Me and My Money: Penelope Holland, budget advisor

Penelope Hoeland
Budget advisor and mum-of-two Penelope Holland is working towards becoming a saver. Photo credit: Supplied.

"I'd love to say I have spare cash but as a single mother of two, I just don't.

"This is something I'm working towards."

Penelope Holland, budget advisor at Whitianga Social Services

Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?

'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make. We also share their biggest learnings from COVID-19.

Newshub spoke to budget advisor Penelope Holland about the financial challenges as a single mother of two, how a budget is helping her save and invest money for the future and the $20 item that's keeping her kids entertained over summer. 

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

I'm currently a spender wanting to make changes to become a saver. 

The tools I've picked up as a budget advisor have made this a possibility. 

Being able to do a budget and cash flow to predict my finances provides a great incentive to save and see what is possible with a bit of discipline.  

2. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?

Like most things in life, I tend to learn best from my financial failures. 

The older I get, I have a better perspective on the future. As I have children, the need to be financially secure is greater than ever before. 

Learning how to manage money has paved the way for a better future. People who are struggling financially can see a local budgeting advisor for tips and support around money management. 

Although I'm a budget advisor, I've engaged with another budget advisor to hold me accountable. I find this helpful: the support is welcomed and the weekly catch up ensures things are on track and moving in the right direction. 

3. Three ways people can cut down on everyday costs?

By having a set budget, holding themselves accountable to the budget and being visual with weekly spending.

Three things that we can often save money on are coffee, groceries and power.

Once people know where their money is going, they can make small, realistic changes. 

For example, rather than ditch weekly coffee dates altogether, change them to fortnightly instead. Invite friends over for coffee or get a reusable flask, take a coffee from home and go out for a walk.

I notice a lot of my money dwindles away on weekly trips to the bakery, cafes and takeaway food - something I'll be cutting back on this year. Stick to a grocery budget, surf the web for cheap recipes and grow fruit and vegetables. 

I also suggest people check the Powerswitch website to make sure they're getting the best deal. 

4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money:

A small $20 paddling pool for my children: we're getting our money's worth! 

The children are spending plenty of time enjoying water play - a great way to entertain them through summer!

5. If you had spare money to invest, what would you invest in?

I would love to say I have spare cash but as a single mother of two, I just don't. This is something I'm working towards.

My parents are big on investing. I'd love to follow suit.

6. Does having more money increase happiness?

I personally don't believe having more money increases happiness, but financial stability does provide a less stressful environment.

7. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

I'm originally from England and my mother regularly shared the adage passed down from her grandfather, 'If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after you'.