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.
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.