Conversations with money bloggers
Welcome to the next in my series of interviews with well known money bloggers, On the Money. This week’s guest is Fiona from Savvy in Somerset.
What is your earliest memory of having and spending money?
I can remember being allowed to buy a toy I wanted in the sales after Christmas because I had some Christmas money to spend. I think it was one of those situations where I was quite surprised my Mum had said yes!
Have you ever felt out of control with your money?
Not out of control as such, but when I first got a full time job I spent the majority of what I earned for the first few years. Money was always tight when I was growing up so it was that feeling of ‘Wow, I can buy whatever I want now I have my own money’!
I bought some GHD’s and Converse to begin with (which seemed like proper luxuries to me at the time!) and then probably spent £30 – £50 on clothes a week for the next two or three years!
After giving my Mum rent money and going out partying two or three nights a week that was most of my wages gone. Gradually my hours increased and I decided to learn to drive, so that gave me a focus to be more sensible with my money.
What was your worst money decision?
It cost me a lot of money to learn to drive – in part because I didn’t have my own car to practice in (I didn’t see the point in buying one as none of my family drive, so no-one would be able to sit with me). By the time I had finished lessons, passed my test, bought my first car and paid for things like insurance and MOT I was completely skint. Five days after picking up my first car I was in an accident on the motorway (not my fault) and the car was a write off.
Between lessons and buying the car I’d spent almost £5k and had nothing to show for it. I couldn’t afford to just go out and buy another car, even a cheap run around. Due to various complications, it took over 18 months for me to get a settlement from the insurance company. Luckily I didn’t need the car for work.
Because I went so long after the accident without driving, it had a huge impact on my confidence. I ended up being too nervous to drive for almost four years. In the end I ended up paying out for even more driving lessons to help regain my confidence.
I think this just goes to show how much of an impact different things can have on your finances. It really made me never want to be in position where I couldn’t afford to replace something essential, like a car, again.
What was your best money decision?
Saving up a huge deposit when we bought a house. This has meant our mortgage is substantially less than most of our peers and it’s for a shorter period too.
It took five years to save up the amount we wanted, but knowing we’d able to survive on one wage if we needed to has given us a great sense of financially security. Doing this has allowed me to give up my day job to blog even though the income can be varied and in turn means we won’t have to worry about childcare when our baby arrives.
What is your best tip for saving money at home?
Make sure you check all your household bills regularly to make sure you’re on the best tariff or deal that you possibly can be. Never let anything, such as insurance, auto-renew as they always put up the prices and it’s usually cheaper if you shop around.
What is your best tip for saving money out and about?
Eating out is a big part of our lives. I’m a total foodie and love letting someone else do the cooking! We try to budget for it and set ourselves a spending limit for each meal out.
Using something like Tastecard or a Gourmet Society card is great for this. I’m all for two for one meals if I can get it! Also we try to eat out during the week rather than on a Friday or Saturday. Usually Indian and Chinese restaurants will have a cheap set menu on a week night.
What would be your advice to the 18 year old you regarding finance?
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! I think it’s so hard though when you’re young – especially as it’s unlikely at that age that you’d be ready to buy a house or start thinking about a mortgage.
What was your biggest ever bargain?
My biggest bargains tend to be food related. I love buying reduced food at the end of the day and stocking up my freezer.
- The best have included two £10 gammon joints for 49p each.
- Packs of fresh king prawns and scallops for 5p each.
- Sliced topside of cooked roast beef packs for 10p each.
What was your most recent purchase?
As we have a baby on the way, we’ve been trying to get everything we need for her for as little money as possible. One weekend we attended a Mum2Mum baby event. It was brilliant – loads of bargains! We managed to get several of the ‘big’ things we still needed for very little. We found a jungle gym, brand new bouncy chair and a huge selection of vests, dresses, shoes, etc. All for just over £20.
Do you stick to a monthly budget?
The main thing we budget for is food shopping. We’ve got really good at only buying what we need, with occasional treats thrown in if we manage to grab a few a reduced bargains that lower the cost of our overall shop.
The rest of the time I would say we’re careful but don’t specifically budget as such. We’re both a bit antisocial so we are quite happy at home. I usually meet a friend for coffee and cake once a week and do a monthly quiz night and that’s about it. As mentioned above, I do like a nice meal out with my husband but we always look for offers to keep the cost down as much as possible.
Do you have any long term financial goals you would like to share?
It has always been our aim to pay of our mortgage as soon as we possibly can. However, we have made some decisions recently that mean this may take a little longer than planned. My husband has decided to go back to college to retrain. This has meant a whole new career path and needing to take a bit of a pay cut while he learns. While this will affect our finances in the short term, once he’s qualified we will be much better off financially. It’s all about the long term and what we can do now to make our lives better in the future.
It also goes back to what I mentioned before about saving a big deposit for our house. Having a small mortgage meant we could afford for him to retrain and still keep a roof over our heads without having to worry.
If you won a million on the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
Pay off our mortgage and buy another two or three investment properties to provide rental income. Once that was sorted, then we would do some fun stuff like holidays and a new car!
You can read Fiona’s blog here.