Category Archives: Personal Finance

save for your child's future

Saving for your child’s future – Junior ISA’s, savings & bonds

Saving for your child’s future

Even when times are tough I put money aside for the boys.  As the years progress things are getting more and more expensive, things like university, car insurance or buying a first house. Any nest egg we can provide for them will be a great help when they reach a certain age. They current have a Junior ISA each and regular easy access savings accounts.

children are growing up

Equilibrium has pulled together a fabulous guide to help young families plan better for the future, here are some things that you might want to consider.

 We all want our children to be financially secure when they grow up. Luckily, there are things that parents can do today that can make a real difference tomorrow. From choosing a suitable savings vehicle to starting a pension early, there are plenty of ways to get the ball rolling.

Not only does saving for your child give them a great start to their adult life, it also teaches them important lessons about money, especially the rewards of saving. By putting money away for your children from an early age, you are setting a great example and hopefully laying the groundwork for a lifetime of sensible saving.

Junior ISAs

There are lots of savings vehicles to choose from, it’s just a case of picking the one best suited to you and your child. A Junior ISA (JISA) is a particularly popular option. They are available for children who live in the UK and are under the age of 18 and are, effectively, tax-free, long-term savings accounts for children. They are very useful for building up a substantial pot over long periods, such as throughout your son or daughter’s childhood. For the 2017 to 2018 tax year, the savings limit for JISAs is £4,128.

You have the choice of two types of Junior ISA, a cash JISA and a stocks and shares JISA:

  • A cash Junior ISA is a tax efficient savings vehicle, which allows your child to receive tax free interest on the cash saved. The interest rates and returns will vary depending on the institution offering the cash JISA.
  • A stocks and shares Junior ISA aims to provide a tax efficient investment with the potential for capital growth in the medium to long term. The cash within the JISA can be invested into a wide variety of funds, with no tax paid on any dividends or capital growth received. Funds invested within a Stocks and Shares JISA are at risk, as there is the possibility that the value of the funds could go down as well as up, meaning that you may not get back the amount invested.

Children’s savings accounts

Children’s savings accounts offer a popular alternative to Junior ISAs and are seen by many as a great way of getting children into good savings habits. A child can, for example, begin managing their own account once they turn seven. A parent can set up an account with a bank or building society on behalf of their child, and certain providers will encourage this by offering gifts. These gifts are often geared to encouraging a child to save; for example, a money box can show the benefits of putting a little aside every so often.

Children’s bonds

Another option is children’s bonds. While the child owns the bonds, it is only their parent or guardian who can buy them, and it is they who hold the bonds until the child reaches 16. Bonds represent a long-term, tax-free investment and allow parents to have more certainty over the return their child will receive. However, they may not be suitable if your child wants control over their money, nor if they want early access to it, and with this being an investment you might not receive back the amount you invested originally.

save for your child's future

Starting a pension

It may seem odd to be thinking about starting a pension at such an early age; however, doing so can be a good way to build up a substantial savings pot for much later life. While this might not appeal to everyone, it is certainly not unheard of and is sometimes a preferred option among parents who do not want their children to have access to their money at the age of 18. It might therefore be suited to those with an eye on a long-term approach to financial planning. Whilst capital will be at risk, this can be mitigated by the length of the investment, as the earliest a child can access their pension is 55, meaning that volatility or loss in the short term will have less of an impact.

Whatever savings vehicle you choose, be sure to do the necessary research beforehand. While some options may work for one family, they may not be suitable for another. Just remember that whatever you begin to put away now, no matter how little, can make a big difference further down the line.

Equilibrium’s Guide to Wealth Management for Young People is aimed at people aged 25 to 40 who are looking to plan their finances now to help their family in the future.

This is a collaborative post.

Money Making Madness Linky #1

Money Making Madness Linky #1

Welcome to our Money Making Madness Linky, a fortnightly round up of some fantastic money making blog posts written by bloggers from all over the world. We want to read all of your money making blog posts so that we can be inspired and we can all help others – do you have an online income report, have you de-cluttered and sold your items on eBay or have you written a fantastic guide for making money online? Maybe you have an alternative way of making money that you are keen to share with the world from up-cycling furniture to making hair bows to making cards anything that earns you extra pennies, pounds or thousands!

Open to all bloggers, we look forward to seeing what you have posted recently, and how you have made extra money. We invite you to add your post to the linky.

Yours hosts

money making madness linky #1

The Money Making Madness linky is the brain child of personal finance bloggers; Charlotte Burns from Lotty Earns, Emma Bradley from Mum’s Savvy Savings, Emma Drew from EmmaDrew.Info and Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny.

We are really excited about inviting you to join in with this linky.

Why take part?

Taking part in the Money Making Madness fortnightly linky will help you to not only find awesome bloggers and read great blog posts, but it will help to bring more traffic to your own blog posts. Give it a try, we would love for you to join in. We would love for you to take part regularly, every two weeks.

The rules

We are really excited that you want to join in, but we do have some rules for taking part in the Money Making Madness linky.

  1. Your blog post must have been published within the past 365 days.
  2. It must related to money making in some way – income reports, a new money making method you have found or something similar.
  3. You must include a link back to all of your hosts within the blog post you are linking up – you will find the HTML below.
  4. You may link a maximum of three blog posts per linky.
  5. Please visit other bloggers participating in the linky – if you would like to leave a comment then that’s great too. We would ask that you visit a minimum of 3 different blog posts within the linky.

Or copy and paste:

I’m taking part in the Money Making Madness Linky hosted by Charlotte Burns from Lotty Earns, Emma Bradley from Mum’s Savvy Savings, Emma Drew from EmmaDrew.Info and Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny.

Just click on the link widget below and add your link.


pensionbee

My Pension Mess has been Fixed thanks to PensionBee.

My Pension Mess has been fixed thanks to PensionBee

Back in September 2016 I published an honest story about my pensions mess, you can read it here. My pension is something that I always brushed under the carpet. I (rather mistakenly) didn’t pay in to my scheme during my twenties and started contributing to my company pension when I was 32. The consequence being that I missed the golden years of my youth contributions when I had no outgoings relating to children (read that as expensive outgoings!). Who knows how much money I missed out on putting into my pension. Especially when you consider the impact of the time value of money (money invested 15 years ago, is worth a lot more now ).

However, I cannot change the past, but I can impact the present and set myself up for the future. So, I made the decision to unlock my frozen pensions by transferring them over to PensionBee. I wanted to give myself some freedom to make choices and prepare for retirement.

I kicked off the process by starting the transfer on 24th November 2016. Two pension pots from my previous companies EE and Threshers (FQR Ltd) were to be transferred. Simple you would think.

Before I put any transfers into place I firstly gave each pension company a call to check my balance and to check the fees I was paying each year. Also, the returns they had been giving me on average each year. I then had something to compare to PensionBee.

The PensionBee Tracker plan fee of 0.5% was cheaper than one fund (0.6%,) and a tiny bit more than the other fund (0.46%) and the returns which are by no means guaranteed, looked good.

pensionbee

However, the most important part for me was that my frozen schemes would be unlocked and I would now be able to pay into my pension scheme when I chose.

To kick off the process I very simply added my existing pension company names, account numbers, address, previous address, name and maiden name. The information was whizzed over to the BeeKeepers who then did all the chasing and organising for me. I received friendly and simple email communication throughout the transfer process.

Let’s start the clock

My details were provided to PensionBee on 24th November. I received an email on 29th November telling me that my smaller Threshers/FQR pension pot was ready to be transferred! But my bigger EE pension pot required paper forms to be signed by me – or delays could ensue. I just needed to e-sign a letter saying that Pensionbee could act on my behalf, and this was organised very securely on 29th November.

On 22nd/23rd December I received an email to say my pension funds of around 11k had been transferred from my simpler Legal & General, FQR policy. I could now see my balance in my PensionBee dashboard!

pensionbee

But there were delays to my EE transfer as the provider was dragging their heels and required an actual pen to paper signature.

Forms were posted to me for my EE pension that I just needed to sign and return in the pre-paid envelope. It was Christmas and New year and I sat on them for two weeks. PensionBee sent me a chaser email on 5th January which prompted me to remember, sign and return them. On 6th Feb I received an email from BeeKeeper Jack to say that my EE pension of 31k was in the process of being transferred. I got my completion email on 10th Feb.

From initiation to final transfer completion took 78 days! Even without my two-week delay of sitting on forms it would still have been 64 days! This is no fault of PensionBee – rather the established pension companies who drag their heels with the transfer of funds. To improve things PensionBee are campaigning and lobbying the government to enforce a ten-day switch guarantee. After all, why shouldn’t switching pension providers be just as simple as switching your bank account? You can support the PensionBee campaign for a ten-day transfer by sending a letter to your MP here.

I was comforted by the regular emails from the PensionBee team who kept me well informed and who chased me when I forgot to sign and return the forms to them! But I still do not understand why it should take so long to transfer my money to a pensions company of my choice! You can support the PensionBee campaign for a ten-day transfer by sending a letter to your MP here.

The present

I can check how much is in my pension pot every day (if I want) and see how it changes over time. I am planning to start up a monthly direct debit into my pension pot before the end of 2017.

This potentially scary and painful decision was made simple by PensionBee who did all the work for me.

The future

I can use the calculator on the PensionBee website to see what my fund would be worth to me when I retire. This is the very scary part. If I wanted to retire at 65, invested nothing more into my pot, and just let it grow naturally with the fund, it would be worth £4,680 per year. This is just £390 per month. This is not good, really not good.

pensionbee

I need to act to make this income higher and this is the next part of my financial plan. I want to plan effectively for the future with my pension, savings, equity and investments. I have an appointment planned with a financial planner very soon, which I will of course write about on Mrs Mummypenny. It feels so good to be in control of our finances and our future.

Also on the to-do list is to follow this same process for my hubby, who has two potentially small pension pots from a very long time ago.

Please be aware that any form of investment can go up and down and you may want to consider advice from a qualified IFA. Just make sure they are recommended by a trusted friend and check their investment levels as some will only work with clients with an investment level of at least £150k. This post was written in collaboration with PensionBee.

 

leetchi

Investing in a Successful Small Business to help it Grow with Leetchi

Investing in a Successful Small Business to help it Grow with Leetchi

Mrs Mummypenny has reached the point where it is too big for one person, me, with just the 168 hours per week to manage.

I, of course need sleep, take away 56 hours. I need to see my family and cook dinners, go to football games, do school runs. Take away another 49 hours per week. I need to exercise, 7 hours per week. Leaving me with 56 hours to week to run a flourishing and successful business.

Oh yes, don’t forget hubby is also launching his own business and needs help from me setting up the marketing and PR elements. Argggg.

So now is the time to 1) take on an assistant 2) think about outsourcing more stuff 3) think about investment.

Taking on help

I have written a to do list of everything I need to do to run Mrs Mummypenny. I have then split that list into what I can give to an assistant. Said assistant has been found, an immediate feeling of calm enveloped me and could breathe for at least 24 hours after we agreed to go ahead!

What else can I outsource?

Cleaning

I need to hire a cleaner. I cannot be wasting precious time cleaning our house. And I need our house to be clean and tidy so I have a clear and tidy mind. I need the clutter gone, I need space. Decluttering is in full progress, I have alot for sale on my Knebworth Items for sale Facebook group. I need to find a cleaner. Next Step – add to do list.

Accounts and Book-keeping

My assistant is going to do my expense/receipts recordings, my invoicing and chasing of my invoices. And reconcile my bank accounts and show me a summary each month of what jobs I agreed, how much cash I received and how much expenses I paid out. Phew

I employed an accountant as soon as I incorporated. He has just completed my year 1 accounts, which were submitted last week. He is worth his weight in accountancy fees, let me tell you. Christian Elmes is a superstar accountant.

Invest in scheduling tools to help manage my social media.

I use Hootsuite for Twitter. And I am considering Tailwind and Board booster for Pinterest. Another thing that my assistant can help with. See how reliant I am on this assistant!

What I am not going to Outsource

Writing

Mrs Mummypenny is me, my view, my writing, my style. I can’t outsource it to others to write for me. Particularly when it comes to campaigns where I am employed specifically for my writing style, straight talking and genuine views.

Instagram and Facebook

My Instagram and Facebook posts. I only do 1 a day on each platform and they are personal to me. I want to carry on doing these. I love Instagram and often say to brands if you want to get to know me then browse through my Instagram feed.

Investment Options

In order to grow and grow as fast as my five-year plan says I need investment. Investment can come in many forms, here is what I am thinking about or in the process of discussing.

Retained Earnings

Obviously the first place for an investment pot. I have some retained earning but not much. Really not enough!

Investment from a mentor/angel investor

I am talking to a few people about potential loans or equity (not made up my mind here, particularly when it comes to control). These people would also act as official advisors. They have a copy of the progress after two years and my plans for the next three years. I have pulled together a plan of how much money I would need, what I would spend it on and how much return I and they would get for that investment.

Just to point out I spent 16 years working for EE, Tesco, HSBC doing this job for big companies. I am a qualified commercial accountant (ACMA), so I know what I am talking about when it comes to making money out of a business.

Loans from bank/friend

I have a couple of friends who might consider investing in me for no interest charges, but cannot offer the business/mentor advice I need. I could also get a loan from my bank or start up loans company for around 6% interest.

Grants

There are grants available for small business growth, I am definitely considering this free money!

Donation based crowdfunding platform

There are a few platforms available out there, including Leetchi.com, the new entrant to the UK market. This crowdfunding website can be used to get your project off the ground, based on purely donations not an investment. How does it work? You create your crowdfunding page, the so called online money pot, personalise it and invite people to help you raise money online! Leetchi.com’s fees are much smaller than the bigger players in this market as they have developed their own payment solution (MANGOPAY), making sure that more money goes to the actual projects and causes.

leetchi money pot

You can set a target of any amount and when you are happy with the amount you can transfer it to your bank account. If the transfer amount is less than £2000 there is 4% fee, if it’s more than £2,000 there is a 2.9% fee. As you see this is much more competitive than Crowdfunder at 6%, GoFundMe at 7.9% or JustGiving at 5%.

Leetchi.com platform can also be used for personal crowdfunding and good cause fundraising. You can fund anything and everything, from sorting out group gifts (for birthdays, leaving do, weddings etc), to supporting non profit organisations and individuals in need.

Both Charlotte Burns and Emma Bradley have written about Leetchi focusing on these ways of using Leetchi as a platform. Click on their names to read their posts.

I am hosting a charity event on 16th June 2017, if you live near to Knebworth why not pop along, details are here. A stationery party with money raised going to Grief Encounter. This platform would also be perfect for donations to be made to the charity from people who can’t make it to the event.

This is a collaborative post with Leetchi

excessive packaging

Excessive Packaging on Regular Grocery products

Excessive Packaging

Have you ever bought a huge box of washing powder on promotion thinking “Wow, I have got a bargain here”, but when you get home and open it up the box isn’t full of the product? Do you feel hard done by?

And what about the environmental impact? That huge box of fairy washing power is using much more packaging than necessary, takes up more room in the lorries for transportation. And we the customer, end up PAYING MORE than we should from the extra packaging and transportation costs?

It really aggravates me. I recently filmed my findings with ITV’s Good Morning Britain on the subject. 4 hours of decluttering and cleaning ensued before the arrival of the filming team!

I love to share deals with my website and social media followers to save them the lots of money. After all, it’s the aim of my website to save and make you money! But I do struggle with the environmental aspects of products, particularly from the supermarket. I always like to buy loose products rather than packaged, as no 1, I know they are cheaper (have you ever compared 5 bananas loose to 5 bananas in a packet?) and no 2 what a waste of plastic and cardboard.

Despite my efforts our recycling bin is always full to bursting point by collection time every two weeks.

Examining 10 Family Favourites

I examined ten of our favourite branded grocery products to see how much wasted packaging there was. Some examples were just silly, the brands need to stop doing this! I looked at Fairy washing powder, Quavers, Nivea men’s deodorant, chocolate buttons, frozen peas, frozen vegetables chips, cheese strings, pepperami, mini rolls and hot chocolate.

I even had a measuring tape to investigate the level of waste in the packaging. The worst culprits were the washing powder, the chocolate buttons and the mini rolls. The washing powder boxes were huge, they were bumper ‘special offer’ 4kg boxes. The type of boxes you will always find on the power aisle of your super market. I opened it up and was shocked to see that 1/3rd of the box was empty! Rather deceiving of the brand there.

wasteful packaging

The chocolate buttons were an interesting one, we looked at bumper grab bag packets which were basically full of air and only ¼ full of chocolate. With the mini rolls, there was a stark difference when you took the rolls out of the packaging as to how small they were compared the cardboard tray after removing two layers of packaging!

The deodorant was a funny one, it was the screw up type. I turned the packaging to pop up the deodorant to see how much product was in there, around half of the packaging was deodorant the rest was packaging, I popped up the deodorant and dropped and smashed on my spotless kitchen work top.

Check me out on Good Morning Britain

I appeared on Good Morning Britain on 19th May 2017 (Thank you to Nicolette for introducing me as an expert). I popped it onto YouTube with commentary from my 4 year old Jack who hadnt yet seen it!! Its good!!

Tell me about products that annoy you with ridiculous amount of packaging? What do you do to avoid buying products with so much packaging?

 

This article is my view and my view only.

goHenry

goHenry and how it can help your children to manage their money

goHenry and financial education

I am very open with my children about money. They know how much things cost, they understand when times are a bit tight with money and they know when we have money to spend on nice things like holidays. They know that mummy and daddy are working hard to earn as much as possible, saving cash to repay some money we owe. They also know the value of things, they know how much the mortgage costs and how much work its takes to pay for the mortgage. I really think we as a nation of parents should be open and discuss these things with our children.

Let us have our children growing up knowing that money must be earned which then pays for the house, the food, the after-school clubs, the football boots. I don’t want them thinking they can have whatever they ask for and there is unlimited pot of money. Because there isn’t.

Consequentially, I am supportive of any tools that will help the boys to understand the value of money. The goHenry pre-payment card was mentioned to me last year. There was a Facebook debate on Mrs Mummypenny about amount of pocket money, yes or no to pocket money, is it dependant on chores. I turned it into a post here. A couple of people mentioned the Go-Henry card.

What is goHenry?

It is a pre-payment card that is suitable for children of Josh’s age and over. Josh is 7 and he is quite comfortable with money and the value of things. Judge your own child and their acceptance of the value of money. According to Cambridge university children form their money habits and beliefs from the age of 7 so it is a good age to start.

You set up a parent account where a balance of money sits, then add your children’s accounts. I set up one for Dylan and one for Josh and set up a weekly transfer of £5 per week into their accounts. The pre-payment cards can be used at the cash machine to withdraw cash, used in shops via chip and pin to pay for things.

You can transfer in a one-off chunk of money and drip feed in weekly pocket money. And you can set up other people, family members to transfer money in as well.

The website and the app are simple to use and track your children’s spending and if you do have any queries the customer service team are friendly and helpful. I was struggling to get any cash out at the cash machine and couldn’t work out the pin number, I called goHenry and everything was resolved within 5 minutes.

What I like

  • The control that it gives you over pocket money and money given to your children. In the past, the boy’s grandparents transfer money to the boys by using my bank account and the money ends up lost in my account.
  • The boys love having their own pre-payment card and feel really grown up. They chose a football designed card, a nice feature.
  • The website and app are both easy to use and understand.
  • From a financial education point of view, it’s such a fabulous concept. Just the act of using a card to pay for football boots or sports clothes (as we have done) is such an important concept for the boys to learn. Mummy I have £50 on my gohenry card, and I want to buy a fidget spinner for £15. Okay Josh if that’s what you want. Do you have enough money? And how much will you have left?
  • It’s a great mathematical educational tool to help with the value of products and basic addition and subtraction. Perfect for thinking about money building up, saving for the future or the consequences of spending all your money.

What I don’t like

  • The customisable cards are £5 each. That felt like a big cost for a bit of plastic and I assumed it would be free, until £10 was taken off my balance.
  • The monthly fees are £2.50 per card, so it would cost me £5 each month. As a person used to free business banking I don’t like this charge.
  • There is no interest payable on credit balances. I understand that my current account also pays me no interest though!
  • There was some initial confusion with the boys calling it a credit card. This term is so commonly used, so I found myself correcting them a lot. I want them growing up understanding that credit card is money you are borrowing from someone else that has to be paid back.

Overall I really love the concept and what it stands for as a financial education tool. I can see it being an essential tool when the boys are at secondary school where they will have money for lunch/getting the bus or train. It’s a great tool for times when your child is being independent.

Dylan 9, is off to Germany at the beginning of June on football tour with his Cambridge United Academy Football team, no parents allowed. He is to take 30 Euros for spending money and he will take his goHenry card to use in the airport and to spend his 30 Euros. The card works in the EU.

There is a free trial goHenry offer available so you can try it out for 30 days. If it’s not right for you then you can walk away. I will get a small referral fee if you did decide to sign up.

debt confession update 1

My Debt confession update 1 – My Progress




My Debt confession update 1 – My Progress

I wrote about my debt confession on April 24th 2017. The reaction has been amazing. It has been read more than 1000 times on my website, a shorter version was then published on the Huffington Post. This has been one of my writing goals for the past 4 years to be published on there, it’s a genuine stamp on my writing ability and skills. Beyond happy.

Over the past nearly 3 weeks I have been working hard to re-budget, go through my finances and work on a plan to remedy this situation. Here is what I have done.

My Budget

I have a fab budget spreadsheet that includes everything we could possibly spend money on. It includes not just monthly spends but also annual/less regular events with a monthly portion. For example, weddings this year, holiday, birthday presents, other people’s birthdays, dentist, haircut. Everything has been included. This give a much more realistic amount that must be covered every month. I will repeat my offer as I always do, if you want a copy of this new and improved budget template please email me at lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk and I will send you copy.

My budget has been checked over with a fine toothcomb by my wonderful writer and journalist friend Faith Archer who blogs at Much More With Less. She has given me lots of extra ideas to generate cash and save money.




I have had a good look at our expenses and have cut lots out. I have ended our childcare contract, a tough decision as our childminder is also one of my best friends but £100 a month for one after school childcare care for three children was too much.

Our dishwasher insurance (I had to take it out as dishwasher broke last year, engineer and new parts were free if I took out 1 year £14 per month insurance, method to my madness) finishes at end of May, £14 saved per month.

I made a complaint about my Barclays business banking excessive chargesand it turns out I was on the wrong tariff. Charges refunded plus an inconvenience amount given to me £80 refund and £12 savings per month

40th Birthday party broken zip dress returned to John Lewis, £130 refund.

The mortgage has been renegotiated and from June we move to a new lower rate, saving us £100 per month in interest part of the repayment mortgage.

In total I have already stripped out £226 from our monthly expense, £2,712 per year!! This is huge amount.

Still to consider

  • Call Sky and see what costs can be stripped out of the (arrrgggg) £75 per month we pay for broadband, TV, landline. Yes, we have sky sports and no we are not going to cancel it as hubby might divorce me.
  • Apply for a Santander Light Account to benefit from cashback on my hoursehold direct debits
  • Consider an American Express cashback credit card to use rather than my Tesco Clubcard credit card. The cashback beats the Clubcard vouchers value by far. It gets paid off in full every month and is used for regular spends, petrol, food etc.
  • We are going to sell our car, a 5-year-old Smax worth £9,000. We are going to lease a hybrid Auris (probably) to half our petrol costs and save the environment. We are currently negotiating this deal.

Make some money

  • We have decluttered under the stairs and the garage and have listed various items on Facebook Items for sale (I own the Knebworth one!) and eBay. We have around 100 items to sell.
  • I have a few specialist items, such as George Michael genuine signed picture, Christian Dior large bowling bag to be sold. I am considering the best way to sell these. I sent an email to the Posh Pawn man from TV!!
  • Mrs Mummypenny has gone boom, and the projects are campaigns are rolling in every day. The payment for these is delayed of course as I must complete the work, invoice and wait for payment but it’s all being lined up.

Repayments on what we owe

You will recall I had £15,500 that we owe. £2,500 on cards with interest being charged. £5,500 on an interest free card with 18 left on this offer and then £7,500 on another 0% card with 43 months’ interest free period (a new one).

The plan is cover the minimum repayments on all the cards of £300. Then any money I earn more than £1500 each month can be put into the cards with interest charges first.




I have already paid off £350 from the nasty interest cards. And then I have paid off another £200 from the 0% cards. £550 knocked off in month 1 is impressive!!

Timings and Goals

I am keen to pay off at least £5,000 of what we owe by the end of 2017. This includes the nasty interest charging cards first and then the £5,500 card with the 18 months remaining of 0%.

What are your thoughts? How are you doing with your repayments, what are you goals and how are you going to smash them?



financial planning

Financial planning Week May 8th to 12th 2017

Financial Planning Week

I am passionate about many things, my boys and their football, make-up(!) and my business where I write about personal finance. Yes, I am passionate about personal finance and financial planning. I love simplifying complicated financial areas for everyone to understand. I love to try products out and review them for my readers. I love to find products and services that are great value and that offer convenience.

Financial planning is a subject that I will be writing more about. Over the past 6 months I have been doing lots of work with a pensions company and it has sparked a real interest in the importance of planning for the future. I have had lots of feedback from readers who are telling me that they are struggling with understanding these kind of products, they are scary, and the consequence is to ignore. This is not good.

I will be writing about all sorts of financial planning products and services in 2017 and beyond, to help you readers to get in control of your finances and the future.

Where do you start?

So where do you start? The first place I would advise is to look at your financial position today and make the necessary steps to either create more money or to repay what you owe.

Look at your mortgage, if you have one. Why not get your house valued? Your local estate agents will do this for free. Compare the value of your house to your outstanding mortgage and the difference is your equity. And at the same time make sure you are on the best mortgage rate possible! If you are on standard variable rate, then it’s time to talk to an adviser and move to a better rate.

We are really equity heavy at the moment. We have a huge chunk of money locked up in the equity of the house, but we can’t touch it as we are both self-employed without the books to apply for a new mortgage! Such is life. We could sell it to release the money, but then we would have to move to rented accomodation due to our earning and mortgage restrictions.

Look at your balances of savings and the money you owe. Firstly, the positive how much do you have in ISA’s, day to day savings, the coin jar (!), money owed as a business. Add this up and then compare it to money that you owe. This money you owe is a biggie and you need to reduce it as quickly as possible particularly if there are interest charges.

Tackling your debt

With debt firstly work out if you can move debt with interest payable to interest free cards, there might be a small transfer fee for doing so. Then work on a plan to pay it back. I recently wrote about our debt confession. Read more here. I am prioritising the cards where interest is payable, and have shifted as much as possible to an interest free card. I manged to get a card that was interest free for 42 months!

Before tackling anything involving creation of wealth you really need to tackle the debt first. And have a clear plan of how it will be paid off and over what time period. The creation of wealth is where I know I need advice. There is a school of thought that your money should be diversified between a few areas of investment. So, some in investment funds (maybe via a stocks and shares ISA), some in a pension, some in property. There are many things that can be invested in, perhaps gold, art, wine, bonds. What is important with these areas is to get advice.

I will be seeking out the best companies that offer these investment services this year. I will be targeting companies who keep it simple, charge low fees but can show a great return. I am looking forward to finding these products.

FREE financial planning sessions are available this week!

If you need advice about your current and future financial plans this week is the time to go for it. This week is financial planning week and you can sign up for FREE financial planning session right now with the not for profit financial services body CISI. The initiative takes place all this week 8-12th May 2017 is being led by CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals alongside other CISI qualified professionals. They are offering free financial planning sessions, worth up to £500, either in person, via skype or over the phone. The website for consumers to book a free financial planning session is Cisi.org/fpweek, email fpweek@cisi.org or call 020 7645 0708. I know I am going to book one!

This is a collaborative post

invest into an ISA

The Importance of Saving into an ISA from a young age

The Importance of Saving into an ISA from a young age

Saving into an ISA has always been an important part of my financial strategy and it’s something I have chosen to invest in from a young age. I wanted to share my story of what I did and how it helped me in later life.

My First ISA aged 22

I graduated from university way back in 1999, aged 22 and started my first job for a bank in London. One of the very first things I did when my first pay day arrived, and I remember it very clearly, was to investigate the savings market and find a product that I could invest in on a regular basis. I opened a stocks and shares ISA and set up a direct debit to pay in £25 per month. I probably could have afforded more, but I imagined that £25 per month would turn into a nice chunk of money 10-20 years down the line.

It was always my intention to build a fund long term, maybe for retirement as at that age of 22 I was too young to invest in the company pension scheme. Or maybe as a fund to put to good use later in life. Its brilliant to start investing like this from such a young age.

At the time interest rates were much higher than now on cash ISAs but the stocks and shares ISA looked to provide a better return. All I had to do was choose a fund, I went for the FTSE 250 companies to base it on. The ISA was opened and I forgot about it.

Life Continues but circumstances change

Life continued for many years. I changed jobs a few times, I moved counties a few times and eventually settled down got married and started to have babies. By the time I was pregnant with baby number three we decided that our house wasn’t big enough and to move would cost a small fortune so we decided to extend our three-bedroom house.

We needed 70k to do everything that we wanted to do. Some of the money was taken out of our house as equity release and then we used the money that had built up in the stocks and shares ISA to add to the pot as well. The £4,000 of money I had invested at just £25 per month and had turned into around £8,000. A great help towards to the cost of the extension. It turned out to be a very sensible investment that increased even more in value as the 70k investment in the house added on £110k worth of value.

I am a firm believer in putting away an amount of money every month be that whatever you can afford and to do it from as early as age as possible. Most of us could put away just £50 per month, couldn’t we?

What Changes can you make to start your Savings?

There are so many simple changes you could make to free up the money and start the regular savings into an ISA.

  • Swop your daily coffee and bring a cup from home instead. This could save you £40 per month at £2 per day
  • Bring in packed lunch to work maybe 3 days per week. A saving of £60 per month at £5 per day.
  • Swop your food shop to a lower priced supermarket, why not give Aldi or Lidl a go, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and the savings. I saved £40 per week and £160 per month when I swopped from Tesco to Aldi.
  • Compare the price of your gas and electricity provider using a comparison website. If you haven’t done this before or not for a couple of years, there will more than likely be a saving to be made. I make this swop every year but still managed to save £25 per month from the monthly bills at the end of last year.
  • Take a close look through the direct debits on your account, is there anything there that you don’t use that much that you could maybe do without? Maybe that Netflix subscription or that gym membership? If you are not getting value for money from the service and not using it enough, cancel it.

There you go, lots of idea’s to strip a chunk of cash from your monthly savings that could be nicely invested into a stocks and shares ISA.

Why Invest in Stocks and Shares ISA’s rather than a Cash ISA?

Interest rates remain at an all-time low which means that cash ISAs are not worth investing in at the moment. Switching over to the stocks and shares ISA gives you a better chance of getting higher returns on the money you have invested. With a Fidelity Stocks and Shares ISA
you can save as little as £50 a month, and you can choose your funds with helpful online tools such as PathFinder and Fidelity’s Select 50 list of recommended funds.

Now is a great time to invest in an ISA at the beginning of the tax year and set up a regular direct debit into the ISA every month.

Important Information

The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invested. If you are unsure about any investments then please speak to a recommended financial advisor.

This was a collaborative post.

confessions of a personal finance blogger

My Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger – Debt




The Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger

I am well known for my honesty in the blogging world. I am specifically chosen for brand campaigns for my authenticity and real life relatable stories. The posts that always perform best are the ones where I admit my flaws and talk about how they happened and how I am going to try to fix them.

I have written about my financial mistakes, my mental health struggles, my weight issues. I have talked about the truth of being a parent, the reality of being a business owner, the death of my parents and my health issues. No holds barred.

Debt

Until it came to my debt. I am not shy to talk about this with my friends. I really want them to know why I have had to say no to a 40th New York holiday this year or centre parks last year or why I might suggest a dinner at a friend’s house rather than go out for food. My friends know that I am still in the early stages of a new business and they know I have credit card debt. I always have had a balance sitting on an interest free credit card.




But I have never outwardly expressed it on here, confessions of a personal finance blogger. My blog (my baby!) where I write about all the frugal things I do and money saving ways I live my life. I have always lived my life in a money saving way but where I save on some things I splurge on others (prada handbags). I have always lived my life in the moment, wanting things now (refer back to the death of my parents, could explain it, I’m no psychologist or anything). Things have always been paid upfront on a credit card/loan and then repaid over time.

I do have some savings. Once upon a time, only 2 years ago, I had £40k in my bank account and just £8k sat on interest free credit cards. I had just taken redundancy so was rather cash rich. I saw no reason in paying off the credit card debt as it was interest free. This £8k was the hangover from our house extension where we had overspent.

That 40k burnt a hole in my pocket, the first thing I did was hit Selfridges and bought myself a redundancy present, a Prada handbag. £600 gone. It was hubby’s 40th birthday so we went on holiday to Las Vegas and New York and spent maybe £4k in the process. Hubby went to Barcelona, to the Belfry for a golf weekend, and we had a £500 lunch for his birthday. We then went to Spain with the family during the summer holidays and spent another £5k!! So, in just a few months that was £12k ish spent.




The remaining money went on living expenses whilst I was growing the business. There was pretty much a whole year with us slowly reducing our living expenses and using up the remaining £28k. In my first year of trading I made very little money, a few £k. I made some money matched betting and eBaying. By June 2016 the money was gone. I swopped the £8k credit card debt over to a new card with a longer interest free period, adding a bit debt to it from our monthly spending. Suddenly it became £10k.

But then Mrs Mummypenny started earning money, decent money. We had radically reduced our monthly spends from £4500 per month down to £3000 per month in a year. I was able to draw money out of the business and pay towards our monthly bills of £3000. But of course, things happen that mean the monthly £3k isn’t just it. Christmas happens, birthdays, car repairs. Another month worth of expenses went onto the credit card.

Then my 40th birthday arrived in March 2017. I had to celebrate that and do something special. Vegas was booked and it went on the credit card. I had a birthday party which cost £500.

Reality check

Here we are now April 2017, just back from Vegas where I didn’t win enough to repay what was owed. One of my first admin things to catch up on was calling all the credit card companies, getting an up to date balance and timings of when the 0% ends. I needed a total of all the money owed. I also worked out how much money we have and are owed. Thankfully Mrs Mummypenny had a busy Feb & March so I am owed a large chunk of cash.

The debt comes to £15,500.

There you go, the hard-cold number. Pretty big hey. Easily done over a period of time where I was no longer bringing in the £4k per month that I used to earn at EE.

Let’s Rationalise this and come up with a plan.

First things first the debt needs to be restructured. Meaning a new 0% card needs to be organised whilst my credit rating (who knows how?) is still 999 on Experian (everyone check it for free here!). I was able to transfer £7,500 (with a hefty 3% fee) over to an MBNA card which is 0% interest free for 42 months.




This means that I have £1,000 of holiday spends on a Halifax foreign currency card that needs to be repaid now, as interest is payable from 5th May. Check.

I have £1,500 on a business credit card that needs to be paid off as a priority as there are interest charges.

I then have £5,500 on a Virgin credit card which is interest free until November 2018. I have 18 months to pay that one off.

I am not 100% sure how I am going to deal with all of the above, but I am going to seek help from a couple of personal finance friends who have got themselves out of debt. I will report back on the how in more detail.

The positives of Money we have and are owed.

There is good:-) We have money in a shares ISA, some annoying Tesco shares worth 50% of what I paid for them, savings, money owed to my business, money in Mrs Mummypenny accounts. This comes to around £9k. We have 3 months’ worth of household essentials in the bank.

Cutting back

I have re-done our budget again (its redone every month currently) and £3k is what we spend each month on mortgage, food, petrol, bills. I am sure there are more cut backs to be made within here. I know what can be cut back, it just takes a strict mind to say no to a few things in that budget (sky sports, school dinners?, childcare, no convenience co-op shops). I have already managed to change the mortgage and save us £100 per month with the new deal starting from July. The obvious things like energy, broadband, insurance, TV are as low as they can possibly get!

If anyone reading this needs a copy of my budget spreadsheet then please contact me lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk.

And Mrs Mummypenny is on the up. My monthly income increased by £1000 per month from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017. Q2 is going to be even bigger as I know what work I have agreed and what money is due to be paid during this quarter. This trend can only continue up.

Hubby left his job two weeks ago, so he needs to get going with starting up his dream business to ensure that we can pay the mortgage beyond 3 months. There a whole other story there, mainly on how to set up a business that requires a capital investment for set-up. And that sometimes you cant settle for unhappiness you have just got to walk.

The Secret and the Law of Attraction

Both hubby and I have been reading The Secret and The Magic and 100% believe that everything will be okay. Money will come as long as we believe it will. I have faith that very soon Mrs Mummypenny will be bringing in £5k per month. It’s not far off I am telling you!

We are visualising money and have belief it will come. We are practising gratitude and affirmation in bundles. I don’t feel worried about the money owed to others as I know it will be resolved.




So, there you go my reality. I’ll report back soon on how we are doing with manifestation of money and how much we have managed to repay.

If you want to help in any way please share this post, as we all know our family is not the only one in this situation. I will get more traffic, more social media followers, more email subscribers, more FB group members, more people clicking on affiliate links, more people buying my book. And all of this will turn into money.

Thank you for reading.