Profile of a budgeting mum
Hi, what’s your name? Sally
Any kids? Yes, one six year old daughter
Do you work? FT/PT? I work full time. By which I mean full-on, full-time.
Why do you work? Because my cunning plan of being adopted by fabulously wealthy royalty didn’t pan out. Actually, I work because I have to, but I’ve always worked since I was 12 years old. I think I’d be bored otherwise. I have a pretty strong work ethic, and have never claimed any sort of benefit.
If you don’t work why don’t you?
What are your child care arrangements? My daughter is at school so we muddle through, I work while she is at school and often in the evenings. She spends time with her Dad and with her grandparents, too, which gives me a bit more time.
How do you manage for money?
I run a business, providing various online services to businesses. The company is still at the stage where a lot of profits are put into developing new projects but I earn a full-time living from it, which is a complete career change from five years ago, when I earned my living entirely from journalism. I still do some journalism, because it’s good for networking and making contacts. It also means we have a little extra money to play with.
Do you worry about money?
Yes. Around the time of my divorce, there were some serious financial issues, and I suddenly found myself with debts of more than £50,000 which took several years of very hard work to pay off. Trying to clear debts when you’reself-employed and a single parent is incredibly hard – my income can be highly irregular and it’s so easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle of bounced direct debits meaning bank charges plus late payment charges and interest fees. I think I developed a reflex of being stressed about money. Then, I had a bad experience with a client backing out of a very big contract and I literallycouldn’t pay the mortgage for four months – we were only six days away from a repossession hearing when I finally got money through from another contract to clear the arrears. I’ll never quite forget that panic of thinking we might lose the roof over our head. I learned some valuable lessons, though – like getting legal advice before signing a contract might seem expensive but that’s nothing compared to the cost of getting legal advice AFTERWARDS when things go wrong.
What do you waste money on?
Take-away food. I often work when my daughter is in bed and by the time I look up, it’s too late to start cooking.
Have you made any big financial changes since having kids?
I work for myself, so there are lots of changes but I invest more in insurance and ensuring my daughter would be provided for if anything happened to me. Having been in a situation where my financial security was compromised by something I couldn’t control, I’d like her to be protected from that sort of situation.
How do you make extra cash?
With any venture I go into I pay attention to income streams and margins. If there aren’t at least five different ways to make money from a site or project, I won’t do it, and the same applies if the margin is less than a particular percentage. I think otherwise you end up wasting time on projects that won’t generate enough return, and neglecting things that could be making you money.
I still take on copywriting jobs for technical clients – it’s specialist work so quite well paid, and I use that to pay for extras – work on the house, holidays and so on. I also do consulting and training, which is reasonably well-paid.
Can you share 3 top budgetingtips for other parents?
Given my experiences, I’m sure I’m not the best person to offer advice. In fact, I know more about how to deal with debt than with budgets!
1. Don’t drive a new car. I used to only ever drive brand new cars, until it occurred to me that driving around in a £20,000 car was just one huge drain on my finances. And it was very upsetting when I wrote off one car, while I still owed £15,000 on the finance! Now I drive a seven-year-old Honda, and have saved a fortune.
2. Don’t turn on the heating and put on a sweater. I can’t believe how many people don’t do this.
3. Always threaten to leave companies if you want a cheaper deal. We’ve saved money on Internet, phone, TV and utility deals on this basis.
Sally blogs at www.whosthemummy.co.uk about life as a single Mum of a six-year-old daughter, Flea. Mostly, her blog is about bad parenting and weird kids.