In this week’s On the Money, I meet Clare from My Money Cottage.
Conversations with money bloggers
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?
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.