1. You’re a successful blogger, how do you do it and what do you blog about?
My money musings blog over at Smallacornmoney.com is a place for me to share my thoughts, ideas, insights and helpful views about managing your personal finances, financial planning and investing.
2. Why have you created your blog?
As someone who works professionally in financial services (in both a research capacity and directly helping people via Small Acorn Money) I love the freedom of expression that writing a blog can bring. Often in professional circumstances you need to be more diplomatic or careful with wording, but with a blog I have the personal freedom to write unfettered, for better or worse!
3. With so many money saving blogger out there how do you keep your blog different?
I only write based on what ideas come into my head. I don’t do any keyword research or seo writing and I have no set content strategy or structure. I basically have ideas jotted down for hundreds of different articles and I get through them as and when I can. This is far from a professional approach to blogging, but my first intention for blogging is to write down my own ideas and views for my own benefit as it helps to clarify my thoughts, and then I share them with others.
4. Top tips for saving money/ saving students money?
Students reading this would have a mild heart attack but if you want to save money you should probably leave University. I am baffled as to why so many still attend when the costs are extortionate (both through fees, debt repayment and wages foregone). That being said I know it is essential for certain career paths, for example if you are studying to become a doctor, and I understand that many people have the combination of uncertainty and external pressures working against them (i.e. you don’t know what to do with your life, your parents want you to go to Uni, and all of your friends are going) so perhaps its not so surprising.
I think the issue should be looked at from the other direction. The problem for most students is not enough money. Rather than tightening your belt (noodles can only go so far), it’s far better to expand your means. That means working in a bar, perhaps becoming an Uber driver at the weekends, or setting up a small side business or freelancing in your spare time.
To save money on food you should try and arrange to cook meals as a group. It’s far cheaper and easier to cook for 5 and split the cost, than to try and cook for one.
5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy a wide range of activities. I’m very comfortable losing hours reading a book, I like getting outdoors (skiing, swimming, running etc.) and I’m mildly obsessed about football. I also like food – it’s more of a hobby than survival for me, hence the running.
6. How do you save money?
When I have been in employed roles and set myself a strict budget with a short-term goal. I usually say 50-80% of the money I earn is mine and the rest is for future me or some other set purpose.
Now, as my income is more sporadic, I simply live modestly and some months I save and in some months I might not. At the end of the year I get an idea of how much ‘spare’ money I have aside and then plan what I am going to do with it (how much into my business, how much into investments, how much towards further learning, how much for fun etc.)
7. What was your biggest financial mistake you made?
I have bitten off my nose to spite my face on a few occasions leaving employment before having something else lined up. The reasons for leaving have all been justifiable and good decisions to leave, but my timing (or lack of patience) is poor and has cost me a lot of money over the years.
I will say however, that whilst they may be financial mistakes, from a personal and lifestyle perspective (i.e. You Only Live Once), these were fantastic decisions.
8. What saving (or investment) mistakes do you think most people make?
I see too many people at a young age wanting to invest into property or the stock market and completely forgetting to keep investing in themselves.
An investment in your own skills, knowledge, network and experiences will pay a far greater reward, both in financial and lifestyle terms, than any buy to let or company’s shares ever could.
10. What’s the one piece of financial advice you would give your younger-self?
Avoid alcohol, bars and nightclubs.
There is far better and far cheaper things to do with your life. The amount I spent from the ages of 17-21 on ‘going out out’ is painful to think about.
As an example, it is not unheard of to spend £50-£100 on a night out and yet it be largely uneventful or memorable. Alternatively I once paid for a kayaking and snorkelling trip whilst travelling the west coast of Australia and it cost me about £40 at the time. On that trip I saw a turtle, a reef shark and too many multi coloured fish to count. I know of no bar or nightclub that could top that experience, not even if you spent £1,000 on a night out.
From a financial perspective, money can slip too easily through your hands when you are young, but when you get a bit older you begin to have lots of uses for those savings that aren’t there!
11. One bad financial habit you’d like to kick?
Overpriced frothy coffee.
12. What’s in your wallet?
Two driving licences (one for UK and one for New Zealand where I have recently left), two bank cards, one credit card, a guesthouse business card and some Thai baht (where I am at the moment).
13. What does your ideal lifestyle does look like?
Perpetual travel in comfort and convenience (but not luxury), own successful business helping people with their finances, eat out whenever I feel like it and a bolt hole somewhere beautiful with an amazing kitchen and a nice view for those times when you just want to relax with a book, good food and wine, and ignore the world.
Maybe a kid or two to keep me on my toes, but in my ‘ideal world’ I would only have them from say ages 1-8 and then from 16-25, or maybe just for Christmas! The other times look like far too much stress
14. What is your most popular post to date?
My most popular blog post is about the Apple iPod. I wrote a post comparing consumption, saving and investment using the IPod and Apple as an example. The difference in future outcome is extraordinary and it is a powerful educational story about the merits of saving and investing over consumption.