My name is Francesca and I want to share my money journey with you, so you can see the things that have worked, and the things that haven’t!
Before we get into that though, a bit of info about me so you know who you are reading about – I’m a mum of one to an amazing 8 year old daughter, and I have a lovely partner called Massimo.
We live in the South-West of England, where I run this blog and have a bunch of other side hustles.
I’m usually either with my daughter, boyfriend, working at the office or typing furiously away at my laptop at home surrounded by paperwork and a cup of tea, or on the hockey pitch (I’ve won the league 3 years in a row now!).
I haven’t had a great time with my finances, but my hope is that I can share with you the ways that I have managed to turn my money situation around, to show you the best ways of doing so.
I wish that I’d had someone to show me what to do when I was struggling, so that is what I want to give to you!
I want to help you get more. More Money. More Time. More Living.
Had my baby, realised that I didn’t want to return back to work because I loved being with her and my job wasn’t anything special.
Realised that maternity pay was tough to live on, and then when that ran out I got a part time job in the evenings from home, which paid peanuts again.
I ended up getting into debt, and feeling like I was drowning. Not a fun time for me.
I managed to save a deposit for a shared ownership house (30% buy, 70% rent) and getting married to my now ex-husband.
It was a tough few years, and I felt stuck without knowing how to get more money in. But then I tried stuff out, and it worked! I earned extra money and budgeted it as best I could.
I ended up leaving my unhappy marriage, surviving as a single mum and wondering how I could save up a house deposit for a house for the 2 of us in a nice area.
Ended up meeting my partner, who is the love of my life…and we have now bought a house together for the 3 of us, and we are all so happy!
Something that has really helped me, and I hope will help you, is my budget planner.
That’s the super short version of my story – read on below for the full version!
This is the year that I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, and she changed my life forever.
I had always been really well organised, but when it came to having my daughter I had gotten carried away with the idea and the love I had for her already, that I didn’t create a long-term plan for my finances.
In my head I had vaguely thought that I would return back to work, but I ended up handing in my notice, as I realised how huge the nursery fees were, and I wanted to spend my time at home with my babe.
I was really lucky because I had been approached by someone who knew that I was at home with my daughter – they wanted to offer me a job working from home.
I said yes of course, and I did this job every evening when my daughter went to bed and during her nap times too. It didn’t pay well at all, I got a few hundred per month from doing this, which had to go on rent (was living with my mum) and food for my daughter and I.
Even-though I had a tiny salary coming in, I knew that I wanted to buy a house for the 3 of us. I scrimped and saved and became extremely frugal – which I don’t recommend, because I went a little bit crazy.
In order for my daughter to have the best food, I had to have the worst food. Cue years of eating plain pasta or vegetable soup every.single.day. Urgh!
I managed to save up enough (I think it was about £5000) for a shared ownership house – the part that I was buying was 30%, and the other 70% was rent. I was so proud of this, even if it had taken me 2 years to do so. The house wasn’t in a great area though, which we realised when we were broken into and all of our stuff stolen after 3 months of living there.
2013 – 2015
I’m not going to lie, I found these years very tough, as I had no money coming in apart from my small job, and I was really struggling as I couldn’t ever take my daughter out anywhere or buy anything.
We basically lived in the library because there were free books, colouring and she just loved it.
I didn’t have a car at this point, and I think it was about 4 years that I went without having my own car, which is difficult when you have a little one!
My ex-husband and I also got married in 2015, which meant me putting a lot of it on credit cards and taking out a loan. I also got into debt for things like decorating my daughters room.
I knew I didn’t have the money, but I had such strong mum guilt that I did it anyway.
My daughter started school this year, and I was determined to find a part-time job that I could do during school hours, so that I wouldn’t have to pay childcare and I could be the one dropping her off and picking her up everyday.
I was very picky about the jobs that I applied for, but I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find anything due to all of the other mums who would be looking for school hour jobs.
But guess what?
I found one! I couldn’t believe my luck – I found a job where I would be working 3 days a week doing 9am-2pm and it was only down the road from me, meaning I could take my daughter to school every day and pick her up too.
At this point, I was also still working my part time job in the evenings too, and I used all of that money to pay for my bills, and threw the new money from the new job at my debt.
I had also started looking for ways that I could earn extra money. I was really nervous and apprehensive about it all, because I didn’t want to lose any money, and I wasn’t sure what was a scam or not.
However, I knew that if I wanted to make a change in my life, I was going to have to try some new things.
So I did!
The first thing that I tried was mystery shopping. I couldn’t believe that I could get so much free food (I mainly did food ones, I think because I would never treat myself to food out, so it was a nice treat for me).
Motivated by the fact that I’d tried something new and it worked, I set to trying out some more new things to try and bring in some extra money, that I could do around my daughter and my work.
Next up, I tried surveys. My favourites are Prolific and YouGov* because they pay out well and they aren’t at all spammy (they are run by researchers and the government).
My daughter kept bugging me to get her a dog, but I knew that I didn’t have the time to have a dog of our own, plus deal with all of the additional costs. So I got to researching, and found that I could do dog boarding.
This was my way of letting my daughter have a dog around, but it meant I could just not book in any work if I was too busy, and it also meant that I was getting paid for it too.
I had no experience of dog boarding, but I grew up with a dog, and looked after my mums dogs occasionally, so I set myself up on a website and was honest about that.
It was a bit quiet at first, but as soon as I got my first client, it all snowballed from there. I did my best to be the best dog boarder that I could, and am still rated as Number 1 in my city.
Something that I had heard about but was mega wary about, was matched betting. I did lots of reading and research on it but this ended up confusing me. In the end I just went for it!
I was glad that I did, because it’s actually really simple to do once you get started, and you can join the site that I used that guides you through with step-by-step tutorials and videos.
I also started this blog! I wanted to help people who had been in the same situation as me, as I didn’t want anyone to feel as helpless as I did.
I am incredibly proud of this blog, and I still can’t believe that through this blog I have been on TV (BBC One no less!), the radio, in newspapers (The Financial Times!) and magazines.
One of the best things that I have ever done is start this blog. It’s given me confidence, a source of income, new friends, and the feeling of helping people is the best feeling ever.
This is the year that I managed to pay off my debt, in March. I couldn’t believe that I had done it, but it was the best feeling in the world!
I was determined to not get into debt again, so I kept all of my income streams on the go and used them for building up savings, and paying for things that I had been without for years.
This is also the year that my marriage ended.
The first thing that I did after paying off my debt was start to save up to take my daughter on holiday. She had never been abroad on holiday before and I knew that she would love it, so this was my goal.
I used all of the extra money that I was earning to take her away, and it was the best.
Because of the change in my finances, I had to make sure that I had a budget that was as good as I could get it, and I followed this to the letter.
2018 – 2019
As all of my debt was paid off, I started to save for the things that were important to me. Back when I had no money, I was able to clearly see the things that would bring me joy, so I made some goals and set about saving up for them.
I saved up for and paid for: another holiday with my girl, a second hand car, Invisalign and laser eye surgery.
I added another income stream: freelance writing. I had always dreamed of being a writer, so to have this blog and writing clients is a dream for me.
I was determined to stay single forever, but this didn’t happen! I met my partner Massimo who is an Italian raised in England, who pursued me and I ended up letting my walls down for him.
He is without a doubt – the kindest, sweetest man I have ever met. We share the same ideas and thoughts about life, which means that we are the perfect match. He is incredibly understanding and makes me feel happier than I thought possible.
We all moved in together in December 2018, and were saving up for a house together – which we have now bought and completed on in March 2019!
Because of the move, I moved jobs (applied for 2, got an interview with one the day after applying, then got offered the job immediately) and my daughter moved school. We are in a really nice area now, which means that she is in a really good school and doing so well, which makes me happy.
My boyfriend and I have big plans for the future, and I hope that you will follow along as I share them with you all as we go.
My personal plans? I hope to grow this blog into a big passive income stream, and this is how I am currently doing it:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts
- Product sales (I have a budget planner that I sell, it’s so pretty I love it!)
I also want to spend a lot more time over on my Instagram, so be sure to follow me over there if you want to hear budgeting tips (including my real life budget & spending) and ways that you can earn extra money.
I have now made the switch to going full time on my blog and freelance writing – very exciting!
I just won an award for Best Money Influencer too, which I’m extremely proud of:
I hope that you will stay with me on this journey, and let me know if I can help you in any way as well!
Posts to get you started:
How The Zero Sum Budget Can Save You Money
The No 1 Reason That You Need An Emergency Fund
How To Make An Extra £100 This Month
How To Make An Extra £1000 This Month