Finding the right mix.......

Hi, welcome, settle down!

I'm starting this diary to help me question and decide small and large events to fit with my short and long term financial goals.

To be totally upfront from the start, I'm not here to pay down my mortgage the quickest I can, I want balance. I love reading diaries of people who are really committed to paying down their mortgages for their reasons, but that's not for me, I will explain why and my goals later.

I'm what is often called in my mid to late 30s (read late 30s really!), I work full time in a job that can be stressful, demanding and takes up a lot of my time, an average week I'm working 60 hours, but it can be more. However I'm in a position where I can do this flexibly, I don't have to answer to anyone if I come in late or leave early so I get to drop my kids at school or pick them up or want to go to a school event and I am remunerated well.

I have a husband who works in the NHS, he works shifts so we sometimes have a juggling act on our hands and to make life more complicated, he has just started a PhD.

We have two daughters, 9 and 5, whose nicknames are Maisy Mouse (MM) and Monkey Chops (MC).

The choices we have made are all about balance, Mr Z and I enjoy our jobs, we enjoy working full time, are conscious that this means we have less family time, so try to make family time count, which doesn't always involve spending money, but sometimes it does. However, the thing we do spend money on is holidays. MM & MC are great travellers, they love the heat, they cope well with walking round cities, they have a sense of adventure and we intend to carry on with the holiday budget we have.

I do find we waste money though, by being disorganised, by not thinking, by not appreciating the things we do. We got in a habit of eating out and it didn't feel like a treat, the kids wouldn't always behave as it became the norm to eat out rather than a treat to be enjoyed. We've cut back on this and enjoy meals out much more when we go out and are saving money. For me it's finding the value in what we do, not wasting our money and saving on the interest on our mortgage and saving for our next house move.


  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    So....our current position is

    1) House
    We moved into this house in January 2016 for £425k, it was a new build and fell within the scheme where we could get government backed funding for 20% of the value which will either be repaid when we move or when we chose to take on the full amount. It's interest free until January 2021, so we'll probably do it then.

    Our mortgage was initially £297,500 and we have repaid approx £38k and it's sitting at £259,000. We currently overpay each mortgage payment by just under £450 a month.

    As a rough guide the house is probably now worth about £475k - as it was a new build, it was built to our spec and built to be tall enough to do a loft conversion that wasn't squashed, we spent £25k on this.

    2) Savings
    a) We currently have £12k in easy access savings as our emergency fund, I don't add to this
    b) I have £5k locked away for another 4 years, the idea is this would pay legal fees for our next house move
    c) Holiday savings, we generally pay from holidays by my MrZ doing private work, selling bits and bobs and my bonus, however we save £250 per month to give us a base in case I don't get a bonus. MrZ's private work will have to decrease due to his studies. Currently this is at £1,000
    d) Specific holiday savings, this is where MrZ's private work, sales etc mentioned above go into, currently this is £2,900 and this will go towards our holiday in July to Costa Rica
    e) Savings - this is general savings, this is what I want to build up, it will either go towards mortgage over payments or sit there as extra cash for the next house move - it is currently £2,280 and it gets topped up when we don't spend all our money in one month.

    3) Investments
    I have £24.5k in stocks and shares ISA and we add to this monthly with a SO of £400, to be 100% honest I'm not sure what I'm saving for here - I guess the future, my retirement, maybe to help my girls in the future

    4) Pensions
    At the moment my husband will get a final salary NHS pension, so his contributions are set
    I have a work pension which I pay in £300 per month and my employers pay £150 per month

    I think that sets out where we are, as rough amounts our figures are:

    Net income (joint) £5,700
    Bills are £2,400 (mortgage including overpayment, elec, gas, CT, TV licence, mobiles, broadband, life insurance, car) Car and home insurance are paid in one hit when due.
    Set savings/investments £1,050
    Average credit card bill and kids clubs £2,000
    Which leaves around £250 that goes into extra savings, which feels about right on average - it does depend if its a month with a insurance payment or one with dancing exams for the kids, or brownie holiday etc.

    It's the £2k everything else that I need to ensure we're getting value for money on/worth it. There are some decisions that I'm lucky enough that I can say my time is worth more than the cash savings, but its this I need to balance.

    On top of this I also get an annual bonus that gets split approx:
    25% pension, 25% mortgage savings and 50% holiday/fun
  • iquitiquit Forumite
    1.9K Posts
    Yay a new diary, I love your attitude to work life balance. You seem to have a very organised approach to your finances. I look forward to following your journey.
    2019 MFW No. 74 £13700/£30000 (45.66%)
    12k in 2018 No. 98 £6274.19/£18000 (34.85%)

    BTL (start) £97440.00 (current) £68000.00
    Residential (start) £275000.00 (current) £268000.00
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    iquit wrote: »
    Yay a new diary, I love your attitude to work life balance. You seem to have a very organised approach to your finances. I look forward to following your journey.

    Thanks - organisation is my middle name, but it drives everyone else bonkers!
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    So today I dropped the girls at school as my husband was doing an early shift so he could pick the kids up at 4.30 after MM had her after school club. The club is a clay making club where they spend about 6 weeks making some 'amazing' creation, but it's not cheap and if he doesn't finish at 4 she has to go to after school childcare which is £11 for the session even if shes only there for 45 mins, so we tend to work it I go into work late on Fridays.

    Only money spend is Ocado shop - this is something I will consider if it's worth carrying on with or not - I like it as the app is easy to use, I also have Vitality health insurance through work and this gives us free deliver and money off healthy food and it's convenient, but I accept it is more expensive.

    I don't have time to do the supermarket shop so online works for us, but I might try and compare to Asda and see what difference it makes financially. Spent £73.74, which does include food for half term but I'm away with the girls this weekend and we're all away Thursday eve - Saturday so this should even out.
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    Today we drove North for a family gathering, my Aunt, Uncles, Cousins and their families, parents and sister all live spread across the UK so thought it would be good to meet. I therefore had to pay:

    Hotel (paid for last month)
    Fuel (went to Tesco, cheap and clubcard points £30)
    Dinner (bought meal deal for me, so two courses, alcoholic drink, and breakfast and paid for kids meal) £37, plus there seemed to be a problem with splitting the bill so I put in an extra £10 for tip

    The good thing was took picnic from home for lunch, we went to National Trust and we're memeber, my parents treated me to a couple of drinks.

    All in all, happy with those costs as they feel worth it to see family I haven't seen for over two years, nothing seemed wasted and we all had fun.

    MrZ stayed home as he needed to work, he will have gone to post office to post small eBay parcel but hopefully not spent anymore.

    Tomorrow we'll have breakfast, visit my Grandmother's grave and then head home. A large breakfast should mean the kids and I won't need lunch and if they get peckish on the journey they have left over picnic from today so shouldn't need to spend anything.
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    Had a lovely long leisurely breakfast with all the family this morning, kids definitely got my monies worth MM had something along the lines of, three bowls of cereal, 6 weetabix, two slices of toast, baked beans, scrambled eggs and a yoghurt! She didn't eat again until dinner though.

    We went to my grandmothers grave, I don't think I had been for almost 20 years, we never head that way, but it was good to go with the family and show my girls where it was.

    Drive home was a couple of hours, but I hadn't slept well last night so was very tired when we got home. MrZ took the girls swimming so I could have a bath and a nap.

    When they came home MrZ suggested he popped to chip shop for dinner and got everyone sausage and chips, but I pointed out we had that in the freezer and it would be less greasy so we all had that, so saved unnecessary spending.

    Total spend today was £7.50 on the three of them swimming so pleased with that.
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    As it's half term this week MrZ is off with the girls, they managed an almost no spend day as they visited his Dad and played games and went on the go cart Grandad is making. They popped to Sainsbury's on the way home to buy an outfit for world book day, they had 25% off and they used my nectar,points so outfit cost £2.

    I had to get the bus to work as they needed the car, so that was £2 plus I popped to Tesco on the way in to buy my breakfasts to have at work.

    Also filled up with fuel, again! I think I read Tesco are doing 5p off a litre, so may need to do,a food shop there to get a voucher.
  • VDOT47VDOT47 Forumite
    277 Posts
    Zeddy - an interesting read so far! Your approach to balancing how you spread your income sounds very similar to ours (although you are a bit ahead of us in terms of the amounts you put into pensions, ISAs etc).

    Have you thought about your long term goals at all - are you hoping to be able to retire early?
    Original Mortgage (Feb '17) £269,995
    Current Mortgage (End 11/19) £226,790
    End Date November 2039 Original End Date February 2042
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    VDOT47 wrote: »
    Zeddy - an interesting read so far! Your approach to balancing how you spread your income sounds very similar to ours (although you are a bit ahead of us in terms of the amounts you put into pensions, ISAs etc).

    Have you thought about your long term goals at all - are you hoping to be able to retire early?

    Hi. Long term I'm not to sure. My husbands job is a true vocation for him, he loves it, one of those annoying situations where it's like a hobby he is paid for! He wants to go on until at least 67. I enjoy my job, but it's not the same, I don't have a burning desire to carry on, like he dies, but I'm not desperate to stop (yet!). My colleague who I work with and have built up our office with thinks he'll retire at 65, I will look to go the same time as him, which would put me at 60.
  • ZeddyZeddy Forumite
    159 Posts
    Well MrZ has done well this half term with the girls and not spent much. Tuesday they went to the local theatre to watch a play which we had already paid for and he only spent money on an ice cream in the interval, Wednesday they went to watch the Lego movie using our vitality cinema vouchers which made the trip free apart from the bus fare. They did also go to the amusements and spent £10 playing games. Today they've been to the park and did a quick shop for packed lunch items at the coop but he remembered to use his student discount and got 10%. They've swung by my work and we're now heading north for a couple of days away.

    We're staying in a travelodge that MrZ has got sponsorship to pay for and we've got a packed lunch for the journey so the cost so far isn't bad.

    I received an HMRC cheque in the post for about £20 so when I can get to town I'll pay that into the holiday bank account.
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