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 Jane, from Shoestring Cottage, to tell me about her blog.

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

I started my blog as a way to keep myself accountable. I was newly divorced, a single parent on a part time wage and I needed to be as frugal as possible. I took a lot of inspiration from other money saving bloggers and thought that maybe I could write about what I was learning.

What was your first ever blog post?

Most of my initial posts were a bit rambling! It was just an intro I think, although it was 10 years ago!

Funny you say that. I think we all cringe a bit when we look at our first blogs that we have since enhanced. The more you do, the better you get – same as everything.

What is your favourite / most popular post?

A post that is ever popular is Aldi vs Lidl: which is the best discount supermarket? 

I can see why and it’s a great blog. Aldi beats Lidl for me, least of all because they don’t use self-service checkouts which never really work well for me.

The Aldi dupe candles are a big problem and a fire hazard. Aldi refuses to address despite being approached by a freelance journalist who had one explode in her lounge. A cursory Google search has found other cases too, which inspired me to write about Aldi exploding candles and your consumer rights.

My favourite frugal recipes page also gets a lot of views and seems to be a resource people like to use.

There are some easy to follow and great recipes there. I will have to try one or two of them instead of relying on the same repertoire I rely on week in, week out the same as most people.

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

Yes – I got one outside the chemist by my GP. I didn’t realise it was permit holders only! Annoying but I paid it straight away before it went up.

Fair comment. Annoying though, as you say. We can’t park anywhere we want to, although it’s worth bearing in mind that the signs need to be clear and visible day and night to give you sufficient guidance to make an informed decision. Illegal signs = illegal fines.

What’s your biggest money failure?

I was pretty much financially illiterate until my divorce. I just wasn’t interested as long as we had enough to get by. Now I wish I had been taught about money from an early age. I would have saved, invested and paid my mortgage off as soon as I could. Better late than never!

This is something that schools need to focus more on instead of testing kids to death on meaningless topics such as algebra. Better late than never and we all learn the hard way, but things could and should be done differently particularly on financial education.

What’s your biggest money success?

With the help of my partner, Justin, we have finally paid off the mortgage. I manage my money really well now. I have to – we aren’t rich, but we are debt free.

That’s great to hear. I was mortgage free at the age of 43 and overpaying each month makes an incredible difference long-term. What you don’t have, you don’t miss. Traditional values of saving up for something have long gone in the advent of easy credit, which will ruin future generations.

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

Occasionally. I let minor stuff go but if I am paying for something that’s not up to scratch, I will make a complaint.

It’s always about the principle for me. We put up with any old rubbish in this country and we are generally too complacent and reluctant to make a fuss. Many consumers are not aware of their consumer rights and I believe that some firms deliberately train their staff to play on that instead of being honest and play the long game to encourage customer loyalty.

It’s something that I am passionate about because we work hard for our money and too many people are losing out as a result.

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 haven’t. Until recently I worked for the local authority and know how cash strapped, they are. Unsurprisingly they pay as few as possible. I’m quite good at dodging them, but if my car suffered damage I would give it a try.

Again, it’s about the principle with me. The Councils have a statutory and legal obligation to maintain the roads to a satisfactory and legal standard.

You have to ensure that your vehicle is MOT’d each year for the same reasons.

If the potholes were repaired properly there would be more money available for more repairs instead of revisiting the same potholes and botching them.

Claims handlers are using tried and tested tactics to discount legitimate claims which is completely unacceptable and I have shone a spotlight on this in various regional newspapers including the Sunday Post and Edinburgh Evening News.

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

Sara at Debt Camel is so knowledgeable and her site is brilliant. She has also been really helpful to me personally with the techie stuff on my blog.

The sheer scope and knowledge of the blogging community is phenomenal. It’s power in numbers and collectively we can make a difference based on the niches we own and sharing our expertise. Like you, I also appreciate the support I have had from Sara and others in our sphere.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I can draw one of my pensions at 60, so that will take some work pressure off. However, I enjoy blogging and writing, so I expect I will continue to do that anyway. I hope we can buy a camper van and get exploring more though!

I have my heart set on buying a motorhome too. Being able to travel anywhere and have your home with you to write, relax and explore is the attraction for me.

Thank you once again Jane for sharing your story with me. I loved your answers and it’s great to see what you have achieved from your blog as well as the inspiration behind it.
I love your website and the frugal theme throughout (it resonates well with me living in Scotland!). There is plenty of good content there that people can connect with and frugal living and sustainability is something we all need to implement.

Have a look at Shoestring Cottage and see for yourself.

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