On the Money: Conversations with money bloggers
In the latest in my On the Money series, I meet Cat Plummer from Penny Wise Life Rich. Here’s what she had to say.
What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?
I remember having birthday money when I was very little and being able to choose what I wanted to buy. It was really exciting because I could choose whatever I wanted – but I didn’t want to spend it all. I don’t remember what I bought though. Another memory that springs to mind is having an amount to spend on penny sweets. I always made sure to choose the 1p or the two for 1p sweets rather than buying any 2p or 5p sweets. I obviously wanted to get my money’s worth then!
Have you ever felt out of control with your money?
I had a period of time when I was at university when I did feel a bit out of control with it all. It felt like no matter what I did, the debt just kept creeping up. I was doing a full-on teaching degree, so I wasn’t left with much time to work when taking into account study and teaching placements. Each year the debt just seemed to grow even though we were being so sensible. I used to spend every summer working every hour I could to cover the gap that my loans didn’t meet. I was so glad to finally graduate so that I could start earning a proper, regular salary.
What was your worst money decision?
This made me chuckle, but it was probably cashing in my pension when I was 18 or 19. I ended up with £700 but I enjoyed spending it! I think I booked a holiday with it. I do wonder what that would look like now but hey ho!
What was your best money decision?
The best decision we made was to clear the debts and save like crazy to buy our house. Aside from that, it was to go on a honeymoon to Mauritius. It wasn’t cheap but we saved for 18 months after our wedding and it came at a time when I was really suffering burnout in my teaching job. Without this holiday I’m not sure how I could have got through the last few months of teaching. It really did recharge my heart, mind and soul.
What is your best tip for saving money at home?
One of the main places that I saved money both times I got out of debt was with food. Taking stock of what I had in, creating meal plans, writing a shopping lists, batch cooking. If your income is pretty fixed, the grocery budget is a good place to start to shave some pennies.
What is your best tip for saving money out and about?
If I know I am going to be out and about I try and think about where I’m going to be and how that might impact on spends. I try and plan as much as I can. So, it might be searching out vouchers, or checking points cards, or even getting cashback. My bank offers cashback on certain purchases so I check to see if I am going to any of those places. I also try and allocate a budget, and if you are a bit skint, always ask yourself- do I need it?
What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?
You really don’t need that credit card! Or the four after that. Lol!
What was your biggest ever bargain?
Probably our kitchen. We negotiated keeping the range cooker as part of our house purchase and we got the new cupboard and drawer carcasses free! We asked at new build site what they were going to do with the immaculate kitchen they had just taken out of the show home and they were just going to throw it away! So we asked if we could have it! We then bought the worktops, etc. and Mr P fitted it all.
What was your most recent purchase
My most recent purchase (as I am writing this post!) is a carpet for our spare bedroom. We are currently tackling one room at a time and the spare room is next on the list. Our next purchase after that will be double glazing for the front of the house. What we are doing now, as we don’t want to get into debt again is to save up for each purchase at a time to make sure we’ve got the money before we buy it.
Do you stick to a monthly budget?
I do, yes. It really is the only way we can stay in control! We’re not restricted though, and this is a common misconception about budgets. I prefer to call it a spending plan as we plan where we’re going to spend our money. We sit down at the end of each month just before payday and work out how much we’ve managed to save, if we’ve gone over budget and also what we’ve got coming up in the next month. This works really well for us as we’ve managed to do everything we really want to do just with some careful planning.
Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?
I’d really like to pay off my mortgage early. I haven’t come up with a definitive plan in relation to that as we’ve got some other things we want to do to our house first, but definitely before we retire. I’d love to retire early too but as I’m currently 33 I think I’ve got a bit of working left to do first!
If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
The very first thing I would do is pay off my mortgage, then I would pay off my Dad’s and mother-in-law’s mortgages. I’d love to go back to Mauritius again so I’d want to do that too, plus buy myself a new car!
Cat Plummer is a money blogger and money coach and writes over at www.pennywiseliferich.co.uk. She lives in sunny Sussex by the sea with her husband and crazy cocker spaniel. Cat loves to help people save money and learn more about their money stories. She believes that you can lead a penny-wise but rich life.