Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 2 with Simon!

My name is Simon, I’m 36 (I know what you are thinking, good moisturiser) and I work for myself.  I quit my job back in February 2016 and took the leap, technically I’m a director of my company rather than being self-employed according to HMRC.  I work in digital marketing and lead generation, partnering with companies in the UK and US to help them with their online marketing needs.  I really enjoy the industry, I work from home – get to travel and most importantly it pays the bills.  It also allows me to vlog and blog as I can justify them as online marketing tools!  

My outgoings.

– I own a house, with that comes a mortgage of just over £900 per month. 

– BILLS! Got to pay those bills.  TV license, Gas & Electricity, Sky TV, Council Tax, Home insurance, pet insurance (x2), Life Insurance – it all adds up! £400 per month

– Food and all that – roughly £250 per month

– Credit cards, love them and hate them.  Fortunately most I have are at 0% so it’s just paying balances off and that costs around £200 per month

– Saving – I still manage to do this via an app that takes a little from my account each week depending on how much I’ve been spending.  Averages around £250 a month right now

– Memberships/subscriptions – this is my Norwich City season ticket which is £48 per month.  I also pay £10 per month for NFL Gamepass on my TV and £40 a year for Xbox live.

– Socialising, leisure etc. Etc. I really don’t spend that much, to be honest.  When I travel for I try to factor in some work so I can claim it back as an expense. Maybe £100-200 per month

Questions!

1. What does a typical day look like for you? – My typical day can be a little boring.  Working from home has its perks, but does largely mean that you are on your own all day.  I wake up around 730am, I’m at my desk by 8 am replying to emails from the US.  At 9 am the UK guys come online and I’ll likely still be at my desk around 11am at which point I typically remember that I need to shower, eat, make the bed etc (rock and roll).  I carry on throughout the afternoon, I know when it’s 12 pm as my favourite tv show comes on (Good Morning Football – all about American Football) which runs in the background for 3 hours.  When that ends, it’s dog walking time.  My dog is like my apprentice, asides from that fact that he does nothing all day other than lay near me.  By 5 pm the US guys are back online, I’ll spend a short while dealing with them before dinner, then throughout the evening I will pick up Skype messages and emails on my phone whilst watching TV.  If you think your day is boring, you may not anymore!  I’ve taken a rest recently, but to break up some of the monotony I often go for a run.

2. What are your guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying?  I don’t really buy a lot.  I go on holiday, which I try and do a lot.  I’ve been away a few times this year with at least two to come yet.  A perk of working for yourself, you can go away when you like (the downside is that you always end up working when away).  If I do spend on anything, I have a mini passion for shoes from Goodwin Smith so pick up a pair occasionally.  I also enjoy a bet, recently I’ve started using a new football-based trading platform which is interesting.  It comes with a risk of course, but done correctly you can make a little money.

3. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? Most expensive thing I ever bought – a house.  If you own a house and are not rich, I imagine this is the case for most people.  By comparison to London prices, my house was a bargain.  It’s a lot bigger than most of my friend’s houses in London and cost a lot less.  By owning a house, I have over £200,000 worth of debt, lovely.  After this, I spend most of my money on travelling.

4. Is there anything you’re particularly saving for? Saving is quite fluid for me.  I don’t actively save for things, but I put money aside and then spend when needed.  For example, I may save a few hundred pounds, then fancy a quick break somewhere.  I’ll put that on the credit card (earn some points) and then pay it off when due with the money from savings.  Always make your money work for you.

5. If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d buy? Assuming it was a couple of million or something, I’d pay off my house straight away.  That saves me £900 worth of outgoings per month. I’d probably buy another one too which I’d then rent out.  Asides from that, I’d then jump on a plane to the US for a bit.  Travel around, get some sun, have a beer or two.

6. If money was no object, where would be your dream travel destination? I travel a lot anyway, but there are a few places on my list that I have yet to get to.  I’d like to go to Japan, so that would be up there.  I’ve yet to get to New Orleans or Austin in the US, so them too.  Perhaps New Zealand, it’s not at the top of my list but I wouldn’t say no to going there.

7. What’s the best money advice/tips you’ve ever received? No one has ever given me any advice, however, I made many mistakes in my younger years and learned the hard way – so I give myself advice when needed.  I left home at 17, not easy! I had to get a job and start earning right away.  When I went to uni, I ignored all of the bills – not a good idea.  In my early 20’s I had to take stock of my finances, I owed more than I could really manage so basically stopped spending in order to get everything right again.  It took 6 years to sort out my credit file so that I could borrow properly, so it’s only really been the last 6 years where I have been able to “live”.

My tips… 

*Budget.  It doesn’t have to be a super strict budget – but know what’s coming in and what’s going out.  I have a spreadsheet with all of my bills on.  When a bill goes out of my bank, I mark it on the sheet.

*Credit Cards.  If you can get one, get one.  Credit cards will allow you to build/maintain a credit file.  If you’re going to buy something and you can afford it, put it on the credit card.  With a good card, you can either get 0% interest on purchases or earn points/miles for spending thus getting more for your money.  If you do have good credit, but spending gets a little heavy – consider a 0% balance transfer card to take the burden off you a little.  Still pay off money each month, but this way you pay what you have spent and not the interest that accrues.  It’s often the interest and charges for not paying that make it worse in the long run, trust me!

*Cashback – If you are not using a cashback account – get one.  I wrote a vlog post about this, it’s free money.  Always take free money.  If you are buying things online and there was cashback available at no cost to yourself, why would you not take it!?

*Treat yourself.  Saving is boring.  If you focus too much on the end game, you’ll lose sight of what’s going on in front of you.  A little treat here and there will keep your moral up whilst you work towards the “big one”.  At the end of the day, you work hard to earn your money and you can’t take it with you when you are gone!

Thanks Simon! If you’d like to feature in the money diaries series, leave me a comment and I’ll email you the info! Ng x 

Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 1 with Me!

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is my blog! I’m 22 (23 on Wednesday) and work as a Facilities Administrator for a government organisation in London. I decided to kick off my new series of money diary posts where I get you guys to talk about money! Don’t worry, I’m not grilling you on your monthly spends like a scary bank manager, this is a fun series about where you spend some of your money and what you’d spend more of it on if you could as well as spreading some money advice. The posts will all go out on a Saturday morning as something light and fun to read with your morning coffee/tea/breakfast. So let’s begin!

Monthly Spend:
  • Rent/Mortgage – £750
  • Bills – Phone Bill £49
  • Mobile phone insurance £8.99
  • Car insurance £13.99 (my utilities are covered in my rent split, we have a joint account so we pay a set amount into that and the utilities come out of that).
  • Credit Cards £150 (split across 2 cards)
  • Savings £250
  • Subscriptions £0
  • Socialising/Leisure £100 on average throughout the month
  • Food £100
What does a typical week look like for you?

I work through the week Mon-Fri in central London but as my boyfriend works for TFL we get free travel, it’s a huge cost saving and I think we’d struggle to live in London if it weren’t for that. We shop at Lidl for our groceries so we try and do a big weekend shop with food that we can take to work for our lunches. In the evenings I’m either at yoga/running/catching up on some blog chats. Weekends vary, this weekend we’ll be joining the TFL walking weekends with organised walking tours around London that are completely free to join so our spending will be very low. Last weekend we were socialising with friends as we went to see The Kooks at Ally Pally so our spending was quite high by our standards. We feel so lucky to live in such an amazing place but we’re realistic and know it can be expensive so we just try and find lots of different things to do on the cheap so we’re not stuck at home just because of money!

What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over?

I’m a sucker for work out clothes/accessories. I always want more! Just yesterday I was looking at some new nike running trainers because they were in the sale even though I’ve only had my own since christmas! I’m relatively new to running so I must admit i’m not acclimatised to running in the heat (yes it has been 19+ degrees in London) and I certainly don’t have the attire for it so I will be treating myself to some Nike running shorts this month with some birthday spending money.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Definitely my car. I consider myself fortunate as I didn’t go to University and started in a good job at 18 – I’ve progressed in the same company ever since. I didn’t rush out to learn to drive straight away at 17 as I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t enjoy it but at 18/19 after a brief period of working abroad I picked it straight back up. Working meant that I was able to save for it from day one so the second I passed my test, my mum took me straight out to get a car. We went halves and in 2013 I got my little Toyota Aygo called Terry. He served me well and when we moved to London he went back to my mum for her to have constantly and to hopefully one day pass on to my sister.

Me with Terry the day we bought him!
Are you saving for anything at the moment?

I do have a savings account that I pay into every month. Before we moved to London we were saving for a deposit for a house, we know that at the minute that seems unlikely living in London but the payments are automated and we can afford to live where we are comfortably whilst keeping up with the payments so it’s easy at the moment. Our tenancy is up in October and we are thinking of trying to find somewhere a little bit cheaper just so we have more flexibility so we may start a separate savings account for holidays too. I’m also trying to be strict on myself and save an extra £50 a month so I have some spending money when I go on a hen party to Spain in July.

If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d go out and buy?

Probably a house somewhere relaxing. We went on a 2 week driving tour of Italy a couple of years ago for my 21st and it was stunning so maybe a nice tranquil lake house that I could escape to whenever I wanted? We also visited relatives in Scotland as our summer holiday last year and it was beautiful, we were told a story about a friend of my family’s who lives in Fraserburgh, Aberdeen but travels and commutes to London through the week which really intrigued me. I love seeing family up there and I must admit I’ve never felt so relaxed as taking an evening stroll along the beach so I’d maybe like to do something similar.

It was beautifully relaxing being by the coast and away from the hustle & bustle of life and I have so many happy childhood memories in Fraserburgh
If money was no object, where would be your dream travel destination?

Do I have to pick one?! My single destination would probably somewhere like Mykonos or Santorini it just seems like the perfect place but ideally i’d just travel everywhere! There are so many different places I’d love to see at some point in my lifetime and I do fear that I won’t get the opportunity to see them all. Even though I lived in Spain, I do wish I’d have travelled a bit more when I was younger rather than getting straight into a good job with a career progression path that I want. Hindsight is a wonderful thing eh!

What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve received

I got given a wish pot for my 18th by my Grandma’s work colleagues. If you haven’t seen them then they’re a ceramic money pot which when filled with only £2 coins will store over £1000. You can’t open them whenever you feel like as they have to be broken in to. They’re not a quick way to save money, it took me over 3 years to save £530 but they are quite fun. The excitement I used to get when a £2 coin dropped out of the self-checkout was quite laughable! I only saved every time I had a spare £2 coin but you could be quite savvy about it and swap a spare £10 note to £2 coins every week.

NG x

I am constantly on the look-out for new people to provide me with their money diaries! If you’re interested please email me and I will sent you the template and schedule. You don’t have to be a blogger and there are no age restrictions so get in touch.

 

Northern Girl on… UPDATE – My body image story

It’s been exactly a month since I first published my eating disorder experience. Yes really, a month. I can’t believe it either. When I first hit that publish button and shut my laptop off I genuinely thought when I woke up the next day I’d delete it instantly but boy am I glad I didn’t. It was never my intention to make people pity me but I have to say the genuine support I received and the incredible feedback I got made it so worthwhile and guess what – the post stayed (though I still can’t read it back).

It was such a hard post for me to get out and yet it was one of my easiest to write. It had a mixed impact on my mind too. It felt incredible to get it all out there but it certainly made it more real, I had some really down days where I was obsessing over my weight and not being able to shift any of it but it was forcing me to think about it, recognise it and deal with it.

I can’t explain enough how much support I receive at home every single day. Tom is an actual angel but I always worry that he gets frustrated having to constantly tell me that I am enough. The dark, twisted side of me thinks he does it because he feels obliged to but I know that is never the case. I wish more than anything that I could see what he sees and love the person that I am now, not the person I will be when I’ve lost a bit of the podge. The optimis in me thinks I’ll wake up one morning not caring, like somebody flicked a switch and fixed me. The realist in me knows that this is a long way off, if it even happens at all but the key for me now is that I want this. The truth is I’ve found over my 10 years with this struggle that your mind set will only change if you want it to and I let my mind get too comfortable and it was hard to see that I was content being like this. Now I’m not. Now i’m ready to change.

I’ll be releasing my Half-year aims list in a couple of weeks – a goals list for the remainder of the year and my mental health is at the forefront of my mind. I’m aiming to not get bogged down with the number on the scales, something I’ve been very hit and miss with over the years. Instead i’m setting myself goals that are around me being comfortable with me. These will be harder to achieve but safer for my mind. I’m also trying to look at things in a different way so when I see the latest celebrity Instagram where a petite socialite is parading around her rock hard abs in a tiny bikini; i’m reminding myself that they are not me. They are not battling a chronic illness that is so painful it means I can’t get out of bed some days. They don’t work 11 hour days in an office for a wage that barely makes rent. They have money for personal trainers and time to train multiple hours a day. I could look like that if I had all of those but I don’t, that isn’t my life and I’m ok with that.

Another thing I’m hoping to develop in my mind is dressing for my body shape not my dress size. This i’m most interested in seeing if it works because at the minute it’s looking promising and it’s the first time I’ve ever thought about such a mind set. I am trying to feel so proud of my hourglass figure that I know others would be ecstatic to have. I know that I’m going to have good days and bad days. I’m strict with my money so I wouldn’t throw out outfits because they don’t fit right and they make me feel fat – though maybe I should – but I’m trying to re-think outfits where I can so I feel comfortable, sexy and confident so that I can finally champion my own body positivity!

After a painful 10 years I finally feel like I’m making progress. If you’d have asked me at the start of the year to wear a crop top I’d have told you to stick it.

Ng x

Northern Girl on… paddle board yoga

You may have seen my earlier post on community yoga – if not it’s here. At the start of this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a free trial of SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga). This is a new concept run by the same instructor and organisational team as community yoga.

Feeling like I was having my flash dance moment! – photo credit Neha Kadiyala

What is SUP yoga?

Exactly as it sounds you are doing yoga on a paddle board! The board replaces the traditional yoga mats and you’re on the water.

Is it safe?

It’s perfectly safe, even though you’re on the paddle board on the water, the boards are docked and connected to each other. Our trial group were a whole host of individuals with varying experience levels and not one of us fell in .

Team photo once we all got up on the board! Photo credit Neha Kadiyala

Do you have to wear a wetsuit?

You don’t have to. It’s all about personal choice, I chose to because if I were to fall in I didn’t want to be in soggy clothes all day but others didn’t and stayed completely dry.

Is the yoga difficult?

It isn’t.  The teacher will be on the dock rather than a board to make it easier for everyone to see but she has done it on a board so she knows which poses work and which don’t.  She will give you options to make it easier/difficult but it’s all about how confident you feel and how much you want to push yourself.

Is it fun?

It’s great fun. I really enjoyed it and I was impressed and just how much I was able to push myself into the more difficult poses. I was doing shoulder stands that I didn’t even know I could do on land – let alone on the water!

Where do I sign up?

All information can be found on the DSWC Facebook page or by contacting the centre direct. There will be 2 sessions on Saturday mornings starting May 27th 10-11am and 11-12. Each session is  £25 (£20 for members) with special offers available. Full details and dates below.

Photo credit courtesy of the DSWC

Places are very limited so get booking! Ng x