How I Manage My Money: A 61-year old mum-of-three earning up to £1,000 a month upcycling furniture - iNews

In our How I Manage My Money series we aim to find out how people in the UK are spending, saving and investing money to meet their costs and achieve their goals.
This week we speak to Tracy Scales, 61, a mother of three, who lives in Greenwich, London, with her husband and youngest son. A dab hand at creative tasks, skilled furniture upholsterer Tracy uses Airtasker to bring in an income.
Creative work: £800-£1,000
No accommodation costs as we are mortgage-free; Groceries £400-£500; Utilities £111; Broadband £22; Council tax £123; Mobile phone £20; Petrol £40
Total: £716-£816
My husband and I are trying to make the best financial decisions we can in the current climate. My parents were publicans in London and Kent. I didn’t go to university or receive any advice about careers or money matters when I was at school. I became a homemaker in 1987 when I had my first child, and from that point on only worked part-time in clerical roles.
At various times, I worked in the Civil Service, the Imperial War Museum and the Bank of Scotland. However, I always enjoyed being a homemaker and decorated and made all our soft furnishings. Once I had three children, I stayed at home while my husband worked full time.
In 2019, I rented a shop on Woolwich Road, near Greenwich, where I sold second-hand and upcycled furniture. When lockdown happened in 2020, I’d had the shop for about a year, but had to close because of the pandemic and didn’t renew my lease. I am still trying to sell some of the upcycled furniture I created for the shop via my website called Flying Squirrel Creations, but struggle to be visible on platforms such as eBay and Facebook. Shop rental costs in upmarket locations that would suit my furniture are simply too expensive for me.
After closing the shop, my husband and I were unemployed as the business was a partnership between the two of us. It severely affected our income. We both tried to get new jobs but were unsuccessful, so we had to live off the small pot of savings we’d set aside to renovate our home.
Earlier this year, I discovered Airtasker, an online platform where customers post tasks they need doing and can choose from rated, verified people. It has been great and I have already completed a host of jobs via the website, including revarnishing a coffee table, sewing and upholstery work.
Airtasker has been something of a godsend for me, and I like the fact I can pick and choose what tasks I complete and when I work. The prices for the work are usually pretty reasonable, and I can negotiate costs with the task poster before being selected for a job. The income from my creative work comes in at around £800 to £1,000 a month at the moment.
I have a cash savings account with my bank and am not interested in things like cryptocurrency. I also feel that investing in things like company shares is too risky. I don’t really feel that I get a decent return on my savings, which is unsurprising as we are in difficult, uncharted times.
I do not have a pension, as I have never had a secure full-time job or career. However, my husband and I own our home and are mortgage-free. We made some good property purchase decisions after buying our first flat together from the council via the Right to Buy Scheme in 1997. I feel I can be both a saver and spender, depending on my income for the month.
For my mobile, I use a pay-as-you-go service, which I feel offers better value than a contract. I own a Smart car, which is a good option as we are in London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. I had to get rid of my previous van due to the ULEZ charge, but will need another one as my workload increases and my business grows.
I am worried about the rising cost of living, and the price of food and utility bills just keeps going up. It is out of our hands and I feel we are all just victims of it.
In terms of my financial goals, I am trying to grow my business and finish renovating my house, which we started doing before the pandemic struck.
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