being in a situation where I had debt and didn’t know how to get rid of it raised a
lot of different emotions for me. I felt depressed, helpless and vulnerable.

Luckily I received help from my parents in the form of an interest free loan (which I then paid back over time). I
managed to take control of my spending by cutting up those credit cards and paying back as much as
I could every month.

What was your worst money decision?

I held onto my first property, a lovely flat located in a marina in Southampton for too long after I
moved out. After I moved to my house in Coventry I didn’t want to sell the flat because it had so
much sentimental value to me, so I went through a period of leaving it empty as my “2nd home”, or
rented out to tenants at various times. It took me 8 years to finally put that flat on the market and
sell it. During those 8 years I ploughed a lot of money into the flat for council tax, services and
maintenance. From an investing point of view this was a terrible idea, but at the time it was the right
thing for me. I’m glad that I finally let it go, because this removed a huge financial stress in the end.

What was your best money decision?

That would have to be my decision to start investing in a pension from a relatively young age. I
started when I was about 24 as I got my first graduate job. This has meant that I’ve now got a
reasonable size pension to build upon toward my financial independence goal. More recently my
decision to start investing in low cost index funds, filling up my ISA allowance each year, has
continued to grow my investments. I would say that I’m about 30% of the way toward financial
independence from my investments alone.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

I hate paying to use a gym. So instead I work-out at home for little to no cost at all. I do a
combination of running on my aerobic rebounder, yoga and workouts available from free YouTube
videos. I’ve saved myself a fortune in expensive gym memberships, and I’ve also saved myself a lot
of time.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

I take my water bottle with me everywhere and so rarely need to buy a drink when I’m out. If I’m in
the mood for a hot drink I’ll also take a tea or coffee with me in my Contigo flask (it’s a great watertight
insulated drinking flask). Same goes for snacks, I often pop a breakfast bar in my bag to snack
on, in case I’m peckish.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

To learn about basic investing and to start investing in low cost index funds as early as I could. If only
I’d started investing at 18 I might already be financially independent now!

What was your biggest ever bargain?

on the money

I can’t think of a big bargain. However, years ago I popped into a supermarket to grab a loaf of bread.
When I got there, I found the loaves of bread I liked reduced to 20p each so I picked up 4 of them
(because at the time I froze my bread). Since I didn’t need anything else I headed straight to the
check-out. Something must have gone wrong with the till because when the cashier rang the
reduced bread through it totalled a negative amount, and she actually tried to give me money for
taking the bread (I think it was about 50p)! She said she needed to give me the money to make her
till balance. I told her that I didn’t feel right being paid to take the bread, so I politely declined the
money, suggested she gave it to charity, and walked out of the store with my 4 loaves of bread for

What was your most recent purchase?

A light ring so that I can make my YouTube videos pretty!

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

I plan my finances out monthly to make sure that I have enough money set aside to cover big bills
that crop up annually. Every month I budget an amount of spending money which I roughly stick to.
Some months I go a bit over, some I’m under, it all pretty much works out.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

Yes! My goal is to be financially independent (so that I could retire if I wanted to) within the next 7
years. I plan to achieve this through a combination of my pension and ISA investments, building
these up so that they are 25 times bigger than my annual expenses. When I hit this target I should be
able to live off my investments using the 4% safe withdrawal rule.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Gather my closest family to tell them. I’ve always imagined that I would drive straight to a
supermarket or wine store and buy the biggest bottle of champagne I can find, then tell my family
while celebrating. I’d probably be a bit boring with the winnings though. I’d share with my nearest
and dearest, then use the rest to fund an immediate early retirement!

A bit about Corinna: I live in the Midlands (UK) with my boyfriend and our three cats, and I have a goal to
become financially independent within the next 7 years. I have a blog, inspiringlifedesign.com,
where I talk all about my money making side hustles. I’m passionate about helping others realise
that financial freedom is possible for everyone. In sharing my side hustle adventures, I want to help
as many people as I can to make money from their own income hustles, so that they can become
financially independent too.

Corinna can also be found on You Tube. Many thanks for your contribution, Corinna!

If you enjoyed this interview, check out my other On the Money posts here and here.

Is it too late to save for Christmas?

save money for Christmas

Christmas comes round at the same time every year, yet still takes some of us by surprise! We are now heading towards November, so is it too late to save for Christmas?

A financial headache

I have done Christmas on the credit cards before. The financial headache going into the new year wasn’t fun. The baubles and glitter have all gone, it’s cold and dark and you are scrabbling around to save money to pay for the festive excesses – and paying interest on it too! As I said, not fun!

I realised I had to save for Christmas, so since then I have always put away a small amount each month.

As I wrote back in August, it is always best to start early when it comes to Christmas. But if you haven’t, is it now too late to save for Christmas? If you make a massive effort you could still put some money away.

How to save for Christmas

Set a budget

Actually set two budgets. One for day to day living and the other for Christmas itself.

How little can you live on? Go through all expenses and cut out anything that’s not strictly essential (see below for ideas). You will be surprised at how little you can live on when your goal is to save for Christmas.

What do you actually need to buy for Christmas? Make a list of everyone you want to buy for and set a strict amount for everyone. If you spend £500 on each of your family but don’t have the money, have a rethink. It’s one day! Don’t put yourself into debt.

What will you eat? Set a shopping budget. Don’t plan to buy more than you can eat. Use last year’s decorations, send out e-cards rather than hundreds of Christmas cards, etc.

Pare down to the essentials

You can free up money to save for Christmas by reducing all inessential spending. It’s only for a few weeks and your goal is to have a worry free and debt free Christmas.

Here are a few ideas:

Cut unused gym memberships.

If you go out to dinner once or twice a week, cut it out and eat at home instead.

Give up on trips to the pub and buy some supermarket beer.

Knock takeaways on the head.

Reduce your TV package to the channels you actually watch.

Stop buying newspapers and magazines and read online instead.

Give up the take out tea or coffee and take a flask out with you.

Stop shopping for fun!

Have a no spend month

You might even decide to cut out spending money altogether. We often choose October or November as a no spend month. This means buying nothing at all apart from food and spending only on your bills. I find a no spend period, whether it is a whole month or just a week, really liberating. There is no debating whether you should buy or can afford something. You just don’t do it!

Having said that, I would allow Christmas spending during November as it can help to buy as you go along – using the budget you made, of course.

Find free stuff to do

Check out free things to do in your area and you may be surprised at how little you need to spend on entertainment.

Eat from the larder

Pull out every item in your food cupboards, fridge and freezer and plan meals around those. This can dramatically reduce your grocery spend and prevent food waste.

Plan every meal and shop with a list

Leading on from the above, plan your whole week’s meals. Then make a shopping list of only what you need and stick to it. I have a post on the benefits of meal planning here. If you can, leave the family at home so they don’t beg for extras and don’t go shopping hungry.

Sell your old stuff

This is a great time for a declutter. You might even be able to sell some of your old things on eBay or Facebook to put towards your Christmas fund.

A declutter can be massively liberating too, and will make space for new things that arrive at Christmas.

Go extreme

You could check out some of my more extreme ideas to save money for Christmas here. These will help you stretch your budget as much as possible.

What do you do to save money for Christmas? Are you ready? I haven’t bought as much as I usually have at this point, but most importantly I do have the money saved that I need to spend for Christmas. Hopefully these tips will help you and stop you getting into debt.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thanks!


Saving money where I can: five frugal things I have done this week

Well, it’s been a funny week. I am still struggling with a stabbing pain in my neck and shoulder, which I had assumed was fibromyalgia. I finally went to the GP yesterday and it turns out it is a trapped nerve! That is exactly what it feels like as the pain moves around. It has made me feel quite sick at points and totally sorry for myself.  The doctor has signed me off for a week to get me away from being static at my desk. I hope it helps as I have been suffering for four weeks now and I have had enough! I am still saving money where I can. Frugality can’t stop because of a pain in the neck…

Saving money on pain relief

I have been throwing back the ibuprofen and paracetamol, using ibuprofen gel and also heat pads. If you buy branded pain relief products, they cost an absolute fortune. If you look closely at the ingredients they are pretty much the same as the cheap generic brands you can find in the chemist of supermarket.

I am not into paying for fancy TV adverts and other marketing. If I can get the same product for 45p as I can for £3, it is a no-brainer. Saving money on drugs is easy if you stick to own brands.

I have been using various self heating stick on pads as well, most of which we had from when Mr S had back problems. When I came to buy some more I couldn’t believe the price of them! The best are Deep Heat, but they are about £2 each! You can get cheaper ones in Poundland, but you have to put them on your clothes and the heated beads inside tend to fall to the bottom after a couple of hours. I am also trying to stop buying single use products.

The solution appears to be a reusable microwaveable heat pad. There are loads on Amazon, but I have gone for this one because its shape means it goes over my neck and my shoulders. The reviews are good as well, and it should work out much cheaper than disposable heat pads. I think it will also make me look rather regal. Perhaps I should get a tiara to go with it?

Shameless canvassing for votes

Saving money

I am off to the SHOMOS, a bloggers event, next month. The schedule has just been announced so I can work out my timings and pre-book my train ticket. Much cheaper! I saved around £8 by pre-booking and it would have been even cheaper if I had specified particular trains. However, I want a bit more flexibility on the day.

Talking of the SHOMOS, I have been selected for two categories: the Best Frugal Food Blog and Best Money Saving blog. However, all blogs go into the Peoples’ Choice Award and this is where you can help by voting for me!

Please click here to vote for me. I really appreciate all your votes. Having come in the final three up against some huge blogs with a much bigger readership last year, it would be great to do the same again.

Making my own natural, plastic free toiletries

I think I mentioned in last week’s Five Frugal Things that I had ordered a book called Natural Beauty: 35 step-by-step projects for homemade beauty, featuring recipes to make your own beauty products.  Well, it arrived! It is a gorgeous looking book and brand new. I wasn’t expecting that for £1.25. In fact, I was incredibly lucky to find it at that price as it’s usually £9.99.

There are so many things I want to make. The ingredients aren’t particularly cheap, but if I make a few things using similar items it will spread the cost. I think it will work out cheaper than buying similar quality natural products, as well as save on all the packaging. A body butter is probably a good place to start as I have dry skin so always moisturise all over. Maybe I can start during this enforced period of rest! If anyone has ideas of where to buy reasonably priced cocoa butter, shea butter and the like I would be very interested to know. Thanks! Saving money as well as cutting back on chemicals and plastic are all important to me.


saving money

I have been charity shopping again! You can’t keep me out of them at the moment. I found a nice little pine bedside table for – get this – £5.75! My daughter took the desk from her room when she went back to university. She has moved into a shared house now and there wasn’t one. This left a gaping hole where the desk had been and this little set of drawers fills it perfectly. What a great bargain! I love saving money buying second hand.

I will give it the once over with some linseed oil to brighten it up.

saving money

I also found a gorgeous pair of leather boots for just a fiver. I wish they fitted me as I love them. However, they are too small so I will list them on eBay. I hope to get at least £20 back on my investment – now is the time for people to buy their winter boots, after all.

Extreme money saving

Did you see my post 25 extreme ways to save money in the week? I really enjoyed writing it as it reminded me of all the things we should be doing to keep our costs down and renewed my determination to do so. In truth, I don’t do all of these  ideas for saving money – I wouldn’t eat road kill, for example – but most I am happy to do.

Anyway, how has your week been and how have you been saving money?

I am linking up with  Cass Emma  and Becky in their Five Frugal Things linky.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase,it won’t cost you anything but I will earn a small commission. Thanks!

Your Money Sorted! On the Money with Eileen Adamson

Every fortnight or so I run another in my On the Money series, talking to money bloggers about their mistakes, wins and advice they would give us to help manage our money. This time I speak to Eileen Adamson from Your Money Sorted.

on the moneyConversations with money bloggers

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember taking my bank book to school and paying money into my TSB account.  I loved seeing the figures grow each week.  My first memory of spending money is probably when I got my Saturday job. I felt that I could buy things for myself that I had previously not been allowed to have.  Pringle jumpers were all the rage, but I had to have M&S ones, because my mum refused to spend the money on a Pringle!  Being able to buy my own felt good!

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes, just after I graduated with a massive overdraft and a student loan.  I remember getting paid each month, taking me back into the black, and then straight back into overdraft again as soon as the rent was paid.  I hated this, and vowed that once my overdraft was paid off, I would never have another one.  And I never have!

After our twins were born, I felt out of control of my money for a good 10-12 years.  I am a planner, who is much happier when I know that I am financially secure.  We had planned to have 2 children, and a fairly comfortable lifestyle, but a surprise set of twins changed all that.  A new car, an extension, and 3 lots of uni fees to save for, suddenly changed our lives.  Financially it made a huge difference to us, and I let that really get me down for years.  It wasn’t until I started working on my mindset, that I realised that actually I was the problem, not the money!

What was your worst money decision?

Not considering the impact that part-time working would have on my teaching pension.  I had always planned to retire at 55, but discovered a few years ago that my pension will not support that.  I have now taken steps to remedy this, but I kick myself at the missed opportunities.

What was your best money decision?

Buying a book by Denise Duffield Thomas for a tenner – it has completely changed my outlook on money, and subsequently my life!

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Be very clear about what is important to you and your family.  Don’t get caught up in a competition with the Jones’s – they are probably up to their ears in debt anyway!

on the money

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Simple – always shop with a list.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Start investing in the stock market now. Little and often for the rest of your life will help you to become financially secure, and therefore free to do what you want.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

Getting gifted a £10k car has to be the biggest bargain ever!  A family member no longer needed their car, and gave it to us.  I know – I still can’t quite believe it either!

What was your most recent purchase?

A new screen protector for my phone.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Kind of.  We don’t spend more than we earn, prioritise saving and things that are important to us, so we are happy with the way we spend.  However, I don’t actually budget – I use mindful spending, and think carefully about my purchases, so I don’t need to set myself rigid budgets.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I plan to retire from teaching at 55, and head off travelling round Europe in a camper van with my hubby.  I plan to still be running Your Money Sorted, but that can be done from anywhere in the world, so it’s all good.

We should have the mortgage paid off in 3 years, but I have always had a wee hankering to buy and run a holiday cottage, so we might be looking at doing that instead of paying off the mortgage.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Buy a holiday cottage!

Eileen blogs at  Your Money Sorted  and is a financial coach working online with UK based women, helping them to develop a better relationship with money, and become happier, healthier and wealthier. By gaining an understanding of how their personality affects the decisions they make, Eileen can help them to implement changes which will allow them to feel calm, positive and confident that they are in control and making good financial decisions. You can find her here:





Many thanks to Eileen for a most enlightening interview. To read more of my On the Money series see here and here.

25 extreme ways to save money


The frugal ways of past generations seem alien to many of us now. But still, amidst all the crazy over consumption and wastefulness of current times some people are willing to adopt extreme ways to save money.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and if you are really broke, or if you simply can’t bear unnecessary waste, you might be willing to try some of these suggestions. Perhaps you do some already?

I can’t say I have tried them all!

25 extreme ways to save money

1. Adopt a wartime mentality

I was thinking about how I spend my money in comparison to how my grandparents did. They were working class people with very little spare cash. My grandparents lived through two world wars and were naturally thrifty.

They would have been amazed and appalled at the amount of ‘stuff’ people buy nowadays and how much they waste. Everything was rationed, from food to fabric, fuel to furniture.

To save lots of money, adopt the WW2 mentality of your grandparents or great-grandparents. Grow your own food, make do and mend, buy less and waste nothing.

2. Cut and colour your own hair

extreme ways to save money

I have given up my own DIY hair cutting now as I have layers and it’s too difficult. However, I still cut my daughter’s very long hair from time to time. Mr Shoestring gets his hair cut by his sister for free.

I always dye my own hair, though. This is easy enough with a kit from somewhere cheap like Home Bargains or B&M. Of course, even more extreme money saving would be to stop dying my hair and just grow it!

3. Buy only yellow stickers

Ilona from Mean Queen pretty much lives off reduced price food. She knows exactly when to go into each supermarket to find yellow stickers when prices have been reduced as low as they can go.

Ilona doesn’t plan her meals as they generally depend on the bargains she finds.

This might not work if you are shopping for a family, but you can still find some reduced items and it stops this food going to landfill.

4. Skip diving

There is a whole movement of people who go skip diving at night. Some look for food items, some for beauty items like this US vlogger  and others hunt for anything really! It is probably illegal, but no one is likely to prosecute you, as explained here. Skipping is definitely one of the more extreme ways to save money.

We once found a whole load of top quality china, some of it still boxed, in a skip outside a restaurant that was closing down. We took a few things and once other people spotted us they were all over it like a plague of locusts! Better than wasting perfectly good, usable items.

I can rarely resist a peep at the skips outside people’s houses too. Always ask permission before you remove anything though.

5. Share bath water

I tend to have a quick shower rather than a bath nowadays, but have been known to share bath water with Mr S or my daughters. It saves on water and also on the energy used to heat more. Eco-friendly as well as thrifty!

6. Wear boys’ pants

This is another tip from Mean Queen, Ilona. She says: “I have been a fan of pants, some of them teenage boys’ pants, for, oh, around 15 years now. The reason is that they last a lot longer than flimsy ladies knickers. They are more robust, thicker fabric, well made, hug my hips, and will wash millions of times without falling apart.” There is logic there, but not sure what Mr S would think if I started wearing Y fronts!

7. Buy only second hand

We buy so few things new these days. There is a thriving second hand market on almost everything. The internet, and eBay in particular, has made it much easier to find even quite obscure and rare items second hand. Many charities rely on our love for a second hand bargain too. Clothes, furniture, cars, electrical items – you can buy anything second hand and save yourself a ton of money.

8. Reuse plastic containers

Ice cream, butter and yogurt containers don’t have to be single use items. In fact, they have so many potential uses. I make a lot of home made soup and find all of these invaluable. A colleague at work has been using the same ice cream container as his lunch box for about two years! Yogurt pots of various sizes are also great as plant pots.

9. Wash and reuse old plastic bags

It’s hard to avoid plastic bags when you shop in the supermarket.  But many plastic bags can be used again. Not if you have had meat, fish or dairy in them, but bread bags, fruit and veg bags, etc can all be reused. Cut the tops off rather than rip them open, give them a rinse and dry them.

I have a box of zip lock bags that have lasted ages because I have done this. I have some pegs on hooks in the kitchen where I hang them to dry.

10. Clean and reuse the cereal bags in boxes

These are particularly strong and useful, so deserve a mention in their own right. You could also cut the box up to use for you shopping lists.

11. Reuse cards and wrapping paper

Carefully unwrap presents to reuse the gift wrap. Use old cards as gift tags. When you need to purchase new wrapping paper buy cheap plain parcel wrap and tie with colourful raffia or string.

12.  Don’t throw away old envelopes

Keep old envelopes to write notes and shopping lists. Reuse them by sticking a label over the address and taping them shut. You can buy labels specifically for this purpose from the Centre for Alternative Technology, here.

13. Dump the hand wash

I love soap! You can buy so many wonderful natural soaps very inexpensively nowadays. Why has hand wash in plastic bottles become the norm? Get rid of it and go back to solid soap. Do the same with your shower gel to save even more money.

14. Freeze your credit

This is for those people who need to stop spending but don’t want to completely get rid of their credit cards. Try placing your card in a container full of water and freezing it. It will be there if you really need it, but the effort involved in defrosting it can help to prevent impulse buying.

15. Cut your cleaning products

The marketers have convinced us that we need a different product for every cleaning job. One for the kitchen, one for the bathroom, another for the floor, one for the shower, a different one for the oven, a spray for glass….the list is almost endless.

Frugal types looking at extreme ways to save money soon realise that they can get rid of almost all of these. White vinegar cleans pretty much everything, especially if combines with bicarbonate of soda. Even if you prefer to stick to a commercial product, one general purpose cleaner will be good enough for most jobs.

16. Go low tech

Use manually driven devices – whisks, graters, choppers, brooms, carpet cleaners, lawnmowers and more. They are cheaper to buy, there are fewer components to go wrong and they cost nothing to use.

17. Flush your loo less

Have you heard that phrase ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow, but if it’s brown flush it down’? It may sound gross, but we are talking about extreme ways to save money! This will definitely save on your water bill.

18. Grey water

This is especially good after the heat wave we had this summer. Save on your water bills by using your grey water. This is waste water from your shower, bath or washing up. You can use it to water your plants! Not recommended if you have strong detergent in the water, obviously.

19. Shave with steel

Instead of spending loads of money buying disposables, how about investing in a steel safety razor? They last for years if you look after them. I remember my dad having one of these when I was a child and just replacing the blades every now and again.

This is a great eco-friendly alternative too. If your safety razor does break, you can put it in the metal recycling.

20. Dilute it!

My girls used to guzzle juice as though it was squash if I let them. So I diluted it a bit to make it last for longer. You can also water down milk a little bit, although this doesn’t work as well if you drink skimmed.

21. Reuse teabags

There was a time when I always made two cups of tea from one bag. My daughters liked weak tea when they were young so it made sense. Now I tend to use decaff teabags and they are weak enough to start with! However, if you are looking for extreme ways to save money it makes sense to use your tea bags more than once.

Alternatively, use small amounts of leaf tea in a teapot and leave it to brew for longer.

22. Ditch the disposable dishcloths

Buy reusable rather than disposable washcloths – they last for years. Or cut up old towels and use those instead.

23. Road kill

OK, this is the most extreme of my list of extreme ways to wave money. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommended it years ago. If you can face scraping some poor dead animal off the road and putting it in a stew, good for you. I think I will stick to the home grown veggies!

24. Go to bed earlier

Going to bed earlier will save money on the heating, lighting and running the TV. It will probably also save you cash on snacks and cups of tea!  Since we seem to be pretty sleep deprived as a nation, this tip may also be good for your health.

Alternatively, have a bit of family time. Get everyone to sit in one room all together so you only have to heat and light that one.

25. Give up alcohol

Alcohol is expensive, especially if you drink it in pubs and clubs. I am restricting my alcohol consumption to one day a week currently. It saves money and is good for my health!

Maybe you can think of other extreme ways to save money? What do you do to save cash that other people would consider weird?

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thanks!

On the Money with the Female Money Doctor

Every couple of weeks or so I talk to a fellow money blogger in my On the Money series. This time I am featuring Nikki from the Female Money Doctor.

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers 

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money? 

on the money

I remember playing “shop” at school and at home, using a plastic till and plastic money, but I don’t recall ever really having a sense of what money was. I knew that you used it to buy things, but the idea of saving was alien to me. I had a savings account with the Halifax, but I didn’t continue to use it once I got to university. Money had no value or importance to me. As my mum used to say “it burned a hole in my pocket” whenever I had any and I always spent it rapidly! 

Have you ever felt out of control with your money? 

Absolutely – feeling out of control was the catalyst for learning about my own finances and then teaching others the same concepts. When I went travelling in 2015 at the age of 30, I had a massive epiphany that I would be in debt forever if I didn’t do something about it. I’m still paying for the mistakes of the past, but I’m moving in the right direction. 

What was your worst money decision? 

Buying a flat when I should have rented. After a huge break up with an ex, I wanted to prove that I could stand on my own two feet and purchased a flat in my late 20s. My life then rapidly changed within the two years of owning the flat, and I ended up meeting the love of my life, quitting my job and moving in with him outside of London. I am now in the headache of selling the flat, which has so far not gone as smoothly as I would have liked. Still, the consolation is that it gained a fair amount in the time I had it, so at least I have some fodder to pay off a big chunk of debt and build up my savings and investments. 

What was your best money decision? 

Learning how to invest! I feel so much more in control now. I know that I can shape my future by building up my own funds in addition to what I would get from my pension. I’ll always be grateful for that (I just wish I’d learnt this when I turned 18!). 

What is your best tip for saving money at home? 

I think our biggest expenses are our entertainment and our food. Careful planning of meals throughout the week and using ingredients up from the freezer and our cupboards is the best way I know of keeping food prices down. Spending money on entertainment packages like Sky is fine if you use them, but with companies like Amazon and Netflix allowing you to stream shows and films, and Freeview boxes showing you pretty much every channel, do you really need to spend all that money on Sky or Virgin? If you decide the answer is yes, always watch out for renewal hikes in price, and if you threaten to leave you might be able to negotiate a discount! Just hold firm and be prepared to follow through on the threat if you’re not getting anywhere. 

What is your best tip for saving money out and about? 

Like the tip about saving money on food with planning, the same goes for when you’re out and about. Plan well ahead, ESPECIALLY if you have children. Research discount codes online using Wowcher or Groupon and get stuff much cheaper. Use your loyalty cards. If you work for the NHS or other emergency service, you’ll often come across discounts like 20% off in Nando’s! Take packed lunches wherever possible, or seek out restaurants with special early-bird discounts and savings. There is no need to curb what you do, just find cheaper ways to do it! 

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance? 

on the money

I’ve already alluded partially to this, but it would be to get investing straight away. Open a stocks and shares ISA and start putting in whatever you can. I had just started university when I was 18, so the other thing I would advise is to live well within the budget of my student loan. I studied in London, so this was hard to do, but I don’t regret taking out the loan. I just regret not having a tight rein on my money and using credit cards to plug the gap. 

What was your biggest ever bargain? 

Myself and my partner Tom recently had our garden landscaped. We pulled in a few contractors to offer us ideas and quotes. Of the four we had quotes from, there was one that was over £2000 CHEAPER for basically the same design. Why? Because he was new in business and was not VAT registered, saving us a huge VAT bill. Moral of that story, get more than one quote and find out if you can save on VAT. It literally saved us thousands! 

What was your most recent purchase? 

Clothes! I was in desperate need of heat-wave proof home and work dresses, so I did some online shopping and picked out a few things at discount prices to see me through! They’re quite classic styles, so should do me for next year too. 

Do you stick to a monthly budget? 

Absolutely – it’s the only way I could “pay myself first” by saving and investing, contribute to having fun, pay off debt and cover the bills at the same time. Without a budget I’d be clueless! Sometimes it is hard to stick to, especially when an unexpected bill occurs, but I am a huge advocate of the emergency fund. We know the unexpected happens, so having a little bit tucked away for “just in case” times is a real comfort. 

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I’m letting our mortgage be paid off over time with inflation. We have a repayment mortgage too, so I know this is covered. My goal is to pay off all my credit card debt by the time I turn 35 (just under two years time), and then I will be throwing as much as I can at investing. I don’t plan to retire early necessarily, but I would consider a six month on, six month off type lifestyle where I travel during the dreary English winters with my boyfriend Tom. I have to be earning enough to cover both of us to have this lifestyle as he would not be able to continue in his current job for only six months of the year. For now, I’m all about getting that debt paid and holding that dream on my vision board for motivation! 

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 

This is such a fun question to answer! I’d get my debt paid off, pay off the mortgage, and then start looking for ways to grow the money so that we’d never have to work again unless we chose to. I’d likely invest in property and top up my investments in the stock market. I’d of course also have some fun and take a prolonged trip somewhere warm and exotic. A girl can dream right?!  

Dr Nikki Ramskill is a GP based in the UK and also a blogger at The Female Money Doctor. She decided a few years back to make some big changes in her money life, because she was sick to death of feeling like she never had any. Nikki wants to help take the stress out of money management so that we can all lead happier, healthier lives. Her mission is to help women make more empowered decisions about money because she feels that we have the power to change the world around us, not only for ourselves, but for our families too.  

Check out these other posts in my On the Money series for more financial confessions and sensible advice here and here.



On the Money with Emma from the Money Whisperer

In my On the Money series, I speak to UK Money Bloggers about their own experiences with personal finance. This week I meet Emma from the Money Whisperer.

on the money

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers 

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money? 

I lived next door to a newsagent when I was little. I used to get 10p pocket money and I would go round to the newsagent and buy 10 penny sweets in a little paper bag. What can you buy for 10p nowadays? 

Have you ever felt out of control with your money? 

I’ve always been good with money, which is rooted in my parents giving me a good grounding in my relationship with money. I got a part time job when I was 15, worked part-time throughout university and didn’t take out a credit card until I was in full time employment. I am an accountant; we have a reputation for being cautious when it comes to money! 

What was your worst money decision? 

In 2006 I moved to Australia on secondment with the firm I was working for in London at the time. In the months before I got the secondment, I had been house hunting for a 2 bedroom flat in Clapham. They were expensive but then so was rent and I figured I was throwing money down the drain. I regret not buying a flat and renting it out whilst I was away. I ended up staying 7 years in Australia and in that time, London house prices rocketed. I could have come back to a nice little nest egg. 

What was your best money decision? 

Learning about investing. I started buying shares when I was in Australia and when I came back, started investing in to a stocks and shares ISA regularly. The power of compound interest is amazing. 

What is your best tip for saving money at home? 

I used to be guilty of wasting food. I’d buy too much without thinking enough about what we actually needed. If there was something new or exciting on the end of an aisle, I’d throw it in the trolley without thinking. I now meal plan and shop online which has reduced what we spend and what we waste.  

What is your best tip for saving money out and about? 

on the money

I always carry a bottle of water on me as small bottles of water are so expensive if you buy them out and about. If I ever do get caught out, I’ll buy a large bottle as they are cheaper than small ones! 

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance? 

Opt in to your workplace pension and increase what you put it to it every time you get a pay rise. Saving for the future is so important. If you start off putting just a small amount away each month, your future self will thank you.  

What was your biggest ever bargain? 

I have a gel manicure set which I got in the Christmas sales about 4 years ago now. I do my own manicures and pedicures sitting in front of the TV while the children are in bed. At £50 a pop to go to a salon and have your nails done, this is the gift that keeps on giving as it has saved me so much money over the years.  

What was your most recent purchase? 

I’ve just bought tickets for Lapland UK. I love Christmas and for me, it’s the whole build up which makes it so magical. I love our family to enjoy the experiences around Christmas time – ice skating, seeing Father Christmas, the panto, etc. I’ve wanted to go to Lapland UK for a couple of years but have waited for the girls to be old enough to remember it hopefully. 

Do you stick to a monthly budget? 

I’m not a fan of the word budget. It sounds restrictive. We always make sure we spend less than we earn each month, and we are mindful of when in the year our big expenses are e.g. house insurance, car insurance. In this respect, we have a money plan but not a budget in the true sense of the word.   

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

Being in a position where we can choose to work is the ultimate dream for us, and we hope to be in that position by the time we are in our 50’s. Right now we are putting the foundations in place to enable this – investing in both the stock market and property, and seeking out alternative passive income streams.  

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 

Buy a holiday home big enough for my whole family to spend time there for all school holidays together. Somewhere near a beach 😊 .

Emma started writing at The Money Whisperer because she believes that financial health and wellbeing is not a luxury just for the wealthy – it’s a basic need for all. As a parent – she is a mummy of two little girls – she aims to share with other parents good money habits and help create the foundations for them to live their best lives. She writes broadly on personal finance from why everyone needs life insurance through to investing in children’s pensions 

 I hope you enjoyed the latest in my On the Money posts. You can read some others here and here.

On the Money with My Money Cottage

In this week’s On the Money, I meet Clare from My Money Cottage.

Conversations with money bloggers

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I don’t really have many memories of money as a child. Money wasn’t really talked about! I knew we were financially OK and I never needed to think about it. Probably my first memory is when I was given £1,000 when I turned 18. I blew the lot within a few weeks and I really regretted that for a long time. I don’t think I’d give my children that kind of money at 18 unless it was a specific purpose.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes! About nine years ago, we went through an incredibly tough time financially. Both myself and my husband were both made redundant within a month of each other. I was pregnant with our second child and Christmas was coming up. It was the most difficult time financially of our lives. We had to take drastic measures to get through it.

What was your worst money decision?

My worst decision was buying on credit cards. We racked up a lot of debt very quickly without a thought for the consequences. Now, if we can’t afford to buy something with cash, then we don’t buy it.

What was your best money decision?

Keeping hold of our house when we decided we needed somewhere bigger. We now rent but we’ve still got our first home so we’re building up equity there. When we come to buy our forever home (hopefully in two years), we’ve got a great deposit sitting in that house.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Meal plan. I’m always banging on about meal planning but it’s honestly the best thing I do that regularly saves us money. I meal plan for at least 5 out of 7 nights every week and it saves us hundreds of pounds over the year.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

on the money

Take drinks for the kids! Honestly, no matter where we go and how long we’re out of the house for, somebody needs a drink!

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Put that £1,000 that your Dad gives you away for when you REALLY need it!

What was your biggest ever bargain?

This is a tough one. I suppose I’d have to say that we got a good bargain when we rented our last house. We’ve moved out of the area now but the house we rented before this one was found through a friend. The landlord didn’t want a deposit from us which really surprised us! I’m sure if he had taken a deposit we would have got the money back when we moved out, but at the time this made a big difference to us. It meant almost £700 still sitting in our bank account rather than being tied up in the DPS. Looking back on this, I’m not sure it was actually legal for him to do what he did, but we really appreciated it at the time!

What was your most recent purchase?

I bought a fairy door to go in the garden. It was only £3 and my daughter is obsessed with fairies!

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

We stick to a weekly budget, simply because I find this easier to manage. If I thought “Ooh, we’ve got x amount to last the month”, then it wouldn’t last the month! Breaking it down into a weekly budget works much better for us.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

We want to buy a house within the next three years. That will be our final house purchase so we’re working hard at the moment to build up the funds to make that possible. Retirement hasn’t really entered my head yet to be honest. I love working and I’m not prepared to think about retiring! We do both pay into pensions so at least that’s covered.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Buy a house. Then – a holiday somewhere sunny.

Thanks to Clare for this. It’s good to hear that somebody worked their way out of such a difficult financial disaster! You can read more about Clare at My Money Cottage.

To read more of my On the Money series, see here and here.

On the Money with Jane from Skinted Minted Mum

This week’s On the Money guest blogger is Jane Wallace from Skinted Minted Mum. Jane is a journalist and author who now blogs about family finance with her friend and former colleague, Charlotte Beugge.

Conversations with money bloggers: On the Money

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money? 

Buying a Texas bar at the newsagent on the Finchley Road, London with my pocket money. 

Have you ever felt out of control with your money? 

Sometimes, when lots of bills arrive at the same time.  

What was your worst money decision? 

Investing in a Middle East/Africa fund just before the oil price crashed (four or five years ago). Its value sank. Fortunately I hadn’t put too much money in it… 

What was your best money decision? 

Buying a one-bedroom apartment aged 26 in Oval, London. 

What is your best tip for saving money at home? 

Use comparison websites and move energy supplier and insurer every year. Loyalty does not pay. 

What is your best tip for saving money out and about? 

Make a list and stick to it. Bring your own lunch/snacks/bottle of water. 

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance? 

Save – even if it’s just a little. 

What was your biggest ever bargain? 

A half-price sofa in the Laura Ashley sale. It’s still fabulous 15 years on. 

What was your most recent purchase?

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A pair of shoes – some summer sandals.  

Do you stick to a monthly budget? 

Yes. However, I do borrow and pay back from an emergency fund occasionally. 

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I’d like to get a full state pension. In my case, that will mean saving up to buy extra years. 

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 

Make a large donation to Surfers against Sewage. Then buy a shack on a beach in a warm country. 

Great choice! A shack in a warm country sounds just the thing. I have no idea what a Texas bar is though! To read more from Jane, go to her blog Skinted Minted Mum.

To read more from my featured bloggers in the On the Money series, see here and here.




On the Money with Debt Camel

on the money

This week in On the Money we meet Sara Williams from Debt Camel,  a wonderfully clear and helpful blog to help people get out and stay out of debt. Sara says:

“I have been a volunteer adviser at my local Citizens Advice in London since 2001. I am a member of the Institute of Money Advisers and have the Certificate in Money Advice Practice professional qualification.

“As a debt adviser I am very familiar with the sorts of worries people have. Sometimes there aren’t easy answers, but I set up Debt Camel to look at what really matters to people who have a debt problem.”

Conversations with Money Bloggers

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember enjoying sticking Green Shield stamps into books in the ’60s, and arguing with my sister over which of the big items our parents should save up for. Of course they always cashed the stamps in for something practical but boring like a frying pan, to our disappointment!

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

No, I feel lucky that my husband and I both had a similar cautious approach to spending. Both times we bought a house it was a stretch, so we didn’t go on holiday for a couple of years and redecorated it ourselves, that sort of thing.

What was your best money decision?

To pay off the mortgage as fast as possible. Interest rates were high when we bought our first home, about 14% I think. As they dropped, we always left the mortgage repayments the same. And any extra overtime, pay rises or bonuses went to the mortgage.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

My son left home in the autumn and I have only just got around to asking the water company to switch to a water meter. The rule of thumb is that if the number of people in your house is the same or less than the number of bedrooms, you will probably save with a water meter. That should be several hundred pounds a year for my house.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

That one is easy – have absolutely zero interest in cars, they are money pits. Treat them as a means of transport, not a status symbol or a luxury, so buy something practical with a good reliability record and then keep it until it is very old. My previous car was changed at 14 years, I’m hoping my current one lasts as long or longer.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

I was 18 in the late seventies. That was a different world: no student loans, good final salary pension schemes, rampant inflation. I’m not sure any advice to that young adult would be at all relevant to this generation, who have a much harder path to tread.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

In 1987 during a couple of weeks between jobs I went down to stay with my parents in Dorset. There I treated myself to a very expensive sheepskin coat, happy I was getting a big pay rise. I can’t remember any longer what I paid for it, but I am still wearing it 30 years later. If it’s cold but not raining, it’s what I wear for dog walking several times a week.

on the money

What was your most recent purchase?

I have a broken wrist at the moment, so I have been going out a lot less than normal. Ordering books from Amazon has been my lifeline.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

I am retired with no mortgage and a reasonable pension. So I would give it to my children. Aged 25 and 23, they need it a lot more than I do!

Many thanks to Sara for her contribution to my On the Money series. Do hop over and have a look at Debt Camel. It is a mine of useful information about debt and personal finance.

To see more of my conversations with money bloggers, see here and here.

On the Money with Pounds and Sense

on the money

My guest in this week’s On the Money is Nick Daws from Pounds and Sense, where he shares his thoughts on not just financial matters but also on holidays, health, food and drink, relationships, and so on.

Conversations with money bloggers 

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money? 

Trips to the sweet shop with my dad to spend my pocket money. It was an old-fashioned sweet shop (even then) and you could buy all manner of loose sweets from huge glass jars. I loved the tiny, multi-coloured fruit drops! 

Have you ever felt out of control with your money? 

Yes, when I was a lot younger. I was unemployed and got into debt, and was constantly swapping this around from one credit card to another. My dad helped me out with a loan, which I repaid by instalments when I got a new job. 

What was your worst money decision? 

Buying my last car must be up there among them. It was a second-hand Nissan Micra and cost around £2000. It just seemed to be jinxed. First the power steering failed and I had to get a new steering column for it. Next the exhaust fell off, and then the air con broke down (costing £400 to repair). Finally, the car’s electrical system failed completely, leaving the immobiliser jammed on. The garage couldn’t fix it and after just one year I had to sell it for scrap for £50. I hope I have more luck with my current car, which is a Vauxhall Corsa! 

What was your best money decision? 

Hard to say, but maybe investing in a Nutmeg ISA. This shot up in value by over 25% in 18 months. I only wish I’d put more money into it now. 

What is your best tip for saving money at home? 

Get a smart meter installed. I know some people have reservations about them, but I have cut my energy use (and cost) by around 20% since getting mine last year. I have also just received a substantial (£400) refund from my energy company for a surplus that had built up on my account. 

What is your best tip for saving money out and about? 

Before going out, check online for potential discounts. If you are going to a visitor attraction, for example, it’s often possible to get a discount on the normal price by buying tickets in advance on the website. If you’re planning a shopping trip, again check the website/s for the store/s you intend to visit and see what bargains they are advertising. It’s also well worth signing up for loyalty cards with stores you shop at regularly, as you can often get a discount and/or bonuses this way. 

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance? 

on the money

Try to put money into a savings account regularly, even when it’s difficult. You will be grateful if or when the hard times come. Also, money saved when you are young has much more time to grow into a substantial sum. 

What was your biggest ever bargain? 

Maybe my washer-dryer. My late partner Jayne and I bought it for £100 twenty years ago and it’s still going strong today – admittedly with a bit of TLC from my washing machine repairman. He has told me that when eventually I have to replace it, I will be lucky if my next machine lasts five years. 

What was your most recent purchase?

A Sekonda unisex watch. My previous watch was quite chunky and a female friend pointed out that it was making my wrist swell up when I was wearing it! I am very pleased with my new, elegant, smaller watch. It tells me the time and nothing else, but that’s all I need from a watch. 

Do you stick to a monthly budget? 

Not really. I try with some things (e.g. groceries) but it’s difficult because I’m self-employed and my income can fluctuate considerably from one month to the next. That’s my excuse anyway! 

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I am semi-retired now (I’m 62) and work part-time as a blogger and freelance writer. I enjoy this and value the extra income it generates, so I have no plans to fully retire any time soon. My mortgage is also paid off, I’m pleased to say. I don’t really have any other particular long-term financial goals. I just want to have enough money coming in to pay the bills and enjoy life to the full. 

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 

Write substantial cheques for some special people in my life who could really do with the money. 

Thanks so much to Nick. You can find his blog Pounds and Sense here. I like it because it is one of the very few that look at life from a 50 plus perspective.

You can read more of my On the Money series here and here.

On the Money with William Pointing from Great Deals Made Easy

Conversations with money bloggers

In this week’s On the Money, we meet William Pointing from Great Deals Made Easy, an online money-saving blog focused on cost comparison and cash back sites. He aims to help people save money and find great deals the easy way.

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember doing a paper round when I was 14 in my local area. I would get £6.80 for an hour’s work, which would be delivered through my door in a brown packet each week. I’d spend it mainly on fast food and cinema outings (which I would do most weekends) as there was nothing else to do (I looked very young, so sneaking into a pub was out of the question).

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

When I left university in 2006, I moved back home to the parents and got a local job, paying £18k at an event marketing company. My rent was minimal and yet I seemed to spend practically all my money in bars and pubs on Friday and Saturday nights and the odd holiday. Socialising rather than saving was my priority, which in hindsight was foolish, as I could have got a bargain flat at that time (2006-8). I spent time in my overdraft and treading water financially for several years.

What was your worst money decision?

I’d say going on an independent gap year travel trip with not enough money saved beforehand. After several months of fun, the lack of money became very apparent. I was stranded in a remote part of Australia, working in a frozen prawn factory to make ends meet. Feeling lonely and a bit desperate, fortunately (but embarrassingly), my parents bailed me out and got me back home.

What was your best money decision?

Investing in mutual funds has been a great decision (Fidelity in particular). I’ve experienced a 10% return to date on my savings and it is relatively risk free, as you are investing in 20+ companies with experts in their field, so if one company goes belly up, you are not exposed.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Use comparison sites (such as uSwitch, Money Supermarket, ComparetheMarket.com) to find exclusive best in market deals for your home services. They always beat the provider’s direct site offers. These sites are great for broadband, mobile phone, gas and electricity, personal finance and insurance deals.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Use cashback sites (TopCashBack and Quidco) when buying a high value item. Most retail outlets will be on these sites and you can get free cashback just by clicking a button before you buy in store (you can register your card in  minutes).

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

on the money

Put 15% of your salary into a mutual fund each month. After approximately five years, you will have deposit for your first flat.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

An all-inclusive last-minute holiday via Thomas Cook (booked online), to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for £340 for a week. This included return flights, free food and alcohol and a 4 star hotel – Everyone else at the hotel paid at least double. I was very popular amongst my friends for organising that trip!

What was your most recent purchase?

I bought a second-hand guitar for £40.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

I keep a mental note of how much I am spending and only check accounts when I make big purchase.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I don’t think I’d ever like to retire (and not be involved in projects, etc), but I would like to not need to rely on a permanent job and be mortgage free by the time I am 50.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Buy a property outright and take my friends and extended family on an exotic holiday on me.

Thanks so much to William for this week’s contribution. You can visit William’s site to find all the best deals here. For more of my On the Money series, see here and here.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thanks!

On the Money with Victoria from LyliaRose

Conversations with money bloggers

on the money

In this week’s edition of my On the Money series, we meet money blogger Victoria from LyliaRose.com. She says, ‘I live with my husband Ben, our young children Bella and Reuben and four chickens.  I’m a full time blogger, home money maker & mum.  I’m also a pretty rubbish wife and homemaker as I spend most of my day blogging, which I absolutely love!’

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I started a paper round when I was around 14 years old. This was my first experience of regular money  as I’d never had pocket money.  I used to spend most of it on junk food and stationery at the local shops!

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

Yes absolutely.  Before I hit 20 I got into dreadful debt as I opened loads of store cards and credit cards when I turned 18.  I’d had no experience or education in money before and got hooked on being able to buy whatever I wanted without thinking of the consequences.

What was your worst money decision?

Definitely opening store cards and credit cards to buy things I couldn’t afford.

What was your best money decision?

Deciding to buy my first home.  Yes, I have a mortgage at the moment, but at least my payments are paying towards an investment for myself and the children and I’ll own something at the end of it.  I rented for 11 years prior to buying and I dread to think of the total amount I paid towards someone else’s mortgage!

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Use cashback sites for everything!  They’re not just for online shopping, but also for utilities, broadband, mobile phones, insurance and more.  You can make a saving and get cashback for most of the things you pay for at home.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

on the moneyIf you’re visiting an attraction,  check for online tickets before you go as they are usually cheaper than buying on the door.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Budget budget budget!  Work out your incomings and outgoings to see what’s left for spending and stick to it!  If you can’t afford it, save or don’t buy it.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

My Nutri Ninja.  I wasn’t sure whether to buy one, but I’m so pleased I did.  I use it almost daily to make smoothies or homemade oat milk and it’s still as powerful as new.  I’ve had a few years now.  Even though it wasn’t reduced I’d class it as a bargain as I get so much use out of it and it wasn’t high priced in the first place. Sometimes I see more value in getting something I’ll use constantly rather than a bargain that might sit in the cupboard for years!

What was your most recent purchase?

A TV for the children’s playroom.  I saw there was cashback available online so I managed to get the store manager to match it.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Yes, we try to.  I work out our household income and outgoings every month then put a portion into savings and divide the rest into weekly spending money.  We do our best to stick to it, but sometimes something unexpected might pop up like our vacuum cleaner breaking last month.  Luckily we have our savings to dip into if we really need to.  Without a budget we just spend willy-nilly so I find it makes us a lot more careful with our personal spending.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

I’ve only just started saving towards my pension in the past year so I’d really like to get on top of this and save as much as possible in the next thirty years.  I’d like to be able to have the option to retire in my early 60s and be financially comfortable in thirty years.  I’m not sure I would retire then, but I’d like to be in the position to be able to.

I also want to pay off my mortgage asap.  It’s huge and we’ve only had it four years so we’re at the very start of the mortgage journey.  It’s rather depressing seeing the large chunks of interest go out each month and I’d love to reduce it drastically. However, ­­having two young children and doing up our first home is our focus at this moment in time.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Pay off our mortgage!

Thanks to Victoria for her contribution to On the Money. I love the tip about checking to see if tickets are cheaper online – they usually are and we often forget to do it! You will find her blogging about making money and healthy living at www.lyliarose.com and www.healthyvix.com.

For more in my On the Money series, see here and here.


On the Money with Emma Drew

I am delighted to feature money maestro Emma Drew in this week’s On the Money interview.

Conversations with money bloggers

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember my Mum taking me to the wholesalers with her (she and my Dad ran a store) and letting me pick out my own items to sell. Then I started a ‘tuck shop’ and any money I made was mine. I quickly learned that if I reinvested money in more stock then I could make even more money. It was great earning my own pocket money in this way.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

When I first went to university and got my student loan it was the most money I had ever had! Not only did I have this money, but I also was living in a city that had shops, bars and restaurants – something I didn’t have in my small village life back home. I spent so much money straight away, on clothes and eating out. I felt like I couldn’t stop spending and that I couldn’t control my money. That’s when I got into debt, which took me years to pay off.

What were your best and worst money decisions?

I was lucky enough to buy a house when I was 18 – back in the days when you could walk into a bank and get a mortgage easily. My parents didn’t want me paying rent because they saw it as dead money. I had to furnish the house myself. The third bedroom never got rented out, so it wasn’t as great an investment as we originally thought. It actually proved to be a great decision because nowadays it is rented out and earns me a passive income every month. However, it was a struggle as an 18 year old to have to pay for every repair, all the bills, etc. I’m not sure I would have done it again.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

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I love shopping my kitchen or my wardrobe to see what I already have. Sometimes clothes have fallen off their hangers and I discover something I had forgotten about. Or when we are trying to have a lean spending week, we try to make meals based on items we already have in.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

I try to make sure that every penny I spend benefits me in some way. That means using a cashback or rewards credit card (paid off every month), as well as scanning my receipts and uploading them to apps like Shoppix and Receipt Hog to earn more from them.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

I would tell myself to stop buying everything! Now that I’m 30 I don’t have any of those items I spent my money on and got into debt over.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

I love scouring charity shops for bargains, and I have found a charity shop where everything is £1. I regularly pick up Joe Browns, Jaeger and Laura Ashley from there, which I either keep for myself or we sell in our eBay store.

What was your most recent purchase?

Very boring – we got some socks for my husband from Primark for £6.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Ish. We have a budget in the sense of knowing how much everything costs per month. However, if we see a great deal that means spending more one month to stock up, then a bit less the following months we will often do that. I redo our budget every six months to account for anything increasing in price (like council tax).  Any savings we have made, maybe from switching utility provider, can also be factored in.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share? 

I am really fortunate to run my blog full time, so that almost feels like retirement. Our next big financial goal is to buy a house. However, we are looking at increasing our income first so that we can purchase the Dream Home, even if that means waiting a little bit longer.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Buy the Dream Home and furnish it! The Dream Home has a swimming pool, an annex for my Dad and outbuildings that we can use for office space.

Emma blogs at EmmaDrew.Info.  Emma is a personal finance blogger who blogs about ways to make money, save money and live the life you want. She lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband and two cats.  If you are looking to make extra money online, find ways to save money and connect with like minded people then head over to her blog.

You can read some more of my On the Money interviews here and here.

Who wants to be a millionaire? I do!

This is a collaborative post.

Sometimes, when life seems like an endless daily grind of work and chores, I dream of what I would do if I won lots of money. I am not one for designer stuff or anything flashy. But there is no doubt having money can make your life easier in so many ways. Anyone who says they don’t want to be a millionaire is probably fibbing!

Meaningful work

I wouldn’t want to give up working but I would love to choose the type of work that I do. Writing is something I enjoy, so if I had time on my hands, plus plenty of money to pay the bills and mortgage, I would write my book!

I would also spend time volunteering with charities. Perhaps the hospice and our local wildlife trust. I would probably end up opening my own cat sanctuary because I am quite daft about cats.

Having money gives you options!


Mr S loves nothing more than a quiet beach and a warm sea. He really should live on the coast. If we won mega bucks we would probably buy an apartment somewhere really pretty, like one of the Greek Islands or in the Balearics.

A smaller win would mean some holidays at least. Both of us fancy the Maldives, which looks beautiful.

I have yearned for a camper van forever, so that would definitely be on the list!


If I was to be a millionaire I would move to a country cottage. We love our house, but would prefer to be out of town in a character property. Ideally it would be a village with a great community and a fabulous pub! I would want to be mortgage free though!

Helping family

My three daughters haven’t even got a plan to get onto the property ladder as things stand. I would give each of them a big chunk of money to put towards a flat or small house. And buy them a car and fabulous holiday each.

If the amount of money we won was big enough, I would pay the rest of our family’s mortgages off too. So amazing to 100% own the house that you live in.

A green car

I have had a hankering for an electric car for ages. If I bought one it might counteract the CO2 emissions from the camper van!

So, I may not go for a luxe lifestyle, but I would love to be a millionaire! But you have to be in it to win it, as they say. A convenient way to buy your lottery tickets is online through Lottoland. You don’t have to restrict yourself to the UK lottery – with Lottoland you can enter lotteries all over the world. To find out how Lottoland works, see here.

What would you do if you won a large sum of money?



On the Money with Jennifer from MamaFurFur

In my latest On the Money blogger interview, I speak to Jennifer at MamaFurFur.

On the Money: conversations with money bloggers

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I can remember fondly my Grandpa giving us a 50 pence piece pocket money each Saturday.  At the time it seemed like a huge amount of money to buy a few sweets or save up. When it was our birthdays we used to get a £10 note.  That seemed like a lifetime’s worth of money and I would use it usually to buy books from the local book shop.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

No, but I have felt what it feels like for debt to  be overwhelming.  My husband came into our marriage with debt on credit cards of around £22k and I’m proud to say that we cleared it off as a partnership over 3 years and I am so thankful for the experience it taught me.

What was your worst money decision?

Being honest right now – I wish we didn’t have car payments. However,  a few years ago when I didn’t know a lot about financial freedom and goals we took out loan deals to get new cars.  Very soon though we will be at break even for those deals and we can hand them back. Personally I know I don’t want a car payment again.
on the money

What was your best money decision?

Waking up to the fact that financial freedom can be achieved by absolutely anyone if they know how – and that is my mission –  to inform as many people as I can how to get rich enough to live their ideal life.  It’s all maths really and just dedication.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Spend your hard earned money as wisely as you can. Simplify your life and then pay yourself and your family in the future before you spend your pay cheque.  I’m all about investing our money as much as we can, with the balance of living life.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

I’m amazed at the cost of eating out, as I make most of our meals at home from scratch and take lunches to work for myself and my husband.  The cost of a “meal out” or takeaway is enough to put me off it, never mind the health benefits of avoiding it.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Pay yourself first a minimum of 10% of your income – pay that into your pension and some form of savings – and then spend the rest if you want.  That one 10% rule will change your life and make you thankful you learnt and applied it from a young age with the power of compound interest and time.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

I would have to say our home as, for the cost of it, it contains everything I love most and keeps it safe and dry (aka my husband, my two young boys and my cats).

What was your most recent purchase?

I purchased two new tops for work from Tesco actually – I am amazed by the quality of supermarket clothes and find that most of the time the fit and material is better than most shops in a higher price range too.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Yes, I work on a zero budget system so each penny is accounted for. Usually we have money left over each month which I then put in our holiday fund or invest.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

Absolutely – I have plans and strategies in place to be financially free within the next 10 years and live off our investment incomes.  I also have plans to help people do likewise with my blog and youtube channel. I don’t want anyone to suffer having to choose between the life they want and financial stress and burden.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

With the knowledge I have right now, I would invest the amount I needed to live financially free off the interest payments, then pay off our home. If there was some left over I would purchase property outright for my family each to stay in with an amount also to invest to live financially free.
If the world should bless me with a lottery win, I’ve got it all planned out and saved already!

Jennifer blogs at Mamafurfur.com. She says:‘I know that other parents and individuals might be struggling to balance family commitments and put food on the table.  I want to give them as much information as possible to create financial security and freedom, so that they can create the life they truly want without those stresses and pain.’

For more of my On the Money series with your favourite money bloggers, see here and here.

Fifty shades of frugal

Fifty shades of frugal? Bet that got your attention. I’m not saying being frugal is as titillating as the Fifty Shades series, but it is probably just as satisfying!

Off the top of my head, here is my fifty shades of frugal list. How many do you do?

fifty shades of frugalFifty shades of frugal

1. Budget

Look at your weekly or monthly income and outgoings and set a budget accordingly.

2. Cancel unused insurances 

So many of us get conned into taking out expensive insurances on various appliances. The appliances come and go, but how often do we forget to cancel them when they are no longer needed?

3. Cut back 

Ask yourself what you can cut out to help you save money. Do you use all those TV channels? What about that gym membership – when did you last go? 

4. Haggle your bills down

Haggle down your utility bills, phone and broadband contracts, etc. A couple of hours on the phone when you come to renew can save hundreds of pounds.

5. Shop around for everything

From appliances to furniture, from cars to shoes. The internet makes it easy to research your best possible price. This also applies to using trades people to do jobs on your house.

6. Increase your income 

Easier said than done? You could sell on eBay, turn your hobby into a way to make money or become a freelance writer. How about taking in a lodger or a foreign student? There are so many potential side hustles to supplement your regular salary.

7. Do a larder stock take 

Pull everything out of your food cupboards, fridge and freezer and make a list. This saves money because you don’t waste food and you don’t keep buying items you already have.

8. Meal plan 

There are so many benefits to meal planning, and money saving is just one.

9. Write a shopping list

Write a list based on your meal plan, then stick to it. Don’t get drawn into BOGOFs and special offers unless you can build them into your plan.

10. Stop wasting food.

So much of our food is wasted. This has implications for the environment as well as your wallet.

11. Cook from scratch.

It may seem time consuming, but making dishes from scratch is much cheaper than spending on convenience food. There are lots of ideas here.

12. Batch cook

This leads on from cooking from scratch. Make several batches of the same thing for the freezer. This saves time and you have your own healthy ready meals. Chilli, Bolognese, shepherd’s pie and soups are favourites.

13. Find those yellow stickers

Shop in the evenings for yellow stickered reductions. You have to time it just right, but if you shop when staff are going round for a second or third time with the yellow sticker gun you can save a lot of money.

14. Eat less meat and more veggie food 

Meat is dearer than vegetables and pulses. Even if you don’t want to eat vegetarian, you can pad out some dishes such as curries and pasta sauces with a few lentils or beans. I have some ideas for dishes with pulses here.

15. Stop buying branded food 

Try the supermarket own brands or even their value stuff. Most of the time you really can’t tell the difference.

16. Avoid designer goods

Stop buying designer clothes and other items. Occasionally, designer brands seem better quality, but a lot of the time you seem to be paying for the name and the brand’s advertising budget.

17. Decrease your energy consumption 

Turn lights off, move the thermostat down a notch, wear a jumper, don’t boil more water in the kettle than you need, hang heavy curtains, etc. It’s all common sense.

18. Decrease your water consumption 

Take showers rather than baths, wear clothes more than once to reduce laundry loads, install water butts in your garden.

19. Decrease your motoring costs

Small things matter: remove roof boxes, keep your tyres at the correct pressure and drive more slowly. Drive less if you can walk or cycle instead.

20. Get the best deals on the trains

You can save loads if you purchase train tickets in advance, or if you buy season tickets rather than daily ones. There is some fantastic advice on MoneySavingExpert about saving money on rail fares.

21. Invest in a bike

You can usually find decent bikes second hand. Cycling can save loads of money on buses and motoring if your journeys aren’t too long. You can find out about cycle paths at Sustrans.

22. Make do and mend

‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without’. Develop a more thrifty and creative mindset. See what you already have or can repair before buying something new.

23. Buy second hand furniture

Sometimes solid, old pieces of furniture are much better quality than new, cheap ones. You can even upcycle them if you are feeling creative. Personally, I would go for a nice 1930s wardrobe over a flat pack job.

24. Buy second hand clothing

Since we live in an era of throw away fashion, there are always plenty of good quality items to be found in great used condition at boot sales, in charity shops, on Facebook, on Mercari, eBay, Depop, and so on.

25. Get your hair cut by a student

Hairdressing colleges – and even salons sometimes – are always looking for people for their students to practice on. I have done it many times – it’s not as scary as it sounds! If you are really skint, you could try cutting your own hair….

26. Exercise for free

There are so many ways you can do this. Walk, cycle, run, or use You Tube to find exercise classes on anything from kickboxing to yoga.

27. Grow your own food

If you have a little garden space you can grow some fruit and vegetables very easily. The BBC Gardener’s World website is an excellent source of advice and inspiration.

28. Grow your own plants and flowers

Plants can cost a fortune but you can easily grow your own flowers and shrubs from seeds and cuttings. There are so many ways to save money in the garden.

29. Take food and drink when you are out

Pack a picnic and flask when you are out for the day and even take food and drink if you are heading into town. Our £15 flask saves us so much cash and is very well used. Ditto our reusable water bottles.

30. Keep a present box

This is an especially good tip if you have children, but works for everyone else too. Whenever you see little generic gifts in the sales or on offer snap them up and keep them safe. At Christmas or when somebody has a birthday you can raid your present box for a suitable gift. Buy cards when you see them cheaply too. I find the Card Factory excellent value.

31. Sell your unwanted stuff

Personally, I find little more therapeutic than a good declutter. If you can make some extra cash by selling the stuff you no longer need, then even better!

32. Go camping

Family holidays don’t have to involve Micky Mouse. Camping holidays are incredibly cheap and lots of fun. Kids love sleeping in a tent! Try the concept first by borrowing some gear. If you love it, you can invest. Camping gear will pay for itself in no time.

33. Do a house swap

If you don’t fancy life under canvas you can have a cheap holiday by organising a house swap. There are loads of agencies on the internet. I have done this several times in France and Spain and it was great!

34. Compare Prices

Always research and compare prices on everything before making purchases. This is where the internet comes into its own!

35. Forget about keeping up with the Jones’s

Just don’t bother. The Jones’s may have a fancy car and expensive holidays, but as far as you know they also might have huge debts and nights of worry about how to pay for it all. Be yourself. Enjoy what you have and focus on the really important things in life, like family and relationships.

36. Send an email instead of a letter or card 

If you do prefer to send items through the post, make it second class. You can make e-cards for free here.

37. Use the library

You can read books and magazines for free and hire films for a tiny fee. Many library services also offer online magazine and books for free as well.

38. Cheap play

Give your kids the box to play with instead of the toy! It’s a cliché, of course, but in reality kids need very little. A box, some sand and water, a couple of bats and balls and a bit of occasional adult intervention will keep them happy. I made a dressing up box with charity shop clothes, which my children loved.

39. Make a craft box

Keep bits of fabric, string, foil, sweet wrappers, cotton reels, loo roll tubes, etc in  your craft box with some cheap PVA glue for those rainy days.

40. Teach your kids to swim

You don’t need to pay for lessons if you can swim yourself. With three daughters of different ages, I soon got sick of sitting poolside trying to entertain whichever ones weren’t swimming! Instead of paying for lessons, we took them ourselves early on a Sunday morning. Cheaper and less stressful 40.

41. Old fashioned cleaning

Make your own cleaning spray or use good, old fashioned bicarbonate of soda and vinegar for your cleaning.

42. What can you find for free in your community?

Check out Freegle and Freecycle to find useful stuff for free. Don’t be too proud to do a bit of skip surfing if you see the opportunity, either.  Ask permission before you remove anything from a skip, though.

43. Use less of everything

A bit less washing up liquid, half a dishwasher tablet instead of a whole one, just a small amount of shampoo or conditioner. It all adds up!

44. Dilute stuff!

Juice, shampoo or washing liquid. If you dilute it just a little, it will go further and last longer.

45. Free stuff to do

A quick internet search will help you find free or very cheap events in your local area. From exhibitions and museums to free gigs and talks, you don’t have to spend a lot when you go out.

46. Become a coupon champion

Learn how to make the best of coupons. Jordon Cox’s book the Coupon Kid is a mine of useful information from the expert.

47. Read online

You can find most newspapers online to read for free these days. In addition, as I mentioned previously, many library services use companies like Zinio to offer members completely free magazines online.

48. Borrow rather than buy

Consider borrowing items you will rarely use rather than buying them. Maybe club together with family? It seems a waste of money to purchase items like a steam wallpaper stripper that you might use once in a blue moon! I bet someone has one lurking in the back of the shed….

49. Free stuff online 

You can get all kinds of free stuff at Freestuff.co.uk and also at Shopmium. Be prepared for some junk emails when you sign up though! I have an old Hotmail account for this so I don’t get bombarded.

50. Just say no!

It’s a hard habit to get out of, but saying yes all the time often costs money. Try to learn to say no. This includes saying no to friends wanting you to go to the pub, to the kids wanting whatever they have just set eyes on and need and to yourself!

I am sure I could think of another fifty shades of frugal if I tried. What about you? I would love to hear your tips on frugality.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Thanks!



On the Money with Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny

In this week’s On the Money interview, I talk to Mrs Mummy Penny herself, Lynn James.

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

on the money

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

My earliest memory of money is where I used to spend hours counting my dad’s tankards of coins he used to collect. There were 20p’s and 5p’s. As a very young girl, maybe 5 or 6, I would pile it up and put it into bank bags for him to pay into the bank.

My earliest memory of spending money was getting my 50p pocket money per week and spending 10p per day on sweets in the sweetie shop up the road on the way to school.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

So many times. I have written about this at length, most recently being my confessions of a personal finance blogger. In April 2017, I felt very out of control with a big amount of debt to repay. We could cover the minimum payments, but the journey of debt repayment felt so long and painful. Turns out income levels changed and therefore debt repayments could increase dramatically. The huge amount of debt will soon be paid off.

However, this isn’t the only time this has happened, I have a tendency of getting into this debt cycle regularly and was only reminded of it this week when out for a drink and a chat with one of my best mates. I live in the present and want things now. My tendency is to buy and pay later, rather than saving and then buying later. I don’t want to live like this but it is behaviour of twenty years engrained into me.

What was your worst money decision?

on the money

My worst money decision was to say no to contributing to my pension during my 20’s when I was working in a well-paid job with Tesco. I was earning good money and the Tesco contribution was double mine. But I decided that I couldn’t afford the £100 or so a month it would have taken out of my monthly salary. A silly decision that has probably cost me around £40k in my pension pot. I really regret this decision.

What was your best money decision?

I first bought a house when I was 24. Despite the crazy pension decision, I did get onto the property ladder as early as possible. I have moved to a new house twice since then and have generated more and more equity and value each time. We now have a large chunk of equity in the house, much more than the mortgage we owe, so I feel very comfortable that I made the best decision there.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

A regular check of your direct debits and budget is a worthy exercise. Every few months is fine or maybe before a big financial decision is taken. You might be surprised at what you find in your expenses. There may be payments that can be switched to a different company to make a saving or even cancel if you are not using the service.

I recently checked my expenses and made a big saving of £42 per month by switching broadband and removing Sky Sports and Sky Movies from our TV package.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Always have a water bottle and few snacks stashed in your handbag. This always saves when I am out and about. It also stops me from having a little browse in the expensive shops at Kings Cross when I am at work.

What would be your advice to the 18-year-old you regarding finance?

I would tell myself that credit cards should not be relied on. Not to start adult life with the mindset that credit can be used to get everything right now. I would emphasis the importance of saving up to buy thing that you want and waiting.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

Oooh, tricky question. I am generally good at negotiating on all big things. We recently bought two cars and saved £5k off the list prices. We agreed to pay £225k for our house 9 years ago and negotiated this down to £222k on the day of exchange at the last minute. Our house is now worth at least double that, so it was a great investment.

Or maybe that 5p carrot cake that I found in the Co-op a few months back?!

What was your most recent purchase?

I was in London for a series of meetings this week and spent a shockingly high amount of money on Green’s juice drink from Pret A Manger. It felt like I was being very healthy getting it, but it cost £3.79!!

I was also in London last week and was early for a meeting near Regent St, so popped into H&M for a browse. Due to extreme debt repayment I rarely buy clothes, but I did invest in a new pair of pumps, a red and blue Breton top and the most beautiful orange frilly sleeve top. I spent £40 so nothing excessive!

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

Yes. We have a strict budget with every cost accounted for, even for the irregular costs and random items that need to be paid every few months or once a year. The base bills are paid then another chunk goes into a saving account to allow for the one-off costs.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share? 

I want to have enough money in my pension to retire comfortably. Fortunately, I have a pension plan from my employment during my 30’s but that needs to be regularly added to. I also have a stocks and shares ISA,but that is more of a pot for my children to give them freedom to choose their future paths at the age of 18.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

I would go on the most luxurious holiday, probably Necker Island for 10 days. Then I would plan out what we should do with the money. Most likely a new house, some money given to friends and family who need it, and investment.

Lynn runs the blog MrsMummyPenny and says: ‘This has been my full time job for the past three years, after quitting the corporate world to start my own business. My background is commercial finance and I qualified as an accountant back in the day. My website is a blog all about personal finance: healthy wealth, body and mind.’

Thanks to Lynn for this eye opening on the money interview. It’s good to know that finance experts make mistakes too! For more in my On the Money series, see here and here.


Ten hobbies you can make money from

Are there really any hobbies you can make money from? TuppenysFIREplace argues that there are.

Ten hobbies you can make money from

Do you have a hobby that you enjoy spending time on? Or do you have spare time that you want to make more of? Want to earn money on top of your day job but with built in flexibility so you still get to live the life you want?

Turning your hobby and spare time into a money making business will achieve all three. Everyone enjoys having fun but how great is it to have fun and earn money at the same time?

You don’t need to be the next internet mogul or entrepreneur of the year to get started. Nor do you usually need to have any qualifications in the subject. You just need an interest in your hobby and a willingness to spend time doing it. Here are some ideas for hobbies you can make money from.

Ten hobbies you can make money from


Photography can earn you a lot of money. However, it is very competitive so you need to work out what your unique selling point is. Some people specialise in weddings, others in landscape photography. Having a website to display your wares will help people find you and see what you produce. You can sell your photos through online websites such as 123RF, Adobe Stock and Dreamstime.

My daughter started a photography business as a side hustle when she was 22. She worked Monday to Friday in an unrelated field so figured she could work some weekends doing weddings and events and use an evening or two to edit and produce the final results. It brings in a nice side income for her at a time when money is tight.

Freelance writing

You don’t need an English degree to become a freelance writer. In fact you don’t need any qualifications – you just need to be able to write. The people you end up freelancing for are interested in whether you can provide then with what they want, not what exams you passed. You will need a small portfolio to showcase your skills and Ruth has some great tips on how to create a freelance portfolio, and then it’s all about finding those jobs through websites such as:

Freelance Writing Gigs

People per hour


Freelance Writing

Graphic design

If you are a graphic designer by day or just love creating graphics and online artwork then why not consider creating for someone else and getting paid for it? You can find customers through websites such as Fiverr and People per hour. I used Fiverr to find someone to create my website logo and was spoilt for choice.


You often hear in the media how the younger generations spend too much time on social media and their computers. But what if you could make money from doing exactly that? I know many people enjoy online gaming, where you compete and work with other gamers from around the world, talking to each other and building online friendships.

If you’re good at gaming then you can earn money from it. Upload your gameplay to YouTube and gain a following. Add in some YouTube ads and when one of your followers clicks on one of those ads you will gain a commission. Probably only pennies to start but pennies mount up don’t they?

If you are a white hot gamer you may be keen to pit your skills against other elite players. Tournaments can include prizes. The big ones pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds! Become an elite gamer and you could be sponsored by gaming brands as well which would provide you with a regular income. Esporting is the name given to the art of playing in gaming tournaments for money and just look at how much money is involved in the esporting business.


Crafting can be a serious business these days. With the internet and websites like Etsy, it’s never been easier to showcase your wares.

Many hobby crafters make their items for themselves or to give as gifts at Christmas and other family holidays. If you are looking to make a little extra money, why not ramp up the production of your favourite things and sell them? You can sell your craft items through websites such as Etsy or Ebay. There is also a good trade to potentially be had at craft fairs and car boot sales here in the UK.


Being good at DIY gives you a great deal of satisfaction in a job well done. You are also likely to be called upon by family members and friends to help them with their DIY. Why not make a little money out of your DIY skills? There are many people who cannot or are not interested in learning even the basics of DIY such as putting up a shelf or fixing a leaking tap. I include myself in this group!

 A colleague at work really enjoyed his DIY and had completed many jobs for friends and families. Jobs such as installing new decking, building a summer house and the like. He loved this type of work and disliked his office based job. He started offering his services for money, built up a small customer based working at the weekend and using some of his annual leave. After 25 years in the same job, he resigned and is now self employed doing what he loves.

Become a teacher

Some people are born to be teachers and some people get drawn to it after becoming skilled in a particular area. These days you can tutor on a wide range of subjects, from the ukulele to maths to baking. You can teach face to face, at a local college or online. Online sites include VIPKID, TutorVista and tutor. You do usually need a degree in your chosen subject for theses sites but don’t need to be a qualified teacher.

Alternatively you can create online courses on just about anything; from crystal healing to digital painting to Facebook marketing. Udemy and Skillshare are two platforms that you can get started on and get paid every time someone takes your course.

In addition, of course, you can advertise your services locally to teach students in their own home or yours. It could be for extra revision ahead of exams or learning a new skill. There are a multitude of reasons why people seek out a tutor.

Website design

I have to pay £30 to get a basic bit of coding changed on my blog because I don’t have the knowledge, understanding or confidence to do it myself. I bought my website design from a designer for the same reason. Companies need websites designed specifically for them and their brand and will pay decent money for it.


For some people investing in the stock market is a true hobby and they spend hours researching stocks and reading company reports. Me? Not so much, as in not at all! But if you’re not like me and enjoy the challenge of finding the next big stock then you can make money investing. Individual stocks usually pay dividends every quarter or bi-annually. Once you’ve built up a small portfolio you can use the dividends you receive to buy more stock. (I would add that returns aren’t guaranteed and you should take independent advice before investing large amounts of money.)


Would you like to be paid to go shopping? Mystery shopping is big business here in the UK. You won’t become a millionaire with mystery shopping, but you can get free lunches, breakfasts, cash and groceries. I earned £60 for 2 hours work taking out a new bank product at my local branch. Many people see going to a large shopping centre as a leisure activity. Why not get paid for it and possibly have a free lunch? You can find out more about mystery shopping and the best companies to work for here.

These are just ten hobbies you can make money from. There are thousands of other hobbies out there that you could turn into a money making machine. If you have a hobby or enjoy doing something, why not do a little research and see if you could be earning from it?

Many thanks for this guest post from TuppennysFIREplace. She says: ‘I started life as a teenage single mum without tuppence to rub together, then spent many years not much better off. Throughout my life I have saved hard, spent too much, made mistakes and worked my way back out of them. On my blog I talk about living the frugal life and saving enough to retire early. We are on track to retire within 2 years and I can’t wait!




6 Tips to Make Extra Money as a Freelance Writer

This is a guest post from Ruth at Ruth Makes Money. She has some fantastic ideas about how you can use your writing talents to make extra money as a freelance writer.

6 Tips to Make Extra Money as a Freelance Writer

During my eight years of working from home, I’ve tried my hand at plenty of different income streams. From reselling vintage clothes on eBay, to matched betting, to creating and selling my own online courses, all of these things have supported my commitment to never going back to the 9-5.

Freelance writing is where I started though, and it has a special place in my heart. It’s what allowed me to replace my corporate income within a few months of self-employment. Almost a decade later, it’s something that I still love and something that earns me a great chunk of money each month. Now I am here to tell you how you can make money as a freelance writer.

If you’ve ever considered freelance writing yourself, online research might have put you off the idea completely. Maybe you have heard that there’s too much competition. You might be worried about your lack of relevant qualifications or experience. You might believe that you could perhaps earn a few quid here and there, but not a generous and sustainable income.

I can tell you that you absolutely can make extra money as a freelance writer, even if you only have limited time available to commit. Here are six of my top tips for getting started, and increasing your earning potential…

Avoid being a Jack of All Trades by choosing your niche

When many people first think about how to make extra money as a freelance writer, they assume that if they’re willing to write about anything and everything, they’ve got a better chance of landing work. In reality though, the opposite is true. If you end up looking like a generalist, you won’t be giving anyone a really compelling reason to work with you.

Make life easier for yourself straight out the gate by committing to a niche. Maybe you want to write about pets, personal finance, or beauty. There are hundreds of options, but the key is choosing something and sticking with it. Ideally, you’ll find a middle ground between a topic that you’re madly passionate about, and something that you already have a great knowledge of.

Create a portfolio to show off your writing style

Anyone can say that they’re a great writer and can create killer content for business owners. Your clients will want to see proof though, and get a taste for the kind of pieces that you can create, and this is why you need to put together a small portfolio.

Don’t panic if you’ve never had a writing client before, because there are plenty of ways around this, and you can realistically pull something together within just a few days. I’ve even created a guide to creating an awesome portfolio if you have zero professional experience. This is absolutely key to attracting the best (and highest paying) clients, so don’t skip this step!

Find clients where they’re already searching for you

There are dozens and dozens of ways to find clients. When you’re getting started, I firmly believe in choosing the path of least resistance. The good news here is that there are tons of freelance writing job boards out there where people are looking for writers just like you. They already know they need your skills. The fact that they’re advertising the project means that they’re ready to make a decision and get started. All you need to do is show them why you’re the person for the job by sending across a pitch.

I will mention here that freelance writing job boards sometimes get a bit of criticism. Yes, there are lots of low-paid opportunities out there that you’ll want to avoid. But during my first year as a freelancer, these spaces were my sole source of work. I managed to find plenty of clients who were happy to pay decent rates.

Don’t work for free if you want to make extra money as a freelance writer

Okay, so this one is the source of much debate amongst freelance writers. Should you ever work for free, to get a foot on the ladder and build up your portfolio? My view is that no, you shouldn’t. Mainly because it’s completely unnecessary, but also because you want to get paid for this, right?

When you see so-called opportunities that offer you ‘exposure’, or claim that they ‘may lead to paid work in the future’, avoid them like the plague. If you’ve created a portfolio of your work and you’re committed to the pitching process, you absolutely can find paying clients. This is the case even if you’re completely new.

Make a daily commitment to pitching

When you’re using a freelance job board site, the biggest struggle is landing your first gig. You won’t have any feed back from previous clients on your profile, and you won’t have worked your way up the search algorithm by being active on the platform. So yes, it’s a challenge and you’ll have to put in the legwork.

The best advice that I can possibly give here is to make sure that you’re pitching daily. Even if you can only dedicate half an hour. To a certain extent, pitching is a numbers game and you just have to get your applications out there. As well, make sure that you’re following up around seven days later with any potential clients who haven’t got back to you. Most freelancers don’t do this, so it’ll definitely give you an edge!

Treat your side hustle like a business

If you want your freelancing side hustle to become a generous and sustainable income stream, then you need to treat it like a business from day one. Otherwise, you end up dipping your toes in the water and never really gaining any momentum.

This means setting a schedule and sticking to it. It means pitching daily and delivering a professional service to your clients. It means pitching with confidence. Eventually, it means cultivating an online presence as a writer and investing some of your profits back into your own development and your business.

Some of these things you’ll work out along the way, and you don’t have to do everything at once. Treating your freelance work like it’s a business – before you’ve even bagged that first client – is going to play a big part in putting you on the fast track to great earnings and success.

If you’ve got a passion for writing and you’d love to earn some extra money on a part-time basis, freelance writing could be perfect for you. Have you thought about giving it a go? And what’s stopping you from getting out there and finding your first clients?  With a bit of hard work, you can make extra money as a freelance writer!

Ruth is a freelance writer and blogs at RuthMakesMoney.com about genuine ways to make money online, including freelancing, eBay selling, and matched betting.

On the Money with Faith from Much More With Less

In this week’s On the Money interview, I talk to Faith from Much More With Less.

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

on the moneyWhat is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

My earliest memory of money is intense frustration, when my pocket money went up from 10p to 20p a week. Every week we stocked up on penny sweets, and I had grand plans about stretching to a Sherbet Dib Dab when my pocket money rose to previously unknown heights. Then my Dad said I could still only spend 10p on sweets, and had to save the rest! Shocker. I have stuck to a savings habit though.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

No. I’ve always been boringly sensible with my money, something my mother drilled into me. Mind you, I didn’t enjoy seeing my bank balance go down when freelance work dried up, my flat mate moved out, and the bills and mortgage payments were mounting up. I ended up temping to make ends meet.

What was your worst money decision?

My first job after university had a big salary, a lot of travel and longer hours. I did save money and start a pension, but I also spent a lot with nothing left to show for it, on things like takeaways, clothes in airports or Ocado deliveries. If I had my time over again, I’d make different decisions.

What was your best money decision?

Buying my first flat in 1999. At the time, I worried I was too late to benefit from property prices that had risen sharply since 1995. Well, I lived in London, so it turned out I wasn’t too late! All the effort scraping together a deposit and covering the mortgage really paid off. Without buying that first flat, we’d never be living in a home we love today.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Go through all your direct debits. Cancel anything you don’t need or use any more, then aim to find better deals on everything else. Cutting the cost of bills like your gas, electricity, mortgage, mobile, broadband, landline, car insurance, breakdown cover, household insurance and life insurance can save loads without affecting your lifestyle in the least.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

Take your own food and drink. Carting around refillable water bottles, packed lunches and snacks for the kids has saved us thousands of pounds over the years.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Start investing in the stock market sooner, even if you can only salt away £25 to £50 a month.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

With the benefit of hindsight, my first flat was a bargain. Otherwise, a Folio Society set of Mapp & Lucia books for a fiver from a charity shop. I love the books, love the bindings and illustrations, and would never have spent the £100 odd they seem to be selling for. Our £50 sofa from a charity shop was a good buy too.

What was your most recent purchase?

Couple of school PE T shirts for my children. It’s all glamour round here.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

on the money
No. Is that heresy for a money blogger? I keep a spending diary and check our bank balances regularly. This means I have a good sense if there’s more money going out than normal so we can rein it in a bit.
Fundamentally, we avoid spending wherever possible, only buy stuff we genuinely need and aim to get good value when we do buy anything. We keep a cushion of cash in our current account, to avoid any risk of going overdrawn.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share? 

I am incredibly grateful that we’re already mortgage-free, after selling up in London and moving to a less expensive house in Suffolk. Having a lower cost of living means I can work part-time from home, as a freelance personal finance journalist and money blogger, and be around for the children. My husband has been able to return to working for the charity sector. Long term, we’re salting money away in ISAs and pensions for a more comfortable retirement. The state pension is low, and I don’t fancy being forced to choose between heating and eating.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Fab family holiday and a fancy new kitchen! Then support some causes close to our hearts and invest the rest.
Faith Archer is an award-winning personal finance journalist, who also blogs at Much More With Less about moving to the country, living on less and making the most of it. You can also find Faith on her new column at Woman & Home magazine!
If you enjoyed this On the Money interview you might also like to read about some other money bloggers here and here.

On the Money with Vicky from ibeatdebt.com

Welcome to the latest in my series of interviews with well known money bloggers, On the Money. This week’s guest is Vicky from ibeatdebt.com.

Conversations with money bloggers

on the moneyWhat is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

I remember getting pocket money when I was a child and saving it up to buy people presents at Christmas.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

After my dad died I got into debt. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I went on a money management course. Going through all my finances and seeing how bad they were was really scary. I definitely felt out of control, but the debt charity I started working with took control of everything and they were amazing.

What was your worst money decision?

Doing a 0% balance transfer from credit card to credit card with no long term plan to actually clear the balance.

What was your best money decision?

on the moneyGetting financial advice from a debt charity. I’m not sure I’d have ever cleared it on my own. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Where possible I buy own brand products. The vast majority are of equal or even better quality, but by avoiding the big brands you can save a small fortune.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

I take bottled water and snacks to avoid spending money when I’m on the go, but obviously that’s not always possible or appropriate. If I know I’m going somewhere specific (for example for a meal) I will look for a voucher or promo code online before going.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

It seems obvious but don’t buy things you can’t afford and avoid the temptations of credit cards.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

The exact desk I wanted for my new house and which costs nearly £200 in the Ikea catalogue I managed to get for free from Freecycle! I had to store it for a while before I moved but I was so happy I got it.

What was your most recent purchase (not including bills, groceries, etc)

I bought a dress from Monsoon for the evenings on my upcoming holiday from a charity shop for £4!  You can find all sorts of bargains and I love them. I have a few clearance ones near me – including one where everything is £1 – it’s always worth checking out when passing.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

I try to, but it’s quite hard when it’s just me at home – I have to pay all the bills and do all the budgeting myself. There isn’t an exact figure that I limit myself to, but I am always looking for ways to save money (such as taking my own lunch to work) and even make extra money on the side from things like surveys and mystery shopping.

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share? 

I hope very much that I won’t be working until I’m in my 70s (or maybe even later with the way things are going). I relocated (including buying a new house) at the end of last year, and started my new job only a month ago, so I’m not making specific time sensitive goals now, but I do want to clear my mortgage and retire early if I can.

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Clear the mortgage and have a holiday with friends and family. I’d then get some financial advice about the best way to maximise that money . I’m sure you could probably retire on that if you invested wisely (perhaps with property and then living off the rental income) but I would need to investigate my options.

Vicky blogs over at ibeatdebt.com It covers all things money, including how I got into  and out of debt, and also how going forward I manage my money – saving money and making extra money with side hustles.

If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my other On the Money interviews, here and here.

On the Money with Helen from the Complaining Cow

Welcome to the latest in my series of interviews with well known money bloggers, On the Money. This week’s guest is Helen from the Complaining Cow.

Conversations with money bloggers

complaining cowWhat is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

Saving up using the Cheltenham and Gloucester building society money boxes. They had a grid thing across the top so you could put money in but couldn’t take it out! It helped me save! I can’t remember the first thing I bought though.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

No, I have always been good at saving.  I was brought up not to spend what you don’t have. That has stayed with me throughout life and I instil this in my son.

What was your worst money decision?

Not sure I have one.  Although I have bought a few clothes over the years that were certainly mistakes!

What was your best money decision?

To save regularly each month. As a child getting money for Christmas etc I learned to save some and spend some. This attitude helped me buy my first car and flat.

complaining cow

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

Don’t force yourself to go without something. If you keep doing that it will bring you down. It is far easier and kinder to yourself to save what you can afford and live within your means. Don’t deprive yourself from too much for too long or one day you will just stop and blow it all and won’t be able to keep it up. Establish good habits.

What is your best tip for saving money out and about?

If you can be bothered, do your research before hand. There are many deals and discounts to be found.

What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?

Save but don’t sacrifice enjoying life too much for it! Also make sure you become aware of your consumer rights. Many young people are easily fobbed off when they get faulty items or receive poor service so they are out of pocket!

What was your biggest ever bargain?

Probably my flat.  I bought it in the late ’80s so it as gone up in value quite a bit!

 What was your most recent purchase?

I can’t remember, so I must go shopping! Oh – a holiday!

Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?

Nope. Mortgage is paid off. I’d like to bring some more money in as soon as possible so that my partner can retire though!

If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

Look to see best way of investing to see if I could live off the interest. Then, lots of holidays and I would do more voluntary work.

Helen is the Complaining Cow, a blogger and best selling author who speaks and writes in the media about consumer rights. Take a look at her website here. Her book, How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!, is an Amazon bestseller.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, meet some more money bloggers here and here.

How to stop spending and build will power

stop spending

Are you an emotional shopper? Or do you shop because you are bored? I have been guilty of both, although not recently I am happy to say.  It can be so hard to find the will power to stop spending sometimes.

It’s just too easy to spend money! We don’t even need to leave the comfort of our armchairs to have a splurge. You can be idly browsing the internet one minute and have a virtual shopping basket full of goods the next.  I am no shopaholic, but if I am not careful I can easily pop into town for one thing and come back with another four items that I didn’t realise I needed until I saw them.

So if you need to pay off debt or build your savings, how can you learn to resist temptation and just stop spending?

Avoid temptation

This is my number one way to stop spending. If I don’t hit the shops or look online then I don’t really spend anything. I know that I don’t need a lot of stuff and I don’t shop as a leisure activity. This includes charity shops! These are a weakness for me, even if they are full of bargains that I don’t need!

Stop spending on the small stuff

Even if you resist actually going shopping, it is easy to forget small purchases such as a coffee on the way to work, a magazine at lunch time, or a couple of glasses of wine with colleagues at the end of the day. If you find money being leeched from your bank account because of a lot of inexpensive items, try keeping a spending diary for a month. Seeing in black and white how much money you waste on avoidable purchases  can help put you back on track.

Don’t shop with children

If you have kids around it is even harder. Not only do you have to resist your inner shopping demons, you need to stand firm against their constant pleas. If it is remotely feasible to leave them at home, even if you are just grocery shopping, then do! Even now that mine are adults, I still spend more if they are with me!

Set a budget and track your spending

Setting a budget was the action that finally gave me control of my spending. I know how much I have at the beginning of the month, how much my bills are going to be and the amount that will go into savings. What is left over has to last the month. There are loads of different apps around now to help you budget, but I prefer a basic spreadsheet.

Check your balance regularly too to check that you are on track.

Set clear goals

Having a goal to aim for can really focus your attention and help you to stop spending. Try to make your goals specific. Rather than saying ‘I want to pay off my debts’, say ‘I will pay off £100 towards my credit card every month’. My goals for the year were to put a fixed amount each month into my emergency savings fund and the same figure into a holiday/birthday fund. These goals are measurable and achievable. I feel good when I manage to achieve them!

Avoid the sales

Oooh, the sales are a dangerous time! It is so easy to tell yourself it is OK to make a purchase when an item is 50% off. This is why I often have a no spend January. Most of the sales are over by the time I dust off my wallet.

Hide your credit cards or cut them up

I have a single credit card for emergency use only. I don’t take it out with me unless I am going on holiday. It is hidden away in a drawer so that I am not tempted to grab it at home to make an online impulse purchase. I have heard people suggest freezing your credit card in a container full of water – genius! Dave Ramsey would say not to have a credit card at all (‘Cash is king’) and this is a good idea if you are a serious shopaholic. Cut it into a million pieces and throw it away. Which leads onto…

Use cash

Cash is harder to spend than credit or debit cards. You can feel the money in your hand and you can see it leaving you. It hurts more to hand over the paper stuff than flash your debit card over the pay machine. If you go out to make a purchase with £20 and no cards then £20 is all you are going to spend.

Have regular no spend periods

Have regular no spend days, weeks or even months. Once I have a rule that I am buying nothing except essentials for a set period I find it easy to stop spending. The rule is absolute, so no arguing with myself or anyone else. No, I can’t go out to dinner/the pub/the cinema, I am on a no spend month. Yes, new shoes would be nice, but actually I am on a no spend week so I will wear one of the 10 pairs already in the cupboard.

Unsubscribe from newsletters

I try not to get sucked in to subscribing to updates or newsletters when I make an online purchase. However, sometimes those clever companies make it easy to miss the little box you have to tick. Just unsubscribe when they come through, then you won’t be constantly tempted by special offers or discounts.

Cancel catalogues

If you still receive glossy catalogues through the post, cancel those too. Put any you have lying around in the recycling. They make everything look so beautiful and tempting!

Don’t buy glossy magazines

These are even worse than catalogues. They present the perfect (expensive) lifestyle. It’s easy to feel rubbish if your home doesn’t look as stunning as those in the carefully set up scenes, your garden isn’t full of expensive furniture or exotic plants or you haven’t got a wardrobe full of immaculate clothes like the stick thin models. Who do you know you actually lives like that? Well, there may be a couple, but most of us cope with furniture scratched by the cats and wander round in our trackie bottoms and no bra as often as we can get away with it. (Please don’t tell me that is just me!)

Get organised

If you want to keep your spending to a minimum get organised. Keep a running shopping list and plan your meals. You are much less likely to buy food you won’t use or give in to a take away if you know what is for dinner each night.

When you are out and about takes refreshments. I don’t even go into town without a water bottle and often even a flask of coffee. I keep a stash of cereal bars to take out as well. Occasionally I love a coffee out, but this can become an expensive habit if you aren’t careful.

I deserve it

I remember when I first had a Saturday job, aged 16. One of my colleagues often said (as she spent most of her pay packet before she had even left the shop), ‘A working gal needs to treat herself’. For a while I followed her example, but pretty soon realised I was just handing my employer back my hard earned wages!

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of treating yourself because you have been working hard, or feeling poorly, or are a bit down… Just remember what your goals are and how much better you will feel when you make it to the end of the month with no overdraft.

Shop from home to stop spending

When I feel tempted to buy new clothes because I ‘have nothing to wear’, I go through everything I already own.  A wardrobe declutter will always reveal some gems I forgot I had. The same with books, CDs (if you are old fashioned, like me!), kitchen gadgets, tools, etc. This will take your mind of the temptation to buy something new and you might find some unwanted items worth selling. Which brings me to…

Sell instead of buy

As another distraction technique for the shopaholic, how about going through the stuff you already have and making some money? There aren’t many folk in the Western world who don’t possess lots of ‘stuff’. Items that were purchased on impulse and not used, or bought for a particular occasion and used just the once. I am a big fan of decluttering as a kind of therapy. It makes me feel in control and living a (slightly) more minimalistic lifestyle feels less stressful.

If you can sell some of the things you declutter and put the money towards your savings goals or paying debt, you get a double benefit. Time for a spring clean, maybe?

I’ve blown the budget already

Once you have given into temptation, it suddenly becomes so much easier to spend more money. It’s so weird as you would think the opposite would be the case. I find once I have loosened the purse strings a bit I need to be careful not to go crazy with my spending. It is easy to think, ‘Oh well, I have blown the budget now, I might as well get this too’. Be aware if this is you and try to extract yourself from temptation as quickly as possible.

Build in treats

If you do need to stick to a tight budget, it is important to build in some treats. A sense of deprivation and resentment can soon set in if you don’t, no matter how determined you are. A monthly Chinese takeaway, an occasional trip to the cinema or whatever you fancy will be guilt free and more enjoyable when you know you can afford it.

Beg, borrow, share

As many of your family and friends will have useful items such as steam cleaners, hedge trimmers and various power tools that don’t get used frequently, ask to borrow rather than buying new. Offer use of whatever gizmo you already own in exchange.

Join Freecycle or Freegle and see what is being given away for free. You can also post wanted ads for particular items. Just don’t be one of those annoying people who always takes without occasionally giving though!

Understand your triggers

Often your triggers for spending are obvious when you start to think about it. PMT, a tough day at work, loneliness, boredom…. Try to identify yours so that you can develop a strategy to deal with it without spending money. If you are bored or lonely, how about volunteering? If your spending patterns are filling some kind of void in your life, maybe it is possible to find another way to fill it.

The money saver’s chant

Can I afford this? Do I really need this, do I really want it, will I still need it tomorrow? The more you ask yourself these questions before each purchase, the more likely they are to become a habit.

What do you do to stop spending?

I am taking part in the Monday Money linky with Lynn from Mrs Mummy PennyFaith from Much More With Less and Emma from EmmaDrew.Info