Real-life: from spender to saver

MoneyPlus Features Team

Our regular column asks our 20-something colleagues here at MoneyPlus to talk about their financial lessons and successes. This month, the journey from spender to saver.

Name and job: Zac Mazs, 26, works in marketing at Standard Life.

What’s your money focus right now?

After living in flat-shares and then moving back in with my parents for a while, I’ve just bought a house on my own. It’s just great, I live near my mates and I’m a stones’ throw away from the train station too. I am doing a lot of DIY at the moment and planning to put my stamp on it in the next few months with some new flooring.

How did you save for it?

I had a Help to Buy ISA (Individual Savings Account) which gave me a Government bonus on top of what I’d saved but I wish had taken it out sooner and got a higher bonus. I sold some shares, too, which gave me a lump sum of money.

I also moved back in with my parents for a little over a year and managed to save £500 a month by budgeting carefully and getting rid of my car (which was costing me a lot!) and learning how to say no to plans with friends.

Your biggest money mistake?

Oh, I’ve made more than one. I inherited quite a bit of money when I was 18 and spent it partying in Amsterdam and Kavos, Greece over the course of a couple of years. Much as it was great fun, I really wish I’d saved some of it now.

Like many students, I had an overdraft, as well as some credit card debt. I only really started thinking about paying it off when I knew I was getting close to having enough for a deposit. When I focused my attention on that, it only took me three months to pay. Something else I wish I’d done sooner!

… and your biggest money lesson?

I’m sure I could have managed to save even more while I was living at my parents’ house if I’d been more sensible about it.

When I moved out of my parents’ home to live in Edinburgh, I had to learn how to budget, cook and keep saving to buy my new house.

Now I’m debt free – aside from my mortgage.

Who inspires you when it comes to money?

My mum inspires me because she is so sensible about money and showed me that you can make it go a long way. She never had the highest paying job but managed everything so that my brother, sister and I could have holidays and birthday presents as well as the necessities.

She has stuck to her financial plan and is now enjoying her retirement at 60. My dad has around half a year left before he gets to join her.

How confident do you feel about your finances?

If only school had taught me financial skills before I learned about money, budgeting and debt the hard way, when I was stuck in the middle of it.

I picked up some decent knowledge in my previous job, which helped. Nowadays I pay a lot closer attention to my finances and feel a lot more confident about where they’re headed in the future.

What’s next on the money front?

My next goal is to save up an emergency fund to give me a financial safety net. Six months’ salary would be ideal but it’ll take me a while to get there.

I make sure I save when I get paid so that I can’t spend it.

Any long-term plans?

Being financially independent is my goal so I do have plans.

A Stocks and Shares ISA is next on my list and I want to ramp up my pension saving next year. I check my pension each month and it’s good to see it growing, although it is a long-term savings plan and I know its value could go down as well as up.

I’m thinking of ways to make more money and save more. I’d really like to get to a point in my life where I can live comfortably and don’t need to work. I want to retire by 55 – ideally sooner.

Read another MoneyPlus real-life story.


Pensions and Stocks and Shares ISAs are investments, their value can go down as well as up and they could be worth less than was paid in.

Any views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and not Standard Life Assurance Limited.