Family finance tips for every budget

Charlotte Beugge is skinted
Jane Wallace is minted

s logo

Happy Easter

Happy EasterWe're taking a week's break for Easter. Need the extra time to get our fill of eggs...

What happens if you’ve ordered something from Debenhams?

What happens if you’ve ordered something from Debenhams?The least surprising story this week was Debenhams. Seemingly in trouble for years, it’s now in the hands of its lenders. Although stores are still open, there will inevitably be closures: just what the high streets of the UK need. Our local Debenhams could be one for the chop. I must admit I only e...

How to get the best deal on your holiday spending

How to get the best deal on your holiday spendingIf you’re going away for Easter, then I’m sure you’ve got a great deal on your flight, car hire and accommodation. And no doubt you’ve sorted out your travel insurance. But what about your spending money? While in the UK, most of us probably rely on our debit cards for day to day spending. But accor...

Should you delay your state pension?

Should you delay your state pension?Usually, the proverb a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush is good advice particularly regarding money. So, for example, a lump sum of cash now than the promise of a bigger one later is often preferable – after all, who can predict the future? But this isn’t always the case. Take the state pen...

Why you need to ditch your debt now

Why you need to ditch your debt nowFor the past 10 years we have had low borrowing rates. And isn’t it great that you can get a mortgage with an interest rate of less than 2% and a personal loan for not much more than that? Or maybe it isn’t good news. Even if it is cheap to repay, debt is a burden. Borrow money and you have to pay i...

m lower case logo

Happy Easter everybody!

Happy Easter everybody!I'm taking a week's break for Easter. Hope you all enjoy the holidays and that the Easter Bunny brings you lots of treats! My next blog will be Tuesday 30 April. See you then!

How safe is your cash Isa?

How safe is your cash Isa?How secure are my savings inside a cash Isa? Most people assume their nest-egg is safe as houses because cash is risk-free. For those Isas which are invested in cash, this is true. But what if, in fact, your cash Isa is invested in something else altogether? There is a certain sort of Isa on the mar...

Second-hand or fake for designer brands: which is best?

Second-hand or fake for designer brands: which is best?Just back from a weekend in London where I was thrilled to pick up a pair of Tory Burch Minnie Ballet Flats for £70. That’s just less than a third of their normal price of £215. I have coveted a pair of these shoes for several years now but, strangely enough, could never seem to find the money to pa...

Win a year’s worth of discounts on cinema, restaurants and family days out

Win a year’s worth of discounts on cinema, restaurants and family days outTo celebrate the Easter school holidays, we’ve teamed up with Kids Pass, the UK’s No.1 family discounts app for your chance to win a FREE Kids Pass annual membership. The Kids Pass app gives you instant access to thousands of offers, including up to 40% off cinemas nationwide (seven days a week, adu...

How to save on your broadband costs

How to save on your broadband costsLast year I wrote about the terrible broadband service  I was getting from BT. In a nutshell, I was paying £42.99 a month, including line rental, for a speed of 50 MBS when I was actually getting 25 MBS. Since then, BT have made some improvements to the cabinet at the top of Minted Avenue. When...


auntie blog

Best way to budget in the Balearics

Dear Aunt Pecunia

My daughter is planning a fortnight's holiday in Ibiza with three friends this summer. They are all students and don't have a great deal of money to spend. How can they make sure they keep to a tight budget?

Yours, LR.


Aunt Pecunia says: It wasn't so long ago that Aunt Pecunia had her arms in the air like you just don't care. Those were the days when you could sail past the door police at Manumission with just a big smile and a small dress. It's all changed now the superclubs have taken over. One rave too far and your daughter will find her credit card is clubbed out as well.

As well as sticking to a rigid diet of baked beans on toast before the trip (lose pounds in weight, gain pounds in sterling) she could keep control by pre-loading a foreign currency card before she leaves. Aunt Pecunia is quite enchanted by the Revolut offering. It works like a debit card except you use your phone to fill it with cash. Best of all it has no foreign exchange fees so there's no sneaky charges or rubbish rates. Now that's something to dance till dawn for.

Read more

Life in the fast lane

Dear Aunt Pecunia

was a silly devil when I was younger. Instead of putting money away for the future, I blew it on holidays, fast cars and unsuitable men. I've finally paid off the loans and, for once, have extra cash. What’s the best product to save into? I need one which will stop me splurging all the funds in a mad moment. I don’t want to end up aged and penniless.

Yours, AN.


Aunt Pecunia says: I’m glad, AN, you’ve seen the error of pursuing a Ferrari lifestyle. What use is a muscle car when the only metal you’ll be putting your pedal to is a Zimmer frame? Aunt Pecunia also advises against investing in a white knight to sort out your finances. This kind of man is like a stock market rally: you can’t tell when one’s coming round the corner and inevitably there’s a crash.

Now you’re in your prime, your ideal product is probably a pension. With a few years to go, there’s still time to build up cash and get the tax rebates from the government. Basic rate taxpayers only have to put in £80 to get £100 in the pension, you see, and it’s churlish to turn down free money.

The earliest you can get the pension is age 55, by which time you might’ve grown out of yachts, toy-boys, Dior handbags and so on. Check what arrangements you have with your employer already. It might be easier to just top that up. Or see the SMM guide here to starting a personal pension outside of work. Don’t delay – you want to make your retirement more of a new Beamer than an old banger.

Read more

Sticky little fingers

Dear Aunt Pecunia

Unlike me, junior is very good with money: his piggy-bank is full to bursting point. To prevent him spending it on rubbish (and indeed to stop my mining of it to pay the window cleaner) we want to find somewhere to put the cash. But is there any point given that no-one is earning anything worthwhile on a savings account?

Yours, GB

Aunt Pecunia says: What’s the point of having kids if you can’t mine them for all they are worth? Honestly, those Victorian reformers who stopped child labour have got something to answer for. I’d be at the moneybox with a penknife were it in my possession. But if you insist on being sensible, then I suppose getting junior to open a savings account is a good idea, even if rates are ridiculously low at the moment. They won’t, after all, stay that way for ever and you are teaching him a good lesson in prudence (yawn).

I know Premium Bonds aren’t what they used to be, but at least they are slightly more interesting and your stake isn’t at risk - you can cash them in whenever you want. And there’s a (very) slight chance of winning a £1 million prize. Have a look at

Read more

Credit crisis

Dear Aunt Pecunia

I've gone a bit mad with the credit card. The amount due is three times our normal monthly spend. I've hidden the bill behind the sofa because I'm afraid to tell my husband but he'll soon realise it's missing. What should I do?

Yours, S.B.

Aunt Pecunia says: I'll admit that I am hardly the 2017 answer to Germaine Greer but really - did I burn my best Playtex for nothing? What do you mean you’re afraid to tell your husband? Frankly, that’s the wrong way round: he should be quaking in fear of upsetting you.

Tell him you're great at picking up bargains at shopping hence the chunky bill: you're actually saving him money. That should make him write that cheque. And then apply for your own card – and pay your own bills. Perhaps your first expenditure should be on a martial arts course or assertiveness training?

Read more

Latest guides

Avoid overpaying for your mobile phone

 Ten ways to ring up savings

Bereavement: what benefits would you get?

 Government support and what YOU can do to protect your family

How to find and transfer a child trust fund (CTF)

Switch your CTF into a Junior Isa in 10 easy steps

Video - Charlotte and Jane talk about saving for kids

Get the lowdown on tax-perk saving for kids in just five minutes!

Video - Charlotte and Jane talk about pensions

All you need to know about pensions in three minutes!

Remortgaging: how to save on home loans

Get the best deal for the roof over your head

What is an investment trust?

An easy explanation of these exciting investment companies

Affordable opera tickets

How to get a discount Don Giovanni

Your first fund: where to invest?

Spring 2018 suggestions for beginner investors

Buy to let: a guide to being a landlord

Basic steps to making money out of bricks and mortar

Which fund should I add to my portfolio this year?

Spring 2018 suggestions for advanced Isa investors

Sky is not the limit

Ten steps to trouble-free TV

Does loyalty pay?

How you can earn while shopping

Educating the next generation about personal finance

Ten ideas for teaching your kids about money

Pet insurance: the basics

How to cover man’s best friend (and other creatures)

Are premium bonds worth a punt?

All you need to know about these government prizes

SMM newsletter

SMM newsletter

We read the finance pages so you don’t have to! Click here to get our weekly round-up of news and tips.
SMM forums

SMM forums

Got a money worry or a cash crisis? Get your answer by asking a question in our forum. Or leave a top tip or review for other SMMs.
2017 SHOMO Awards

2017 SHOMO Awards

Winner of Best Personal Finance Blog and runner up in Best New Blog category. We are proud to be members of UK Money Bloggers.

As seen in:

Daily Mirror
Family Grapevine
The Mail On Sunday
BBC One New Logo 2016 V2 Black
The Sun
2000px Daily Telegraph.svg