How A Self-Employed Seamstress From Doncaster Made It Work On £2,900 A Month

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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 37-year-old self-employed seamstress and fashion designer who went freelance to be able to spend more time with her children and believes a less-is-more approach is the key to improving your relationship with money.

Age: 37

Location: Doncaster

Occupation: Self-employed seamstress and fashion designer

What is your current salary and how long have you been earning this amount?

Now that I am self employed, I don’t really have a regular salary — and it has been that way since I left my full-time job in fashion behind me three years ago. I went from earning £35,000 to pretty much zero in a week and had no real plan at the time.

Do you receive regular financial help from friends, family, or a partner and how do you think this has impacted your relationship with money?

I never had an equal relationship with my husband in regards to money (what was mine was mine), and when I stopped earning a regular salary, I realised pretty quickly that we needed to change the way we dealt with our finances. It was a big power switch as I had always earned more than him, but being a stay-at-home mum meant more to me than money so I had to swallow my pride.

How would you describe your relationship to money?

I was quite flippant with it, living month to month and not really saving. Never really being in trouble but not very sensible. Getting pregnant changed everything — maternity pay etc. was a big blow to me.

Do you believe you feel you are currently in a stable position financially?

Now, yes. The bills are paid, we own a home, I am comfortable. The money I earn from my business is steady, but small — and is enough to put into the pot for a rainy days and sundaes.

How did you achieve stability?

Being honest, and open about what I needed — not going crazy when I had a big order!

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?

The only time I’ve not felt financially stable was when I was on maternity leave and actually, when I look back, I realise that I was always really careless with my money pre-baby.

Do you own any properties?

Yes, the one we live in now.

How did you come to own the property?

My husband and I saved enough for a deposit, and looked out of town (we were living in Manchester at the time). We moved to where he grew up (I am from London) and found a stunning 100-year-old three-bedroom house that needed a bit of love but was perfect for us. Having rented all of my adult life this was a total game-changer for us!

Did you have any help from partners or family members to put down a deposit or pay the mortgage?

My father helped us by matching what we had saved. He always said that he would do this for us.

What does financial stability look like to you?

For me, it’s being able to pay the bills, buy food, and be comfortable with what we have.

What advice would you give to young women who are worried about achieving financial stability?

Start saving. Put aside savings each month, and do not be overly frivolous with your spending. Never be ashamed to ask for help.

What one piece of advice would you give to young women who want to improve their relationship to money?

Less is more. One bank account. One credit card (for emergencies only!), and a savings account or ISA is what you need.