Mum saves £10k in seven months by ‘living below her means’

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A money-conscious mum has shared how she managed to save £10,000 in just seven months by making lifestyle changes. Ruth Taylor, 43, first started her journey through managing money well, whilst working to pay off £21,000 of debt.

Ruth managed to be completely debt-free after just eight months.

Explaining her situation, Ruth told LancashireLive that the debt began when she moved into her first home with her family, deciding to furnish the house on credit and pay for a new boiler by taking out another credit card.

However, she abolished the debt completely after eight months. To do this, she increased her monthly income and worked seven days a week. In her free time, she completed surveys online and engaged with matched betting.

To help reduce her outgoings, Ruth also decided to cut back on non-essential bills, buying second-hand clothes and getting her husband to cut her hair.

Since then, Ruth shared her money-saving journey online and gained more than 44,000 followers on Instagram sharing financial advice as moneysavvymumuk. She also runs a website under the same name, which features helpful advice, free budgeting printables and more.

Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to save six months of expenses, or £10,000, for her family’s emergency fund. Ruth has achieved the goal quickly, saving up the total figure in just seven months.

She said: “We set ourselves a goal of saving 6 months’ worth of expenses for our emergency fund. We carried on making sacrifices and working extra hours to get this money together as quickly as possible, and we managed to save the whole amount within 7 months. We now have £10,000 in our emergency fund, which is just under 6 months’ worth of living expenses.

“Since then, we’ve been contributing regularly to our ISAs – no set goal in mind, just as much as we can each month. Sometimes we can send a lot but other months, not so much. We currently have £30k in our ISA which took us three years to accumulate.”

Now the family are happy with their financial situation, they are planning to go on their first family holiday abroad in seven years in March 2023.

Ruth added: “More recently, we have been saving for our first family holiday abroad in 7 years. We are going to Florida in March 2023. The holiday cost £4500, and we had to pay £2500 upfront, which we did. The rest is due at the beginning of March, which we have managed to save, and it is sitting in my bank account waiting to be paid. We have £1k worth of spending money, and we are now trying to save another £1.5k and £1200 for park tickets. We should have this all saved up by Christmas time, as I am earning extra via my Instagram page and my blog.

“To save for this holiday, we reduced the amount we are sending to our ISA. I’m doing more matched betting to earn extra, and my Instagram page is bringing in extra money too. I also make money from the digital products I sell on my blog. All this extra income is being sent to our holiday fund, while our regular day jobs pay for our daily bills. We haven’t had a holiday abroad for over 7 years, so that eases the guilt over the cost of this one.

“To achieve this amount, we have had to continue working extra days and often most weekends. I continued to work into the evenings to earn extra money. I also engage in matched betting when I get time, creating digital products to sell online, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts on Instagram, and trying to grow traffic to my blog. 

“I make a healthy side income from my blog and Instagram. It varies a bit – one month it can be £500 and others, it can be £3000. We also limited how much we went out to avoid spending. For example, we would have a movie night at home instead of eating out or heading to the park.”

Ruth has also opted to keep her heating off and purchased electric blankets in the meantime, given the rise in energy costs. She had also tried to reduce the amount of money she spends on meat and walks to destinations where possible.

She added: “There are loads of other ways to watch your spending. With energy bills rising, I’ve decided to keep the heating off for now. I’ve invested in electric blankets for us all, as these are much cheaper to use than the cost of heating. I’m constantly running around after everyone and switching off lights they’ve left on!

“When it comes to groceries, I’m vegan, but my children aren’t. So I’m trying to add more pulses to their meals in order to make the meat go further. I buy own-brand foods as much as possible, and if I need to pop into the shop, I’ll walk instead of driving.”

Ruth has given advice to anyone who wants to make savings themselves, or just reduce their spending amid the cost of living crisis. She says living ‘living below your means’ is essential: “For those who want to make money on the side themselves, I recommend first looking through your budget and making cuts. To get ahead financially, it’s essential to live below your means so that you can invest your surplus money. I know it’s extremely difficult in today’s climate. Right now, it feels like my money is being stretched in all directions. Absolutely everything has gone up in price, and the pound is not going as far as it used to. But if possible, make cuts where you can.

“To help with reducing your day-to-day spending, try using cashback apps when making purchases and renewing insurance policies. Swap mobile contracts for SIM-only deals, cut back subscriptions where possible and negotiate bills for cheaper deals. Meal plan and buy own-brand foods. If possible, shop at value supermarkets such as Aldi. Buy secondhand wherever you can.

“My wages get paid into my current account. I have two – Barclays and Santander. From here, the bills and any mortgage overpayments are taken from my Barclays account, and I have set up a standing order from my Santander for my sinking funds (which I keep in my Starling account) and for my ISA payments. It’s quite simple, but it works for me.”

Ruth shared her story with Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk. Tom went on to describe her as an ‘inspiration’. He said: “Ruth is a true inspiration for anyone looking to regain control of their finances. You’d be surprised how much you can save by living below your means and stretching your money as far as it will go. Plus, making money on the side where possible is a great way to set up savings accounts that will give you peace of mind should you ever encounter a situation where you need some extra cash.”

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