Interview: Why You Don't Need to Spend Money to Enjoy Life
In a bid to curb my appetite for unnecessary spending, I’ve gone on a major unfollow spree on Instagram. But beneath the layers of sponsored fashion content and must-have new homewares, there is a community of money smart ‘grammers sharing their tips and tricks on becoming financially free. I got chatting to Nadine from Finance Freaks (@finance_freaks) about how she juggles her cash flow as a young Mum. In this interview, she explains how she’s grown from a binge-spending teenager to a savvy saver with a mortgage by the age of 27.
TBG: Hi Nadine! Thanks so much for agreeing to join us on The Broke Generation. Tell us a little about yourself – your age, job/career, passions, etc.
Hi Emma! I’m 27 years young, I’m an Accounts Assistant at Heart of England Training who specialise in Apprenticeships. My passion is saving money and sharing my tips on Instagram @finance_freaks, and looking after my 2 year old daughter.
TBG: If you had to categorise yourself as either a saver or a spender, which would it be?
FF: Definitely a saver – I'm one of those people who picks up stuff around a shop and the closer I get to the till the more I put back down thinking, “I don’t need it really”.
TBG: Oh you’re my hero. I’ve always wanted to be like that – I’m getting there now! How would you describe your relationship with money and finance? Are you a ‘save it for a rainy day’ gal or do you treat yo’self more often than you should?
FF: I pride myself in knowing that I am really good with the money in our family. I always make sure that there is plenty in our accounts to cover emergencies, and also enough to cover bills for at least 6 months in case of one of us loses our job. But when I do treat myself it is normally a big spend, but I can't remember the last time I did that!
TBG: Why do you think you’re like this with money? Can you trace it back to any habits you formed as a child, or lessons learned from your upbringing?
FF: My mum is also in the finance industry and she was quite strict with our money when we were younger, so I think that helped me be independent now. I sometimes think she was a bit too strict, so I definitely know how I don’t want to be with my kids when they grow up! I was actually a bit of a spender when I was a teenager. I would happily get new clothes every week and go out every weekend not even thinking of how much I was spending. It all changed for me when I had to start paying rent – that's when I realised I need to sort my finances out. That was 10 years ago now.
TBG: That’s great that you learned financial discipline from your Mum. I bet it’s really helped you now you’re a Mum yourself, too. So, how do you budget? Do you have any exciting or unusual tips?! We noticed you mention a yearly tracker for Christmas shopping – what does that involve?
FF: For our main joint account budget I started by averaging out our monthly spends, and then used that as a benchmark each month. Currently that’s about £1750 (approx $3190AUD). Now we know that figure, we always have money left over from that budget each month. For our personal accounts, we make sure we each have £1000 (approx $1800AUD) at the very start of the month, then once our wages go in, we then make sure we only spend money on essentials and savings. Any money left over is ‘swept’ into the joint account to top it up each month.
Oh, my Christmas tracker! Essentially, it’s just a simple Excel document. It lists each person I buy for, and includes my budget for each person, any money already spent on them and calculates how much is remaining in their budget.
TBG: That’s very handy! I think lots of readers are serial over-spenders at Christmas. Are you a cash or card gal? Do you find using one or the other helps with your spending?
FF: Bit controversial, but I don’t like using cash. I know a lot of people in the #debtfreecommunity are really keen on cash envelopes, but I feel having cash on me makes me spend more as I know it’s there.
I’m the exact same. I feel like it’s sort of free money because it’s already left my account! So, in theory, everyone would like to have more money – but how close would you say you are to being happy with your financial situation?
FF: I’d like to have at least £10,000 (approx. $18200AUD) more in our joint account, so that if we have more children in the future we don’t need to be thinking about how we’re going to come up with all the expenses that come with newborns – nursery costs, for example. I’d also like to pay more off our mortgage each year.
TBG: Okay, this is a fun one. You find a £20 note in an old wallet – what do you do with it?
FF: I’d be super boring with it, and use it for the activities I do with my daughter in the week. And maybe use anything left over to buy some treats from the supermarket. The old me would have gone and spent it on an item of clothing that I probably didn’t even like that much!
TBG: I feel you! The old me would’ve done that too. Describe an average day in your wallet. What do you spend on a day-to-day basis?
FF: I’m going to be honest, there's probably moths in my wallet! I use it so little. I only really spend money on Monday’s and Friday’s – they’re the days when I'm off work to look after my daughter. But even then i don’t spend much at all. Just small things like £3 here and there for soft play, and maybe £1 for parking, but I try and do a lot of activities that are free, and walk most places. Even at weekends we don’t really spend much money. Don’t get me wrong, we do have fun! We just don’t feel like we need to spend money.
TBG: That’s really great that you don’t feel like you have to spend money to have fun. You sound pretty savvy, but what would you say is the one thing you spend too much on? Do you have any money-sucking habits, passions or obsessions?
FF: I remember when i was on maternity leave in 2016, I used to spend a heck of a lot of money on Costa Coffee [a coffee house in the UK]. I think it was roughly £20 a week, but I worked out that that’s £780 in 9 months!! Now I’ve cut right back. I just get my free coffee from Caffé Nero on a Tuesday [a customer perk from mobile network, O2]. I’ve also just stopped spending too much on Cultbeauty.com. I was terrible on there, especially when they had goody bags out. I'd spend £150 ($270AUD) just to get the goody bag! I know, that’s bad right.
TBG: Don’t feel bad I bloody love a goody bag! Do you think you’re better off, worse off or the same as you expected you’d be by your current stage of life?
FF: When I as in my early twenties, I never thought I’d be able to have savings or even afford a mortgage. So in that sense I am better off than I thought I would be, but there’s always room for improvement. In another 10 years I would like to class myself as ‘comfortable’.
TBG: If you could go back 5 years and change one thing about your finances, what would you change and why?
FF: I wish we’d overpaid on our mortgage as soon as we opened it. We could have saved so much on interest alone. I would also have also got my partner’s financial values in order quicker too – he used to be a spender, but we’re on the same page!
TBG: Yeah I’m really trying to motivate myself to overpay on the mortgage. The interest savings are insane! Okay, last one! What is one current financial goal you have?
FF: My financial goal is to be mortgage free. We have 30 years left ‘on paper’ but I would like to do it in 10 years. It’s my main motivation.
TBG: Thanks so much Nadine for being a part of The Broke Generation’s interview series.