My Financial Pipe Dreams

Money is one of the most important things in our lives – we literally couldn’t live without it – so why is it the one subject we’re all hesitant to discuss?

In the past the subject of cash has made me nervous as a business owner with no guaranteed income, but I’ve been trying to learn more about the subject of fiscal responsibility recently (earning it, saving it, spending it) to make me more empowered when it comes to my wallet.

As a starter, in my opinion we are doing our kids a massive disservice by not being more open when it comes to cash, both at home and in school, and I believe talking openly about how much I earn versus how much I spend is an important part of bringing up my kids. Being taught as a teen how to budget or pay a council tax bill would have stood me in much better stead than learning how to draw the perfect Isosceles triangle, and it took me a good few years of hard young adult real-life lessons to learn how to effectively manage my money.

financial pipe dreamsAs a student, cash felt really quite disposable. I’d had a weekend job ever since I was 15 – I always wanted to buy more pairs of Topshop jeans than my allowance provided so I had to make up the shortfall somewhere – but I spent my wages as quickly as I earned them. Then at University I made the mistake of opening a store card (Topshop, again) and a credit card (Barclaycard: they were giving away free popcorn makers with each account on campus), and at the age of 18 I genuinely didn’t understand how APRs and repayments worked.

Needless to say I was left in a whole world of financial pain.

In the following 14 years my attitude to money has changed exponentially, even more so since I became a parent. Extracting myself financially from my marriage was a huge step and in the time since I became somewhat obsessed with having my wallet in complete order. Having never really been interested in the state of my accounts I suddenly took the hugest pleasure in checking my credit reports once a month to make sure my financial health was in tip-top condition, and started planning ahead for my future.

financial pipe dreamsIt’s not all pensions and investments, though. I have to bring a bit of excitement to my money to hold my interest: there’s a reason January is the worst month and that’s because I have to pay my tax bill (if I could pay the equivalent amount to Jimmy Choo or Mulberry at the beginning of the year tax would seem a lot more interesting). Unfortunately HMRC does not accept payment in shoes, so I find my motivation for financial sensibilities in setting goals elsewhere – my financial Pipe Dreams, if you will.

financial pipe dreams

This year I’ve partnered with Experian to discover and aim towards my own Pipe Dreams with the help of their clever CreditExpert service.

In today’s information age we have a huge amount of financial intelligence held about us, something Experian have termed your ‘Data Self’.

Your ‘Data Self’ is the information lenders call upon when deciding whether to offer you credit; when you apply for credit, lenders look back at your credit history, and use this, together with other information, to decide whether or not to offer you that credit card, mortgage or car loan.

Experian’s services allow you to compare financial products for free. You can view your ‘Data Self’ by regularly checking your credit score, giving you an idea of how lenders might view your financial status. It’s a really handy tool I’ve used to manage and motivate myself towards my own financial Pipe Dreams, and is something I’ve been using to set fiscal goals and challenges for the year ahead.

So, what are my own Pipe Dreams for 2018?

I’m glad you asked.

I really want to take the children away on holiday, hopefully back to our favourite Greek Island destination, but with a huge work project to complete in June I may have to bite the bullet and take our first Summer Holiday trip inside of the school break: way more expensive but a necessity this year. I’d also like to plan a trip to my favourite city, New York, perhaps in Autumn half term when we can all go and enjoy the start of Fall.

financial pipe dreams

On a personal (and slightly more shallow) note, I’d like to aim to purchase another lovely pair of shoes this year. I bought the most beautiful pair of Jimmy Choos for a friend’s wedding last summer and, though they’re hugely impractical and don’t get a huge amount of wear, they take pride of place next to my wardrobe and remind me of how hard I’ve worked. I like that – I’d like more reminders (within financial reason, of course).

The main lesson I’ve learned these past couple of years is that facing up to your fiscal reality is imperative if you want to feel in control of your cash – and your life. It’s why I love speaking about it to my friends so much: a problem shared is a problem halved and all that and you soon realise that you’re not the only one who worries about their finances. Being more open and relaxed about money has enabled me to dream that little bit more, aim that little bit higher.

What are your financial Pipe Dreams for 2018?

Thanks to Experian for working with MTT

 

19 Comments
  1. This sounds like a very similar journey to me, and I think having to financially extract myself out of a marriage laden with debt (not my own) made me so much more intent to keep my finances in check. After starting a new job which pays a bit more and savings being made I’m working my way to a lovely, relaxing holiday for me and my daughter and to finish off my kitchen and loving room renovations. Will definitely be checking out my credit score though as haven’t done this in a while!

    1. So true Katie! At first I was really scared and worried about being in a situation where I was the main (only) breadwinner in the family, but I have found it so liberating to know that I am solely responsible for keeping the finances in check. And doesn’t it feel good to achieve the holidays and renovations when it’s down to you and only you? I love that part of single parenting.

  2. I’ve just gotten engaged and turned my mind to saving/budgeting for a wedding. How are you approaching this, Alice?

    1. Good question!! I’ve only just started looking at this and it’s making my head spin already. I’m definitely going to look to the two S’s to get me through – savings and spreadsheets! I’m sure I will write about the wedding planning journey here as I go on it (it’s so exciting). Congratulations on your engagement!!

  3. I totally agree with you, and without money I wouldn’t be able to do half the things we do today, let alone afford our house and do the work we want to do to it. So why should we shy away from discussing it! Just like you I used to save and save for shoes and Topshop jeans, I think that put a little bit of frugality into me and made me realise the importance of saving. Claire x

  4. you’ve touched on taking a holiday in school holiday time – did I read this correctly? my kids are at secondary school now & I wish I had taken them out of school more when they were in primary for holidays – the saving in cash & memories made are sooo worth it. Plus, touching on school, it seems hard cash is not welcomed there! everything is paid online & worse at secondary, thumb print for school canteen so not even possible to buy a muffin with £1s in pocket! My point? hard to teach the value of coins & £s when its not even visible!

    1. Hi Paula, yes you did. I’ve actually just booked for us to go away towards the end of the school term again – I know eyebrows get raised but quite simply I would struggle to find the extra cash to go in the summer, and I think the value they get from seeing the world and learning how to windsurf, swim and kayak is so worth it!
      I also agree it is tough to teach the value of the pound when cash is so rare these days. I’m really not sure how to overcome this…

  5. I’ve always been under the impression that checking your credit score can in fact affect it negatively. How does this app tackle this?

  6. I think things have moved on a bit in schools since you were a student – I have specifically taught sixth formers, for example, how to use spreadsheets to create a weekly/monthly/yearly budget for university and how tax and NI are worked out. I also think the handling of money (as in real coins, notes, saving up for things etc) needs to come from parents, not from school. In a large secondary school with over a thousand students it is not feasible or practical for teachers to be taking in bits and pieces of cash here and there which potentially has no record if it is lost. That’s why trips etc tend to be paid for online nowadays (like most things in the real world too!).

    1. This is really refreshing to read – though my initial thought here was ‘but I was only a student five minutes ago!’ Er no, it was 14 years ago I left sixth form, bloody hell. I am thrilled finances will be talked about more when my kids are going through the system.
      I wish I could pay for trips online, at my kids school (and Brownies) we’re still stuck on cheques…

  7. Blimey, at my school (not massively tech savvy) everything is payable online, lunches, trips, equipment etc. A lot of people don’t even have cheque books nowadays!

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