This post has been written in association with the Money Advice Service.
Why are some folk so embarrassed to talk about money? I’m not saying we should all discuss our money woes, savings or pensions endlessly. However, there seem to be few social situations where it is OK to share your views on money and learn from each other. Talk Money Week aims to change all this!
Talk Money Week, 12th-18th November
Talk Money Week is a new public awareness week from the Money Advice Service aiming to change our general reticence around discussing money. It is being held from 12th-18th November and will include events across the UK designed to help people have more open conversations about their finances.
Money was never really discussed much when I was growing up. I knew we didn’t have much, but we always got by. School provided no financial education either. I could have done with talking and learning about money in my teens. If I had I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes later in life! In my eyes, Talk Money Week is a great initiative and I am happy to support it.
My money story
I was hopeless with money until I got divorced after my first marriage and suddenly felt responsible for my own finances for the first time. It wasn’t that I was a spendthrift, as I am naturally frugal, but I never had any kind of financial education and I just wasn’t interested. At various times in my life I have been in debt. It never occurred to me to put any money away for a rainy day or to save for purchases. If I needed a new TV, car or sofa I didn’t hesitate to take out a loan or put it on my credit card. Talk of savings, investments or interest rates would cause me to instantly zone out.
Looking back, I was lucky to have worked in local government and enrolled in a decent pension scheme. I was never unemployed or reliant on benefits. My physical and mental health was good. Now that I am much more aware of personal finance issues, I realise it would have taken only a small change in my circumstances for me to have suddenly been in big trouble financially.
Almost every money blogger that I interview in my On the Money series says that they would tell their 18 year old selves to put money into savings and investments. When I think of the money I wasted before I had children on takeaways, nights out, clothes and general tut that I didn’t need I regret that it never occurred to me to put any of my salary aside.
Now we save a small amount every month into a contingency fund (see my post on why you should have an emergency fund here), some goes into a pot for Christmas, birthdays and holidays, and we often have a fund for a particular goal or project alongside that. Our back patio doors and our front door have just been replaced. We didn’t take out a loan for this, we saved up!
Living within our means
We don’t waste money buying things we don’t need and anything we do purchase is more often than not second hand. As the person in charge of food, I always plan our meals and shop using a list. It is very rare that food is wasted at Shoestring Cottage. Mr Shoestring is super handy and great at repairing stuff and DIY. All this means that we no longer have any debt and we can afford the days out and holidays that we really enjoy!
But there is more to learn. Mr S has always been more savvy than me and started investing from an early age. This is something I want to do more of. I also talk to my daughters about personal finance so that they can avoid some of the mistakes I made and will be encouraging them to check out Talk Money Week. This is exactly what the Money Advisory Service aims to promote: for Brits to sit down with their friends, loved ones and family to speak about their personal finances – from saving to using credit cards, from pocket money to pensions.
Talk Money Week is designed to increase financial well being among Britons by encouraging them to discuss personal finance issues including savings, debt, using credit, financial education and retirement. If you would like to find out more, please visit the Money Advice Service here. Remember – it’s good to talk!