‘Working hard now and relaxing hard later sounds good to me’ | Money

I’ve always been a pretty good saver. I started selling things while I was at a state boarding school in Kent. My parents would load me with food at the start of term because school meals were so bad and I’d hoard it until everyone else ran out, then I’d sell them mine.

I even started selling hot food. I would microwave jarred frankfurters and stick them in a roll with ketchup and dried crispy onions. People couldn’t get enough of them.

I started working in the summer holidays from the age of 14. At 16, I had three cleaning jobs and did weekend work, such as babysitting, which took up about 14 hours a week on top of school. At university, I worked in bars and distributed flyers. In the holidays, I would work 16-hour days at corporate events. The longer you worked, the more tips you collected. I saved everything I earned because I wanted to run my own business and, although I wasn’t sure what that would be in, I knew it would take capital to get started.

By 23, I had saved enough for a deposit on a house. My partner and I searched the south-east for a property for £150,000, which was all we could afford, and, in 2013, found a dilapidated two-up two-down for £155,000. It took us two years to renovate as we kept running out of money and had to wait for our salaries each month to continue. We spent about £20,000 renovating and, in 2015, sold it for £265,000.

We used the proceeds to buy a one-bedroom cottage for £215,000, then decided to set up a interior design business. We gave up our jobs and I focused on the business, while my partner renovated the cottage. Four months later, we had our first clients and had transformed an unloved one-bed into a chic two-bedroom holiday home, increasing its value to £300,000.

Since September, we have let it out on Mulberrycottages.com and, on average, we gross £1,450 a month. The biggest sacrifice was that we had to move in with my parents. But during the low season, if there are no bookings, we move back into the cottage. We bought another property last November, which we are renovating, and have just had an offer accepted on what will be the next project after that. The aim is to build a holiday-let portfolio that generates a comfortable income.

Renovation work on the house we bought in November has taken a back seat, as things have been busy in the interiors business, which turned over just short of £500,000 in its first year. We each take £8,000 as a salary and invest the rest.

Between the houses and the business, it’s been 24/7 the past couple of years, so there’s barely any time for ourselves. I have never been one for having lots of stuff. If I want a new outfit, for example, I’d probably sell something I own, partly because I hate clutter and partly because I want only what I need. We run two cars for work, but get business miles expensed and I cycle whenever I can. We are lucky that we don’t have to pay rent to my parents, although we contribute about £300 a month to food bills. I haven’t been on holiday for two years, but we both turn 30 soon and intend to get a better life balance. It will be hard to commit time and money to leisure because it’s not something that comes naturally to me.

I once read an article titled “Work hard now, relax hard later”. It was all about working really hard when you are young, saving every penny and making enough money to retire in your late 30s or early 40s. It sounded good to me.

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