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 35-year-old interior designer in the West Midlands who uses discounts and cash back websites to help save money. Read on to find out how she made it work.
Occupation: Interior designer (designing interiors for new-build show homes)
Location: West Midlands
What is your current salary? How long have you been earning this amount?
In my previous role in the finance sector I was earning around £40,000 a year, but I opted for a career change because I got bored and found myself sick of going into the office every day. I’m now much happier in my job and [have] made around £3,000 a month for the last three years.
Do you receive regular financial help from friends, family, or a partner? How do you think this has impacted your relationship with money?
I don’t receive financial help and was lucky that I could dip into savings when I quit my finance job before I got into wedding planning — which I did before I became an interior design. I was always taught to save and to this day my Grandma tells me to put something away as you never know when a rainy day may come.
How would you describe your relationship to money?
Over the years, I’ve become more sensible and spend my money more wisely. Straight out of university, I was excited with my new income and bought things I didn’t really need, but I soon learnt I needed to manage my money slightly better. Now I know what I can and can’t spend — but I don’t let it stop me from enjoying life.
Do you believe you feel you are currently in a stable position financially?
Financially I make more now than when I worked in my finance job, plus I love what I do, so yes. This, combined with savings, living with my husband and being able to split things, help me to feel secure. I still have slight concern about the cost of things like council tax etc. rising, but for now I feel stable for the future.
How did you achieve stability?
While working in finance, I was able to invest in company shares — and my Dad always advised me too. This, along with savings and being well-paid, all helped. I also actively try to maintain my financial stability now, looking for discounts and being savvy where I can. I like to find interesting ways of saving money — for example, I’ve earned money back on plenty of purchases through the years using a site called TopCashback. I always look online for other discounts and try to get the best possible price whenever I spend money.
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?
It’s not been the case for most of my life. It’s been a slow build since graduating university, and I’ve felt it more so in the last two years. I finished some work on my house just before I did my career change, so despite the risk I only had to worry about regular bills — and it was a risk I was willing to take to be able to pursue my creativity.
Do you own any properties?
I own two properties.
How did you come to own them?
I bought one of the properties with an £80,000 deposit four years ago. The other one was inherited. I’ve had this property for four years too, but had to spend time renovating it before I could start renting it out.
Did you have any help from partners or family members to put down a deposit or pay the mortgage?
No. It took me eight years to save up. I know I could have done it sooner, but I chose not to cut back completely. It was important that I got to enjoy myself even when saving up for something.
What does financial stability look like to you?
Financial stability is knowing what is happening with my money — how much I must pay out every month and how much can I save every month. It’s nice to have money left so we can eat out, order nice things on our food shop and even have the luxury of going away.
What advice would you give to young women who are worried about achieving financial stability?
It will happen. Obviously, it doesn’t straight away. It takes time and hard work, but if you do that, I do believe it will happen eventually.
What one piece of advice would you give to young women who want to improve their relationship to money?
Try to save or invest your money in something. Whether it just be putting money away or investing in bonds, shares or property. Even if you start by putting away a little and building it gradually. It’s so important to have savings and a financial buffer behind you.