Money Wise Talks 30/09/2021

Welcome to my ‘Money Wise Talks’ section where I will be talking about how my debt free journey is going, what I spend, save and invest in and well anything money/life related.

I thought it would coincide nicely with my regular updates on Instagram but with the added bonus of being able to go into much more detail and share more of my money wise journey, the ups and the downs and my general thoughts throughout the week.

This week sees me finish my No Spend September and will be the start of October – New month New Goals and all that.

I’m not going to do another No Spend, to be honest I don’t think I do particularly well at them lol, but I will discuss this all in my No Spend post. My budget for food shopping and petrol is tight at a total of £50 per week but I manage it most of the time. What I don’t manage is the other spending.

I think because I get paid so many times by different things, I always have bits of money coming in which allows me the chance to be a little frivolous and I seem to manage to hide it pretty well from my normal money tracking.

Crazy to think I’m trying to outdo myself isn’t it?

Another thing I’ve noticed is when I break budget it’s usually to do something fun either with my daughter or with friends – so from tomorrow – Friday 1st October, the plan is I will give us a £20 a week budget for fun. I don’t intend to use this every week but it will be nice to save it for when we do nice things and to have that cash there. I will use a sinking jar for this 😊

One of my goals for September was to write and post four blog posts as a minimum – which I’m please to say I did! I would like to continue this momentum as I love writing and get a huge sense of achievement when I hit that ‘publish’ button.

You can check out those September blog posts here;

No Spend Month

Is a £1000 Emergency Fund Enough?

What are Sinking Funds

50 Ways You Can Make Money

Meal Planning on a Budget

My plan for October is monitor and track my expenses. And look after myself abit better – I’m having too many late nights whilst planning my dreams!

I have tried to track my expenses before but did it for the whole month and to be honest it didn’t work that well because I got fed up with writing everything down. But I do think this is something I need to focus on and believe this will give me some wins with my budget, so I’m going to try it again with a little twist of doing a weekly tracker instead. This might trick my brain into staying focused – something I do struggle with on a daily basis.

Doing a weekly challenge will hopefully work much better for my short attention span and I’m hoping that it stops me from spending!

My budget for food and petrol runs from Friday to Friday now since I have gone back to being paid weekly again from my main job, so I will officially start tracking my expenses from tomorrow and then do an update every Thursday.

Have a great week


Meal Planning On A Budget

When you’re looking at cutting costs and saving money you should definitely try meal planning.

The amount of time and money this has saved me over the years is unreal! It keeps waste to a minimal and you can make sure your family is eating a good mix of healthy foods all whilst on a budget.

Like most things when you start out, it can seem overwhelming at first, but I promise you, once you’re in the swing of things you wont look back!

Here are my top meal planning tips to get your meal planning off to a great start;

1) Get your cupboards organised

I organised my cupboards so the same items are together – soups, tinned veg, rice etc. It just makes it easier to see what you have instead of having everything flung in. I also use plastic trays to make it easier to pull things out (definitely worth doing for packets and spices).

I did the same for my freezer. I have three drawers; bottom is meat/meat free/fish or main meal items, middle is frozen veg and the top is leftovers, bread, lollies and anything miscellaneous.

2) Write a list of everything you have

Go through all cupboards and the freezer and write down everything including the best before date. Anything that needs to be used up first highlight.

3) Make a list of your favourite meals

With your family sit down and make a list of all your favourite meals. Include everyone and it will make everyone feel like they are all getting something they like and it’ll save tears at mealtimes. If the children won’t eat what you want to eat, try and swap out the main component so you all get what you like but keep the same trimmings.

I did this when my daughter ate meat and I didn’t. We both had the same veg and potatoes but she would have chicken and I had quorn.

4) Choose 5 meals from the list that you love to eat

I think this is one of the key things that keep the costs down and minimises waste – we only eat what we love, and we don’t have seven different meals a week. For example, the picture below shows a typical week of meals for my daughter and I;

You can see from our meal planner that we work around the same main meals each week. At the moment it’s sausages, quorn fillets and pizza which we then put with various veg, salad and chips.

And every few weeks/months or whenever we are bored, we change it up but still keep to 3/4 meals each week and just repeat them. I know this won’t work for everyone but for us we are eating our favourite meals every night, there are no tears at dinner time from my daughter refusing to eat her meals and there’s no waste …

That’s win, win win if you ask me!

Even if you wanted a different meal each night, by meal planning you will still save money and reduce your waste.

5) Plan your meals around the food that needs using up

Each week check your food list and plan your meals around the food is going to go out of date to make sure it’s not wasted.

I think that’s why we eat so many salads – I love salad and so does my daughter but if I buy it I want to make sure I don’t end up with any waste. Like salad, other key items that will need to be used up are fresh veg and bread. Remember to still check longer shelf life products too.

6) Meal Planning Time

On the shopping day, grab your meal planner and your favourite list of foods and decide what day you want each meal. Check the fridge freezer and cupboards to make sure you have those items in whilst at the same time checking items that are going out of date. I try and use salad at the start of the week and frozen veg at the end, making sure we are eat the fresh items first.

Use the Meal Planner Shopping List to write items down you need to buy but remember to check that there isn’t a substitute item you already have that you could use up before buying.

Tip – Stick the planner somewhere you can always see it. When you run out of something, write it down on the shopping list straight away and you won’t forget to buy it.

This will also save you time each week.

The Money Wise Mum

7) Use My FREE Meal Planner

To help you on your way, you can get your hands on my meal planner for FREE . If you love it, please tell all your friends and tag me on Instagram or Facebook, I’d love to see you all using it!

It won’t be long before you will see your food bills cutting down each week.

Meal planning for me;

  • Saves me money
  • Less waste
  • Less stress in deciding what I want to eat
  • Ensures my family eats healthy meals

How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments below

50 Ways You Can Make Money

Cutting your expenses down to the bare bones is not the only way you can change your financial future although it’s a great place to start. But why not try to make some extra cash as well and those financial goals of yours can become reality sooner rather than later.

I have racked my brains and came up with the list to help you on your way. Some of these I have tried and tested and am still doing now but I’m sure there are lots more, so if you know of any that aren’t on the list, leave them in the comments below.

  1. Dog walking
  2. Pet sitting
  3. Gardening
  4. Ironing
  5. Cleaning houses
  6. Delivering parcels as a courier
  7. Writing a blog
  8. YouTube channel
  9. Teaching English online
  10. Tutoring
  11. Providing childcare
  12. Rent out your spare room
  13. Rent out your home and move in with family
  14. Bar work
  15. Waiter/waitress
  16. Sell photographs
  17. Buy off FB marketplace or Vinted and sell for more
  18. Matched Betting
  19. Surveys
  20. Rent out a second property, caravan, campervan
  21. Grow plants to sell
  22. Baking and selling
  23. Selling unwanted things (books, clothes, toys and old electronics)
  24. Deliver for Uber Eats, JustEat or Deliveroo
  25. Create printable’s and sell them
  26. Make art and sell it
  27. Taxi driver
  28. Publish a book
  29. Create and sell a course
  30. Baby sitting
  31. Book keeping
  32. Swim Teacher
  33. Painter & Decorator
  34. Handy Person / Odd jobs
  35. Virtual Assistant
  36. Modelling
  37. ‘Extra’ work
  38. Knitting products to sell
  39. Create websites
  40. Create an app
  41. Rent out your car
  42. Rent out your parking space
  43. Sell holidays
  44. Sell make up (bodyshop, Avon etc …)
  45. Car boot sales
  46. Window cleaning
  47. Wheelie bin cleaning
  48. Car washing
  49. Learn a new skill – cutting hair, doing nails, beauty, beard cutting
  50. Arrange events and charge entrance fees

What are Sinking Funds?

Sinking funds are smaller pots of money saved for a specific goal or known future expense.

People use cash envelopes or cash jars, or you can have lots of bank accounts. I use both cash jars and bank accounts. Cash jars are good for storing coins and you can make them free by using old food jars.

I love the idea of cash jars because I like visually seeing my money grow.

But I don’t like keeping a lot of cash at home because I don’t think it’s safe, so I opened 8 instant access savings accounts which attach to my current account. I opened these through online banking. Both cash jars and these accounts allow instant access and allow me to pay in when I want to.

I use the bank to keep larger sinking funds like Christmas and Car Tax because it’s not only safer, but I am also trying to increase my credit score as I want to apply for a mortgage in the next 12 months and having healthy bank balance will improve this.

These are some of the ones I have;

  • Car Tax
  • Car Maintenance
  • Christmas
  • Birthdays
  • Vets
  • Pet Food
  • Hair
  • Clothes
  • Scouts
  • Pet Food
  • Fun

Other ones I would like but don’t have yet are Holidays, School Clothes/Trips and Going Out.

They are really easy to make without spending any money or very little at least. Get a glass food jar and if you don’t have one you can buy the cheapest from the supermarket (when I went it was a jar of beetroot), eat the produce, wash and label. Easy! I also put the amount I want to save each month / week into the lid so I can quickly see what amount I need to put in.

I have made all of mine up but I only keep out what I’m putting into as it’s easy to get disheartened when you aren’t able to put into them every month, especially when you’re on a debt free journey like I’m on. The only jars I use right now is petrol, food and hair and in the bank I use Christmas, vets, pet food and car tax. For the other ones I just try and find the money when I need to. Not ideal I know but I have my emergency fund to fall back on if I am desperate.

If you want to know how much to save into each sinking fund jar/account, all you need to do is work out the annual cost of the category and divide it by the number of times you want to pay into it.

For example, if you are saving for car tax which is £210 a year and you want to put into the sinking jar monthly you would work it out as £210 / 12 months = £17.50

If you wanted to pay into it weekly £210 / 52 weeks per year = £4.04

If you want £600 for Christmas, you will need to save £50 a month or £11.54 a week. Larger goals like saving up £600 are easily met when broken down into smaller chunks. And having a financially stress-free Christmas is worth saving all year for in my eyes!

I would personally always round these amounts up to cover the normal increases and to make it easy to work with.

Should I have Sinking Funds if I’m in Debt?

Absolutely yes!!

By having sinking funds, it can save you getting into more debt! This year I have consistently paid into a sinking fund for Christmas for £50 per month and this is to stop me using my credit card like I did last year (Why I put Christmas on a Credit Card This Year).

If your main priority is to be debt free like me, it makes no sense to use all your available funds (disposable income) into every sinking fund else you won’t have anything left to make those extra debt payments so choose the main ones you want to stick with and leave the rest for when your debt free.  

Here is another free printable to help you with your saving goals.

Is a £1000 Emergency Fund Enough?

What is it?

An emergency fund is a pot of money kept in an account that can be easily accessed should you need it in the case of an emergency. An emergency could be classed as anything to happen that is unexpected like car repairs, washing machine breaking down, emergency dental care, house repairs etc …

Although you can plan for some types of emergencies using sinking funds, you can’t plan for them all which is why an emergency fund is so important.

How Much is Enough?

An emergency fund, when built up big enough should be able to not only cover the above types of emergencies but also cover your income if you found yourself out of work. Generally, this is recommended by financial experts as being around 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses. For example, if your expenses are £1500 per month, then you should have an emergency fund between £4500 to £9000 ready to access straight away (3 x £1500 = £4500 or 6 x £1500 = £9000).

£9000 seems a lot, doesn’t it? It would give you peace of mind though, I know it would for me.

According to Finder (2021), 9 % of people in Britain have no savings at all and 41 % wouldn’t be able to be out of work for even a month with no pay, another shocking reminder why savings and emergency funds are so important.

Should you Save an Emergency Fund before Paying off Debt?

Yes! Definitely!

You should save your emergency fund first before making those overpayments on your debt. Then when you have a minimum of £500 to £1000 you can start overpaying on debt. This will make sure that you’re covered for when those pesty emergencies happen and gives you peace of mind knowing when they do happen you don’t have to go further into debt to get the repairs fixed.

Starting to Build Your Emergency Fund

When you first start building an emergency fund, I found that starting small was the best way for me, so my first emergency fund was £500. The problem with an amount as low as £500 is if two emergencies happen at the same time well your pretty stuffed aren’t you?!

And I don’t know about you, but many things break at the same time for me! Last year my 11-month-old washer broke and I had a leak through my living room ceiling from the bathroom all within days of each other. The £500 only just covered the repairs for both and then a week later I had to pay for new tyres on the car which I was then forced to put on a credit card.

Life just happens this way doesn’t it? Well, it does if you don’t have an emergency fund.

Learning my lesson, I decided to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice and save an £1000 emergency fund which I kept in an instant access savings account connected to my current account so if I needed the money I could do an online transfer immediately.

Then life happened. My car goes in for an MOT and surprise surprise, it fails with the repairs costing a whopping £606. If I kept only £500 fund I wouldn’t have covered the costs. Luckily, I had my £1000 emergency fund and could pay in full with cash! Phew!

But then a few days after getting the car back, I was sitting in my living room waiting for my daughter to come out of the shower and I noticed a shiny spot on the wall. On closer inspection, I rubbed my hand across the wall and it was wet!! I rushed upstairs and after taking off the bath panel, to my horror the underneath of the bath had an inch of water in it! What an absolute nightmare. I soaked up the water and pondered getting a plumber out.

I had just under £400 left of my emergency fund so I decided to try and fix the problem myself first

I know what you’re thinking, I have zero plumbing skills but the last 3 plumbers I have used have either ripped me off, not completed the work they were paid for or done half a job, so I really don’t want to waste anymore money.

As I write this post, my bath panel is still off whilst I dry out the floor. I have sealed around the bath taps which were loose and could have been allowing water to seep through and I have put a small bowl under the pipes to catch any more of the water. It’s not flooding anymore but it’s also not fixed. But it will do for now.

Anyway, I digress.

Is £1000 enough for an emergency fund? I would say no it’s definitely not enough.  

Not wanting to disagree with Dave Ramsey and other financial gurus out there but what does £1000 really buy these days? With inflation running typically around 2 % (ONS, 2021) (Macrotrends, 2021) your money buys a lot less than it used to, so maybe an £1000 emergency fund is a little dated now?

I mean, it’s a pretty good place to start but my plan is now to save at least £1500 and then continue to contribute with £50 a month until it gets to 3 – 6 months’ worth of expenses. I will continue to do this until all my debt is repaid and when I’m debt free I will 100 % focus on building this up to at least 6 months of expenses. I know this will give me peace of mind then.


Finder (2021) Savings Statistics: Average Savings in the UK 2020.

Macrotrends (2021) UK Inflation Rate 1960-2021.

ONS.GOV.UK (Office for National Statistics) (2021) Consumer Price Inflation, UK July 2021.

No Spend Month

After a very expensive August with Summer holidays, and the car costing the best part of £600 to get fixed, I have decided to have a very much needed No Spend Month in September to curb the Summer holiday spending and pay back the Emergency Fund!

The last time I did one of these was in January so using the tools I made during that No Spend Month I will hope for another successful month.

I made myself a no spend challenge sheet which you can download for FREE below, which really helped to keep me focus and NOT spend any money outside of my very strict budget of £50 per week. Oh and I loved colouring it in! My budget works out at £20 per week for petrol and £30 per week for food shopping and anything else.

Yes this is a tight budget, I realise that. I will start a new job next week which will be working from home so my petrol costs will be minimal.

My food budget of £30 per week is for 1 adult (me) and my nine year old daughter. The pets have their own little sinking fund. It is tight but doable as long as I meal plan and use ingredients I already have in. Basically organisation is key here!

This is day 1 of the No Spend Month so I have drawn out my £50 for the week and I will now take all my cards out of my purse/phone case so I am not tempted to spend.

If your doing it with me, let me know how your getting on in the comments below and GOOD LUCK!!