We recently had a chance to catch up and chat with 30 year old Frugal mum of two from the UK. She shared with us her best frugal living tips and advice.
Tell us a little about yourself, kids/family? How did you first become interested in frugal living?
We’re a household of 4 (mum, dad & 2 boys!) I’ve always loved bargains and I’ve always been very good at budgeting and saving my money. I learnt it from my parents – we used to called my mum Bargain Betty as she was always getting great deals etc so she taught me a lot and my dad is from a finance background so he taught me to budget and save and he was the one when I was 18 who told me to get a credit card to build up my credit score.
When we bought our house 4 years ago, it was a shock to us at how much things actually cost and we hit a series of unfortunate events… I lost my job, then managed to get a temp job and then my OH lost his. So we really had to tighten our belts.
Then in 2018 I found out I was pregnant with baby number 2 but would only be entitled to stat maternity pay which was like £550 a month and at the time my OH wage wasn’t great. So I set up this account to share my tips and to also see what other people did to keep costs low etc
How do you think differently than the average person when it comes to frugality?
To be honest, I just do what’s right for me and my family. Yes we have treats and my boys never go without, but we’re sensible. My OH and I very rarely buy ourselves stuff as it doesn’t interest us, but if we do we don’t feel guilty about it.
We work hard for our money. We make sure all the essentials are paid and then anything else is a bonus. I tend to be the one that shops around to get deals and offers but that works for us. I’m also very careful that what I’m purchasing is actually a bargain… It’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway, not because it’s in the sale or got money off.
How has understanding money better helped you reach your financial goals?
We’re more aware of how much things cost since we bought our house. I also spend a lot of time each year checking we’re on the best tariffs and will look for extras too like cashback or freebies. At the minute we’re focusing on long term savings, the last few years we’ve managed to have short term savings for if anything needed replacing etc.
But now my OH is on a better wage than he was and I’m not on maternity, we’re really focusing about the future. We also save monthly for the boys too. We want to be in a position when they’re older to be able to give them both a chunk of money for them to get on the property ladder as we had to do it on our own, and it was hard!
However, we’re not going to tell the boys about the money and we’re going to teach them first how to budget etc. I don’t mind helping them, but I also want them to be self sufficient too and realise that you can’t have handouts for everything.
Being more knowledgeable in regards to frugal living tips, has this improved your lifestyle?
We have what we need without having to borrow etc. All the boys’ clothes I try and pick in sales throughout the year for the following age. So my 9 year old currently has clothes up to 11 years, ready for when he grows.
It’s also taught us what’s important and what’s not. Do we want it? Or do we need it? It allows us to have more control over our life. Don’t get me wrong, we say no to things, we don’t have big flashy holidays but we give our boys everything we can.
We’re currently saving to take them to Disney…. In 2025! We will cash flow the majority of this (however we will probably pay on cc for added security and then use the savings to pay it off).
Even that, we know someone who owns a villa so we will do that rather than staying at one of the parks. To me, being frugal is about having what you want, whether that’s stuff or experiences, but without paying above and beyond for it.
What’s your best frugal living tips?
I have two (frugal living tips)…. Shop your home & always write a list!
So before u go shopping I go through the cupboards, the fridge, the freezer etc. I see what we have first. I then make a rough meal plan for the following week and then write my list based on that. We also have a week (normally the last week of the month) we’re we use everything up! My OH is great at making different meals from random leftovers. We also always freeze a portion of whatever we’re making and we tend to use them up this week too.
We also try and reuse things in the house before purchasing something. (I did a post this week about how to use a plastic croissant tub as part of a Christmas present).
When I go shopping, I stick to the list as much as possible. With the exception of yellow labels. If I see yellow labels that I know we will make use of, I buy them and freeze them. But again, I won’t buy them just because they’re yellow labels.
In case yellow labels are diff where you are… It’s basically food that’s reduced as its near its use by date or packaging is damaged
What are some resources and/or strategies you use to help you better yourself financially? (books, podcasts, apps etc)?
Pen and Paper 😂 I have lists for everything 😂 I also keep notes on my phone for if I’m out and out…. I’ve got a list of clothes we have in 2-3 for the youngest so that if I’m out and see something I can double check if we need it or not. I’m so used to it now that it doesn’t take long at all!
Instagram – so many fab accounts on here (for frugal living tips). Some provide tips I’d never even thought of. Or some that I do but allows me to tweak it etc.
Monzo – I have a monzo account with all of my savings. I love the idea of the pots so that I can see what’s in each one… I currently have about 9 different saving pots…including one for next Christmas as we’ve already sorted this Christmas.
Websites – I don’t use these all the time but from time to time I like to check in on Martin Lewis, money saving expert, there’s also a fb page called extreme couponing and bargains uk that I use.
Apps – if I’m purchasing something from, say Boots, I will always go on their app first, see if they have any promot
Promotions or coupons etc
I did a post this week about my Boots purchase and I got £13.50 worth of points in one transaction!
Do you have any advice for someone just beginning their frugal living journey/ FIRE journey?
know your money! I can tell you what comes in and out every month without having to check. Obviously this wasn’t always the case. Start down with writing all your outgoings… Bills, subscriptions, food, petrol etc. Then I looked to see what I could out, what weren’t we using enough etc. And then we talked about non negotiables. What were we willing to give up etc. We’ve recently decided to get rid of our TV license as we just don’t watch live TV. We watch netflix more than anything else.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’ll see accounts that say I paid off £65,000 of debt in a year! It’s not a race. Your journey is your own. If you’ve never saved in your life and can now save £10 or £30 a month, then you’ve achieved something. In the same way, don’t get rid of all your subscriptions because then you’ll feel like you’re missing out! Small steps for the win x
What content do you like to share on Instagram most and why?
I think what content you share is very personal to you. I’d hate to just share stuff because I think that’s what people want to see.
I share stuff that interests me…. At the minute it’s all things Christmas. Christmas gifts etc. I tend to share a lot of yellow labels… People seem to love them just as much as me. I’ve started recently sharing more about myself. My account is anonymous but during lockdown I shared about my own mental health etc..and I couldn’t believe how many positive responses I got!