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.
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?
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.
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