On the Money with Mean Queen

On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers

on the moneyWelcome to the second in my series of interviews with well known money bloggers, On the Money. This week’s guest is Ilona, aka Mean Queen, who blogs at Life After Money. Ilona, who is a retired lorry driver, says, ” I live with three cats, I make do and mend, being very careful with my spending, only buying what I need. I have no qualms about buying second hand from car boot sales and charity shops, and getting free stuff from skip diving. Money saved is put towards holidays, a decent car, and days out. I love life, and it needn’t cost a fortune to enjoy it.” Here she is, on the money.

What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?

On the moneyWe didn’t get pocket money when we were kids, Mum couldn’t afford it. My first wage packet at 15 was £4 and 5 shillings. I had to pay Mum board and had a bit left over which went on make up and fabric to make clothes.

Have you ever felt out of control with your money?

No, never. I have always lived within my means. Mum taught me that if I didn’t have enough money to buy something I wanted, I saved up for it.

What was your worst money decision?

Buying a catering trailer and setting up a business on an industrial estate. I hated it, it didn’t last long. I sold everything at a loss.

What was your best money decision?

Buying my first house. I didn’t think so at the time because I was skint for many years. I am now in my third house, and in a good position, having paid off my mortgage.

What is your best tip for saving money at home?

I buy second hand wherever I can, charity shops, car boot sales, skip dive for free stuff. I take my time looking for bargains, and wait until I find the right price. Food shopping: I buy at different places, reduced yellow stickers, discount stores. I spend time searching for best prices.

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

I take food and drink with me from home if it is a day out. I look for free entertainment, and very rarely pay an entrance fee to visit somewhere. It has been know for me to walk around the outside of a historic building taking photographs, but not pay to go in.

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

Don’t try to keep up with everybody else. Stay true to your individual style, dress how you like, don’t follow the crowd. Spend a bit, save a bit, and don’t borrow. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.

What was your biggest ever bargain?

That’s difficult. 90% of my purchases are bargains. I buy as cheaply as I can and when all the small savings are added up it means I have extra money left over in my purse. I shopped at the four big supermarkets for Rip off Britain, spending £5 in each, and coming away with £80 worth of food.

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

I don’t buy very much for myself. A few small items for crafting purposes maybe. A new office chair a few months ago because the one I was using was old and uncomfortable.  I reckon I deserved a new one because I spend so much time sat in it.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?

No. Because I am mindful of what I spend my money on. I am disciplined enough to not waste any. I know I can afford everything I buy.

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

I don’t make long term plans. The only goal I have is to eventually sell the house and spend the money. I have no idea when or how that will happen, but I firmly believe that I came into this world with nothing and will be happy to leave with nothing.

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

Buy a slightly newer bigger house in the area I am in now. Buy a motorhome and go travelling. Then look for good causes to give a lot away.

I hope you enjoyed reading Ilona’s thoughts on money. If you missed my first On the Money interview with Katy Kicker, you can find it here.

14 thoughts on “On the Money with Mean Queen

    • Hi. It is only now at this late stage in my life, that I own the house I live in. I didn’t own the first two, the building society part owned them. From the sale of the second one I put £21,000 deposit down on this one, so it was also part owned by the building society for a good many years.

      I think it’s much harder now for young people to get on the housing ladder. They need a larger deposit, good jobs to pay for a mortgage, and the long term vision of where they want to be in 20 or 30 years time. The pressure is on to live now pay later, spend and have a good time. They see what other people are doing and want to be part of it. Before the internet news came via the TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Comparing rich with poor was not constantly pushed in your face, so you just got on with life as best you could. My parents never had a mortgage, because they didn’t have the means to pay for one. They were content to have a roof over their heads, supplied by the Council.

      Saying that, I still think it’s possible to get on the housing ladder if you are prepared to commit to a long term plan. I have lived in poverty in the past, with every penny I earned going towards getting the house half decent. I am pleased to say I never missed one mortgage payment. In my opinion there still is a recipe for how to own your own house, it just needs a strong will power to carry it through.

  1. Ilona is so helpful and I love how she views things from different angles and comes up with great new solutions. I’ve applied her ideas and now live debt free, with savings and more time.

  2. Am a huge fan of Ilona with all her practical down-to-earth money-saving tips. Her own zest for life is so encouraging.

  3. What I love to read with Ilona and all thrifty blogs is that I don’t feel alone anymore with being thrifty. So many people like to judge how we have lived in saving and saving and that have even said “I am cheap” which is very different from frugal. I am also glad to say that my children are now following in our footsteps and learning to live within their means. But it is hard when its constantly pushed down ones throat to buy this buy that. Another thing I am lucky with is my husband is also very thrifty and will fix anything until we absolutely have to buy a new one thus saving us many dollars. Keep up the good work Shoestring Jane I love all the frugal blogs I read.

  4. I just got back from my local thrift second hand store, bought 5 tee shirts practicality brand new and good quality, cost $ 10. I try to buy name brands as they are usually well made. When I am sick of wearing them they become dusters and I don’t feel bad as they cost so little. Bought new pottery for my garden and a blanket for when I sit outside and it is cool at night, 8 gift bags, some birthday stuff as my daughter is having a pool party in June. I buy things ahead of time and then don’t have to rush to the stores and pay full price. I would say 95% of my things are second hand and I use the money saved to enjoy myself. Love Ilona and her blog, we would be great friends if I still lived in England.

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