Super-saver mother pays off £21,000 in just eight months

Super-saver mother reveals how she cleared her £21,000 debt in just 8 months by working seven days a week and ditching takeaways and trips to the hairdresser

  • Ruth Taylor, 42, from London, felt financially crippled with £21,000 in debt 
  • Vowed to make changes after buying first home left bills spiraling out of control 
  • Made drastic changes to tackle debt, including working seven days a week 
  • Mother cut out non-essential services, including hairdressing appointments 
  • Writes monthly budget and meal plans while taking surveys to make extra cash
  • Said family made ‘huge sacrifices’, explaining: ‘We don’t go out a huge amount’ 

A mother-of-two has shared how she paid off £21,000 of debt in just eight months – revealing her top tips for others hoping to do the same.

Ruth Taylor, 42, from London, runs a dog-walking business with husband Thomas, 52, but was left stressed and anxious after buying their first home in March 2018 saw them spiraling into thousands of pounds worth of debt.  

The mother-of-two vowed to make changes to their life immediately in order to pay it off, working seven days a week and cutting out non-essential shopping and services, including trips to the hairdresser.   

Ruth became ‘obsessed’ with getting rid of the debt but said the family ‘made huge sacrifices’ to clear the debt in less than a year, explaining: ‘We don’t go out a huge amount. We tend to take the kids to places that are free – e.g. parks, woods etc.’ 

Ruth Taylor, 42, from London, has shared how she paid off £21,000 of debt in just eight months – revealing her top tips for others hoping to do the same 

The mother-of-two said she and her husband were never worried about money before realising the extent of their debt.

She explained: ‘Before becoming a savvy saver our spending habits were terrible, if we saw something we liked, we bought it even though we couldn’t afford anything.

‘My husband and I never even thought about it – we just bought it.

‘We had a car on finance and never even thought that it might be a better idea to try to buy a car with cash. We thought everyone bought their cars on finance.’

Ruth became ‘obsessed’ with getting rid of the debt but said the family ‘made huge sacrifices’ to clear the debt in less than a year

One of the methods the mother-of-two used to clear the debt involved putting away a small amount of money each week to save for big events such as Christmas 

She continued: ‘It left me with sleepless nights.

‘We got into debt as soon as we moved into our first home. Our boiler broke on the day we moved in and we had to take out a credit card to finance another one.

How Ruth tackled £21,000 in debt in less than a year  

Extra income over eight months:

  • Surveys: £330
  • Matched betting (tax free): £8,000 approx
  • Extra dog walking work and pet sitting: £7,200


Bill savings over eight months:

  • Cut Netflix: £64
  • Negotiated car insurance £200
  • Buying second-hand clothes £100 (‘We don’t usually buy many clothes anyway’)
  • Supermarket swaps £800
  • No hair cuts: £320
  • Cheaper home ins: £192


Selling things from around the home

Coffee machine, guitar, old hoover, kids toys, books, music bits approx £3,500

Overall total approx: £21,000

Planned spending: 

  • Wrote budget lists at the start of the month
  • Wrote out meal-plans for her family – per month 
  • Used ‘sinking funds’ to set aside money each week

‘We furnished the house on credit as we had spent every penny we had on the deposit for the house.’

She explained: ‘Eventually, we had put so much on credit cards that our monthly payments were so high, leaving us struggling to pay our bills.’ 

Ruth and Thomas were shocked at the amount of debt their frivolous spending habits had left them with and whipped themselves into action to wipe it.

They started by increasing their income, working seven days a week and doing additional work online in the evenings. 

Ruth said: ‘Thomas and I took on more work, often working seven days a week.

‘We run our own dog-walking business so this was quite easy to do.

‘I also started doing work online in the evenings when the kids were in bed.

‘I signed up to survey sites and completed as many surveys as I could and I started matched betting, which made a huge difference to our monthly income.’

Then, they reviewed their spending – cutting out anything non-essential. 

She explained: ‘We went through our bills and cut out all non-essentials and negotiated better prices for the others.

‘My husband started cutting my hair to save on spending money at the hairdressers.

‘We got clothes second-hand for the most part.’

In addition to this, Ruth, who still follows the saving regime despite having paid off the debt, began to write budget lists at the beginning of each month.

Ruth said: ‘I write out a budget each month and can see exactly what we will have left at the end of the month.

‘This means that I am able to transfer a decent amount to our saving accounts each month.’

She swaps non-branded items at the supermarket and the minor change has made a big difference. 

As an example, changing the family’s favourite brand of soy milk saves them £408 a year alone. 

She continued: ‘Buying non-branded items makes a huge difference to our budget.

Ruth began suffering from sleepless nights as she grew increasingly concerned about the family’s spiraling debt 

The couple, who run a dog-walking business, began increasing their services to seven days a week in order to earn more 

‘Our grocery bill used to come in at around £650 each month. Now it can be as low as £300. For example, a well-known branded soya milk costs £1.40 per carton.

‘I buy Aldi’s own brand soya milk for 55p. We use approximately 10 cartons per week as a family.

‘Before, I shopped at expensive supermarkets just for convenience.

‘It did not occur to me that I could actually save money on our food bill by shopping elsewhere.

The mother-of-two has also ditched non-essential services, and even recruited her husband to cut her hair in an effort to save cash 

Rather than spending her hard earned money at the salon, Ruth’s husband Thomas now cuts her hair for her 

‘I never had a meal plan so would end up in the supermarket at least four times a week.

‘We would also order takeaways when I was too tired to cook.’

To keep control of her family’s other expenditures, Ruth uses ‘sinking funds’ – setting aside money every week for big events in the future, such as holidays and tax bills.

Ruth has been able to save an incredible £300 a month by ditching the branded products and building a meal plan to help during trips to the supermarket 

Before she began supersaving, Ruth would shop in expensive supermarkets out of convenience but now saves money on the food bill by shopping elsewhere

The mother-of-two said she ‘never had a meal plan’ before she began supersaving, but now meticulously writes down a shopping list and buys non-branded products to save money

The mother-of-two also ditched takeaways and spent her cash at the supermarket in order to save more overall 

Ruth said creating a meal plan each week allows her to manage the amount the family spend at the supermarket 

Ruth said: ‘I discovered sinking funds quite early on in our debt repayment journey but I wanted to pay off our debt before I started my own sinking funds.

‘Sinking funds are simply a manageable way of saving for something coming up in the future.

‘For example, we saved £14 per week last year for Christmas, giving us £800 come December.

‘This saved us from having to find a large amount of money at Christmas, or even worse – borrow money for gifts.

The family use ‘sinking funds’ to save for larger events such as Christmas by putting away a small amount each week 

‘I have sinking funds for our tax bill, car and van repairs, car insurance, school uniform, holidays, school trips.

‘We recently had to purchase a new boiler, costing £2,300.

‘I knew the boiler was on its last legs so I started saving small amounts well in advance, which meant I had the money waiting when it did eventually die and didn’t have to put it on credit like before.

‘I just work the sinking funds into our budget and the money comes from our wages.’

Despite saving a remarkable amount of money, Ruth said her family have had to make ‘huge sacrifices’ and haven’t been on holiday abroad in eight years 

Ruth credits her thrifty saving habits with completely overhauling her life and now shares her advice on Instagram, where she has over 7,000 followers, and her website.

She also has a money-saving blog where she offers free, printable budgeting materials.

Ruth said: ‘Becoming a savvy saver has turned my life around.

‘I have gone from being constantly stressed and anxious to feeling in control of my finances safe in the knowledge that if any sort of emergency happens, I will be able to deal with it.

The mother-of-two writes down any money spent each month to keep track of how much the family can save 

‘I can cover my bills and save money each month – something I never thought I’d be able to do.

‘In order to save this much money, we have had to make huge sacrifices. 

‘We haven’t had a holiday abroad for almost eight years though we have saved for one but I love being a money saver. 

‘I hate to feel like I’m being ripped off and love to get a bargain.

The mother-of-two meticulously writes down each expense each month in order to save as much as possible 

‘I have made some wonderful friends in the Instagram debt-free community too. I get messages from people daily, thanking me more giving them hope.

‘They can see how bad our debt was and how we managed to dig ourselves out.

‘It is the best feeling in the world knowing that I am giving people hope.’ 

Ruth’s top tips for saving money 

1. Go through your bills and cut everything that is not essential (gym membership, magazine subscriptions, TV, and music subscriptions). This is not forever – just until you are debt-free

2. On bills you can’t cut, call your provider and negotiate. Don’t be afraid to leave. There is so much choice out there.

3. Shop at budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl and buy own-brand food.

4. Create a meal plan. Make a shopping list from your plan, take that list shopping with you and stick to it!

5. Try to increase your income – take on a part-time job or increase your hours at your current job. Think about taking on a side-hustle such as completing surveys online.

6. Make a budget! This needn’t be difficult – money coming in and money going out. You need to know where your money is going.​

7. Shop at charity shops for clothing. I’ve found some great bargains recently.

8. Switch to a SIM-only deal for your mobile. When my contract ended, instead of upgrading my phone I kept my phone and got a SIM-only deal for just £8 per month. This gave me more data and also saved me around £25 each month.

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