Welcome to my new guest series where I invite fellow bloggers to write about their blog, how they make money from it and share their top tips and success stories. I would like to give a warm welcome to Jennifer, from Monethalia, to tell me about his blog.

Please tell me about your blog and why you started to blog about money

When I started working towards financial independence, I wanted somewhere to log my progress and show that even ordinary people like me can become financially independent. I am hoping that my readers will feel inspired. Over time, Monethalia evolved into a more general money blog as I was investigating ways to make extra money and save money.

It’s interesting where we find our inspiration from in creating a blog. Mine started when I was writing the first edition of my consumer book and I wanted to showcase my knowledge and expertise in dealing with complaints and motoring disputes.

What was your first ever blog post?

My first post explained the concept of financial independence and how I am aiming to get there. Though it was not very good and I have since merged it with another post.

The more you do, the better you get. My first blog was on speed cameras, which I have since revisited and optimised. It has crossed my mind to merge a few blogs but they are all good in their own right, so I have just linked them together with hyperlinks instead.

What is your favourite / most popular post?

My favourite post is How Much Should You Have Saved by Age because it is the only article, as far as I know, that clearly answers the question and isn’t solely focused on retirement.

That is a cracking blog and covers everything you need to know. Quite thought provoking too. Unfortunately, due to circumstances and a few poor choices, I am not where I need to be for my retirement. It’s something I need to refocus on.

My most popular post is my comparison of OddsMonkey vs. Profit Accumulator. In general, my matched betting posts are more popular than my educational posts about money which is a shame as I much prefer writing the latter.

Matched betting is something I did try last year but I quickly lost interest. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and it appeared to require too much time and effort for the returns. I think the lure of free money and easy wins is common now, rather than actually educating yourself about financial independence.

Have you ever had a parking ticket? Was it deserved?

I drove in the UK for three years and never got a ticket (sold my car last November). I made my licence and first driving experiences in Germany where fines are more expensive. That’s probably the reason I was always really careful with where I parked.

I haven’t had a parking ticket either but I know what to look out for if I do get one! I keep saying that motorists are seen as a soft touch by local authorities and private parking operators, which is why I wrote a book about it to help and educate others to fight back.

What’s your biggest money failure?

When I was 18 my mother who was working for a financial advisor made me sign-up for a private pension. It has a fee of up to 10% and no way to stop making payments until retirement. When I was 21, my mother’s friend who was also my sister’s mentor pressured me into signing-up for a similar pension plan with another company. He told me I would be able to get out of the first one and the second one had much better condition (even though the fee was the same). Needless to say, I could not get out of the first policy and had to pay both.

When I became financially literate at age 29, the first thing I did was cancelling both pension policies. Luckily, for most of the time I had only made minimum payments so I “only” lost about £7,000. The other option would have been to keep making minimum payments until retirement but with a up to 10% fee and a fund that only returned around 4%, I would have lost much more.

I don’t blame my mother as she didn’t know much about money and wanted me to have a good pension as we were quite poor at the time. Still, I won’t trust anyone to make financial decisions for me ever again.

Quite shocking when you look back, but what’s done is done. I have never believed in pensions as there are plenty of alternatives, least of all property.

What’s your biggest money success?

My biggest success is having enough money saved that I could quit my job and still live free of worries for a few years. I love this feeling of safety that I was never able to have before.

Well done! Mine was buying a 1-bed end terraced house in the Isle of Man for £60K in 1999 and bought and sold a couple of times on the property ladder. That enabled me to buy a lovely 1-bed ground floor flat with a sunny garden near Edinburgh city centre outright for £140K in June 2014.

Do you ever complain to get redress and refunds if service or goods don’t come up to scratch?

Yes, I do as should everybody. I work hard for my money and I have no intention of giving it to somebody who doesn’t deserve it.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s the principle for me regardless of the monetary value.

Potholes and the state of the roads are the bane of our lives. Have you ever won a pothole claim? Do you know how easy it is?

No, I didn’t know pothole claim existed. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to do as roads are already in bad conditions and if the money is paid to someone claiming it can’t be used to improve the roads. Then again, an increase in such claims may encourage councils to fix the roads faster.

Again, it’s the principle for me. If the Councils actually fixed the roads properly instead of continually filling potholes to a poor standard, they would have more money available. Councils just waste money, no denying it. 

I won my pothole claim against Edinburgh City Council within 4 weeks and I had a 29% chance of doing so. This is something I flagged with the Edinburgh Evening News in their pothole campaign via a Freedom of Information request.

Which Moneyblogger(s) do you most admire and why?

No one in particular. When I started Monethalia, I looked at most of the Money bloggers’ blogs and took inspiration from them. So in a way, I admire everyone.

There is inspiration to be found in a few niche blogs. Personally, I like Lady Janey simply because Jane has cornered her niche so well with a style all of her own.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Five years is a lot of time, I don’t even know where I see myself next year. I guess eventually, I’ll settle down somewhere but it may not be in London (where I currently live) or even in the UK.

True. So much can change in the blink of an eye, it’s hard to say what you will be doing at any point in time really. 

My life has been consumed by coronavirus so far this year, which is something I never expected. I have written a book and have featured in the local and national media to raise awareness of how debilitating it is. 

That aside, I don’t know where I’ll be either and there will be a lot of people relocating for one reason or another in the foreseeable future. 

It’s great to do a year in review to see what you have achieved and I read yours – what a fascinating read! I shop mostly at Aldi and you really can live well for less. 

You have a great website and ethos.

Thank you once again Jennifer for sharing your story with me. I found your answers interesting to read and it’s great to see what you have achieved from your Monethalia blog as well as the inspiration behind it. My favourite blog was how to live cheaply on next to nothing. 

Your website is great and there is plenty of good content there that people can take something from. 

Have a look at Monethalia and see for yourself.

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