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Great money lessons

Content supplied by Barclays 

LessonsIt's hard keeping on top of the family finances when you're juggling parenting, work, domestic labour and the slings and arrows of family life, so Barclays asked five successful women to reveal the financial pearls of wisdom they swear by.


Livia Firth, co-owner of Eco Age and co-founder of the 12 Degrees of Ethical Fashion project: "Small savings make a big difference."

"The best money lesson I learnt was from my mum, who bought energy-saving light bulbs when I was 12. It was 1981 and no one even knew what they were! The light bulbs were a money-saving gadget rather than an environmental issue for her, but it was the beginning of my 'eco' upbringing. We went from a family of four, to a family of six, as my mother became unexpectedly pregnant with twins at the age of 39. My parents had to change house, car, everything, as there was only my dad's salary coming in. My mum always cooked fresh meals and we never ate takeaway food or ready meals. She also reused everything and passed down our clothes from sibling to sibling. It's amazing what a difference that makes to a family budget!"

Michele Hanson, author and Guardian columnist: "Trust in property."

"My father always told me to buy property. So I did as I was told, saved up and with a little help from him, bought a house. That was over 30 years ago when houses didn't cost half the Royal Mint, and you could, if you were lucky, do without a mortgage. A few years ago I sold the house and bought two flats: one for me, one for my daughter. He helped me, so I helped her."

Amanda Ross, joint MD of Cactus TV and creator of TV Book Club: "Don't buy something before you can afford it."

"My parents didn't believe in credit and they taught me that saving for what you want means you can ultimately buy more and get it quicker. It's true! How often have you heard someone say they want a new car but can't get one until they've paid off the loan for their current one? I can buy a new car whenever I want because I always pay upfront for it. I always pay my credit cards off every month, too."

Kate Mosse, bestselling author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre and The Winter Ghosts: "Accept the generosity of friends."

"I have built up my own library of top money tips from learning by example. Foremost of these is to accept support and help - whether it's a mortgage from a bank or the generosity of friends - and to be generous. True generosity comes not from counting the pounds and pence, but rather sharing what you have and hoping that, in times of need, the compliment will be repaid. In my early years as a writer, and at the same time my husband was training to be a teacher, we had two young children, a mortgage and very little else. Almost nothing.

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Friends lent us things, gave us things - a sofa, a TV, use of a holiday cottage - and refused to accept even a sou. We couldn't match them financially but we had lots of people for supper, cooked meals as presents for engagement or birthday parties, and spent hours finding that perfect present for them in a second-hand bookshop or market. Now things are different and we are financially secure, I have great pleasure in being the ones that can pass the same support we experienced down the line. The point is that money is just money. Don't let it run your life."

Deborah Bull, former prima ballerina, now Creative Director of ROH2 at the Royal Opera House: "Plan ahead for change." 

"I didn't take the best advice I was given but I'm passing it on in the hope that it might be helpful to others who are contemplating a new direction mid-career. For dancers, 'retirement' comes sometime between age 35 and 40. There is, of course, little chance of us retiring in the real sense and so most of us go on to start at the bottom again, developing a second career. The advice, from a recently retired ballerina, was to live the final year of your dancing life in the way you will be forced to live the first year of your new life: tubes not taxis, dinner in not dinner out, easy on the shoes and handbags, and so on. If you can put aside half your salary you'll buy yourself a year's subsidy as you start your new career. I didn't do it, but wished I had."

For advice and guidance on everything from starting a business to help with sorting out your day-to-day finances, just pop into your local branch of Barclays and talk to a member of our team.

Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

  • Expert information on starting your own business
  • Family budgeting and saving tips
  • Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos


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Last updated: over 3 years ago