Category Archives: Personal Finance

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.

5 Frugal Things post 26 – Returning home from Las Vegas




5 Frugal Things post 26 – Return from holiday

We returned from holiday on Wednesday, after 15 hours of flying, waiting in the airport and driving we were happy to get home. We had the most amazing holiday in Las Vegas. I have 5 posts planned telling you all about the holiday, one of which is the frugal things we discovered including $100 of free cab rides! I’ll be posting one each week so look out for them!

Life just goes back to normal when you return from holiday but I am so grateful for my business and not having to return to a commute to work, an office and a boss. Instead I have come back to admin for one day and then an exciting day in London. So here are my 5 frugal things post 26 that I have managed this week.

Airport Parking

Our frugality with airport parking and driving to Gatwick has paid off. It cost us £45 for the parking after clicking through to Holiday Extras via Topcashback. The petrol cost around £15. We split the cost with our friends who we went to Vegas with. We are super happy with £30 for parking and transport to the airport.



Exchanged My Dollars in America

I was left with $700 at the end of our holiday, after a lucky last day winning a few hundred on Blackjack and Roulette. My buddy Neilboy was staying on in America for a few more days so he bought the $ from me at a fab rate of 1.25, so much better than what I could have got had I brought it back and exchanged it here.

Tracksuits for the Boys

The 2 older boys wanted tracksuits from America, but the only place we could find them was Nike, and they were really expensive at $150 each!! So rather than waste the cash there I ordered 2 Adidas tracksuits from Amazon the day I got home. They both arrived today and cost £51 for both. Bargain.

Friday in London

I spent the morning in London on Friday. I had a meeting at the ITV studios on Southbank early so annoyingly had to buy a peak train ticket for £19 rather than £13 off peak. And then get the tube from Kings Cross to Waterloo. I made the most of the freebies at ITV and got a lovely latte which was operated using an IPad, how cool is that?

After the meeting, I had plenty of spare time before I had to get home so I decided to walk from Southbank to Moorgate where I can get the over ground train to home. It was a lovely walk (where I also spotted the lovely Eamonn and Ruth filming their intro This Morning link) over the Thames, I walked through Kings College, walked along the Strand, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, St Pauls, Cheapside and then Moorgate. I love a London walk and always like to look up at the top of the building to spot pretty statues. It was a nice 1.5 mile walk with a stop off at a coffee shop opposite Royal courts of justice to recharge the phone and do a bit of Mrs Mummypenny planning. This saved me the tube fare, although I did spend £4.50 in the coffee shop;-)

Paperchase Bargains

I needed some cards for birthdays so was chuffed to see Paperchase had a sale on when I walked past on Cheapside in the city. I got 5 cards for £1.25 each, a new notebook for £2.25, a pen for my god daughter for £1.50 and some flamingo stickers for 75p. Bargain. Paperchase is such a beautiful shop selling one of my favourite things stationery!!

I am linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I have done this week linky.



best financial decisions

What are the best financial decisions I have ever made?

What are the best financial decisions I have ever made?

I wrote about my financial decisions that I regretted a couple of weeks back and whilst writing it I was also being struck by some of my best financial decisions. I thought I would save them for another post.




What I will start with is that I know 2017 is very different from an economic point of view that 1997. Some of the things I was able to do as a younger person may not be so possible now but the principles of what decisions I have made should stand true today.

Listening to my careers advisor

Back in sixth form college I had one meeting with a career/ university advisor. I was in the process of thinking about university, I was good at maths and business studies so a maths degree it was going to be. I wasn’t clever enough for Cambridge (thanks Maths teacher and Cambridge graduate for pointing that out!) but I was clever enough for the next tier down, Warwick, Bristol, Exeter, Manchester etc.

Career advisor asked if I had thought about Brunel where I could do a sandwich degree in Maths, with Statistics and Management. A thin sandwich degree with two six-month work placements. It sounded good so it went on my applications list.

Fast forward to results day…and I didn’t get the A in maths I needed for Warwick but I did get a B which was fine for everyone else and I went for Brunel and the sandwich degree.

The work experience I gained at university was invaluable for finding a job upon graduation. I had 6 months’ experience at an accountant’s firm and 6 months’ experience on the M&S management trainee program. Companies were jumping to employ me upon graduation. Get great work experience and you will be far ahead of the crowd applying for all those graduate roles.

I walked into a job with HSBC where I could sit my CIMA accountancy exams on a fab starting salary of 25k. A great start to my career.

Buying my first house at 23

I had a boyfriend when I left university who I moved in with. We then bought a house together in 2000. We bought a 3-bed semi-detached house near Brentwood in Essex for £220k. The process was easier with combined salaries for the mortgage and the deposit required was much lower. Although I remember we only put 5% down. But we were on the ladder from a young age. That relationship ended when I was 27 and the house was sold. I walked away with 25k as the house had gone up in value between buying and selling. This was then the deposit for my own 2-bedroom house in Knebworth that I bought by myself. Shortly after that I met my now husband. We have moved again since then and now have a house worth £500k with an outstanding mortgage of £200k. Those early days of owning a house have worked out well.

Extending our current house from 3 to 4 bedrooms

A very astute decision to invest money in the house. We extended by an extra 2 metres to the side of our house up and down stairs, giving us a 2nd bathroom, utility room, bigger kitchen, 4th bedroom, bigger 3rd bedroom and bathroom. The extension cost us around 80k but added on £120k in value. We had the house valued before and after to allow the comparison. We now have a house big enough the house the 3 boys and to stay in for the indefinite future.




Astroturfing the garden

You may laugh..but this is one of the best investments we have made in recent times. We had it done last summer. It’s amazing looks just like real grass, but with no mud, bald grass patches. It’s perfect for the boys who literally go out there every day to play football.

It wasn’t the cheapest of thing to buy, it cost us just under £2000. But it is invaluable for entertainment for the boys, lack of maintenance. The whole family loves it so its ultimate value for money.

 

Starting my Own Business

This was definitely my biggest risk taken in my financial life, but will also provide the greatest returns. I took a generous redundancy package back in 2015 and put my mind to making a success of Mrs Mummypenny before the redundancy money ran out. This meant I had 12 months/18 months maximum to get the income to a certain level to ensure that the essential bills were paid. Hard work prevailed and I worked super hard to get myself known to brands and blogger networks. I attended many events and worked hard to build my social numbers.

The risk paid off with me earning enough money to pay the bills hurrah by Q4 2016. Not bad for after a year in business. Q1 2017 was even better with me earning far in excess of the bills. And net net I am earning more money than I did in my last senior management EE job as I have very little childcare to pay now (I used to pay around £800 to 1000 per month).

The only way is up with Mrs Mummypenny. As I work on more branded campaigns my name becomes more and more well known. The book, Blogging Your Way To Riches, I co-wrote last year has propelled me up to an expert status on blogging and how to make money from it. So really the world is my oyster and riches are coming my way.

 

What is the best financial decision you have ever made?



credit cards

Why is the regulator worried about credit cards – and should you be?

Why is the regulator worried about credit cards – and should you be?

 This is a guest post by Sara Williams, a Citizens Advice advisor, who blogs about everything to do with debt and credit ratings at Debt Camel.

When Lynn asked me what was new in the debt world this week, there was only one possible answer: the FCA, which regulates banks and credit card companies, has proposed new measures to help people in “persistent credit card debt”.

What is “persistent debt”?

If you are buying more things your card balance keeps changing, so how can you tell if this is really problem debt?

The FCA thinks you are in persistent debt if over the last 18 months you have paid more in interest and charges than you have paid off the amount that you borrowed. That is a pretty neat definition. If I have paid £600 to my credit card over this time and I have repaid less than £300, it’s going to take a long while to clear my balance!

The FCA’s research shows there are four million credit card accounts in this situation. And on average they repay £2.50 for every £1 repaid.

That’s shocking!

That is seriously expensive debt. You may be thinking it sounds horrific, nearly as bad as payday loans.

Because it’s so expensive, the banks and other credit card companies are making a lot of money from it. They don’t have any incentive to step in and reduce this.

This is what the regulator is for, to step in and make sure the whole industry has to adopt good standards. This isn’t a nanny state that wants to stop people borrowing and it’s not taking away the flexibility of credit cards that so many people find useful. It’s just saying that the lenders have to encourage people to repay their debt faster.

The FCA is suggesting:

  • When people have been in persistent debt for 18 months, the lender will have to write to them to encourage them to increase their payments;
  • If they don’t take start repaying faster after another 18 months, lenders should propose a repayment plan to help clear debt more quickly;
  • If a customer then can’t afford to start repaying the amount borrowed more quickly, the lenders will have to look at options such as reducing or waiving interest.

Would you be one of the four million problem accounts?

Although I like the definition of persistent debt, it would be a lot of work with a calculator for someone to see if they are one of the affected accounts.

Luckily there are a couple of easier ways you can assess you own card history. Have you made the minimum payment only for the last 18 months? Or have you been using over 90% of your credit limit for most of this period?

If either of those applies, then you are probably in the credit card trap where most of your monthly repayment is going on interest, not paying off what you borrowed. If you buy just one large ticket item on a card, a new washing machine or a baby buggy say, and you only make the minimum payments, for many cards it will take you more than 13 years to pay off that debt. This is because as you pay a bit off, your minimum payments goes down.

When you are using your credit card, this normally isn’t clear to you. You bought some stuff last month, got charges some interest and paid the minimum off, but because you added to your borrowing, you don’t really see how little you debt has dropped.

What can you do to get yourself out of this trap?

You don’t want to wait for the FCA’s proposals to get implemented, that won’t improve your situation for years.

The easy way to avoid this long term debt is to aim to fix your credit card repayments so they don’t drop a little bit each month. If your minimum payment is £58, you may not think that paying £60 will make much of a difference… but if you leave that £60 the same for months, it really does speed up your debt repayment and reduce the cost of your borrowing.

Why not give it a go for a year? You can always change this later if you need to.

A huge thank you to Sara for this post, if you are struggling with debt then please head over to Debt Camel for all sorts of help and advice. Sara makes a huge difference to many peoples lives.

make money this weekend

5 quick and easy ways to make money this weekend




5 ways to make money this weekend

Here is a rather wonderful post from my fellow personal finance expert & friend Emma Drew who gives you 5 ideas on how to make a stash of cash quickly, like this weekend! Over to Ems.

No matter the reason, most of us could do with making some extra cash, couldn’t we? Whether it is to treat the kids over the holidays, pay off a debt or put it towards a new purchase. What if I told you that there are things that you can do right now, or over the weekend, to make some extra cash? Here are 5 ways to make money this weekend.

Have a declutter

eBay suggest that most of us have £4,000 worth of unwanted or unused items in our house, and this time of year is perfect for having a declutter. You can either focus on one area of your home (remember when Lynn and I tackled her under the stairs cupboard?) or set a timer and grab as many unused items as you can. Once you have your unwanted items, it is time to start thinking about ways to make money from them. You can:

  • Sell them on local Facebook selling groups
  • List and sell them on eBay
  • Sell unwanted books, DVDs, games and CDs to websites like Music Magpie, Zapper, Ziffit and WeBuyBooks. They all have apps where you can scan in the barcodes and be given a price instantly.
  • Sell at a car boot sale




Cash in your coins

Have you been stashing your change away for awhile now, never quite getting around to getting it banked? Although this isn’t technically making extra money, taking some time to get those coins banked is a great way to get some cash into your pocket or bank account this weekend.

Don’t be fooled into paying for those Coinstar machines that you find in supermarkets – they take a percentage of the money you put inside. Instead, see if your bank has a coin machine inside (most Natwest branches do), or use them in a self-service checkout at a supermarket. You’ll receive an extra coins back as bigger denominations. Or you could grab coin bags from your bank or Post Office and count the coins the old fashioned way.

Make money from losing weight

If you are on a diet and exercise mission before summer then why not get rewarded for your efforts with cold, hard cash? Diet Bet is a website where you bet on whether you can lose weight or not. If you don’t manage to lose the weight then your bet is forfeited into the prize pot, which is then shared across everyone who has lost the weight. You can choose a 4 week kick starter, or a longer term bet.

Join 20 Cogs

20 Cogs is an offer based website, where you can earn money for completing offers. Once you have completed all 20 offers then your money will be released to you. You probably won’t manage to complete all 20 Cogs this weekend, but you can definitely make a start! Click here to read more about Lynn’s experience with 20 Cogs who made £176 with her first cash in!
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h3>Switch bank accounts

If you have been complaining about the service that you receive from your bank then why are you staying with them? A lot of bank accounts are offering substantial (£100+) rewards for switching to them. The bank switching process is really simple these days. If anything goes wrong (such as direct debits not switching over) then you are offered compensation by the banks.

I hope that you have found these 5 ways to make money this weekend motivating. I would love to know if you go ahead with any of them, leave a comment below. If you are interested in making extra money then sign up for my free 6 week money making course. It is delivered to you via email for you to complete in your own time.

Emma Drew blogs at EmmaDrew.Info all about ways to make money, save money and live the life that you want. You can also find Emma on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube




The importance of flexibility and control in my life with Powershop

The importance of flexibility and control in my life

From the age of 22 to 37 I worked in the corporate world. I worked my way up the ladder in a variety of finance jobs and worked for several big blue chip companies. These jobs provided me with security and a great salary, but they were all very inflexible. They were all long hours, office based and full time roles.

After having my third child I returned to work full time and it never felt right. I was working hard in a very stressful job that I wasn’t enjoying and I was paying out more than £1000 per month in childcare costs. The final straw was when my company relocated from near my home to central London and the commute became a huge issue. Life was becoming more and more of a challenge so it had to change. I was losing control and had no flexibility in the corporate life I had chosen.

The opportunity of redundancy came along with the relocation which I grabbed with both hands and used the money to launch my blog Mrs Mummypenny. I have never looked back.

Control

I always had issues with control whilst employed and was only at my happiest when I had a manager who would let me get on with my job without interfering. One of the most wonderful things about my world now is that I control everything. I decide when I work, how much I do, what work I take on. I have control of my income and expenses. Of course, I have deadlines and requirements from clients, these are never issues provided I am organised with my time and upfront agreements. There might be a time when I am working until midnight to hit a deadline, but that my prerogative, it was something I agreed after all! For me, control is so important especially in my work life and home life.

I am fanatical about the bills and have a strict budget that must be adhered to. Anything not in the budget, unexpected surprises, maybe like a bill owed to an electricity company after months of direct debit underpayments is an issue as the unexpected costs are not accounted for. I want to have comfort that what I pay each month covers the bills.

Switching to Powershop will give me that control over my bills, there will be no expected surprises as I will only pay for what I use. I love the fact that all usage and spending can be tracked via the online account and on the app. Control is literally at your fingertips.

Flexibility

The life of a busy mum with three young children requires flexibility. I want to do the school run every morning and be there for sports days, parent’s evenings and sports matches. In my corporate life, I had missed several sports days or school open days. We have many football commitments which we simply wouldn’t have been able to meet if I was doing my old corporate job.

I love the fact that my job as a blogger gives me that ultimate flexibility. I get to do all things with the boys and I get to spend invaluable time with my youngest before he starts school in Sept. How hard is it to find an employed job that would allow you to have a day like this?

A day of Flexibility for Mrs Mummypenny

On this Thursday where I filmed my day it went a bit like this.

8:30 I walked down to school for the school run.

9:30 I was back at my desk (the breakfast bar) to work on a blog post.

10:30 I headed over to see a friend to meet her new baby. Then I did a quick grocery shop and petrol fill up.

14:00 I was back home and spent the rest of the afternoon filming a YouTube vlog, editing and uploading to client. I wrote a second blog post for a fellow bloggers website, collaboration rules in the blogging world. I also fitted in a quick call with a client to agree on some work for the following week. Phew a busy 3 hours.

17:00 Picked up the boys and spent time doing homework, chatting about their day, feeding them again (they never stop eating), bedtime routine.

20:00 Back onto Mrs Mummypenny work. Evening was then spent catching up on my ever-growing social media accounts. Had a conversation about work projects with my co-author and further work. And caught up on my accounts. By 10pm I was reading to switch off.

6 hours worked in small chunks over the day!

Flexibility of Powershop

Just like my life Powershop allows you to have complete flexibility with your electricity bills. You can pay daily, weekly or monthly. You can pay for just what you use or can pay in advance of usage. Reviewing your usage on the desktop or mobile app allows you flexibility to control your usage going forward. We all want services that provide us with control and flexibility and Powershop really gives you that.

For more information on Powershop and to switch your electricity over to them check out their website or give them a call on.

This is a collaborative post.

5 frugal things post 23

5 Frugal things post 23 – My 40th Birthday Week




5 Frugal Things Post 23

So this week has definitely NOT been frugal!! On Wednesday I turned 40..the big birthday finally arrived. I tried to lace a tiny bit of money saving into the extravagance of a 40th birthday week, I am sure you will appreciate my efforts.

Tuesday Blogger Event & 40th Birthday meal

5 frugal things post 23On Tuesday I attended an amazing event with Tena in the Soho Hotel. It was a champagne reception followed by a Burlesque dancing class and then some nibbles. What a stunning5 frugal things post 23 location that I can’t believe that I have never been to before! The hotel has the coolest vibe and feel to it. We had an amazing time, I got to spend a few hours with this lovely lady, a blog post is coming next week. The frugal bit is that my travel expenses were covered by Tena and I was coming into London anyway to meet my university best friends for out 40th birthday meal, so I saved £17 on my train fare that I would have had to pay for;-)

Dollars for Holiday

Hubby and I and a few friends are off to Vegas in 2 weeks time for my 40th holiday celebration and I had been debating when to get my dollars. I knew there was a potential shift in currency on Wednesday with the Brexit announcement so I bought some currency on Tuesday the day before. I was with my friend Neil who mentioned Best Foreign Exchange knows of a great currency place on London Wall near Liverpool Street, You can order online for a great deal and then pick it up 5 minutes later, a better deal than if you just walked in off the street. I got a rate of 1.245. Turns out the rate hasn’t moved much but at least I got a great deal on the dollars. (Never mind the exchange rate was 1.4 this time last year…)



My 40th Birthday

Wednesday was my birthday and we celebrated going to Cambridge for the day for a meal at the amazing Midsummer house. Not frugal at all, and regular reader will know we are partial to the odd michelin starred restaurant. But it did involve frugality let me tell you. I used our Two Together railcard for the train so it cost us £20 return rather than £30. And we walked the 1.5miles from train station to restaurant and back. 13k steps done on my birthday!!

Check out this amazing cake that my friend Nicky made!!

5 frugal things post 23

Poundland birthday prep

I did the party shop today on Frugal Friday for cleaning bits and nibbles (all you are getting if you are reading this as party goer is crisps and nuts!!), all from Aldi. I’ve been doing some video for Aldi recently, here is the most recent cheese tasting video. Then I popped to Poundland to see what party bits they had. I needed throwaway bowls, £1 for 25 perfect. I also got glow sticks, 20 for £1, and some balloon weights. I already had my balloons and helium canister from Amazon.

5 frugal things post 23




Competitions I have featured this week on Mrs Mummypenny

You have to be in it to win it!! I wrote a wicked post yesterday about goal setting and how it has helped me through my life. I shared some of the goals I have for Mrs Mummypenny. The post is part of a campaign for Zurich who are running the most awesome competition to win £5000 to put towards your life goal. Its a competition where you need to share your life goal so the more creative you are the better the chance you have:-) I have learnt this from Super Lucky Di Coke, the competition queen.

Also to be in with a chance of winning £330, the team from Smart Money People are looking for review of financial products. All you need to do is answer literally a couple of questions, I know, I have entered;-) to be entered into the competition.

Thanks for reading my 5 Frugal Things, come back again next week, I post it every week.

I am linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

 

 



Goal setting to achieve success and your dreams with Zurich

Goal setting to achieve success and your dreams with Zurich

Goal setting to achieve success has always been extremely important in my life. It has helped shape my direction in life, my motivation and my desire to achieve. I remember as far back as the age of 10 when I opened my first bank account and started saving up to buy a computer, I have always had a goal in mind and worked hard to achieve it. I have picked out a few key goal setting moments from my life to share the goals and the achievements.

Getting the best job after leaving university

Financial security has always been very important to me. In my teens, my parents passed away. I was provided for until my education ended but then I was on my own. It was up to me to find the best job possible to provide financial security.

I had chosen a great university and was studying maths so was in a good place to secure that fabulous job. Whilst at university I did a sandwich degree which gave me the best experience for the graduation job process.

I worked hard at university and secured my 2:1. With all my experience and results from university I was perfectly placed to secure my first graduate job with HSBC in London. It was also a job where I would be studying for an accountancy qualification so progression and more financial security was always on my mind. So first big life goal was achieved at the age of 22.

Owning the Perfect house

A goal for many years was to own our perfect house, with everything as we wanted it, but also by creating value and an asset. It was a long journey to owning the perfect house – it took time, planning and the building of money to get there. I bought my first house when I was 25 with a partner, this house was sold when that relationship broke up and a bit of profit was put into a small 2-bedroom house in Knebworth that I owned by myself.

I met my now husband, 2 babies arrived and suddenly the two-bedroom house wasn’t big enough for our family of 4. We chose wisely and moved to a three-bedroom house in the same village with room to extend. Baby number three arrived and a bigger house of our design was now essential and my second big life goal was put into plan.

Our goal was to have a four-bedroom house with two bathrooms and a nice outside space for our three boys. We drew up plans for our dream home and then planned the finances. We released some equity from the house and cashed in a stocks and shares ISA that I had been invested in every month for 12 years. I was so pleased that I had made that decision with my first months’ pay to open that ISA.

The shell and roof is complete

By Spring 2003 we had almost a brand-new house after it was extended, redecorated, refloored, new bathrooms, new kitchen, new astro-turfed garden. We had achieved a huge life goal and had the perfect house that was exactly what we needed with our family of five.

 

Owning my Own Successful Business and Future Goals

My big life goal now is to make a success of my business Mrs Mummypenny. I have a five-year plan of which I am two years into. I want to have turnover of £1m by my fifth year of trading. This sounds ambitious, but I really think with goals you should dream big and work hard to achieve them. Hey if I reach £500k rather than £1m then I have done amazingly!!

My Mummypenny was born as a business in September 2015, so I am half way through year 2 and it’s going so well. Starting my own business was a recent goal. Life with three children and a full-time employed job in London was proving difficult and I wanted freedom, flexibility and control and the dream soon transpired that running my own business was the only way to achieve this.

How will I reach my business goals? Well looking at current trajectory I am doing good, it’s looking like my year 2 turnover will be maybe seven times higher than year 1. Year three should again see a jump of 2-3 times my year 2 turnover. The path to success is looking bright.

How am I going to reach this goal? Firstly, it’s all about taking that big goal of £1m and breaking it down into smaller more achievable chunks. I will set quarterly goals and also weekly and daily goals. For Q1 this year my aim was to make £100 per day. I agreed this goal and shared it with friends and I regularly give updates particularly to other trusted bloggers on how I am doing.

There will be some days where I make nothing but then other days where I might make £500, but the target and goal for the week is always there to make £500. An interesting thought process is this, if I reach £500 by say Tuesday I don’t give up. There is a part of my mind that feels more relaxed but I keep on going for more work. The feeling when you end a week smashing your target is the best feeling ever.

My advice is take a big goal and break is down into smaller more achievable chunks. Make your goals SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Tell people your goals who can hold you accountable. They can celebrate your success when you smash your goals and help to generate ideas if said plans are not going your way.

What are your life goals? What goals have you achieved in life that you are super proud of?

Zurich’s Future You Competition

Zurich is helping people to achieve their life goals by running a fabulous competition.

The #shareyourgoal competition will reward four winners with £5,000 to put towards their life goal, a bespoke life-goal experience and a financial assessment. To enter you must share a description, photo, or video of your life goal using #shareyourgoal as part of your post or tweet, or comment on the Zurich Facebook page..

All competition winners will be announced by April 17. Full competition terms and conditions are available on the Zurich website.

This is a collaborative post with Zurich.

Tax Free Childcare – Introduction to the new Schemes for 2017




Tax Free Childcare

The cost of childcare is often a deal breaker for parents wanting to return to work. Parents for years have been weighing up the costs of childcare versus what they earn. Sometime it’s just not worth it, so many mums in particular stay at home until the youngest child is at school.

I have always returned to full time employed work after my babies were born and from 2008 to 2015 I have always paid a lot for childcare. At my most expensive time, I was paying £1200 per month with Jack as a baby, and before and after school care for Dylan and Josh. I remember when I was looking for a job when Josh was 6 months old, the job I found had to pay at least 50k to make it feasible to afford to pay the bills as well as the childcare.

I used a nursery for 6 months when Dylan my first child was little. This was a rather expensive and inflexible so we swopped over to a childminder and have been with the same person for 8 years now. We are more than happy with our children in this childminder setting. The costs are lower with much more flexibility and it feel like a more caring environment. The childminder option also gives the option of before and after school car with drops off and pickups.

The government is introducing two new schemes this year that should make childcare more affordable so I want to share the facts with you and my thoughts.



Tax Free Childcare. Pay £8 get a £2 bonus

Two million working families will be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare. Go to this link to pre-register for updates as to when you can join the plus there is a handy calculator that will tell you what you are entitled to. It will be gradually rolled out, with parents of children under two invited to enter the scheme first. By the end of the year, all eligible parents will be able to receive government top-ups of £2 for every £8 that a parent pays into their Tax-Free Childcare account. This will be open to all working parents across the UK with children under 12, or under 17 if disabled.

The government will contribute up to £2000 per year per child. This can be used to pay for childcare at any provider if they register with the government service. To be eligible you both must be earning at least £120 per week and less than £100k per year.

This feels simpler than the previous childcare vouchers scheme where money was taken from your pre-tax earnings and you have more control over what you pay into the scheme for a top up. You could overpay for a few months and build up balance that might pay for the more expensive childcare needed during the school holidays. I will be signing up and paying money in to get a 20% top up on my childcare costs. I don’t get any relief at all on my childcare bills so this is gratefully received.



Free 30 hours’ childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

At the moment, we all get 15 hours’ free childcare at participant childcare providers from the term after they turn 3. This is being increased to 30 hours. From the high-level information that the politicians are talking about it feels like a win for working parents.

The scheme will again be administered through the same childcare website from the government.

This scheme comes into force just as my youngest starts school so I will miss out on the offering but I’m not convinced it will be that widely available.

My youngest goes to Pre-school that is at capacity for children numbers with a waiting list of two years. How is a setting like this going to increase the childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours when they are already at capacity, child and staff wise? I would assume that many popular pre-schools will be in this situation as well. There is talk of combining childcare settings with the 30 hours being split between maybe a preschool and a childminder? Childminders are going to have to evolve to start accepting this form of payment for childcare.

This 30 hours of childcare is also just for the term time so there is another 14 weeks of school holidays where childcare costs will be payable if parents can’t arrange cover or take holiday themselves.

It feels like a great headline idea, but in practise I will be interested to see how it plays out in reality. I joined a discussion panel on Share Radio today to discuss the schemes, take a listen here

Here are the summary facts

Who is eligible?
Tax-Free Childcare 30 hours’ free childcare
Child age Under 12

Under 17 for disabled children

3 and 4 year olds
Income Parents need to be working – each parent needs earn £120 a week and less than £100,000 per annum.
Geography UK-wide England
Employment Available regardless of parent’s employer, and also available if self-employed.

 

Can it be used with other childcare offers? Not in addition to Employer-Supported Childcare, tax credits or Universal Credit Yes, can be used with other Government support such as Employer-Supported Childcare, tax credits or Universal Credit

 

Do you think these changes are going to save you any money?



Why you should consider investing in stocks and shares.

Why you should consider investing in stocks and shares to make you money

A post by Rebecca Megson

When my hubby said he was taking out a £5,000 loan in order to buy some shares I have to say I honestly thought he had gone mad!

Such a move felt a lot like gambling, with to my mind the very real possibility of him losing all the money and yet still having to pay back a loan on a monthly basis.

In actual fact since he made the investment – in a single oil company, having done some pretty straightforward research online and with a view to this being a five-year investment (in line with the loan) – he has seen his shares steadily increase in value.

Now it’s really important to state upfront that investing in stocks and shares is fundamentally risky. This after all is why the returns on your investment are likely to be higher and therefore more interesting.

The Maths

But what sold my husband’s plan to me was, unsurprisingly, the maths.

In the same way that it’s pretty impossible to make any money in savings accounts at the moment, the flip side is that interest rates on loans are pretty low.

So his £5,000 loan has an interest rate of 3.8%, meaning that by the time the loan expires he will have repaid a total of £5580 (including fees).

In contrast he purchased £5,000 worth of shares and, on the basis of the research he’s done into the market, anticipates that over a five year period the share price should reach £7500 at worst and £25,000 at best (come on oil price!!!).

At worst that’s an earning of 50% on the initial outlay (39% more than he’s paying in interest on the loan) and at best it could be as much as 400%.

Tracking The Progress of the Shares

My husband tracks the daily progress of his shares via the Google finance app and keeps on top of news and information about both the company and the oil market in general. This might sound like a lot of work but it takes about the same amount of time as checking in on the latest football news.

He monitors in this way to ensure that the value of his shares doesn’t go below the amount he owes. If it looks like it’s going to he can cash his shares in, pay his trading fees, pay the loan back early and, importantly, STILL break even.

Inverse Savings Account

In a funny way on this basis the loan acts as a kind of inverse savings account. It’s really easy when you’re faced with a tight month to stop the monthly payment into your savings account, or worse still dip into it ‘just this once’. But because he has to pay the loan company back that money is definitely set aside. And so long as the oil price does continue to rise in the long run by 2021 there’ll be a chunk of money that we can play with.

Now in terms of practicalities, it definitely does take some research and there is no guarantee that the investment will pay out but at least he does have checks and breaks in place to avoid or at least reduce any potential losses.

For me, this really shows that trading on the financial markets is actually opening up to people outside of the City and that it really can be something that you can get involved in as a pastime.

There are actually an increasing number of ways to do it, some more and some less risky than this approach.

Online Trading Platforms

One alternative would be to get an account with an online platform such as eToro. These platforms are really interesting because they work much more like social media accounts so you can chat with other ‘traders’ and learn from them.

Moreover you can copy the entire portfolio of a successful trader, such as Jaynemesis, and trade in exactly the same way they do. This could be particularly useful if you didn’t want to spend as much time and energy on the research side of things.

Each trader on the platform has a profile that you can view which includes information including how successful their investments have been in terms of return so you have some degree of surety on the likelihood of success for you in copying them.

Other options, that are less risky again include investing in an index fund tracker like the FTSE all-share index, investing in government bonds, or investing in gold (a commodity even traders tend to turn to when things seem precarious in the financial markets!). The return on your investment tends to  reduce in line with the decrease in risk of course!

It’s certainly an interesting space and one to watch….

This is a collaborative post.