Woman who was left £13,000 in debt saves £4,000 in just six months

Woman whose ‘atrocious’ spending habits left her £13,000 in debt saves £4,000 in just six months by ditching the gym, selling unwanted clothes online and renting out her spare room

  • Verena Hallam, 31, from Lancaster, was spending £400 per month on socialising
  • Said in 2013 she was £13,000 in debt and called her spending habits ‘atrocious’
  • Forced to confront issue after finding she had no disposable income after bills 
  • Began drastically changing lifestyle and managed to pay off her amount of debt 
  • In last six months, the SEO consultant has saved an incredible £4,000 

A woman who was left with £13,000 in debt after splashing out hundreds of pounds each month on drinks and dinners out has revealed how she cleared her debt.

Verena Hallam, 31, who lives in Lancaster and works as a freelance SEO consultant, was a social butterfly who spend £400 each month on going out with friends and partying before the Covid-19 crisis hit.  

Her excessive spending left her in thousands of pounds worth of debt, and she began drastically changing her lifestyle, including ditching the gym and selling old clothes online.  

She paid off the debt in October 2020 but has since managed to put away £4,000 in a savings account, revealing: ‘For me, it’s no longer about being really tight with my money, but making sure that all of my spendings are intentional and not thoughtless or impulsive.’

Verena Hallam, 31, who lives in Lancaster and works as a freelance SEO consultant, was left with £13,000 in debt after splashing out on drinks and dinners out 


After discovering she was thousands of pounds in debt, Verena began drastically changing her lifestyle, including selling out clothes online (left) and ditching the gym and buying a bike (right) 

Meanwhile she revealed she learned how to cook her favourite meals at home instead of going out for lavish dinners with friends 

Verena explained: ‘In 2013, I was in £13,000 of debt and my spending habits were atrocious.’

‘I was at an age where nights out were life and almost all of my socialising happened at bars and I’d spend a minimum of £50 a week on drinks and taxis.

‘It got to a point where I had no disposable income at all after bills and repayments, which was a real wake-up call moment.’

The 31-year-old said the Covid-19 pandemic transformed the way she treated her finances, explaining: ‘During 2020 I got into a new groove with saving because of the new way of life that the pandemic has forced upon us.

During her twenties, Verena said her spending habits were ‘atrocious’ and she would often spend a minimum of £50 a week socializing

After realising she had no disposable income after bills and repayments, Verena said she felt forced to confront her finances 


Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Verena has taken up cooking as a hobby and, instead of ordering her favourite meals from restaurants, will often make them herself (left, and right) 

The 31-year-old uses cashback credit cards in order to make the most of her money and said she earned £900 by switching banks during the Covid crisis 

Verena’s money saving tips and tricks 

SWITCH BANK ACCOUNTS

Verena managed to save £900 in just one month by switching bank accounts – and it took just 10 minutes.

She said: ‘I made use of several different banks’ current account switching incentives to save up £900 towards my emergency fund.

‘The first account I switched to was Nationwide’s current account because they were running an incentive where if you recommended a friend and they switched, you each got £100, so my boyfriend referred me.

‘You could refer up to five friends in a tax year, so I referred five people and made £500, plus the £100 I’d got for switching in the first place.’

Other branches such as Natwest, HSBC, and First Direct also run incentive switches, and Verena recommends checking them out.

CASHBACK CREDIT CARDS

Verena said: ‘With banks offering really low-interest rates for savings at the moment, there aren’t really many opportunities to grow my money passively, so I’m maximising any opportunities to earn cashback instead.

‘I currently have a cashback credit card which I use for all purchases, which earns me 5% as an introductory offer and will go down to 1% after I’ve spent a certain amount.’

Verena uses the card for all of her normal spending and pays it off in full every week via direct debit.

She added: ‘Making extra payments every week helps me to have a more realistic picture of how much money I actually have in the bank at any time.

The super saver also recommends signing up to sites such as Quidco and Topcashback, which alert customers when cashback is available for their online purchases.

DE-CLUTTER AND SELL

Spending so much time at home has prompted Verena to have several clear-outs of her old belongings, which she then sells online.

She said: ‘I’ve made quite a lot of money in the past six months through selling homeware and furniture I no longer loved on Facebook Marketplace.

‘A fiver or tenner here and there has really added up and I’ve made over £200 so far.’

Verena also recommends selling old clothes on Vinted, which allows you to add the money you make to your app balance, meaning you can use it to purchase new clothes.

GET THRIFTY

In a bid to not only save money but also be kinder to the planet, Verena started buying most of her clothes on resale sites like Vinted and Depop.

She said: ‘I’ll often find things that are still brand new with the tags on but for half the price.

‘This has saved me a ton of money, particularly on things like knitwear for the autumn/winter months, which would usually be quite expensive.’

RENT OUT SPARE ROOMS

Got a spare room? Rent it out.

Although this option isn’t available to everyone – especially those stuck in small flats with no extra space – Verena has been able to rent renting out her spare room, which has helped cut costs and build up savings faster.

‘I’ve been renting this particular flat for the past two and a half years, and I’ve been subletting – with my landlord’s permission – for that whole time, until this January,’ Verena said.

‘I let it out to friends at first, and then found my most recent housemate on Spareroom.com.

‘With the pandemic, I feel less comfortable having an extra person coming and going, so have decided to stop letting it out for the time being. I now use my spare bedroom as space to workout while the gyms are shut.’

PAY OFF CREDIT CARDS BUT KEEP SAVING

Being self-employed, Verena’s monthly savings can often fluctuate so she keeps track of them using a spreadsheet.

Although she paid off the debt last year, the thrifty woman didn’t stop putting money away for it, but added this into a savings account instead.

Verena said: ‘I finished paying off my credit card debt in October and I’ve put the amount I used to pay towards that straight into savings.

‘I then only pay myself a set amount each month as if it were a wage.’ 

 

‘Because I can no longer go out for lunch or meet my friends for a drink I’ve saved a lot of money by force, but I’ve also found that it has been easier to save in other areas too with a few habit changes.’

During one of her best months, the supersaver was able to save £900 after switching bank accounts and earning £600 by referring friends to the same bank.

Meanwhile she has come to rely on cashback credit cards in order to stretch her pennies a little bit further.  

Spending so much time at home has prompted Verena to have several clear-outs of her old belongings, which she then sells online.

Spending so much time at home has prompted Verena to have several clear-outs of her old belongings, which she then sells online

Meanwhile she regularly takes advantage of free or cheap meal trials, including a trial for a Simply Cook box for just £1 (pictured) 


Verena often buys budget skincare dupes of some of her favourite products which she says are a great saving (left) and only buys second hand clothing (right, a second hand coat) 

Verena Hallam paused her gym membership at the start of the first lockdown last March, and has been using the spare room into a space to work out

She said: ‘I’ve made quite a lot of money in the past six months through selling homeware and furniture I no longer loved on Facebook Marketplace.

‘A fiver or tenner here and there has really added up and I’ve made over £200 so far.’

Verena was able to save extra cash by cooking at home and used the lockdown to learn how to make her own favourite sushi recipe.

Meanwhile she also swapped an expensive gym membership for bike rides with her boyfriend.   

Verena Hallam loves reading so she bought a cheap Kindle a few years ago, and now she waits for 99p deals on popular books

She has even managed to find dupes of her favourite expensive skincare products, saving her even more money. 

Verena now spends £300-400 a month on food, fuel and any household bits. Anything else on top is budgeted for.

Getting back on track with her finances has drastically improved Verena’s life but she still makes sure to treat herself every now and then. 

Thanks to her super saving skills, Verena has also managed to source out budget holiday deals and recently enjoyed a trip to Cologne with a pal, spending just £10 on flights.  

The super saver added: ‘Having spent years spending impulsively and six years living pay cheque to pay cheque, and cutting out all non-essential spending completely to undo the damage, I now have a healthy relationship with money. 


Verena has even been applying her super saving to holidays, and managed to take a trip away to Cologne for the weekend for the price of just £100 after finding £10 flights online 

Verena and her boyfriend enjoyed a week long holiday to Crete in 2019, spending less than £200 each while they were there

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