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My Investing Journey: Rachel Patterson

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I’d love to get a bit more advice on saving for children. We want our daughter – and possibly any more children we have – to have the best possible start we can give them, and we know we have to start now and be consistent. It’s not an area in which I’d like to take many risks, so I’d like some guidance on the products or options which might fit the bill. It might be something as simple as a Junior ISA, which I’ll definitely be investigating sooner rather than later.

Our daily expenses have changed considerably since having a child. My husband works in advertising in East London, so he makes good money – about £65,000 a year – and I’ll be going back to full-time work (I work in recruitment) at the end of the summer. Together, our annual household income is close to £150,000, plus bonuses. Even so, we used to spend a lot at weekends on things like going to the cinema or for dinners out. That’s changed – now we tend to spend money on things we can do as a family, like brunch instead of dinner, and we’ve also learnt to make the most of things that are free, like going for long walks by the river. 

Life in Chiswick is more relaxed. When I was younger, I rented a flat in central London, and there was far more pressure to be out in the evenings and at weekends. You always felt like you had to keep up with all the fun your friends seemed to be having. These days, we’ve moved out a bit – not so far that we don’t have everything London has to offer on our doorstep – but weekends are a quieter affair, often spent with other parents and families who live in and around the neighbourhood. 

At some point, we might like to move up the property ladder. Right now, our house works well for a family of three, and we could squeeze in four. But if we have three children, we’d probably have to move somewhere bigger. It’s something my husband and I talk about already – but it’s a long-term goal, and for the time being, our priority is finding our new financial rhythm as parents of a one-year-old. We’re also aware of the size of our current mortgage. Debt is something I take really seriously – I always have – so I’m determined to pay a good chunk of it off before we consider moving. 

I wouldn’t say I feel totally financially comfortable yet. Our standard of living is good, but I value my career and I’m aware I’m the main breadwinner – so I know I need to find the right balance to be a successful working mother. I’m proud to say I’ve acquired some good financial knowledge over the last few years, but I’d now like to capitalise on that knowledge the best I can, especially for my children’s sake. 

There are some things I enjoy spending money on just for myself. They’re not things that overstretch us by any means – I’m talking mainly about my SoulCycle membership and regular facials and nail appointments – but they do make me feel good. Having something that feels like mine definitely makes me happier and more productive – so really, we all benefit. 

If I do invest more, I’d like to find a service that feels unique and personal to me. By that, I mean I’m happy to track things day-to-day online – I’m already familiar with online banking and apps – but it would be helpful to know there’s a real person at the end of the phone who’s happy to help me when I need it, especially as the economy is in a real period of transition right now. I’m aways happy to stick with a bank or a service that I feel is serving my needs well, but I’m also happy to switch if things aren’t working for me or my family’s future.