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
- 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.