In our How I Manage My Money series, we aim to find out how people in the UK spend, save and invest to meet their costs and achieve their goals.
This week we spoke with 35-year-old Jenny Blyth, who lives in North London and is the owner and head of the Storm In a Teacup Gifts online store.
My income comes from my business, so it can vary greatly each month. I usually earn about £ 1,000 a month, but that figure can be doubled during periods of activity, or it can drop to about £ 400 in the bad months.
COST OF LIFE
£ 210 mortgage; Groceries £ 220; Gas and electricity £ 130; Water £ 40; Savings (when I can handle it) £ 80; Articles for the cat £ 60; Mobile phone € 11
Total: £ 751
I don’t drive, which saves a lot of money. Fortunately, my hobbies are also very cheap: I love to draw and read, and I also really enjoy aerial yoga, which I do at home on my own team.
I finished high school with three degrees and went on to study theater and theater at the University of Middlesex. At that point I successfully applied for a student loan and a scholarship, which turned out to be very helpful. Growing up, I was lucky to never feel like poor or struggling, but I definitely knew the value of money. My mom instilled little techniques when we bought food, so I knew how to be sensible and saved money in my piggy bank.
I was also given an Isa by my grandparents when I was little. In my first job I worked as a retail assistant in a store on Saturdays, but I also managed to fit into the job as a game support worker. In addition, I would also go to work with my father, who at the time ran a gardening business. After graduating from college I wanted to work in theater, but a connective tissue disorder put a brake on it.
I worked as a fundraiser for the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital for a while, which I really enjoyed, but my health, once again, ended up dictating a change. So, I used to work on my own and since then I haven’t looked back.
I started Storm In a Teacup Gifts in October 2014 after realizing I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to start a business that specializes in fun and quirky gifts suitable for all budgets, but also with a strong sense of community. Starting the business was daunting, but I knew it could work, and with a little faith and support from loved ones, I did just that.
We have a large number of followers, but I’m very concerned about rising costs. I feel compelled to raise my prices to try to make a profit, but if I do, my clients may not be able to afford to support us. Small businesses have been in the ditch since the pandemic subsided. The few grants and schemes available require certain criteria to be met, so micro-enterprises like mine
they are fighting.
I try to put £ 80 into my NatWest savings account every month, but that’s not always possible. The interest rate on savings is so small that unless you have a substantial amount, you barely notice the pennies that are classified as income. I also use the Plum app, which calculates your finances and then automatically reserves money for you each week. It’s amazing how fast you can save a few cents with apps like this.
I have a real joy in saving money, but it’s getting harder and harder. I’m always looking for a bargain and I’ll gladly look for gift ideas for hours to make sure I have the best deal. I do most of my food shopping at Aldi, which I think is great for its prices. I also love to cook, which helps reduce costs, and if too much food is cooked, I’ll save it for another day so it doesn’t get wasted.
I find myself checking every penny I spend right now. I can no longer be frivolous and treat myself occasionally, as before. Now I’m much more focused on the sales of my business and what I have to try to do each month just to survive. It’s not how I saw myself living.
Being self-employed, I always knew it was important to set up my own pension fund for my future. I use an app called Penfold, which allows me to choose how much money I save with it each month. As for guilty pleasures, I’ll probably be at my happiest in stores like TK Maxx when I can find a bargain.
My short-term plan focuses on keeping my business running and overcoming this wave of high inflation. Times are tough and my focus is on making sure my clients have the best experience possible.
In the long run, I wish I could have enough funds to allow me to open a physical store. On a personal level, I wish I had enough savings to be able to live more safely, without having to worry about money.