Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog. I'm Victoria Sully, a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker. I’m passionate about making money online, saving money, self-employment, healthy living and blogging. I’m on a personal mission to be healthier and wealthier! Thank you so much for joining me.
A very honest account of how I ended up in £17500 of debt by the age of 20
Believe me, I am no stranger to struggling with personal debt. As soon as I hit 18 and was old enough to get store cards and credit cards, I did. I was really quite naïve and really quite stupid. I’d moved out of home at 17 and into a shared house with an older boyfriend. I thought I was so grown up and mature, but I had no idea how to manage money and neither did he. I was off to university and before I even had my loan come through I’d spent it on a deposit for us to get our own flat together. I was in debt before I even turned 18.
Once I had a taste of store cards and being able to buy whatever I wanted I was hooked. I quickly developed a shopping addiction and would rarely wear the same outfit twice for a couple of years. I always justified it to myself – ‘I never want to go travelling or anything, so it doesn’t matter if I get into debt as I’ll always be here to pay it off. . . blah blah blah’ ‘Life’s too short’ ‘Money’s there to be spent’.
As I said, I was young and stupid.
I also lacked any confidence. I worked at what I thought was the coolest clothes shop in town and I wanted people to like me. It was a very social environment and we went to the pub for lunch almost every lunch time, again to the pub for drinks after work and we also went out clubbing several nights a week. I definitely had fear of missing out and was always the last one at a party and never missed an event or chance to go out with everyone. I smoked and drank and lived way beyond my shop assistant wage. I regularly bought rounds for people and shared out cigarettes as I wanted people to like me and continue to invite me out.
All these purchases were going on my credit cards.
Buying new clothes almost daily, going out for lunch almost daily and out clubbing in the evening several times a week, plus paying rent, household bills, a mobile phone bill, for a car and everything else at age 18-19 was way too much for my wage at that time.
Before I knew it I had 10 store cards, 3 credit cards and 2 loans and was in ‘debt crisis’ meaning I was paying off the minimum payments by borrowing credit from another card and actually never ever paying anything off.
I realised I was in trouble when I suddenly maxed out some of the cards and had no funds left anywhere to pay the minimum payments.
I started getting red letters and panicking.
The stupidest thing is I never ever sat down and worked out my incomings and outgoings. I had no idea what they were or if I could even afford all these credit cards and store cards. It’s the most obvious and simplest solution before ever applying for credit, but I never did it.
I went to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and for the first time I sat down with the advisor and totted up my debt.
I was almost 20 and in £17500 worth of debt.
Plus, I had nothing to show for it!
I was advised to go on a debt management plan and after five very long years I managed to pay every last penny back. It was a struggle, I was skint and I definitely learned my lesson.
I managed to get out of debt by my mid-twenties and even get accepted for a mortgage a few years later. It’s totally possible to get yourself out of any financial mess you get yourself into and turn it all around.
I’m a very different person now. Yes, my husband and I have debt. We have a mortgage and we do have two loans, but we can afford these and still have plenty left at the end of the month. I work our finances out every month on a spreadsheet so I know where we are every payday and I check our bank accounts first thing every morning to double check each balance. Although we have debt I am in control of it and we can afford it. I certainly don’t live the lifestyle I lived in my early twenties and I’d never be so stupid again. Our debt now is to pay for our home which is an investment for us and our children’s future.
I never ever want to be in that situation again. It was a very dark time for me and it was totally avoidable. Being consumed by debt and having money worries is horrid. It really did destroy me at the time.
If you are struggling financially there are options available to you. Here are some thoughts on what you can do if you are in financial difficulty:
Consolidate your debts
If your debt is manageable and you’re not in debt crisis like I was then you may still be able to help yourself. If you have debt spread across several sources it might be worth consolidating your debt onto one credit card with a 0% balance transfer fee. Just don’t use the credit card and only use it to pay off the outstanding debt. You can also use online personal loans to do the same, but remember you’ll be charged interest on the balance. Only get a credit card or loan if you are sure you can make the monthly repayments and it’s in your best interest.
Request a repayment holiday
If you can’t make a payment in the short term then speak to your creditor. Some banks will let you take a repayment holiday for a month or so if you’re struggling and you’ve otherwise been a good customer. It’s always worth asking and it could give you just the time you need to get your finances back on track. Most of the companies I spoke to when I was struggling were actually really helpful and offered advice, which brings me onto my next point...
Ask for advice
There is so much advice out there to help you with your debt nowadays. Do not struggle alone, go and get help! The Citizens Advice was a huge help to me and knew exactly what I should do. The banks also have helplines, but for me I preferred to talk to an impartial person face to face when things really got out of hand. They signposted me to a debt management company who helped me clear my debt.
Use a free debt management company
If your debt is unmanageable by yourself you may want to consider some specialist advice. A lot of debt management companies charge a fee for their service. I used a company called PayPlan who offer free advice and free debt management services. They communicated on my behalf to all my creditors and even managed to halt the interest on many accounts so I had a chance to just pay back what I owed. You can pay one monthly payment to the debt management company and they’ll distribute it on your behalf.
The best thing you can do is to get help today and don’t let the problem get any worse. Once you are in control of your finances, keep it that way.
Lots of parents in the UK save money on a regular basis to go towards their children’s future. There are lots of different savings options from regular savings accounts to cash ISAs to Junior stocks and shares ISAs. In this blog post I will explore my own story and whether Junior ISAs are a good investment idea.
Building a nest egg for your child’s future
When our children were born, one of the first things we did was to set them up a savings account. It was a proud moment to be able to go to the bank each time with our new little bundle of joy and set them up their very first bank savings account. We opened them with the intention of filling them with a lump sum that they’ll each have access to once they turn 18 to set them on their journey to adulthood.
Of course when they reach 18 they can spend their money on whatever they like, but we hope they will be sensible and I imagine this money to buy their first car, be a deposit towards their first rental property or to even to travel the world. I hope it will be towards something quite significant or memorable.
Junior ISA – a better option?
The one thing we didn’t do when we had our children was to shop around for the best interest rate. We didn’t really think about it at the time. We simply opened the savings accounts at our current bank at the time as it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. It meant we could easily access all our bank accounts in one place.
Looking back, this was not the wisest decision we made. Although it was the easiest decision, it was a poor money decision as the interest rate on their basic savings account is ridiculously low – it’s only 0.85% this year!
A better option from the start would have been to choose a Junior ISA investment instead. These have more favourable interest rates. Searching online today I’ve found a Junior cash ISA with a 3.6% interest rate. There are also Junior stocks and shares ISAs which could aim to have a better return than this (the value of your investment in a stocks and shares ISA may go down as well as up).
A Junior ISA is definitely a great option to take advantage of a higher interest rate or potential returns when saving for a child’s future. I will share the benefits of a Junior ISA with you in this blog post.
What is a Junior ISA?
A Junior ISA is a long-term and tax efficient way to invest money on behalf of your child.
An Instant Savings Account (ISA) isn’t just for adults, but children can benefit from their higher interest rates too. The only difference is that it belongs to your child, not you.
Children can’t access their ISA until they are 18 and you can’t take the money out as it belongs to your child.
It’s a long-term investment.
There’s also a limit on how much you can deposit into a Junior ISA. In 2018-2019 the savings limit for is £4260.
There is no tax to pay on any interest, returns or dividends.
Junior cash ISA – this type of ISA earns interest just like a savings account. The interest rate is can be fixed or variable depending on the bank. It’s basically like a tax-free savings account where the original investment is not at risk. This is good if you want to ensure you get your original investment back and opt for a low risk strategy. The maximum investment is £4260.
Junior stocks and shares ISA – As suggested by the name, this type of ISA invests your savings into stocks and shares with the aim of greater returns than the fixed rate of interest on a cash ISA. A stocks and shares junior ISA allows money to potentially work a bit harder to return some better gains than just a normal savings account. The value of the entire investment may go down as well as up. The maximum investment is £4260.
Choose both – you can open both types of ISA for your child with a total deposit limit of £4260 per year which you can split however you like across the two ISAs. The two ISAs do not need to be with the same provider, so you can shop around for the best deals.
It’s important to note that you can’t have a Child Trust Fund (CTF) at the same time as a Junior ISA. You can, however, convert the full balance of a CTF into a Junior ISA.
How much can I invest in a Junior ISA?
In 2018-2019 the annual savings limit is £4260. This is across all Junior ISAs, so if you choose to open both a cash ISA and a stocks and shares ISA then the combined limit is £4260.
In 2019-2020 the limit will increase to £4368.
Who can open and contribute to a Junior ISA?
A parent or legal guardian must open the account on behalf of a child under 18 in the UK. This person will then be the contact for the account.
Once the account is open then anyone can contribute up to the maximum limit of £4260.
Can I withdraw money from a Junior ISA?
No. You can’t withdraw from a Junior ISA. It’s only accessible by your child once they are 18.
Once the money is invested in a Junior ISA it stays there until the child is 18. You can transfer a Junior ISA to a better rate, but you can’t take the money out to use it for anything else. The cash is basically locked away until your child is 18.
What happens to a Junior ISA at 18?
At age 18 the ISA will be transferred to an adult ISA unless the child withdraws the balance and closes the account.
Once your child reaches age 18 they have access to the money in their ISA. They can actually have access to their ISA from age 16, but only to manage the account. To withdraw money from their ISA they need to be 18.
A Junior ISA definitely seems like a great way to invest money long-term for your child's future. I think it's a good idea and the interest rates on the cash ISAs are very appealing. If you're looking to potentially make a higher return then consider a stocks and shares Junior ISA. I like that funds are locked away until the children are 18 and that they can be transferred to another Junior ISA with a different provider if wanted. Just make sure you do your research before committing as once the money in in a Junior ISA it will be locked in one until your child is 18.
So, you’ve decided to sell your old car and you want to get the best price possible. Today I am going to share with you my top tips for selling a used car online.
Whenever Ben and I need to sell an old car we first turn to the internet. Whilst I still notice cars with pieces of paper stuck in their windows with ‘For Sale’ and a price scrawled in marker pen, I personally prefer to sell my old cars online. I find it more convenient to use a platform that is readily set up to help me sell my car with ease and I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of keen car buyers already looking on these sites.
Of course the easiest option is to sell to a company that guarantees to buy any car for cash or to a car dealership. The problem is they always pay less than the car is worth as they need to make a profit. It’s much better to learn how to sell your car privately so you can get the full value of the car. With a little bit of time and effort it’s definitely worth it and could be the difference of making hundreds or even thousands more on the sale of your car.
Follow these tips to sell your car online:
Wash and clean your car
Buyers want a car that looks well looked after and something they can drive away. They don’t want to be thinking they first have to vacuum the car and pay for it to be professionally washed. A dirty car is going to be off-putting to a potential buyer.
Make sure you wash your car and clean it as thoroughly as possible. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, or you simply don’t want to, then pay for a professional valet. These can easily be found at most supermarkets nowadays in their car parks.
You’ll have much better success selling a car that looks clean and shiny!
Take great photos
Presentation really is key when selling anything online. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think about all the parts of the car you’d want to see when buying a used car online. Take as many photos as you can and upload the maximum number allowed to the platform you are selling on.
Make sure you take good quality, clear photos in daylight. Take photos from each side of the car, under the bonnet, the dashboard to include the mileage, the boot, a tyre shot and the seats. Leave no surprises.
A buyer wants to get a feel of the condition of the car so if there are any major flaws then take a photo of them. You don’t want to spend time arranging a viewing only for them to be put off by something you didn’t declare or show a photo of online.
By being honest and showing as many photos as you can, you will save time only arranging viewings with people who are genuinely interested in your car exactly as it is. You’ll be more likely to sell your car by showing as many honest photos as possible.
Find the value of your car
The value of a car depreciates over time, so don’t expect to list your car for the same amount you paid for it. Search online to see how much your car is valued at for a good idea of what to list it as, but also search sites such as eBay to see how much the same car has recently sold for. You can search ‘sold listings’ when doing a search to see the price others have paid.
A little online research will help to decide on a price that people are willing to pay. You might want to raise it slightly to allow room for negotiation. People love to haggle when it comes to buying cars! Don’t price it too high though or you could put a potential buyer off.
Always take in to account your mileage and the condition of the car too.
List your car online
Once your car is clean, photographed and you have the value, then you are ready to list online! The most successful way we’ve sold our old cars is by using online car auction websites. These usually allow you to start the listing at a low price which attracts views to your listing, but you can set a reserve to ensure the car doesn’t sell for lower than you’d like.
The best thing about an auction site is that you may even get more money for your car than you anticipated!
Some car selling websites also let you set a price. It’s a good idea to be slightly flexible on this and to let people make you reasonable offers.
Describe it honestly
OK well you don’t have to go into every minute detail, but you need to list all the important information that the buyer needs to know. You also need to list any faults. If you are not honest then the sale will fall through and you’ll only have achieved wasting your time and the buyer’s.
Most people are keen to know the mileage, when the MOT is due, the service history and if the car has had any alterations. Then they want to know the condition of the car as they are trying to figure out if it will be a good runner.
Whenever I’ve sold a car and it has an issue I have been upfront and honest. This means only those people who are prepared to take the car with the fault are those who contact me. Otherwise I will sound dishonest when they come to take the car for a test drive and they discover the issue themselves.
At the same time you also want to sell the car, so list all its good points and let these outnumber any bad points! Why should someone buy your car? Let them know and sell it to them!
Remain calm and polite
It’s often inevitable that you’ll get some time wasters and jokers (or chancers) trying to offer you £100 for a £3000 car. Just stay calm and delete any that are obviously scammers or timewasters. Any serious enquires should always be responded to politely.
Time to sell
Once you have some serious enquiries and interest then you can arrange a viewing. It’s best to arrange in daylight so they can see the car properly. If you feel uncomfortable doing this part alone then arrange for a family member or friend to be with you.
Let them look over the car and inspect it. Answer all questions truthfully. If they want to go for a test drive then make sure they have a driving licence and the appropriate insurance to drive another vehicle. If they don’t then you will have to do the driving. Never give them the keys and let them drive the car on their own!
Most people will try to haggle when buying a car so have a set price in mind and be ready to negotiate. Don’t feel pressured into selling for a price you are uncomfortable with. You can always wait for the right buyer and price to come along. It’s fine to say no and end a viewing without a sale.
When you do have a buyer at a price you are happy with then you’ll need to arrange payment. The best way to take payment is via a bank transfer.
You could also take cash or PayPal, but you don’t want the buyer to be able to reverse a PayPal transaction or for the cash to be fake. If they have a bank account, which most people do in this day and age, then they should be happy to arrange a bank transfer.
Once the payment is received then the buyer can collect the car. Give the buyer the vehicle manual and service history.
Make sure you have the vehicle log book/registration certificate (V5C) to complete. You can now register the new owner online rather than sending it back by the post. To register the new owner online with the DVLA then simply follow these steps from the DVLA website:
If you’re always short on time, space in your home and money, then choosing to have a capsule wardrobe could solve all of these things!
Read on for tips on how I manage my capsule wardrobe, as well as how it will help you spend less and become clutter-free in your wardrobe.
Being a minimalist
I’ve shared my story a few times on my blog of how I believe I came to be a minimalist and lover of a capsule wardrobe. To cut a long story short, I moved house several times in my late teens and early twenties which included renting rooms in shared houses and bedsits.
Not only did I not want to lug so many belongings with me for each house move, but I also didn’t have much space at each property. I didn’t need to buy a lot of furniture and home décor as I only had a bedroom to furnish.
Once I settled with my husband I then had more space and belongings did at first begin to grow. They also grew with the arrival of our children who need a lot of things and grow out of things far too quickly! But having lots of stuff makes my head fuzzy!
I’m not one for mess or clutter and even just knowing I have things sat unused in cupboards or attics makes my head feel noisy. I’m definitely a minimalist by nature and so I’m always minimalizing our belongings so we don’t have too many items and only exactly what we need and use.
Ben still has a corner in the attic full of mostly junk which drives me quite insane. I’m sure he keeps it there just to irritate me. Every time I go up to the loft I see if I can find a couple of pieces that I can pass on or recycle. Believe me; he even has empty boxes up there from old electronics!
Stay clutter free in your closet with a capsule wardrobe
One thing I have now got Ben on-board with is a capsule wardrobe. I was already doing it for me and the kids and now he’s reduced his clothing collection too.
I’m forever clearing out the kids’ wardrobes as they outgrow their clothes so quickly. I only keep a small amount of clothes for them. Only what they need.
My own wardrobe is now down to around 50 items. That’s in total, for the whole year. I have a few items hanging – mostly tops, cardigans and a few dresses. Then I have a pile of shorts, trousers and leggings. I wear the trousers in the winter with boots and the summer with flip-flops. I also have a box of underwear and a box of gym clothes and pyjamas. I have two coats and a small selection of shoes – wellies, two pairs of winter boots, two pairs of pumps, one pair of flip-flops, smart flats and smart heels. That’s it. To be fair I could even get rid of the heels as I never wear them!
I wear stuff until it needs replacing or totally goes out of shape, not just a few times until I’m bored of it. This makes me much more careful with my clothing choices when shopping. It has to be something I will wear numerous times before I’ll consider buying it.
I’ve still tried to cut my own wardrobe down even more, but I think I’m now at my minimum! Ben’s clothes take up around half our homemade triple size wardrobe and mine take up around a quarter!
Save money, only buy what you really need
My trick is to layer in the winter and reduce layers in the summer. I pretty much wear the same wardrobe all year round. Only in the summer I won’t wear my boots or fluffy cardigan. Otherwise you’ll see me in the same outfits. In the summer I might wear my trousers with a pair of flip-flops and a vest top. But in the winter I’ll wear both the trousers and vest top, but I’ll add a t-shirt, cardigan, socks and boots.
I don’t see the need to buy specific winter and summer clothes when I can make do with what I have. Most clothes are suitable for all seasons, but it’s a case of layering them up when it’s colder. Even some summer dresses can have a pair of woolly tights or leggings added with a chunky cardigan to make them winter-worthy!
Having one set of clothes, instead of several sets of seasonal clothes, is definitely a much cheaper option.
Be intentional when buying clothes
My actual wardrobe (a couple of outfits are in the wash)
This year, 2019, I am doing a zero spend on clothes for the whole year! I am challenging myself to not buy any clothes for the entire year. I took a good look at my wardrobe and though it’s looking pretty scarce, I believe I have enough to get me through an entire year, all the seasons and beyond.
In recent years I’ve not been a big clothes shopper anyway, but I’d still sometimes splurge on something I spotted at the supermarket or that caught my eye passing a store. It’s usually these unintentional clothing purchases that end up sat in my wardrobe not getting worn very much! They are quick impulse buys for a moment of pleasure and I didn’t ever give them much thought. They were excitable purchases!
So even though I didn’t do it very much, I was still a sucker for quick impulse buys that I didn’t really need.
By stopping this altogether I will definitely save money this year.
I’m also making a promise to be intentional in the future when buying clothes, so I only buy what I set out to buy because I really need it.
Less choice, more time
I tend to wear the same clothes most days. I get stuck on a favourite comfy outfit and I’ll wear it several days in a row. Life is so much easier and quicker like this!
In my late teens I had a huge shopping addiction. I was obsessed with shopping for clothes and had around four rails overflowing with clothes and piles of clothes underneath.
I wasn’t always a minimalist!
It was really ridiculous, but also very overwhelming.
Getting ready took forever. There was so much choice every time I needed to get dressed. I had so many options and so many decisions to make.
I must have wasted hours every week just putting outfits on and off whilst I chopped and changed my mind.
What a waste of time!
Reducing that choice means you’ll have far more time to do other things. Sometimes having less options is better!
Smaller wardrobe, more space
You can now even buy some space-saving and beautifully designed single wardrobes which are perfect for keeping your capsule wardrobes on track. I love the MADE white single wardrobes I found here at Lionshome, but there are even cheaper options too. Or like us, you can make your own wardrobe. They are plenty large enough for all the clothes you really need and if you can’t fit your clothes in, then you’ve got too many!
Not only is a smaller wardrobe a cheaper option than a full size version, but think of the bedroom space you will free up! Large bulky wardrobes can impose on so much of the available space in a bedroom, especially if space is at a premium, so a single slim wardrobe is a much neater solution.
We originally had a regular size wardrobe each and I remember having to persuade Ben that we’d be fine with one triple wardrobe between us instead. I wanted to create more space in our bedroom and this reduced our wardrobe space by around 25%.
Ben was convinced and built us a lovely triple sized wardrobe from old pallet wood which he refurbished. Now I think we could have gone even smaller and saved more space in our bedroom!
Not only have we saved space with a smaller wardrobe to what we originally had, but we have also got rid of a couple of chests of drawers which used to house clothes. Now we just have the wardrobe and need nothing else.
How to save time, money and space with a capsule wardrobe
Having a capsule wardrobe really does suit my lifestyle and make clothing a lot more organised and affordable. I’d definitely recommend it if you are overwhelmed with the amount of clothing you own and want a simpler life.
To finish, here’s a quick look at how a capsule wardrobe is beneficial:
Save time – less time shopping for clothes you don’t need, less time choosing outfits, less time spent laundering, ironing and organising clothes
Save money – Buying less clothes will save money. Needing less storage for the clothes will save money on furniture.
Save space – the less clothes you have, the less storage space you need for them. Reclaim space in your bedroom by choosing a single wardrobe.
Stay organised – clothes washing becomes easier as there is less variety of clothes. Wardrobes stay organised and spacious as there are less clothes in them. Find clothes easier. Less clothes means less clutter and makes it easier to keep wardrobes neat and tidy.
A question I see debated a lot online is ‘should couples get joint bank accounts?’ The idea of combining finances with your other half can be quite a scary thought to some. For my husband and I we decided to share a bank account once we were married, had two children and owned a house together. It just made financial sense. It is traditional for married couples to get joint bank accounts, but many people argue the key to a happy relationship is separate finances.
I’ll be honest with you - we also have separate bank accounts too. So really, my answer is both. The key to our happy marriage is to have both a joint bank account and separate bank accounts too.
I’m totally in favour of a joint bank account for organisation of family finances. Read on to see how we manage our finances as a married couple with children and why I believe financial honesty is important.
It was never about money
When Ben and I got together we were roughly on the same wage. I think Ben made around £1000 more than me per year. I regularly did overtime, so I expect I probably made more because of this. Our relationship never has been and never will be based on income.
That said, I would never have dated someone who was unemployed through choice with no motivation to get a job, but that’s simply because I know we would not share the same interests and future goals. But if Ben had earned half as much as me then it wouldn’t have mattered. I believe he would have felt the same vice-versa. Income wasn’t a deciding factor for either of us when it came to choosing a partner.
There’s actually a funny money story about our second date. Ben invited me to his house for a romantic meal one night after work. We worked at the same company so we left my car at work and took his. He needed to pick up some ingredients on the way home. I went in to the supermarket with him and rather embarrassingly, for him, his card was declined at the checkout! I found it quite comical and offered to pay for the ingredients. It turned out he had maxed out his overdraft!
I think from this experience we both knew we weren’t with each other for money!
Deciding to open a joint bank account
Despite Ben’s date disaster in the first couple of weeks we were together, our relationship thrived and we ended up married with two children and bought a home together, all in the first four years of our relationship! Things progressed very quickly and even though we had separate bank accounts until we got married, we have always been very open and honest about our financial situations and earnings to make money decisions together. There was no other way for our relationship to work so well.
Before we were married and had children we had separate bank accounts and we never really considered having a joint account. It was strange really as we always shared all our money anyway. We always discussed finances and if Ben ran out and needed money then I’d give him some and likewise he would for me. We were always shifting money between our accounts and having to ask each other how much money we had, which bills had gone out and so on to see where we were financially all the time.
We never had money left at the end of the month and honestly, it was a bit of a shambles. Ben had all the bills going out of his account and I had no clue how much any of them were. I constantly had to ask.
Once we bought our house together and had two children, we decided to write a will. It was at this point it was suggested to have a joint bank account to make everything easier if one of us died. I can’t remember the exact details, but if Ben had died and all the bills were going out of his account, then it would have been slightly complicated for me to get access to the account. A type of hassle you really don’t need if your husband dies.
This planted the seed and we decided it was probably a good idea to open a joint bank account for all our wages to go into and all of our bills out of. Combining all our finances suddenly seemed to make sense. If it didn’t work out then we’d revert back to separate accounts, or even just keep one main joint account for bills and separate the rest.
How we’ve benefitted from a joint bank account
Luckily, the joint account has been a success! It’s been around three or four years since we opened a joint account and it makes our lives so much easier. Well, it makes Ben’s life so much easier!
I don’t think Ben was ever particularly good at the budgeting, nor did he enjoy it. In fact I don’t think he budgeted at all. He was happy for me to just take over the money side of things and create a monthly budget.
It was easiest for Ben to add me to his account as all the direct debits for the house were already set up here, so I was added as a joint account holder to his existing bank account. I was able to see how much all of our bills were and see where we were spending. I created a spreadsheet for our incomings and outgoings to see exactly what we had left at the end of each month.
Now I manage all the finances, but Ben obviously can still access them too and has his own card. I update our spreadsheet as bills go out and we put a lump sum into our joint savings each month. Before sharing an account we had no savings at all. Ben would never keep an eye on our incomings or outgoings - we’d just constantly spend at the supermarket willy-nilly without ever knowing how much money we ever had. Like I said, it was previously a shambles.
Now we have a joint account we can both see what is coming in and what is going out. We can hold each other accountable and we don’t spend money unnecessarily. It’s enabling us to build some savings and be more careful with our money. We previously shared our money anyway, so a joint account makes our finances a lot easier to manage.
Having separate spending money
At first we never had separate spending money as we were doing up our home. We still are doing up our home, but in those first couple of years every spare penny we had went on the house. This meant we had no spending money really, but as time went on and we started spending less on the house Ben said he wanted spending money.
He wanted to be able to buy himself something for lunch at work if he so desired, or grab himself some clothes or tools without having to ask all the time. This was totally fair enough and even though I felt a bit guilty of having spending money for ourselves at first, and not just the family as a whole, I decided it was a good idea.
After paying the bills, budgeting for fuel and food, and putting a chunk into our savings, we decided the rest would be split three ways as spending money for the family, Ben and me. Our own spending money is ours to do what we want with – we can spend it, save it, whatever we like with no judgement on each other for what it’s spent on. It’s our own personal allowance!
It might sound silly as most adults have their own money and do with it what they wish, which we did pre-kids and pre-house, but our money responsibilities changed once we had these things. Now we have some money to spend on ourselves again each month there is a slight feeling of guilt, but also it’s so exciting on payday, like how a child feels getting their pocket money!
For this reason, Ben opened his own bank account. At first we were both having cash, but Ben often buys tools and DIY bits and pieces online, so he wanted to be able to pay by card. Of course he could use our card, but he is terrible at tracking how much he is spending when making lots of little purchases and would have no idea how much money he had left. It’s been easier to just pay ourselves an allowance each month that is separate from the joint bank account.
So as well as having a joint bank account, we now have separate bank accounts too for our own individual spending money from what is left over after all bills, savings and family expenses each month.
What’s mine is yours
For our finances to work how they do, we have to see each other as equal. We share our money regardless of how much the other one earns. At the moment we earn a similar wage again so it isn’t a big deal. I do wonder if that will ever change if one of us earns a lot more, but I like to think it wouldn’t. I’m sure if my wage doubled then I’d still be happy to share this equally between us all.
Obviously we haven’t always earned the same. We did in the beginning and now we are close again. But having had two children my financial family contributions dropped drastically at times.
We had our first child only 16 months after our relationship started, so quite quickly we had to deal with me being on maternity leave and then making the decision for me not to return to work. Instead I worked a part time job whilst trying to start my own business at home.
Even though Ben was earning a lot more than me at this point, we still always shared all our money. I never felt like this was unfair as I provided full time care for our baby whilst Ben worked. I then worked in the evenings as much as possible. We saw it as an equal partnership.
I also worked hard to start my own business and over the next couple of years I ended up working two more part time jobs to supplement our income when needed, especially after having our second child.
Giving up my job meant I lost a lot of benefits such as a workplace pension, pay rises and climbing up the career ladder. Of course I could have kept that job, but we’d have been more financially worse off than me getting a part-time minimum wage job, due to full-time childcare costs. It made more sense for me to quit my full-time job and be a stay-at-home mum to our daughter in the daytimes and work an evening job outside of my husband’s work hours. This meant we avoided childcare costs and actually got to retain all the money I was earning.
Now we have a three year old and a six year old and I’m self-employed which gives me the flexibility to work around nursery, pre-school, school hours and school holidays. I make a commitment to the family doing this and so if Ben earns slightly more than me then that’s his commitment to the family. We are still in an equal partnership.
I have finally started to save money for a pension for myself now I’m in my thirties and this is the first pension savings I’ve ever had. I’ve definitely missed out on a few years of starting to build a pension in an employed role and so Ben is much better off than me pension-wise as he has a workplace pension. I’ve also taken a big step back on the career ladder and would have to start from scratch if I needed to enter the employed workforce again. (Please note, there are lots of different types of pensions and it’s important to know that the value of your pension can go down as well as up and you may get back less than has been paid in. Do always check the terms and conditions for any pensions you are signing up for.)
For all these reasons we see ourselves as equal when it comes to finances. We will share our bank accounts with each other, our pensions, savings and our debts.
Honesty is the best policy
I’ve read online articles before that claim some people keep a secret bank account from their partner and some women even have a runaway fund! Personally I find that a little bit crazy. As far as I’m aware my husband and I have no secret bank accounts from each other, well at least I don’t. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either as we are very open about our money with all our wages going into the shared bank account on payday.
I read an article in the Daily Mail once and the writer said ‘few marriages would survive if both parties were completely honest about finance.’ I totally disagree. I think it’s important to be honest about money in a marriage and that it’s something you both need to be on the same page with.
Of course everyone will spend money on some things that the other wouldn’t. Ben would never spend money on beauty treatments, the same as I wouldn’t think of spending mine on tools. But for the bigger picture I think for a relationship to be successful then you need to share roughly the same spending and saving goals or it will never work.
I once read a quote along the lines of the key to a happy marriage is being in agreement of how to spend your time and money. I believe that’s so true as otherwise you will always clash with one another.
Luckily as you can probably tell from this entire blog post, we are transparent with each other and open about all aspects of money. I would have thought it to be the other way around to how the above writer feels– that a marriage would not survive unless both parties were honest about finances.
If you’re going to have a runaway fund then fine, though I’d call it something else! But if I had one then my husband would know about it. I wouldn’t need a secret fund that I didn’t tell him about. If someone wants savings for their own security in the future then I’d think that was sensible and it wouldn’t need to be concealed.
What about financial separation?
To be honest, I’ve never really thought about what would happen if the relationship breaks down with regards to our joint bank accounts, but I would automatically assume that everything would be divided equally. We’ve never discussed it, so hopefully it’s a sign it won’t happen, but obviously we are realistic too and know things don’t last forever. I’d like to think we’d be amicable and sort things out fairly.
We have a joints savings account and if we were to ever split up then it would be divided 50-50. I have no worries about that.
As for the joint current bank account we can easily move direct debits around, cancel them and arrange for our wages to be paid into our own separate accounts instead. We always make sure we stay in credit on our joint account, so there’s no issue of having an overdraft to pay back. We own a home and have equity, so if we ever did have debt on joint accounts then we’d have a way of paying it back.
In conclusion I think a joint bank account is a great way to stay on top of family finances and to hold each other accountable for frivolous spending. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t also have your own bank accounts too. Ultimately it’s up to each couple to work out what makes financial sense for their own situation, but I believe transparency and honesty about money will make a happy relationship no matter whether you choose shared or separate bank accounts.
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