Luxury LifeStyle – Thrifty £25k-a-year mum dubbed financial Mrs Hinch pays off £800k mortgage
A thrifty mum has been dubbed the ‘Mrs Hinch of the money world’ after saving so much cash that she was able to pay off her mortgage, buy a Range Rover and jet off on posh holidays.
Gemma Bird, 39, who says she has been “saving every solitary penny” since the age of 10, enjoys a luxury lifestyle despite never earning more than £25,000 a year.
The mother-of-two has racked up more than 70,000 Instagram followers in a year as @MoneyMumOfficial. She now shares her daily money saving tips and offers on the social media platform, with Stacey Solomon among her many fans.
Gemma, from Essex, jetted off to Lapland, Mexico, Lanzarote and Dubai in 2019 thanks to her penny pinching ways.
She said: “I live and breathe deals. I don’t care how much money you have, people always love a bargain.
“I’m just a working class girl, but I’m able to afford what I want thanks to how I’ve saved.
“There should be no shame in living frugally, and now is the perfect time, as Covid has made money tips relevant for so many.”
Gemma told the Daily Mirror that she started saving at 10, after her full-time mum and bus driver dad refused to give her more pocket money if she spent her 50p-a-week.
So she topped it up by washing neighbours’ cars and collecting pennies she found on the street.
At school, Gemma, who is dyslexic, sold chocolates to her classmates, and worked as a mushroom picker at 13. By 18, she was earning £12,000 a year and saving £850 a month, while living at home.
She said: “My target was to get to £30,000 by 24. I also paid £6,000 in cash for my first car.
“My then boyfriend was on £18,000 a year and we saved £25,000 between us and bought a two-bedroom terrace in Waltham Abbey for £165,000.”
Gemma, who then worked as an estate agent earning £12,000 a year, still had £10,000 in savings, so her dad went ‘halves’ with her on deposits to buy two more properties.
They each put £3,500 and £5,000 on a £109,000 one-bedroom flat in Walthamstow and a £179,000 three-bedroom in Waltham Cross.
Gemma said: “I rented out the ones I had bought with my dad.
“I ran the finances at home, so every month, I’d overpay our mortgage by up to £300. We rented out our spare room to a student for £400 a month.
“By 29, our mortgage was £80,000.”
In 2011, Gemma moved back home after getting divorced and walking away with £66,000 from the house sale. Working three jobs, she saved £30,000 in 18 months as a driving instructor, a consultant at Halifax and in a pub at the weekend.
She added: “I didn’t drink alcohol. I didn’t go to fancy places – I’d use vouchers for Prezzo and have just as good a time,” the mum said.
“I didn’t go on holiday. Four days a week I would have ‘no spend days’. I didn’t buy takeaway coffee. People think ‘it’s just £5 here and there’ but it soon adds up.”
In 2011, Gemma met her now husband Adam Bird, and they moved into his four-bedroom house in Essex, worth £800,000, where he had £225,000 left on his mortgage. She gave birth to their firstborn, Brody, in 2012 and their daughter Bronte in 2019.
Gemma said: “When I moved in, I paid £100,000 off Adam’s mortgage with my savings.
“I then sold the two other properties, making £130,000, and paid off the rest of the mortgage. I wasn’t able to do this because I’m amazing, or loaded, it’s because I’m careful.”
She said: “I’ve never been overdrawn or missed a payment. I’ve never bought something I can’t afford.
“When I take my children to softplay, I take my own drinks and food. I always check for deals before ordering a takeaway.
“I shop at Asda and go to Iceland and Poundland – and I write a list that I stick to.
“I don’t spoil my children. Before buying them new things, I sell all their old things on eBay.
“I spent £200 on them each at Christmas, and that included putting £100 into a savings account for Bronte.
“These small things may seem not worthwhile, but they all add up – and mean you can afford luxuries in life.”
After being made redundant from Halifax in 2012, Gemma then started her own business BB Lingerie with a friend, both putting in £500 to buy stock.
They ‘learned on the job’ and now the business is so successful Adam has quit his role in sales to work for Gemma full time.
Then last year, Gemma launched MoneyMumOfficial to help others to save money.
She shares money-saving tips and promotes her ‘Gemma’s No Spend Day’ and ‘Gemma’s Make Money Day’ where she challenges her following to sell five unwanted items a week on Shpock, or eBay.
She said: “I wanted to incorporate all the things I do regularly onto my Instagram page. That’s when it started spiralling.
“Every day I receive messages saying, ‘You’re going to be the next Mrs Hinch’ – which is a huge compliment.
“People can still have the things they want, but much cheaper – and you’re better off if the money is sitting in your pocket rather than with a huge business.
“Of course, every family’s situation is different. I can’t say that I can help every single person, but hopefully I can show how I’ve managed to save, and families can use what’s relevant to them.
“I’ve never ever earned a high salary, I’ve never earned more than £25,000 a year. I’ve managed to do all this by doing what I share on my page – and that’s why I want to shout about it.”
Gemma’s top tips for saving include: renting out your driveway, buying loose fruit instead of packaged as it is often cheaper, getting loyalty cards and reward schemes everywhere – even at your local car wash and having a day a week where you don’t spend any money.
Luxury LifeStyle - Thrifty £25k-a-year mum dubbed financial Mrs Hinch pays off £800k mortgage
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