I’ve never been good with money. It’s one of the things we’ve tried really hard to talk to the boys about because (and I know you’re not supposed to do this but, hey…) I don’t want them to make the same mistakes we made.
We were married with a child by the time I was 25 and, back then, it was pretty easy to buy a house with two incomes. It makes me realise just how lucky we were. My parents were generous with their help and by the time Charlie came along, we’d moved into a bigger house that needed some work and were slowly doing it up.
I remember at the time seeing our bank manager for a financial review. He was quite shocked when we said we had no savings. I started a savings plan there and then and found that a direct debit out of my current account was the only way that was going to force me to save anything. I also started savings accounts for the boys, and put away their child benefit every month to start a small nest egg for each of them.
Skip to the present, and I really feel more confident about money. We’ve been living in this house for a few years now and dreaming of the time we could start to refurbish it. We’ve learned from our dodgy savings past and went straight to our bank, NatWest, for help with the best way of saving up.
My friend Erica is AWESOME with money and gave me loads of advice too. The one I remember most to sit down and work out exactly what money goes where, and from there work out what you have to play with. From there, you can set yourself a savings goal and work towards it. NatWest have a really good budget calculator tool. You can put all your details like your wages and all your outgoings into the calculator and it will help you work out how much you can afford to put away every month. If you’re a NatWest customer, you can also use their savings goal tool, which we actually used. You put in your final savings goal, and it works out how much you need to put in every month to achieve your goal. It will also keep track of your progress so if you’re not quite putting away enough, it will update and tell you how long it’s going to take to achieve your goal. Clever stuff, and it really kept us motivated.
Happily, 2015 is the year when we finally get to start spending our nest egg. Weirdly, though, once you’ve saved the money it’s actually quite hard to let it go. We’ve found that now it’s time to get going, our initial plans of a great big, brand new kitchen have morphed into spending less money, but getting more done in the rest of the house, so: keeping the existing kitchen units, which are perfectly okay, but freshening it up with new wooden worksurfaces and new appliances. It’s really important to us to spend it wisely.
And for the future? We’ll keep saving, and encouraging the boys to do the same. We’d love to be able to give them the same help we had from our parents when they’re ready to buy their first home. Whether that will be possible, what with driving lessons, cars, university and all the other expenses of parenting teenagers still to come, who knows? But I’ll be appreciating every penny and remembering how lucky we’ve been to have these choices.
What would I say to my younger self now? Start saving. It doesn’t matter you can only afford a small amount – set yourself a goal, using the help that’s available to you, and stick to it. Future you will thank you for it!
I’ve been a NatWest customer for years, so when they asked me to share my savings journey, I was happy to help. If you want to find out more, check out NatWest Fairer Savings, and read more stories by following the hashtag #MySaverStory
FOR 9TH FEB