I bought my first house at 29 and now earn a combined income of £ 100,000
In our How I Manage My Money series we aim to find out how people in the UK spend, save and invest money to cover their costs and achieve their goals.
This week, we’re talking to Hannah Martin, 49, co-founder of the Talented Ladies Club. Hannah lives in Worthing with her husband, 18 year old son and 12 year old daughter.
I have always been careful with money, neither of my parents came from wealthy backgrounds, so I was aware of the need to keep an eye on where my money was going.
When I was in college, I got a full scholarship. It was £ 815 per term, student loans had barely arrived. I understood that after paying for accommodation and food I had around £ 10 to spend a week. Of all my friends, I was the one who still had money at the end of the term.
I had studied Fine Arts at the University of Southampton but left in 1994 at the end of my second year.
I then worked for a year in Worthing to save money for a one-way ticket to Hong Kong. I had never been to Hong Kong before but had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I figured if I was to have a crappy job it might as well be an exotic place! And I knew I wanted to do something creative but I didn’t know what.
In Hong Kong, I found a job as a nursery assistant for the editor of an international financial magazine, and decided that I wanted to be a writer, but not a journalist.
My boyfriend at the time was working in advertising and one day I went to his office and felt like I was in fine art school. I liked it; I felt at home there, so I decided I wanted to become a copywriter.
I had no experience or qualifications, but I did manage to get a meeting with an Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather and I was able to find a job – and I loved it!
After five years in Hong Kong, I returned home. I had saved £ 15,000 which I wanted to use as a deposit for a property. I first moved to Brighton and shuttled to ad agencies in London but when I was ready to buy my own house I bought along the coast in Worthing because it was much cheaper.
In January 2002, at age 29, I completed a three bed Edwardian house with my sister. We paid £ 156,000. After four years she wanted to buy her own house, so we took £ 40,000 each.
I then bought another three bed house for £ 192,000. It needed a complete modernization but I bought over my budget so my family helped me work on it. I now rent both houses and live with my husband in a house he bought in Worthing after selling his apartment in Notting Hill.
When I went to London, which I did for eight years, I took out a 12-month loan each December to buy an annual ticket. I did this before the prices went up in January. Loan repayments were always much lower than a monthly ticket would have been.
The idea to create the Talented Ladies Club originated in 2011 when I realized that many of my friends were struggling to resume their careers after having children.
They were, and still are, successful, talented and ambitious women who shouldn’t have had a problem making money in the jobs they loved.
I created TLC with my friend, designer and illustrator Kary Fisher in 2013. I now run it on my own. When I started TLC, I had my two children in a private school. We had grown used to a certain standard of living, but I wouldn’t say we were rich.
Tuition fees were at least £ 14,000 per year. But to pay the fees, I didn’t put any money in my pension. I also saved money on food bills, we spend around £ 250 per month – because I’m cooking from scratch. Also, we didn’t go on vacation and didn’t have a car at the time.
I figured out that until recently I was earning roughly TLC minimum wage. He’s doing well now, but until 2015 he didn’t make any money at all.
Now the income from TLC is going into my pension. I still do writing work for private clients and it pays the bills. I want to turn 70 and not have to worry about money. Currently I have a combined income of £ 100,000 from freelance bits, running TLC and renting out my properties.
The properties that I rent have, in many ways, been much more of a burden than an investment. But I see them as an asset rather than just rent income, so I’m willing to spend the money looking after them.
I still watch my spending, but I certainly don’t worry as much as I used to.
For example, when I went to dinner with friends, I would always choose the cheapest thing on the bill, but split the bill and never quarrel about it, even if someone ordered something much more expensive. . Now I don’t have to look at the bill anymore and I can also order a bottle of champagne from my friends.
I had a good launch recently so I bought a £ 500 Tory Birch handbag. I paid full price, which was a real extravagance for me. Normally I would have looked for a cheaper version but really wanted it so I bought it. I dye my hair with the suggested color and a friend cuts it every 6 weeks for £ 25. I buy most of my clothes from M&S and TK Maxx.
In a good month, I could buy a Versace dress, but I wouldn’t be enjoying it anymore. Buying clothes for me is like a scavenger hunt, so not just so I can spend the most on something. I own a car now, a BMW 1 Series. But I bought it three years ago for around £ 3,000, it’s about 10 years old. Why would I want to spend £ 40,000 on a car? Especially now?
I don’t care if people think I’m rich or poor. I want to be able to buy good wine and share it with friends. There’s no point in being rich if you can’t enjoy things with the people you love. I also get a lot of joy from being able to help unleash people’s potential. Although we started to help moms, we now have a lot of members who are childless and even men.
One of my scarecrows is how women are still exploited like the tiered marketing companies that promise women they can make thousands but the reality is they very often don’t. and end up paying. I guess my mission is to make sure the world really understands the value of mothers and wives.