Things to do in Greenwich for £5 or less

Maritime Greenwich is undoubtedly one of my favourite areas in London. I don’t know if I’m slightly biased because it’s walking distance for me but it has this brilliant way of making you feel like you’re miles away from London whilst also being reminded just how close you are. There’s also lots of things to do and still get change from £10.

Where to eat

Goddard’s Pie and Mash shop has been a Greenwich staple since 1890! “Eel Pie Houses” as they were traditionally known date back to the 1700s and Goddard’s still feels traditional. A single Pie and Mash will set you back a mere £4.30. Just expect the queues out of the door on a Saturday lunch time. Think the best possible ‘dinner lady’ vibes and relish in the old fashioned bench style seating. The perfect place to warm up on a chilly winter day and if you’re feeling adventurous be sure to give the jellied eels a try.


You simply can’t beat a classic


Up the creek comedy club is my favourite to visit. It’s hosted an array of comedians including James Acaster, Joe Lycett, Tim Vine and more recently Nish Kumar. Every Wednesday it is home to “Shoot From The Hip” a comedy improv night and if you’ve never seen a comedy improv night before you MUST. This particular one is free to visit too. If that wasn’t enough comedy for you it also hosts every Thursday “The Blackout” one of the most exciting nights of comedy you’ll ever see. 15 amateur comedians have 2 minutes to impress, succeed and they’ll carry on for a further 3 minutes. Fail? Well the crowd can get pretty rowdy for a comedian they don’t like. The first time I went a poor guy was booed off in the first 30 seconds. Brutal. Entry to The Blackout is £6 or free for students.


Weekends in Greenwich are fantastic if not for the vast array of markets available. You obviously have the famous Greenwich Market with all of it’s artwork, food and artisan coffee but just up the road you have both the vintage market and clock tower market. Be sure to stop by the vinyl stall and have a browse if music is your love. My best friend once managed to find a yellow stone roses vinyl and to this day I’m still insanely jealous! There’s everything from clothes, to antiques and jewellery. Well worth a peruse and all free to look around.


The Park

I defy you to go to Greenwich and not stop by the park. Not only is it home to The Royal Observatory, next to The Royal Naval College and close to the Queen’s house, it’s also a great place for dog walkers, families and everyone! There’s stunning views and even a deer park. The Pavillion Cafe is a great spot for afternoon tea or any kind of pit stop. Which you’ll need if you took the ‘steep’ route to the top though it’s well worth the climb. The park itself is free to visit but entry to the observatory and naval college is charged separately.

IMG-20170501-WA0000 (1)

The view from the top of Greenwich Hill

So there you have it, just some of my favourite things about Greenwich.

NG x

More information about what’s coming up at Up The Creek can be found at their website


The store loyalty cards you need in your life

It seems like every shop you ever visit wants to offer you their latest, exclusive discount/store card. So which actually carry the best rewards? I’ve put together the ultimate guide to my favourite reward cards and exactly what they have to offer.

  • The Body Shop – With their “love your body club” card you get 10 points per £1 you spend. 500 points = a £5 voucher with an extra £5 on your birthday. You also get exclusive invites to in-store events and discounts are on offer. I really love this reward scheme as they instantly tie it to your account so when you buy online you don’t actually need to input the card details (providing you use the some account you registered with).
  • Boots – the Boots advantage card is the absolutely classic of all the ‘reward’ cards, established in 1997 it’s easy to see why it has survived the test of time. You get 4 points per £1 when you spend and each point is equivalent to 1p to spend back in store. They regularly hold exclusive ‘point’ events offering up to 10 points per £1 spend and they will mail point booster vouchers every quarter. Boots have also recently launched an app which allows you to easily see your point balance as well as load further point boosting offers straight to your card to redeem in store. My only slight niggle about the Boots card is that you have to pay the full amount in points, you can’t part pay in cash.
  • Debenhams – If you’re a regular Debenhams shopper then they Debenhams Beauty Club card is perfect. It offers 3 points per £1 spend. 500 points = a £5 voucher and an extra £5 voucher for your birthday. Other advantages include being the first in the know for new samples and a complimentary Benefit eyebrow wax/Elizabeth Arden facial for your birthday. They also offer free Click and Collect delivery for Beauty Club members.

A recent body shop haul, saving £5 with the loyalty card

  • John Lewis – My favourite feature about the John Lewis card is that you can get a free regular hot drink and cake in their cafes. One of the most unique features of the John Lewis rewards is the option for the ‘Kitchen Drawer.’ This means that you can store all your receipts to your phone making it easy access for items under warranty. You also get exclusive invites and offers such as early access to clearance events.
  • Boux Avenue – The Boux Avenue VIP card gives you points per £1 spent to redeem on future purchases. Each point is worth 3p so 300 points = £3. Points can be used in full or as part payment and further benefits include exclusive VIP events and sale previews.
  • ASOS – everyone’s favourite site, ASOS offers their A-list scheme. Every £1 spent = 5 points. 500 points = a £5 voucher valid for 6 months. With 4 A-list “levels”, additional perks include extra points days and 48 hour preview access to sales.

Some of the featured cards including my Boux avenue card!

  • Tesco – another point per £ offer, each point is then worth 1p so 150 points = £1.50. Every 3 months Tesco will send you vouchers based on your points value which you can spend in store, online or with one of their partners. These can include anything from cinema tickets, to meals out and even Uber credit. One of the best feature about Tesco is there are so many ways to collect. They even give you two handy key fobs so you don’t have to carry your card and since you can redeem points on Esso fuel it really helps remembering to collect those points.
  • Sainsbury’s – the classic nectar card. You can pick up your card in store or online, you can link an additional card holder to your account and you can collect points in SO MANY PLACES. Travel on Virgin Trains? You can collect nectar points on that. Bank with Sainsbury’s bank? Get nectar points. Shop at Argos a lot? Well you get the picture. They’re the largest loyalty scheme in the UK with over 16 million users regularly shopping at Sainsbury’s. 1 point per £1 is on offer with them direct on groceries and this increases depending on partner. Points can be spent just as easily as they are earned with redemption available on huge brands such as EasyJet, Vue Cinemas and Pizza Express. Failing that you can always use them on your next Sainsbury’s shop where 500 points = £2.50 off.
  • Waitrose – if you live anywhere south of the northern border you’ll know that Waitrose is a major deal. In terms of locality Waitrose is my second closest supermarket at home and probably my closest at work. Whilst they’re not the cheapest I have to say I’m impressed by their loyalty scheme rewards. It’s less of a point collector and more of a get stuff for free. Benefits include a free hot drink whilst you shop, free access online to the good food guide and 10% discount at the Waitrose Cookery School.

Are there any store cards I’ve missed that you love? Why not leave me a comment with some of your faves.

NG x

Northern Girl on… Ways to make more money (without getting a second job)

Adulting is hard. No matter what you do for a living you never seem to have enough money. Even if its just to keep up the clothes/beauty/Starbucks addiction the paycheck never seems to quite make it and even more so in London! Luckily I’ve found a few ways of making a bit of extra cash even while working full time.

One of those ways is market research. Since moving to London I’ve made a little extra cash in various market research projects. So how do you get involved?

There are various companies who offer market research projects:

Podengo – This is where I’ve probably had most of my market research projects come from. You can find out their projects from their Facebook page and by joining their mailing list. They have projects all over the country and there really is something for everyone. The projects vary and can include online communities, uploading pictures/videos or attending group discussions. Some will be paid with money and others might be rewarded in Amazon vouchers. You have to sign up for each project individually but if you meet the criteria they’ll call you to book you in on one of the sessions.

Angelfish – Similar to podengo they have a wide range of projects all over the country. Each project has its own register questionnaire so unlike podengo you know straight away if you haven’t quite made the criteria. They also offer a refer a friend scheme so if you don’t make the selection but you recommend someone who does you’ll receive an amazon voucher as a thank you. You can access their projects from their Facebook page and by email referrals.

A recent project involved blind tasting 6 alcoholic beverages

Market force – probably the smallest monetary value for market research but they have a lot of projects in shops/restaurants where they will reimburse you the value of the purchase and pay you a bit more for completing the task. Its probably the easiest form to complete to sign up as you often just have to read the assignment notes and answer a few questions but some will require you to watch videos. Once you’ve completed the visit you often have to complete a short questionnaire and photograph your receipt but that’s it. It pays to provide high quality information though as you get a point score. The higher the score, the more projects you get access to. They also have a great feature where you can tell them when you’ll be travelling as they have a lot of projects in airports that require you to be airside in order to complete them.

Brainsights – Originally Canadian based, this company have branched out to London. It’s a little bit more secretive than other projects as I’m still not entirely sure where the data goes but you can get paid for attending a central London location and watching 45 minutes of content whilst wearing a brain scanner it really is that easy! They regularly run the sessions so once you’re registered with them they’ll email you inviting you to more sessions.

Universities – A lot of the universities offer small incentives to go in and test out a product or feature. Yet to carry this out myself, I’ve heard of stories of being paid £10 for going in and tasting a chocolate and writing what you thought about it. Most of the universities use the same SONA system so just search SONA + your local university.

Fiverr / Fivesquid – perfect for those who are really good with tech etc. Its basically a “service” selling website for pretty much anything. Excellent Donald Trump impersonator? You can make money from that. SEO whizz? You can make money from that. Nutrition expert? Well you get the picture. You’re responsible for setting your own budget and you grow your profile through reviews from people who have used your services. Again not something I’ve actually tried out myself but I’m certainly hoping to in the not so distant future. 

YouGov – I actually only discovered this recently following a post published on the 10  ways Facebook page (check out the post here on why they’re a Facebook timeline staple) but YouGov conduct surveys on various topics such as politics, entertainment, public figures etc. The info is usually used on shows where they’ve asked a sample of people. You get survey requests emailed to you and they take around 10 minutes to complete. For each survey you get points until you have enough for £50. It’s been known to take quite a long time to earn enough points for the money but if you don’t mind the time it’s a very easy way to make £50.

UK Transcription – If you fancy yourself as a dab hand at transcribing you could get involved in UK transcription. They’re the go to place for people wanting their audio files transcribed. You’ll be put through a couple of tests and trials to ensure you’re up to scratch but once you’re through you’ll be able to select work that works around you. Just head to the transcription jobs page on their website.

Do you have any tips for making some extra cash? Leave me a comment and let me know NG x

The Northern girl’s money diaries – week 8 with Abbey!

Hi! My name is Abbey, I’m a 22 year old student and blogger over at My blog is a real mix of everything – from books and beauty to fashion and days out! I’ve just finished my Masters degree but I’m not completely done with education yet, as I’m starting my PHD in September. I’m very used to living on a student budget after all this time, so I was very excited to be offered the chance to feature in Chloe’s money series. Keep reading to find out where I splash (and save!) my cash…


Bills / Utilities: Included with my rent

Loans: I’m not paying back my student loan yet as I’m not earning regularly

Memberships / Subscriptions: N/A

Socialising / Leisure: Average £80

Food: Average £80

1. What does a typical week look like for you? I have just finished my Masters Degree and I’m currently still living in my uni accommodation as my rent is paid until the end of July. A typical week for me during my degree would include the regular mix of studying, attending lectures, writing essays, and that all important down-time. Thankfully, I don’t have any day-to-day travel expenses as I walk everywhere (Oxford is quite a small city!). My hobbies include reading, going out with friends, and blogging – most of which aren’t that expensive! However, if I go away to visit friends or to attend blogger events, transport can get pricey as I’m reliant on bus / train travel – but thankfully the coach into London is only £14 for a student ticket, which really isn’t that bad!

2. What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over? I used to be a massive clothes shopper but I’ve grown out of that a bit now! Gone are the times when I’d regularly splurge all my pocket money in Primark! These days, food is probably by guilty spend! I really enjoy going out for breakfast (there’s an amazing breakfast place just a 15 minute walk away from me in Oxford and their pancakes are to die for!), and there’s always the temptation of a packet of chocolate biccies in the supermarket as well! But hey, eating is essential, right?!

3. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? 
My recent expensive purchase has actually been a holiday! In August, I’m off to Portugal on a yoga retreat as a solo vacation, which I’m really looking forward to! Thankfully I have a job in September which should cover most of the costs (hooray for something above minimum wage!!) which is a relief. The holiday has set me back about £700 so far but I’m determined not to let costs creep above £1k. As I’ve paid for the holiday itself and the flights already, that shouldn’t be a problem unless I go CRAZY when shopping for new bikinis! 😉

4. Are you saving for anything in particular at the moment?  Does saving for a rainy day count? I don’t really save for particular things, my usual motivation is just seeing the figure in my savings account rise and rise, I find it really satisfying! 

5. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would go out and buy?  I would most definitely buy a nice house for my Mum and Dad – they have worked so hard in their lives to ensure that for me and my siblings, nothing was wanting. My Dad has built up the family business from practically nothing to an amazing success, and I can’t thank him enough for it! My Mum is also a fantastic businesswoman and she is so savvy, always coming up with new ideas and advertising campaigns, so she really deserves a treat too!

6. If money was no object what would be your dream travel destination?  I have been studying Classical Archaeology (the material culture of ancient Greece and Rome) for four years now, so I would love to go on a full tour of the Mediterranean! I’ve visited Athens twice and loved it, but I’ve yet to explore the city of Rome properly, so that would definitely be the top of my list! It would be amazing to visit the places I’ve read about in books for so long and properly get an understanding of how ancient peoples once lived there! It’s a totally nerdy answer but hey, that’s me!

7. What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve ever received? My Dad always told me that although a new pair of shoes or another equally frivolous purchase might seem like all I want now, when it came to later life and I was wanting to buy something big like a house or a car, I’d be really thankful that my younger self had put some money away to help me achieve those things! And guess what – he was right!

Thanks Abbey for taking part! If you’d like to be involved in my money diaries series drop me a comment! NG x

The Northern Girl’s money diaries – Week 7 with Abigail

Hi my name is Abigail, I am 20 years old and I am currently a student. I am currently coming to the end of my undergraduate Psychology degree and I am planning on starting a masters in September. I currently blog at, which is mainly a lifestyle blog with a mix of book reviews and Disney posts. 

Monthly expenditure 

  • Board – £125
  • Phone bill – £12
  • Subscriptions – £23.98
  • Travel – 46.80

1. What does a typical week look like for you? 

It varies to be honest. Whilst I was at university I was in two-three days a week. The thing about being a student is that often your week can change so you don’t always have the same things going on and because you don’t have regular money coming in, as you get your grants and loans periodically, you have to really budget in travel costs and food costs. 

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

In honesty, I’ve never been the type of person to spend money on things I’ve considered unnecessary but recently I’ve been a sucker for buying clothes from forever 21. I don’t know what it is but I just have an obsession.

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

Probably a phone as my current phone cost me around £125. 

4. Are you saving for anything in particular at the moment? 

Unfortunately, I don’t have any savings at the moment. However, I am hoping to get a job or even if I go on to do a masters I will be able to start saving some money so me and my boyfriend can get our own place.

5. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would go out and buy? 

I would probably buy a piece of land so I could build my dream home. I’ve always loved the idea of building my own home and I would make sure that it was big enough for a family and my mum so she wouldn’t have to worry about paying rent.

6. If money was no object what would be your dream travel destination?

I would love to do a tour around the 50 states! 

7. What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve ever received? 

I honestly don’t recall anyone giving me money advice but I always learnt from my mum to be a savvy shopper and to look for the best deals. 

Thanks Abigail for your involvement, if you’d like to be featured in my money diaries series leave me a comment and I’ll send you the template!

NG x 

Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – week 5 with Chloe! 

Hi I’m Chloe from I’ve just turned 20 last month, I work as a Digital Marketer in a small business not far from where I live in Warwickshire. 

Monthly Outgoings

  • Rent/Mortgage – £0
  • Bills – (Phone Bill £15)
  • Car insurance – £0 ( I paid mine off in full)
  • Car Lease – £133
  • Credit Cards – £0
  • Savings – £400
  • Subscriptions – ( Photoshop £8.57, Spotify £4.99 )
  • Socialising/Leisure – £100 on average throughout the month
  • Food – Roughly £50


    What does a typical week look like for you? – I work full time Monday – Friday every week. I usually spend Monday nights relaxing and catching up from the weekend, Tuesday nights I spend with my boyfriend, then I’m usually with friends or family the rest of the week. I like to spend my weekends with my boyfriend photographing and exploring new places.

    What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over? – I don’t think I have any, I’m pretty good at telling myself not to buy if I don’t NEED something, I will treat myself every now and then if it’s something I really want but I think I’m good at resisting buying unnecessary items.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?  – My 2016 Grey Corsa, I started leasing this last September and I guess it counts because after a few years the car will be mine. Other than that probably my MacBook Air.

Are you saving for anything in particular at the moment? –I always like to have money saved incase I have to pull money out for my car unexpectedly. I’m currently saving towards travelling and a mortgage, which is a while off but I think its good to start early


If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would go out and buy?  -Obviously it depends how much but I’d love to buy a house so I can move in with my boyfriend. We don’t want to rent and it would be so nice to just be able to buy a house out right.

If money was no object what would be your dream travel destination? – It’s so hard to pick just one. I’ll go with America as I’d love to go over there and not be tight with money! I would probably spend a good few months out there

What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve ever received?  – Not to be tight with it, once you start saving and it builds up it can be quite easy to focus on the number going up and forget to treat yourself and actually live. Saving is great for your future but you need to be able to say you’ve experienced things and had fun

Thanks Chloe! If you’d like to get involved in my money diaries series, leave me a comment and I’ll email you the info.

NG x

Norther Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 4 with Alicia

Hey there, I’m Alicia and I’m a 20-year-old full-time student in London. I also work a zero hours’ contract in hospitality as well as running a lifestyle/beauty/fashion which you can find at . While working a zero hours’ contract is extremely useful when having a busy university schedule, it does also mean that I often get shifts cancelled on me last minute. As well as having to pay a fine if I must cancel last minute, which is extremely annoying, especially months when I haven’t been able to work a lot and I often end up not getting paid a single penny. Due to being a student I live in London from September until June every year and spend the summer at my mums trying to save up any extra pennies to make it through the first term of the academic year.

Monthly expenditure:

  • Rent: £696 (this includes all bills such as electricity and internet, and home/gadget insurance)
  • Bills: Phone bill- £15
  • Savings: £30
  • Subscriptions: £4.99 – Apple music student subscription
  • Socialising/ leisure: £250 on average a month
  • Travel: £150 I have to travel around London for shifts
  • Food: £80 roughly, I normally do about two food shops a month
  1. What does a typical week look like for you? I normally have classes five days a week during the day, and I try to work at least two shifts a week when it’s possible. I have two nights a week in which I go out drinking with my friends, but these are student nights and therefore are often cheaper than the average night out in London. With entry normally costing £5 with transport to the club included, therefore I’ll often hunt out the cheapest bottle of wine with the highest percentage. I will often also order food at least once a week when I simply don’t have the energy to cook. Although I do place a food delivery order twice a month, in which I will normally spend between £40 and £45 to stock up as much as possible and occasionally I can just get away with popping to the local corner shop in order to stock up on things such as milk, bread and pasta. It’s not rare for me to have to travel to the other side of London for work (I live in zone 3 of South West) which costs me a pretty penny in travel costs, which aren’t covered by work. If I finish after midnight though I often get given a £15 taxi allowance in order to make sure I get home okay, this is often only enough to get me part of the way home the rest I have to either do either through public transport or pay for the taxi myself.
  2. What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over? Makeup. I run a blog which includes beauty so I can never resist buying new makeup and while I try to set myself a budget of £20 a week to spend on makeup I often will go over or not spend a single penny. I guess this kind of evens itself out over the course of the month. Although I’m slowly starting to come to terms that I already have more than enough makeup and I don’t have any storage room left for more products.

    One of my most recent make-up binges

  3.  What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? Probably my phone, I bought the iPhone 6 last May out of my student finance payment, I needed a new phone but I didn’t want to get phone contract that would cost me £45+ when I was in the position to be about to buy one out right. By doing this it has meant my phone contract is only £15 a month to cover everything I need (specifically enough data and texts) which is a lot nicer on my budget. My phone is still going strong (touch wood) although I did have to pay to replace the screen the other week as I may or may not have completely smashed it on a night out, I paid the consequences…£79.99 worth of consequences.
  4. Are you saving for anything in particular at the moment? I’m saving up for a new camera, specifically either the Olympus Pen EP7 or Canon 1200D. While I do try to pay money into my savings account every month, I have times when I struggle to put anything in there. I also recently emptied it out in order to have spending money on my holiday to Croatia, which occurred just before I got my final student finance payment and therefore I was running very low on money.
  5. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would go out and buy? I’d buy my own flat in London, so I could live up here all year round, and not have to worry about rent, as I currently live in student accommodation so my rent comes out in three payments around the same time as I receive my student finance. While this may seem useful as at least I know my rent has been paid, they’re often very large payments and will, therefore, leave me really feeling the pinch, especially the first payment of the year which is often the biggest…despite that being the smallest amount of loan I receive.
  6. If money was no object what would be your dream travel destination? I don’t have just one dream travel destination, I want to see the whole world, but I suppose if money really was no object it would have to be Mexico. I don’t think there is any specific reason why I just like the idea of having bath robes and slippers included in the cost of the hotel. Although I would absolutely just want to go round the entire world.
  7. What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve ever received? If you can’t afford to buy it twice then don’t buy it. I can’t remember where I heard this but it’s something I’ve lived by since being a student, that and putting all my change into a pot and then counting it up at the end of the year. You don’t ever realise just how much can be hidden in a pot of change until you count it up.

Thanks Alicia for contributing! If you’d like to be featured in a money diary. Leave me a comment and I’ll send you the info. 

NG x

Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 3 with David!

Hi I’m David, and you can normally find me at I’m an intern working and living in central London and this is my money diary…

Monthly spends:

  • Rent/Mortgage – £560
  • Bills – £70 (£20 phone bill, utilities £50)
  • Gadget insurance – £12
  • Subscriptions – £10 (Spotify Premium)
  • Socialising/Leisure – £250
  • Food £130
  • Travel £60
  1. What does an average week look like for you? I work full time Mon-Fri in London. I’m pretty lucky that I live close enough to work that I can just about walk it, though this does take about an hour so I don’t live THAT close. In the evenings I’m often working on my blog and other projects, running, doing boring adult jobs like food shopping, or off to a concert or socialising with friends! It’s hard to stay in when you live in such an amazing city.
  2. What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over? Money is pretty tight, as I’m an intern renting in London. However, I buy tons of concert tickets. I love live music more than anything and it feels like I’m always planning to go to more. I love to travel too, I’ve been trying to fit in some trips with my busy schedule/tight budget, it seems like it’s working!
  3. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? Physical thing, my Canon 60D. I’ve had it now for 2-3 years and bloody love it, though it was second hand to begin with so now it’s dying a little. Otherwise, it would be the month I spent in Japan. Kinda spent a bit too much on that, however it had been my lifelong dream to travel around Japan.

    Me with my beloved camera

  4. Are you saving for anything at the moment? I don’t have too much money leftover at the end of the month. I don’t really have any left to be honest. This isn’t what forever will be like, just whilst I’m an intern I hope! However I am careful not to dip into savings I already have, I usually end up in them every single month but I’m briefly out after payday! Definitely not the healthiest way to deal with money but it’s what I’m doing for the time being!
  5. If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d go out and buy? One of those fancy round the world plane tickets. I’m off for a long time.
  6. If money was no object, where would be your dream travel destination? South America is the trip I’m going to start planning. I’ve been dreaming of Peru for years. I’m going to do this trip anyway, but it’s currently my dream travel destination, so if money was no object I’d probably just spend longer on the continent!
  7. And finally… What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve received. Honestly, it’s been not to worry so much. I worry a lot about money, a massive amount. Being told to relax with it and not let it dominate my life has been the best thing for me. I’m still very careful, but I don’t let it ruin my day.

Thanks David for contributing! If you’d like to be featured in a money diary. Leave me a comment and I’ll send you the info. 

NG x

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


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.