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Grandmother and granddaughter

My 94 year old gran’s money tips for you

My grandmother is an exceptional woman. At nearly 94 years old, she has been married twice, has three daughters (one of which is my mother), and countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She still lives in the same house she has since 1957, and can text like a maestro. Texting skills aside, she’s learnt a lot about money in the time she’s been around and can teach us all a thing or two.

When we came up with the idea of interviewing gran, I was on board straight away. So, what gems did she have to share?

My gran and I – the money diaries

1.What was money like for you when you were growing up? Do you think your attitude to money started young?

I was lucky growing up because we lived in a government building in the country and we had a little family money, so although we weren’t rich, we were lucky enough to get by.

I’ve always been savvy with my money. I used to keep my pocket money in my purse as a girl and it would stay in there until the purse was overflowing, I didn’t want to spend it. Even my Christmas money used to go into the purse. Then when I was a teenager I opened a savings account with the post office.

When I was 17, war broke out. Money really wasn’t a factor then. The attitude was very different, everyone had to be thrifty. I still don’t really spend money now. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it.  

2.What about when you were my age (I’m 28)? What did your money go on?

I was married to your grandfather Peter when I was 22, which was actually pretty late for the day. I earnt no more than £3-4 a week as a typist, which would’ve been considered a pretty good wage.

I used to control the purse strings at home. We were very short of money at that point, due to a bad investment and we were still renting. I never really budgeted or anything like that. I knew how much money I had and that was that. I have always been good at shopping around though. We used to get a lot of our food at the market and Selfridges food market used to be pretty cheap as well.  

3.When you bought your house, what was the process? How much did it cost you?

I had a council mortgage, and simply paid off the balance of the money every month. I had a deposit of about 10% I think. You’ll laugh at how much the house cost me though - I haggled and had it reduced from £1500 to £1450!

Council mortgages had their own surveyors though, who weren’t very good. People used to be very sneaky, they’d just paper over any damp and hope you didn’t notice when you went to visit. I had terrible problems with damp in the house, and had to re-roof the whole place. The view was so beautiful though.

4.When you got married, did you have a big wedding? Was it different at your second wedding (gran’s first husband died in 1960 and she remarried in 1970)?

My first wedding was in a very small registry office in Oxford. Clothes were rationed back then, but people would save their coupons and spend them on wedding dresses, or make their own. I bought a nice suit, blouse and hat, which didn’t cost me much and I loved them. In the war, you got married when you were on leave, so there wasn’t really the opportunity for a big wedding.

My second wedding was much the same, actually! Again, it was in a registry office and I bought myself a suit and hat. Money was still short. Leonard (her second husband) was divorced, which was expensive and difficult to do back then. We honeymooned in London.

5.What if I told you the average cost of a home these days is around £200,000? And a wedding about £21,000?

That seems ridiculous, but it’s pretty difficult for me to imagine, really – that’s not in the league that I even allow myself to think!

6.How do you think things have changed since you’ve been young?

People are a lot less prepared to go without these days than I was. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a choice – there simply wasn’t the money. In the war, the big phrase when you asked for something when shopping, whether that was food, clothes, furniture, or anything you like, was ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on?’. Essentially this meant that no, you couldn’t have what you were asking for – it wasn’t there, so it wasn’t really worth you asking.

I’ve kept this attitude – I would always rather go without than overstretch myself. Apart from the essentials, you don’t need half of the things you think you do. Don’t get something just to show off, it will backfire!

7.What did you use to spend your money (i.e. cards, cheques, cash)? How about now – would you ever use anything like online banking?

I always used to use cash. I do use credit cards now but I always pay them off in full. I’ve never had any outstanding money, and I would rather go without than have that.

I appreciate that online banking is amazing, but to be honest, when you get to my age, you’re not interested in learning anything new. It’s just one of those things that are a sign of the times. My eyesight is too bad to read a computer anyway.

8.Has anything got cheaper?

Proportionally, yes. It used to be that, once you’d paid for rent and food, there really wasn’t anything left. From the 1970s, charity shops started becoming more popular, which was good.

9.What would be your top money tips?

Really think about what you’re spending money on. For me, the most important thing has always been good food – not necessarily the most expensive, but wholesome. So, I never have butter, I use low-fat olive oil spread. That’s just one example of the swaps I do – I would always recommend spending your money here, and I’m nearly 94 so I must be doing something right. Everything else isn’t a necessity. Look after yourself!

I’m always been independent as well. I’ve worked hard for my money and I’ve always thought ‘if you want money, work for it’. Knowing your money is your own shouldn’t be underestimated.

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  • john lopez / 28 March 2017

    Can I live my money to some body in my family OR shares what is the situetion???