Money Matters Team

Secret money tips from mother to daughter

By Money Matters Team 16/03/2016

Writer Cherry Casey finds out if mum's really the word when it comes to managing the family finances.

Meet Mary Hughes, 91, her daughter, Penny Murray, 65, and granddaughter, Abby Simpson, 32. Three generations of women from the same family — but do they have the same thoughts, ideas and advice when it comes to money, and what tips have been handed down from mother to daughter over the years?

How do you save for the big things in life, like buying a house?

Mary: That's something that's changed so much. We decided to rent until we were in our late forties! It felt like an exorbitant amount of money then — I don't know how Abby's generation can do it.

Penny: I actually bought my first home before Mum did. But it was still difficult because in those days mortgage lenders would only take a third of a woman's wage into account. My then-husband and I had been living in Chiswick but had to move to Northamptonshire to find something we could afford to buy.

Abby: That's terrible! My boyfriend Mark and I would love to buy somewhere next year. I want to own a house before we have children so we can paint the nursery without worrying. I'm looking at first-time buyer schemes at the moment, such as the government help-to-buy ISA.

What's the best money-saving tip you picked up from your mum?

Penny: I'm surprised by how few people realise how much you can save on food shopping. If you get cheaper cuts of meat, like beef shin or pork shoulder, and cook them for longer, you can save a fortune. That's definitely something I picked up from Mum.

Abby: These two are amazing cooks and I've learned from them that cooking from scratch is much cheaper — and you end up eating better food too.

Mary: Saying that, I'm going backwards with age and do buy the odd ready meal now and then!

Are you splurgers or savers in the main?

Abby: We're all very good at spending — it's a family trait — and these two spoil me absolutely rotten.

Penny: Mum spoiled me when I was younger and I like to do the same for my children. When Abby's car needed fixing recently, I paid for it. I don't have the resources to give her huge amounts of money, so I like to save it up to spend on her as and when I can.

Mary: I like to spend too, and use my credit card all the time. It's always paid off by Direct Debit every month as I hate outstanding bills of any sort.

What family budgeting tricks do you use to keep out of the red?

Mary: We didn't have a lot of money when we were first married, but I didn't have a budget as such. We just made sure we never spent more than we had and never built up any debt because I couldn't bear the idea of paying interest!

Penny: I'm the same as Mum in that respect. I use credit cards and store cards to get more points, but pay them off as soon as the statement comes in. I keep every credit card slip and check each statement carefully. I've spotted fraudulent transactions three times that way.

Abby: I do have debts unfortunately, but I think it's different for our generation —f student loans and credit cards are so 'normal' that interest is just something you accept. I've got better with budgeting though, and now have a spreadsheet where I put what's going out when — TV licence, car insurance — so I know how much I have left to spend each month.

Generation Game

Everyone says things were so much cheaper/better/different when they were younger, so let's find out.

The average annual salary† in...

  • 1946: £380
  • 1976: £4,419
  • 2016: £26,500

The average age people had their first child* in...

  • 1946: 29
  • 1976: 26
  • 2016: 30

The average house price* in...

  • 1946: £1,459
  • 1976: £12,704
  • 2016: £197,000

The average cost of a roast chicken† in...

  • 1946: 16p
  • 1976: 93p
  • 2016: £6

*Figures from the Office of National Statistics. †Figures from the Bank of England.

Find out how much you could save every month with our handy savings calculator.

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