My friend Polly, whom I've known since university, has always been extremely frugal and good with money. I've asked her to contribute some guest posts, beginning with the subject of vegetable growing. In the meantime, I've interviewed Polly about her money habits.
Q -You've always been careful with money; where did you learn to be so?
A- I learned the value of money quite early on through the influence of my parents who had a strong belief in the need for responsibility when dealing with money. I remember having to save up for a tape recorder at the age of 13 and appreciating it all the more because I had had to choose to save my pocket money rather than spend it on magazines or sweets.
Q-What do you most dislike spending money on?
A- I find it incredible how much money goes on utilities, insurance etc. I could probably save money by shopping around more, but constantly changing deals and limited time mean I feel I'm always playing catch-up.
Q-What do you enjoy spending money on?
A-This is easy - holidays. I wouldn't say I'm a big spender, but I enjoy making the most of my time off work and love trips to interesting places such as Syria and Russia.
Q-Do you have a top money-saving habit?
A -Until a couple of years ago, I used to record everything that I spent, cash or electronic payment. I'd then regularly review what I was spending money on, which meant that I could target areas for savings if I felt I was spending too much on eg clothes or nights out.
Q-What has been your biggest financial challenge so far?
A -I think my biggest challenge was being a student - really having to count every penny as I didn't have a huge amount of savings. That said, this was before tuition fees, plus I was lucky enough to get a grant - I find it sad that these days students start their adult lives with the expectation that it's normal to be in debt.
Q-Do you have any financial goals that you are prepared to share with us?
A-My big goal is to pay off my mortgage - I recently calculated that I should be able to do this by 2015. Then I'll be looking to enhance my pension arrangements (not that I'll be needing them for some time yet!).