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Penelope Whitson

DIY or call in the experts? Sometimes there’s a cost to being cheap

Saving money and cutting corners is a thoroughly enjoyable way to pass the time, not only for the cash you get to keep but for the smug feeling of satisfaction at having outfoxed the system. Unfortunately sometimes corner cutting backfires. Our Scrooge-like urge to save a buck by doing something ourselves, instead of paying an expert to do it properly, actually costs us more – not necessarily just in money, but in time and effort. This makes me feel most…

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How to lose interest in presents (yes, it can be done)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that birthdays require delicious cake with lashings of icing and a complete lack of regard when it comes to calorie intake. However, it is a fib, unfortunately universally acknowledged as a truth, that birthdays also require presents – the rationale being that the more expensive the present, the more you love or admire the recipient. I have pondered this matter deeply, and after accidentally smashing my annual presents budget in six months, I have…

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How we grew our savings while shrinking our liquor cabinet

This year we paid someone to stalk us for our own financial good. Pippa is our enableMe financial personal trainer and we know she’s always watching what we spend. We also know that we’re going to have justify any shenanigans if we go too far over budget because when we met Pippa in April we agreed to: set savings targets set budgets for everything, including the pub set up joint bank accounts write wills use a programme to track our…

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Woman tramping
How to enjoy life without annihilating your bank account

While we’re all a bit caught up in election fever and trying not to engage in full-on fisticuffs with people who don’t share our political views, we need a bit of light-hearted, affordable fun. And not the sort of good times that involve ordering small but vomit-inducingly costly meals at painfully hip cafes. I mean activities we can actually afford and not feel shame about years from now when we’re explaining why the culinary choices of yesteryear mean our children…

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Worried lady looking at devil and angel
Let’s play Pantry Survivor – are you committing the seven supermarket shopping sins?

Because I’m both a procrastinator and a multitasker I recently found myself avoiding work by cleaning the pantry while listening to a recording of the Hobbit. Unfortunately, owing to my overactive imagination, as I cleaned and found packets of things I don’t remember purchasing, I could hear the small but persistent voice of Gollum quietly hissing: “What has it got in its cupboards, hmmm?” I don’t want to admit to Gollum that we have eight different kinds of flour. “Is…

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Woman reaching her goal
We road-test a financial personal trainer. It’s just like the gym, only with less active wear

Question time: do you flash, or do you stash, your cash? Or do you mix it up and go both ways? Although we’re trying to save, we realised recently the dollars aren’t mounting up like we’d like them to be. So, in what might appear to be a counterintuitive move, we decided to pay to get financially fit. Yes, that’s right. We got a financial personal trainer from enableMe. It’s just like the gym! But with less active wear. Show…

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Regrets, I have a few – mostly related to my holiday spending

Do you find yourself wallowing in post-holiday financial regret each January? Wonder how you managed to spend so much money yet have so little to show for it? Maybe you’ve gone so far as to regret buying gifts for family members you don’t even like. Excellent! Me too. Let’s fix it. Fear not, I’m not going to tell you to just set a budget in 11 months and stick to it. I know that’s not how the festive season works.…

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Friends holding wine glasses
Never drink your rent (and other sensible life advice)

It can be a dry old topic, personal finance, and it can sometimes inspire feelings of sadness due to one’s lack of savings, which is why I used to imagine it might be more fun to work in in banking pocketing ludicrous bonuses for throwing around other people’s money while sustaining a truly ludicrous social life possibly due to illicit substances. Unfortunately, I have since worked for a bank and I didn’t once get to roll around in piles of dosh…

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I checked my credit report (and you won’t believe what happens next!)

I got asked for ID last week at the supermarket and I was shamefully delighted about it, earning me the disgust of the very young checkout assistant. And while she might be in need of an eye check, once I stopped waving my ID in her face with glee it occurred to me that she probably thinks I am just a sad old lady eying up forty. While this might be true, I don’t miss my twenties. I might miss…

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