Hey Lucy! Tell us a bit about you…
I’m Lucy Tobin, an Evening Standard journalist, author and a mum of two – my kids are aged two and four. Most of the time, I work from home, and mainly write during nap times, late into the night, and when I have a few hours’ of childcare – only my eldest is at nursery. I’m lucky enough to live near my parents, who help out a lot, as do my in-laws. My boss is incredibly understanding about the family/work juggle. But I do a lot of business interviews with CEOs – and if someone I’ve been chasing suddenly says they can meet, but only in two hours’ time in W1, I have to be there sharpish – so the flexibility of Bubble comes in really handy. I’ve also written seven books – my most recent is Being An Adult, although I regularly don’t feel like I am one! It was published last summer, and I have just co-launched a brand-new money website, ShowMeTheMummy.com…
What’s the idea behind Show Me The Mummy, what inspired you to set it up?
A friend, Jo, and I are both financial journalists and mums of two; we kept meeting up – mostly at mutual friends’ kids’ birthday parties, and we’d laugh how when anyone found out our job, they’d always ask the same questions. Where should we put our Junior ISA money? Do I need to do something to my National Insurance when I’m on maternity leave? What money-saving ideas do you have for childcare?
So we decided to pool all our knowledge – including more than 20 years’ experience writing about personal finance – to set up Show Me the Mummy, a financial info resource for parents. It’s realistic stuff: we’re not extreme savers who are going to tell our readers to eat Supernoodles for a fortnight to save cash… You’ll all-too-often find us in Waitrose with bulging baskets. But we are dishing up loads of practical and realistic hacks that will leave parents feeling a whole lot better about their money situation.
What are your three best money-saving hacks for Mums?
With a newborn, you need a brand-new cot mattress but that’s it. You can get such amazing deals on beautiful, barely-worn or often even brand-new yet pre-owned baby clothes, prams, toys and more on local selling sites like Facebook (we like this best because you can stalk the owners and check you’re happy to uby from them!), or Gumtree/eBay etc.
Nap-time and feeding times when you’re usually browsing Instagram etc on your phone can easily become lucrative times when you can make money via side-hustles like online market research, renting out your spare items, flogging old phones, etc. We’ve got a ton of ideas in this post.
When you’re on maternity leave, or back at work and baulking at the cost of childcare, and think you’ll never be able to build up any savings again, use a microinvesting app. These – like Chip or ones hosted by new banks Monzo and Starling – transfer money without you even noticing. So if you buy a snack for £2.80, they’ll round it up to £3 and move the extra 20p to your savings account. Little amounts quickly add up and as parents we need to think of our future finances and building up a nest egg.
What’s the biggest/most talked about money-related issue you think mums face?
The crippling cost of childcare. But there’s something that we should be talking (and planning) for a lot more – pensions!
How do you balance work and family life? Has it been easy, what’s helped?
It’s never easy – on top of work commitments and family life, there’s what a friend calls ‘brain confetti’ – all the stuff parents (very often just mums) need to organise and think about, and it’s non stop. The present for that kid’s birthday party on Sunday; the new summer pyjamas; getting to the shoe shop before your kid’s toe emerges from his old shoes; sorting childcare/dinner/a new fridge… All that stuff!
What’s helped? Personally, I have to thank my brilliant boss and I’m so lucky that family members help out with a lot of childcare – and my husband too; he walks in the door in the evening and immediately plays with the kids then gets them ready for bed so I can start my ‘shift’ at my laptop. (Better stop now before it sounds a little too like an Oscar’s speech…)