Hello! My name is Pete (I’m the one on the right), and I have the pleasure of being a full-time blogger and side hustler. Yes, I get to work from home permanently. But it didn’t come at the drop of a hat and I spent 20 long years as a civil servant. There’s still hope for you yet!
Read on to find out how my journey took me from worrying about debt every day to a new career where I get to spend more time with my family… well, there had to be a downside.
Early life, money and debt
My mum tells me that I was always good with money. When I was five, I would go into a shop and know exactly how much I would have to spend and work out what I could buy to the penny. It sounds like I knew how to party.
By my teenage years, I was obsessed with saving and loved my little Post Office book. Let me quickly explain if you’re under 35. Before the internet, you were given a passbook, which would give you a running total of how much was in your account. Although it was usually printed on, sometimes the cashiers would fill it out by hand.
At 18, I started to work at Sainsbury’s, which I really enjoyed. Spending time with a load of other teenagers and getting paid? Yes please.
Later that year, I went to university. Not because I wanted to, but partly because it was expected and because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. But instead of going away and enjoying myself, I stayed at home, travelled in each day and carried on working. My student loan, I put into an ISA. I must have been one of the few people to walk away from university with quite a bit of money. And no friends.
But I did pick up a slightly unhealthy habit – living in my overdraft. As a student, I could owe the bank as much as £1,500 without paying a penny in interest. And that was the same the year after I finished my degree. So for four years, my bank balance sat at around -£1,000.
After university, the money I had saved was put towards a deposit for my first home with my girlfriend (now wife), Sharon. Because I was used to being constantly in my overdraft, I didn’t bother to clear it, even though I was now paying interest charges. I didn’t see it as a problem.
And why should it be? I started working in the civil service with a decent salary and pension. I could clear it at any time I wanted. Probably.
In November 2011, now a family of four, we moved to our dream home. It was at the very top of our budget, but after receiving some inheritance money we thought it was worthwhile. Things went swimmingly for the first six months. Sharon was a childminder, and as our youngest had reached 18 months old, she could work a little more.
Then the unthinkable happened… In May 2012, Sharon told me she was pregnant! Completely unplanned, not only did we have the added costs of an extra (small) person in the house, our income was cut drastically.
As the months went by, I slowly saw our credit card balance rise. £200 one month, £500 the next, £1,000 the month after. But because I was also in my overdraft (yes, still) I just couldn’t clear it. And then I realised that the payments I made to my card were just about covering the interest payments. Our debt was starting to spiral.
Because I thought I was good with money, I always sorted out our home finances. I didn’t tell Sharon that we had far less money coming in than going out. I thought I was being some kind of hero by not sharing the worry. But let’s be honest, that’s not the best thing to do. Two heads are always better than one.
Time to do something about it
If you’ve ever been in what you see as a considerable debt, I’m sure you’ll recognise that your head isn’t always in the right place. It isn’t easy to put my finger on an exact moment, but I know it reached a point where it was sink or swim. I wasn’t sleeping and I felt I was all alone.
But with access to the internet, there was a whole heap of information to help me through.
My first step was to trawl through forums and various sites to find ways to cut my bills. The fact is, staying loyal to a company usually achieves you very little. So I started switching providers for energy, insurance, broadband and mobile. I found that what took just a couple of hours could save me over £1,000 every year.
Although cutting my bills was a great help, I was still struggling. So the obvious answer was to increase my earnings. Now, I could have picked up extra shifts at work but they could be hard to come by and I didn’t fancy spending more time there than I needed.
So I turned my eye to some side hustles. I could do things in my free time that I enjoyed and didn’t put me under pressure. I spent my time on all kinds of tasks – mystery shopping, surveys, focus groups, matched betting, website testing, transcribing and working as an extra, to name just a few.
After quite a bit of trial and error and a lot of effort, the debt was cleared within a few years. I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt once I reached this point. It was so nice to put my head on the pillow each evening and not spend hours worrying.
With my head in a much clearer place, I thought I would turn my attention to another goal – to stop working night shifts. A little extra money each month would help me achieve it. So this is when I turned to blogging.
A new career
I started my blog in 2016 and shared my money making and saving experiences that I had picked up over the years.
Initially, it did OK and earned me a little money from a passive income. But as time passed, Household Money Saving became more popular and I was having to put more effort into it.
But that effort has been rewarding and has led to me appearing in some major newspapers such as this article in the Sun where I speak about making money, this one from the Mail Online about cashback apps, the Daily Express about how much I make from cashback, some tips to Daily Mirror readers about saving money (also published in the Irish Mirror), advice to Sun readers on beating mobile phone price hikes and speaking to Yahoo News about loyalty cards.
And in 2022, I even appeared on Morning Live on BBC1 and shared tips on making money from surveys.
By the end of 2022, I was making more from my blog than I did from the Civil Service. So I thought now was the time to make the move. I could chuck in the job that I no longer enjoyed, forcing me to work all kinds of shifts and do something I enjoy. Yes, blogging isn’t a safe income compared to my old job, but I can supplement that money with some of the side hustles I mentioned above. And you only live once.
My tips for you
Everybody is different, and what was right for me might not be the answer for you. You might find the idea of blogging boring and have no interest in it. But a side hustle could make a big difference in your life.
Outside of blogging, I managed to make over £8,000 in one year from a mixture of side incomes. These were tasks that anybody could do.
Over 40 years, that works out at a rather stunning £320,000!
Here’s a list of some of my favourite money making posts to help you get started.
- The best paid side hustles
- Surveys for money in the UK
- Focus groups and online interviews
- Make money from blogging
- Work as a TV or movie extra
- Mystery shopping sites
- Tax-free matched betting
- Best ways to make money online
Whatever you choose, I’m sure there’s something for you to enjoy. I’m not promising you can make a fortune, but even a small amount of extra money each month could change your life.
Best of luck!