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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.
As 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.
It’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.
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.
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