Welcome to How I Made It Work — Bustle UK's financial series which aims to demystify money and the process of achieving financial stability. This time, HIMIW hears from a 30-year-old PR Director in Berkshire who has been saving for a house deposit for 10 years and believes planning for potential shocks is the key to stress-free finances.
Location: Reading, Berkshire
General job description: Director at a PR agency
What is your current salary? How long have you been earning this amount?
Nearly £40,000. I’ve only been earning this for a few months.
Do you receive regular financial help from friends, family, or a partner? How do you think this has impacted your relationship with money?
Not regular. I was given some money to kick-start my house deposit fund, but that was nearly 10 years ago.
How would you describe your relationship to money?
I’m fairly finance-savvy and panic if I feel I’m not putting enough aside. I’ve been financially independent for most of my life. I was never one to go to my mum and ask for £10 for the cinema, or for a meal out. I received pocket money in return for house jobs and worked from 16-18, then sporadically at university when I needed to — though I generally didn’t as I wanted to prioritise my degree.
Do you believe you feel you are currently in a stable position financially?
Yes, by regular saving, not just for long-term situations but also for short-term use (i.e. dental appointments, Christmas presents, big birthday presents, etc.).
How did you achieve stability?
Basically saving and budgeting. I’ve been keeping myself on a budget for most of my life — it wasn’t until a few years ago that I was making a relatively decent salary, but I tend to keep my outgoings fairly minimal, which has meant I’m a bit more relaxed about budgeting today. It probably helps that I’m not a huge goer-outer! I would like to feel better about pensions/saving for the future, so I’m considering upping my contributions and also making one-off payments in months where I’ve kept my outgoings smaller than normal.
If you feel financially stable, has this been the case for most of your life, a few years, or is it a very recent thing?
Again, it’s been more in the last few years when I’ve felt in a good place with what I’m earning – I also recently reached a milestone in terms of my house deposit saving goal. Living in Reading means house prices are akin to London — so it’s taken years and years of dedicated, regular saving to reach this.
Do you own any properties (and how many)?
Not yet — this may throw my financial stability off, but I figure the money I plough into renting will just go into my mortgage. And then some, probably.
Did you have any help from partners or family members to put down a deposit or pay the mortgage?
I had an initial "seed" investment from my parents, but I’ve tripled this in the last 5-10 years.
What does financial stability look like to you?
Having enough money to go out and have a nice meal without worrying about the impact to the rest of my month. Buying myself a posh coffee every day without worrying about my bank balance. Having enough money to be generous with little touches like bunches of flowers — not just with friends and family, but for myself. Having enough money to afford what I feel are nice things, like designer shoes, after saving up for them rather than impulse-blowing a month’s salary on them.
What advice would you give to young women who are worried about achieving financial stability?
Don’t panic, it’ll come, but help your future self out — try and set aside money each month to not only put into long-term savings, but into short-term savings too. That way if a tyre blows, you need urgent dental work, or you just fancy ombre highlights, you won’t put yourself on the back foot for the next month — or months. Consider limiting your monthly outgoings, i.e. mobile phones and car payments. Think about how you’d survive if you suddenly got fired or had to leave your job to care for a family member — and if you’d struggle to make payments you’re committed to every month (especially if you’re tied in for years). Otherwise you’ll be even more stressed out if you suddenly get made redundant, or feel hemmed in to a job that you feel you can’t afford to quit.
What one piece of advice would you give to young women who want to improve their relationship to money?
My personal rule is never put anything on a credit card that you can’t afford to pay off straightaway. It’s the quickest route to debt.