Welcome to the first edition of Community Space, a new series tapping into stories and insights from our amazing community!
Last week we joined forces with award-winning money blogger, Andy Webb, for this year’s UK Money Bloggers event– we met a lot of fantastic bloggers and learned a lot from them, too! We thought you’d like to hear from the man behind the whole event and get his top tips and insights for unthinking money so you can make the most of life!
Without further ado, meet Andy Webb, the man behind Headlinemoney’s financial blog of the year, Be Clever With Your Cash.
What inspires you -- how did you get to where you are now?
I’ve been doing this for about four years now. I started Be Clever With Your Cash in early 2014. I had just left the BBC after about 11 years. While I had enjoyed that, I was still looking for something that really impassioned and inspired me. My wife pointed out that I was good at helping people with their finances, and it just suddenly made sense that I could work on what I loved and help people at the same time.
Just over the last year, I’ve had over a million people on the blog – if they’ve even just saved £1 each, that’s a million pounds I’ve helped people save! The little bits really do add up. I guess the simple answer to your question is: I do this because I love it.
Was there ever a time when you weren’t quite so savvy with your money?
To be honest, I’ve always been pretty good, thanks to my mum’s influence. She’s always been knowledgeable on money topics, from looking for the best deals to consumer rights. When I started on this path, I was really good at the consumer side of things— finding the best deals, switching accounts, things like that. What I didn’t know as much about were things like mortgages, investments, pensions. That’s something I’ve picked up over the years. And that’s a big piece of advice I’d give anyone looking to get started with saving – there’s always more you can learn. You don’t have to start off knowing everything, you can pick things up as you go along.
Do you have any go-to tools or resources?
One thing I think people should be using (if they’re not already) is cashback sites. There are two: Quidco and Top Cashback. You go to that site, you sign in with your account, and then you click through to whichever brand or shop you want to buy from. Then you get a percentage of your purchase back. And it’s not just for shopping – you can use these sites to switch your broadband and get something like £90 back. The money comes from their marketing budget, but instead they give you a cut of the sales commission. It’s a really easy way to save a couple £100 a year. Essentially, you’re saving on what you were going to buy anyway.
Now that we’ve kicked off October, do you consider autumn an expensive time of year? Can it affect spending habits?
I think it’s something that a lot of people get caught out on. They’ve enjoyed the summer, they’ve had a fantastic time, planned for it – maybe splashed out a bit. But then you get into autumn, and a lot of people aren’t thinking about the fact that we’re only a few months away from another huge expense— Christmas! If you’ve got kids or a big family, it’s really one of the biggest expenses of the year. You’re buying lots of gifts, the decorations, the foods, the parties, the Christmas jumpers. It really started to add up quickly. If you haven’t started thinking about Christmas expenses yet, a great first step is simply mapping out what you can afford now, ahead of time. Then you’ve got a budget to work with and lots of time to plan.
Another big day in autumn is Black Friday. Does that play a role in how you budget and prepare for Christmas?
Black Friday has just gotten bigger and bigger since 2014, to the extent that it’s really taken over most of November. There are some great bargains over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it’s also something people need to be a bit careful of… There’s that temptation to buy stuff just for the sake of buying stuff. Black Friday can be a great way to help with Christmas budgeting, but, again, it’s better knowing how much you have and what you’re willing to spend before going in.
Last but not least - what’s your top tip for helping people unthink money?
It’s about not trying to do everything. There are so many messages out there, and when you try to tackle it all it can be very overwhelming. My advice is to pick one big thing and one little thing, and take it from there. The big thing could be switching your energy. A lot of people don’t think about it, but it can be a really big saving. A small thing could be bringing a lunch to work every day. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of that small change, you can start thinking about adding another one. Eventually, you’ll find that you’ve got more money left over to either save or spend on something important. Start off with what’s comfortable for you, and once that change become consistent, it becomes a good money habit!
Get more money insights Andy on his blog.
* This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.