How I Manage My Money: Online art teacher earning 2.1k a month saving for retirement – iNews

In our How I Manage My Money series we aim to find out how people in the UK are spending, saving and investing money to meet their costs and achieve their goals.

This week we speak to Kate Cooke, 54, who lives in Warsash, Hampshire, with her husband Ian and their daughter Tilly, 14. A designer and illustrator, Kate teaches classes via online creative learning platform, Skillshare.

Monthly budget


Skillshare classes: £1,500; Art club, licensing fees and commissions: about £600

Total: £2,100

Dividends from my husband’s business of £1,700 a month, but this goes into our joint account


My husband pays for all the household bills and general running costs and expenses

Savings: £400; Art materials, exhibitions and fees: £250; Website and Adobe: £70; Venue hire: £70; Clothes and beauty: £400; Going out: £200; Travel: £100; Gym: £30

Total: £1,520

I went to private school and my father was an Army officer, while my mother was a housewife. We were comfortably well off as a family. I don’t recall learning anything about money or business at school. My father may have tried to advise me in this regard, but otherwise I have had to learn about these matters the hard way.

I went to art college and then to work in the textile fashion industry in London. For a number of years, I worked as a colourist for a textile merchant, and then as a textile designer for a fashion supplier. For the next ten years or so I worked freelance as a textile designer, using an agent to sell my work. I then set up a company with a friend, designing and selling stationery and homeware to retail outlets and online companies. It was really hard work.

I ended up doing more admin than I wanted, so I sold my share of the company to my business partner and went back to being a freelance textile designer and illustrator. I still receive an income from the licensing fees from my designs that the company sells.

Two years ago, I started using Skillshare, an online creative platform for learning, as a student. I quickly realised I had the experience and capability to design my own classes. I have since become a “Top Teacher” on the site and get paid a share of the profits from the company. I feel I’ve had good success and it provides a good income.

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Joining Skillshare as a teacher gave me the confidence to launch face-to-face art classes in the form of a local art club in my village. I make around £150 a week from this. I used to worry constantly about money as a freelancer and never really knew how much I was going to earn.

After having my daughter, I found it very difficult to get back into designing and earn the sort of money I used to. At the time, money was very tight as my husband was also not earning so much, and we used all our spare cash to buy the business he worked for.

I am now lucky enough not to have to rely on my earnings to pay for our bills and day-to-day expenses, and my income streams are like an extra bonus for my family. I try not to worry too much about the future and am generally more of a spender than a saver, but luckily my husband is the opposite.

I try to put about £400 a month into my savings account, which is linked to my current account, but do not get a great return from this at present. I don’t have much in the way of savings and I don’t have a pension. However, I am a shareholder in my husband’s company, and am treating this like a pension scheme!

In the short term, my financial goals centre on my daughter and holidays. In the longer term, I would like to have sufficient funds for a decent retirement. I’m lucky in that I’ve yet to feel the pinch from the rising cost of living, but I do see our food and fuel bills going up, which concerns me. My husband and I have a good annual income and live within our means, but the rising cost of living could hit his business in future, so this could all change.

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