DiscoverThe Money Spot™ - UK Personal Finance
The Money Spot™ - UK Personal Finance
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The Money Spot™ - UK Personal Finance

Author: Heather Katsonga-Woodward

Subscribed: 49Played: 591


I’m Heather.
A massive personal finance fanatic.
I love to answer people's questions on getting rid of debt, saving, stock market investing, property and retirement.
Subscribe to this podcast if you want to: earn more, save more, invest more and have fun! No episodes in April, August and December - #SchoolHolidays #MumPodcast
51 Episodes
In this inspiring podcast episode, we explore the remarkable story of Jon, a true financial maestro who has maintained an annual budget of under £7,000 since 2009. What makes his journey truly extraordinary is not just his modest income, but his ability to achieve financial independence. If Jon were to cease working today, his sustainable living wouldn't falter. So, how does he work this financial wizardry? Jon's secret lies in his meticulous tracking of expenses, not income. He openly admits to occasional years where his spending exceeded his earnings. However, his steadfast indifference to material desires, such as fashionable attire and dining out, allows him to keep his spending at a minimum. His rent, a mere £280 monthly, and a thrifty weekly food budget of around £20, all while maintaining a health-conscious, predominantly plant-based diet, highlight his financial prowess. In this episode, we explore the many reasons to admire Jon's simple yet financially savvy lifestyle. Join me as we uncover the inspiring lessons from his journey to achieving financial independence before the age of 40, all by reigning in his expenditure... Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
To include the State Pension or to ignore the State Pension, that is the question…when you’re retirement planning. If you’re a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996) or later, I’ve come to a bold conclusion: it’s best to assume you won’t receive a State Pension, when you’re planning how much to save for retirement. Let me explain why… While it's likely that some form of State Pension will persist, I believe there’s a good chance that it will become much less generous or that the state retirement age will increase even further. It is also possible that it will become means-tested so only the least well-off will receive it. Because the UK population is ageing and, as a result, the cost of the State Pension is increasing, one or all of these possibilities is almost inevitable. Listen to this episode to discover why it's most prudent for your financial plan to assume a State Pension will not materialise... Get resources and comment on LinkedIn: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
Retirement is a dream shared by many of us, but achieving it requires careful planning and early action. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of retirement savings and reveal exactly how much you need to save each month to retire comfortably. So, if you're aiming for financial independence but are possibly thinking it’s a pipe dream, buckle up and discover the key to retiring early! A little teaser: if you start saving at 22, to have £1 million by the time you are 68 you only need to save £195 each month if you're much do you need to save each, if you're part of a couple and how much if you don't start until you're 55? Well listen to the podcast or go straight to the resources to find out. Get resources and comment on LinkedIn: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
Have you heard about the FIRE movement? It's an acronym for Financial Independence Retire Early. While many people interpret it literally, there's more to this movement than meets the eye. In this episode, we delve into what FIRE truly means, dispel some common misconceptions, and explore the different aspects of achieving financial independence (or FI) and retiring early. Contrary to popular belief, the FIRE movement is not a cult or a race to become a millionaire overnight. FIRE is also not about living close to the poverty line so that you can save every penny possible – in the process depriving your family of positive life experiences such as holidays. FIRE is about gaining control over your financial life and having the freedom to choose how you spend your time without worrying about money. Many attribute the beginnings of the FIRE movement to Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez’s 1992 book, ‘Your Money or Your Life’. This episode breaks down FIRE into its key components: financial independence, retiring ‘early’, and what retirement means in this context. Read more and comment on LinkedIn: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
Investing 101 – HOW TO START INVESTING: where to put your money, how much to invest and what to invest it in? I receive a lot of questions about “how to start investing” and this month alone I’ve fielded quite a few, so, as a belated birthday present to myself I decided to get this all out into a simple blog. Any tax rates and thresholds mentioned in this post will be correct as at the time of writing but tax is something that gets tinkered with all the time so this could get dated pretty quickly but using figures will help you understand how it all currently works in principle. First things first, everything I share here is information not advice. Once you decide to actually start investing you would be well advised to: a) do some further research yourself; and b) speak to a fee-only all-of-market independent financial advisor. Fee only means they don’t charge you a percentage of what you have to invest (that is, they charge a fixed fee) and all-of-market means they can offer products from a range of institutions.. Ideally, you should only invest money that you will not need for at least 5 years. This is because share market prices move up and down and if you need that money before five years is up, there is more chance that you might have to sell at a loss. Investing is a long-term game, the longer the time you can wait, the higher the probability of being up. Over a 20 year period, the S&P500 has returned a positive return 100% of the time. While the future may turn out to be different, you are generally well advised to leave money invested as long as possible. While my aim is to make this discussion as simple and as unintimidating as possible, at times it will feel really complex not because investing is hard but because we invest within the context of a very complicated and convoluted tax system. But you have to get to grips with our tax system to get ahead with investing…anyhow,…I’ll divide this into four parts, feel free to skip ahead to the part that you need: - Part 1 is all about what sort of investment account to put your money in; - Part 2 lays out what to think about when deciding which institution to invest your money through; - Part 3 helps you think about how much to invest over time; - Part 4 provides pointers regarding what you should invest in. Part 4 is very much based on how I choose to invest and this is the area where you may want to talk to more people about including your chosen IFA. Feel free to jump to the part that is most relevant to you... - Part 1 - 04:54 - Part 2 - 19:14 - Part 3 - 26:35 - Part 4 - 30:22 RESOURCES Resources and all links mentioned in episode: Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
Hi Heather, Here’s my questions. I'm a single first time buyer, I have just under £10k deposit and i can borrow up to £200K based on some mortgage brokers.. is there any way I can borrow more money to buy a bigger house? What are your thoughts on the "helping hand mortgage" by Nationwide. Are there any other schemes for first time buyers? Second question, my plan is to use the house hacking method to save up faster in order to invest in more BTL properties. What’s your advice on house hacking and is it legal, do i need to inform the lender and would that make them more inclined to raise my interest rate? Third question, do I generally need both council and lender permission to change the structure to the house? Such as extension or loft conversion..etc? And how do I go about it.. where do I start? And are there any zone-ing regulations here in the UK as there is in the US? Finally, I am a foreign national here in the UK on a skilled worker visa, I've lived here for just over 5 years including a year in university, my credit score is very low due to the fact that I am not eligible to register for voting! I spoke to the council and they said they can't do anything. Is there anything I can do..? That's the only reason why my credit score is low. Thanks, Ahmed AND Hi Heather, I want to get into property investment but have very little capital. Is there any advice other than save to help buy properties with little to no capital? Your help is much appreciated. Shahid RESOURCES Tips on improving your credit score: Investing basics: Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way: Related post on my website:
Amrita owns a buy to let property and is a renter herself. She has been renting for over a year and wants to buy a home to live in. She wonders if she will have to be pay the extra 3 per cent stamp duty tax on the purchase of her new home. In addition, if she is subject to the extra 3% tax, she asks if she can she avoid it by buying her home through a limited company? That’s what we answer in this short podcast. If you need advice for your own situation, please contact a mortgage broker or personal financial advisor. RESOURCES Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way: Related post on my website:
I always say that if you get nothing else right in your financial life, at least own where you live outright by the time you hit retirement and ideally much earlier. Well that’s not quite right, the other thing you need to make sure of, is that you qualify for the full UK state pension. Currently, when I am 68, for so long as I have 35 qualifying years, I will get £185/week in state pension until my dying day. That’s about £800/month or £9,620/year. This is not an insignificant amount and if you live with someone, i.e. your partner, a sibling or friend, it’s double that as you would each qualify separately. My calculations suggest that if you’re living on your own, that amount of state pension would at least cover all basic utilities (water, energy, council tax) and food. You can check how many qualifying years you have and whether you can boost them here: If you’re self-employed, to qualify for the full state pension later on, make sure you’re signed up to pay Class 2 national insurance and if there are any gaps in your national insurance record, pay for them asap as you can only fill gaps going back 6 years: As the state pension is unlikely to be enough, it’s helpful to contribute towards a personal pension (aka a self-invested personal pension or SIPP) as pension contributions get tax relief such taht every £240/month contribution equates to £300/month into your pension pot. Based on a 7% gross growth rate of your pension pot (and keeping in mind the historic average return of the S&P 500 is 10%) • if you contribute £240 into your SIPP from age 20, you would have £1.6m at age 65. • if you contribute £240 into your SIPP from age 25, you would have £1.1m at age 65. • if you contribute £240 into your SIPP from age 30, you would have £790k at age 65. • if you contribute £240 into your SIPP from age 40, you would have £370k at age 65. • if you contribute £240 into your SIPP from age 50, you would have £155k at age 65. RESOURCES Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way: Related post on my website:
When you’re at one point in your life it’s often nearly impossible to imagine having much more than what you’ve got – or maybe that’s just my lack of imagination – anyhow, in this podcast I recount the steps we went through to move from our £385,000 beautiful terraced home to a £1.1m detached bungalow in the same neighbourhood. We did all this in 2020 but, even as recently as in 2017, when I walked past the homes on the street where we now live, I thought actually living in one of them was pure fantasy for us and at that point, it was. It took getting a proper second income, a stamp-duty holiday and an all-time low 5-year fixed interest rate of 1% to achieve this, oh, and a few consumer loans for a short period. Was it worth it, 100%. One thing I forget to mention in the episode is that one of the key drivers was I saw already expensive properties getting more expensive and mid-priced (like our terrace) to low-priced properties appreciating very little in value or even falling in price – how does that work? I am not sure but I figured there was some kind of bifurcation in the property market with average incomes driving prices on the lower end and something bigger at play with bigger, more expensive properties – they tended to be owned by business people not restricted by average incomes, some people with inheritances and hence large sums to play with and people with much larger incomes…whatever it was, I wanted in. The funny thing is, if we sold our new house right now, we would be in a position to buy our old house mortgage-free AND still have £200,000 to £300,000 in change ALTHOUGH our old house has gone up by about £30-40k! Listen to the episode and let me know if you have questions. My property course on Udemy: RESOURCES Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
If you’re looking for ideas on how you and your partner can split the household bills without arguing about it, I have a few ideas for you. Obviously what you ultimately go for depends on your own specific circumstances, e.g. whether you’re married or in a civil partnership or not in either, employment status, differences in income and personal beliefs, however, you can either: 1. Split bills fairly – this can mean equally, i.e. 50-50; or in proportion to your incomes. 2. Approach finances with unity – i.e. all money earned belongs to the household regardless of who earned it and is managed in a unified way. This can work whether your salaries are paid into personal accounts or a single joint account. This is all food for thought, not advice, if you want advice based on your own circumstances, speak to a personal financial advisor. RESOURCES Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
If you’re over 55 and own your home outright or have significant equity, banks target you for equity release schemes. There are two types: lifetime mortgages and home reversion schemes. With a lifetime mortgage you generally get a loan based on the value of your house and your age – the higher your home’s value and the older you are the bigger the loan you can get. Then, rather than pay interest monthly, compound interest is charged and accumulates without payment until your death at which point your house is sold to pay off the borrowed money and accumulated interest. Most lifetime mortgages have a ‘no negative equity’ clause which means you can lose the full value of your home if you live long enough but no more – there’s a sexy deal if I ever saw one! With home reversion you part-sell your home with a right to stay in it until you die or move to a car home. Typically, the loan is worth far less than the actual value of your home. So, if you own a £100k home you might be offered £30k for half ownership. Any increase in value is also shared 50-50. In this example, if the house doubles in value from £100k to £200k you’re only entitled to half, i.e. £100k. Most people who enter into these schemes are not fully aware of the risks and I don’t believe financial advisors and banks market them in an appropriate way. My personal opinion is that to go from owning your home outright to releasing equity, you introduce a potential stressor to your life that you previously didn’t have. Getting lodgers or letting rooms on AirBnb or even getting a part time job may well be able to address your financial issues more efficiently than releasing equity. Anyhow, in this episode, I talk about equity release. This is all information and not advice. If you need advice on specifics, speak to a personal financial advisor. RESOURCES Call me: B School for Kids and other books: Ask me a question: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
Now, I disagree with Martin Lewis (the founder of on many issues related to debt but on no issue are we more at logger heads than on student loans! Martin Lewis is of the view that UK student loans are not really loans but a form of tax, a graduate tax, in his view…his reasons for thinking this way are based on the way student loans are currently structured. I disagree because viewing UK student loans as a just another tax ignores the following critical issues which are explained in the podcast: 1. UK student loans are not interest free; 2. The repayment threshold can change, so: caveat emptor; 3. Student loans might not be forgiven in the future; 4. Student loans reduce the rate at which you can save, invest and jump onto the property ladder… In the ideal world, student loans wouldn’t exist and everyone could get a tertiary education for free. However, student loans do exist and I think it is helpful to view them as loans and to either avoid them or use them wisely as elaborated in this podcast. RESOURCES B School for Kids: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
There are a lot of apps out there right now purporting they’re the divine intervention you’ve been waiting for to turn your kids into personal finance ninjas…news flash: you can’t delegate teaching your kids about money to an app. The app may be able to relay some basic knowledge but ultimately the best builders of wealth need to only master one thing: their emotions. And, like as not, all the behaviours around money in your house – and yes, not talking about money at all counts as ‘a behaviour’ are all adding up towards what your children will ultimately believe about money and how it ought to function in their lives. This is what financial psychologist Brad Klontz calls money scripts. In addition, we humans are hard wired with certain biases: loss aversion, optimism or confidence bias, the pull of instant gratification, action bias and a bias towards earning rather than saving, to name a few. The money scripts you pass on to your children interact with these biases to determine their future responses, fears, anxities and attitude to their financial affairs. So, now that I have scared the bejesus out of you, what can you do to pass on a more rational approach to money. Well, before you expose them to cash cards or debit cards give them cash – I’m a supporter of making them earn it – then see what they instinctively want to do with it and capitalise on the teaching moments that will bring, and there will be many. My son’s basic knowledge of money acquired through our going through stage 1 of B.School for Money-wise, Wealth-bound kids means we are now having really good discussions about money and his reactions to it. And having heard Brad Klontz on Paula Pant’s Afford Anything and now on Hidden Brain I have bought Money Mammoth (Amazon USA, Amazon UK) and if I enjoy that I will read more of his books. Are you consciously thinking about how your household’s behaviours around money are impacting your impressionable little ones? RESOURCES B School for Kids: Money Mammoth by Brad Klontz Amazon USA: Amazon UK: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#38 What is the one financial goal you would like to achieve in 2021? - Reduced debt? - Increase pension contributions? - Increase pension contributions? - Save more for children? Extract from the "2021 Life and Career Planners", link below" Most people want to handle their money better but they don’t take any steps to improve their financial knowledge. Simple commitment you can make to handle your money better include: • Instead of taking taxis/cabs, I will take the bus whenever possible; • I’ll spend less on makeup by… • I’ll spend less on magazines by… • I’ll spend less on clothes by… • Whenever I want something I’ll wait at least [3] days before I buy it • I’ll spend less on food at work by having breakfast before I leave home and taking sandwiches into work; • I’ll stop leaving the heating / air conditioning on all day and set it on a timer; • I’ll reduce my home’s heating cost by reducing the temperature on the thermostat by [2] degrees; • Our family will eat out twice a week only instead of the current [4] times a week; • I’ll set a standing order on my bank account so that every [20th] of the month [150.00] goes into my savings account. Related resource, get the annual planner: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#37 In this final episode for 2020, find out a little more about me, Heather, the Host of The Money Spot Podcast through an interview that I had with Alex Sapala. For more on Alex Sapala click the link just below. Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#36 In this episode find out what percentage of black people own their own homes and what their pension pots look like relative to other ethnic groups. Further, are the earnings of black people lower than earnings of other ethnic groups? Are black Brits enjoying the same rates of social mobility? What challenges do black Brits face in the job market? All this and more in today's episode. Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#35 Do black children really have challenges that are unique to them? What are those challenges? Find out in this episode: black children are excluded from school at higher rates than other ethnic groups and the evidence suggests it's not because they are actually more naughty or more aggressive - in fact, some research suggests black children have a higher aptitude relative to other ethnic groups going into school and within a year that educational advantage has been eroded. Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#34 D asks: Hi Heather, my name's D I wonder if you can maybe help advise me, I’m hoping to figure out a plan for myself and kids so that I feel secure and I’m financially independent. I wonder if maybe property is something you would suggest. I am in my 50’s, been with my husband since school and married for nearly 25years. We have adult kids who live with us and one is dependent with medical needs. We lived in another country for most of our married life (kids were born there and we all have dual nationality and financial investments and accounts in both countries). We came back to the UK on an expat assignment and are currently still caught in the rental accommodation ‘trap’. I need more control over my life and financial independence to feel secure following a traumatic experience. However, my husband has the career (travelled a lot with his job before the virus) and I’ve been the stay at home mum and carer to our child with medical needs. I went to university but stupidly didn’t continue with a career. Is there any financial advice you can give me that I can use (at my age) so that I can begin to be financially comfortable and independent please? I’d like something that can provide an income and security and am interested in property but don’t know if that’s possible for someone with no knowledge of the UK property market. Thank you for any advice you can offer. Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#33 Ronjoy asks: Dear Miss Katsonga, What is your opinion on Critical illness cover? What are the alternatives (for lump sum payout to cover mortgage or other debts) in case one partner is unable to work? Thanks! Ronjoy Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
#32 Fifi asks about how best to manage her money when her income from month to month fluctuates a lot with some months bringing in just enough for her to get by. She also wonders how best to manage her credit score and to boost her monthly income. Related resource: Ask me a question: Choose a book: Support the podcast: In $: In £: Your way:
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