AS a high-flying young professional Samantha Lawton had an amazing £70,000 a year salary – but three years ago she gave it all up for a quieter life in Cornwall.
The 39-year-old was living in Kent working a gruelling 78 hours weeks as a district manager for a slimming firm.
When she moved the 250 miles home to work as a store manager for a DIY company her salary halved overnight, and she now earns £30,000 a year.
While living at home with her parents Samantha was able to save up to buy a two-bed flat near to her childhood home.
But despite smaller outgoings Samantha is struggling to adjust to her lower salary.
I had plenty of money but no time to enjoy it – and now it's the opposite
Our Cash Clinic expert Holly Thomas helps get her finances back on track and shows her how to save an impressive £7,000 a year, by cutting her insurance bills, renting out her spare room, ditching regular personal training sessions and cutting back on buying clothes and make-up.
Samantha told The Sun: “I had plenty of money but no time to enjoy it so I made a big lifestyle choice and moved back in with my parents in Cornwall where I grew up.
"I needed time to reset and work out what to do.
"Ironically I’m now in a position where I have a much better work/life balance, but I can’t make the numbers add up to enjoy life as much as I would like.
"Since buying my flat, I’ve found it really hard to get a grip on my finances. Each month is a juggling act to ensure I have enough to get by on.
"I haven’t had a holiday abroad in eight years and I am only able to afford one night out a month. I need some help with honing my monthly bills as well as my spending."
Samantha also admits she has a bad habit of frittering away money on clothes and make-up.
Here we reveal how to save Samantha thousands of pounds so she can put money aside for the future and save up for a holiday.
Why we've launched Cash Clinic
THE Sun has launched its new Cash Clinic series because we want to help you, our readers, to save cash.
For some, it's easy to get caught up with work and family life and to put our own finances on the back burner.
While for others, it needs an expert's eye to work out where further cutbacks can be made to already tight budgets.
If you'd like our Cash Clinic expert to review your finances and to feature in our series, please email Holly Thomas at [email protected]
Housing: £371.86 per month
New spend: £71.86 per month
Saving: £300 per month
While she was living with her parents, Samantha was able to save up to buy her first home – a two-bedroom ground floor flat near St Austell for £88,250 – also using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme.
She signed up to a five-year fixed rate mortgage at a competitive rate of 2.04 per cent in January, which means she’s got peace of mind her payments of £290 a month won’t budge.
Her flat comes with services charges of £81.74 a month which is non-negotiable.
But Samantha has a spare room she could use to aid her financial situation.
The government’s “Rent a Room” scheme allows her to let out a furnished room to a lodger, earning up to £7,500 a year tax-free.
While you cannot use a property purchased using a Help to Buy equity loan as a buy to let, taking in a lodger doesn’t break any rules.
If Samantha charged just £300 a month for her spare room then she could effectively cut her housing costs to just £71.86 a month.
Bills: £299.52 a month
New spend: £230.66
Samantha’s home contents insurance is unnecessarily high at £45.99 a month.
A quick search on Gocompare.com shows that she can find a much better deal at £50 for the whole year with Admiral, which gives her £30,000 of cover and a £200 excess.
She could pay the premium in a lump sum and be £41.83 a month better off (based on splitting the £50 saving over 12 months).
A British Gas Home care is costing her £20 a month. This is not an essential product by any means – though she says it provides peace of mind that everything (except plumbing) is covered – albeit with a £50 excess.
If she really wants to keep a package in place she could get a better deal. Another quick search on GoCompare.com shows that a policy with Nova Direct – which also covers plumbing – costs £9.99 a month, saving her a tenner.
Samantha’s line rental, broadband and Netflix are all done through a Talk Talk package which costs £50 a month.
She could switch to a Now broadband deal which comes with 14 entertainment channels – costing £23.99 a month – and buy Netflix separately direct for £8.99 a month and still save £17 a month.
Samantha switched her energy tariff in August and is on a British Gas tariff costing £50 a month, with prices fixed until 2021. A check on Energyhelpline.com shows she’s on a good deal.
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