Welcome to our first blog post of 2020! This week we are joined by the lovely Miss Penny Money. We are really enjoying our Mums Talking Money series and we hope you are too. Make sure you check out our other posts featuring Eco Thrifty Living, Lookingafteryourpennies.com, Boost My Budget, Lylia Rose and Mamafurfur.
Please introduce yourself and your family
My name is Fiona, AKA Miss Penny Money. I’m a freelance writer and I’m married with two daughters, aged 8 and 4. We lost our baby, Poppy, to foetal hydrops in 2013, who would be 6 now.
In 2012 I left full-time employment to look after my eldest daughter, as the cost of childcare outweighed the benefits of going to a job that made me unhappy. My husband worked 12-hour day and night shifts so was often at work, or in bed. Working full-time alongside managing a 7-month-old baby (on my own) made me ill.
So, we took a pay cut and went from a dual-income household, to a single-income household. In between another 2 pregnancies, the trauma of infant loss and a new baby who came to take up most of my time, I spent the next few years writing novels and earning extra money as and when I could.
In 2018 I decided I’d had enough of living a life on credit and embarked on a journey to become debt-free and achieve financial independence. My youngest daughter is now in school, so I’m also focusing on growing a freelance writing business alongside the blog.
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with money (are you good at saving, do you like the splash the cash?)
I like to think I’m good at saving, although I never used to be. Now, I tend to put money in “pots”, to cover for those additional expenses that are easy to forget about until they come around, like car MOT, school uniform and birthdays. I would love to splash the cash but am pretty strict since beginning a journey to become debt-free. It’s frustrating at times though as it often feels like there’s never enough. There is enough, it’s just that it goes on things that are more important than a new shoe cupboard or a rug for the hallway.
Do you have any money saving tips?
Create a budget at the beginning of each month and allocate your money to where it needs to go. Cut back in areas that are non-essential (such as TV subscriptions, or excessive snacks from the supermarket), and put that money towards a sinking fund. That way, when your MOT (or whatever else you need) is due, you’ll be prepared for it and won’t have to resort to using a credit card!
Did your attitude to money change after you welcomed your little one?
Yes, I guess it did. I used to spend without thinking, but then losing my own income made me more conscious of making sure there was enough money available to pay bills. The other thing about having kids is that you stop spending money on yourself. Even if you have holes in your socks, the money you would spend on yourself always ends up on going on essentials for the kids instead!
Best money saving blog post on your website.
The most popular one is Money Saving: How to Write a Successful Meal with Menu Planning. Planning weekly meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) really helps to reduce food-spending and the chance of ordering a takeaway when you’re too tired to cook.
It forces you to think ahead for the week while considering what’s going on and who’s doing what, time constraints and how much energy you’re likely to have! You can view in advance the day before if there’s any light prep you need to do, such as get some meat out of the freezer.
Who do you go to for money advice?
My go-to is moneysavingexpert.com, as I’ve been a visitor to the site for years. It’s such an amazing resource. I also use moneyadviceservice.org.uk, as that’s got loads of really useful information too.
Do you have a money related question that you would like answered?
Yes, why does it always take me so long to write a budget! It’s essential for good financial health (and then good mental health as you’re not worrying about where your money is going, or if there’s enough), but it can take a while sometimes.
What’s your biggest money failure?
Getting into £20K worth of debt in the duration of my adult life, just because I could “afford the monthly repayments”. I hate seeing that money go to debt, when I know it could be spent on something so much nicer.
What is your biggest money success?
Having paid off over £8,000 worth of debt in 17 months. I’d like that figure to be higher, but you can only go gazelle-intense for so long before you go mad. So now it’s more a case of managing money better and sending any extra to debt.
If you have a mortgage did you see a mortgage advisor?
I used a broker when taking out our mortgage, which was all dealt with over the phone.
What one piece of money advice would you like to share with other mums?
Budget for everything. Food, fuel, clothes, birthdays, school uniform. Get better organised. Sit down at the beginning of every month, and every week, to plan your upcoming costs and outgoings, then log spending to see trends and see where you might need to cut back.
What one piece of money advice would you like to share with your children?
That money isn’t scarce, it’s only scarce if you make it so. We all have the power within us to make money. And when we do make it, we should put it to work. Don’t be afraid to spend, but don’t overspend. Live within your means and avoid using credit. And most of all, save for your future, because no-one else is going to fund it for you.
What is your dream family holiday?
To go somewhere tropical, with white sand beaches and palm trees, and safari inland. Or Disneyland, because my children really want to go there, and I’d love for them to have that experience before they grow up.
And there we go guys! Thank you so much Fiona for joining us and sharing your story. Make sure you check out her blog and socials if you haven’t already! Links below.