Well, we are nearly a month into the Great British Budget challenge, nearly two into my Frugally Fabulous Year and I thought I’d reflect a little on how I’m doing and, more to the point, how I got here.
Everyone’s financial journey starts somewhere. I grew up in a single-parent family, money wasn’t something we talked about in great detail but I knew how things were. We didn’t have a car, we had a lovely little house and I never felt I wanted for anything. My Mum was truly inspirational as someone who balanced part-time work with full-time Motherhood. We had wonderful holidays, trips and, above all, a very happy time of it. Our family has roots deep in memories and experiences, less so things. I really feel this has shaped my view of the sort of Mum I want to be to my daughter.
In 2012, we were hit with the news that little Daisy was on her way. We had no savings, we were just about to move into our own rented place and I was reluctantly heading back into full-time work, knowing full well that this was not a long term option, once the babe was here. Like most people our age, Mr J and I carried a little debt. Mine was the result of a failed and not-thought-out business model, a struggle to live a balanced life in London and almost ten years of being in over-worked and under-paid managerial positions. That’s not a sob story, that’s how it was. It struck me, as I knew I was growing a little, helpless human being inside me, that talk of savings and pensions were a thing of the past, something our parents had been encouraged to do, not our own generation of credit cards, student loans and ‘living for the moment’. Pensions were not readily on offer in our jobs; our peers and circle of friends lived like we did, from day to day, with little thought to a financial future. I didn’t take on either challenge because I was poor with money, it was more about learning to budget and contribute to a secure future, in whatever way I can.
Being pregnant completely changed my outlook on things. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll be aware how adamant I was about not returning to my former work. I realised that it was time to wake up and put dreams into action, my life-long dreams of being a WAHM, an author, a freelance writer and an all-round creative home-bird! With Daisy’s arrival, came the arrival of a fresh start. And with that fresh start, came the need to clean up financially and start looking to the future. This means clearing ALL our debts, seriously looking at pension plans and saving money for ourselves and our family. I have dreams of saving for a family trip to Sweden, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before (about a million times in less than two months)
As part of the Great British Budget, I signed up to use Money Hub; a great financial tool set up by the lovely people over at Your Wealth, to help you track your money, savings, expenditure and budgeting, by inputting your annual income, assets etc. The great thing about this tool, is that you can use it as much or as little as you like. Premium members can link the tool to their accounts so it does the hard work for them, or you can simply sign up for an account and create a budget that works for you.
So far, since joining the Great British Budget, I’ve stuck to my monthly food budget, have even geeked-out and completed price-comparison shops to see just how much I’m saving by changing my food-shopping habits (more on this later – you lucky lot) and I’ll be ending my Frugal February just within budget. Using Money Hub has, so far, helped me to see exactly what money I have and exactly where each penny is going – for someone who isn’t good with figures, it has helped me to look realistically at the bigger picture and see where I can improve our financial status each month. Depressing as it sounds, teaching yourself the ‘spreadsheet’ side of frugal is a necessity when it comes to clearing debts and Money Hub has been a wonderful tool in helping me . I look forward to seeing where it takes me over the next year! And I hope you’ll continue to read about my journey!
DISCLAIMER: As a Great British Budget Panellist, I was offered the chance to try Money Hub for free, though the tool has both free and paid-for options. All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post.