It’s November 2019, this Summer I heard Suze Orman on two Bad with money with Gabby Dun podcasts, these two forces opened up my world of a person being individually interested in personal finance. I had no idea a person could get so interested, focused and have fun from personal finance matters. I just thought it was a job where people wore suits and sat at a desk and did stuff.
I started listening to her podcast Women and money while on walks with my young daughter in the pushchair. That’s the thing about having a child, especially a girl, a future woman of the world, is that you want to do the right thing, I’ve messed things up before and now I want to get it right. Though it doesn’t happen overnight and in parenting, there’s no ‘right’ way, things are ever-changing and I can feel under pressure to get it right, whatever that looks like. Here’s the thing, the most common thing I hear from podcasters that are mothers too and their children are older, is that they tend to do as you do. Even when I think back now to my family, I did pick up some good habits, fears, and patterns of thinking from my parents. So even though I don’t have every right in a diagram in a textbook, I’m always learning and trying things out for more happiness and success in life.
Suze Orman isn’t a mother and it doesn’t matter, she’s a mum to all of us! Every time I listen to a podcast of hers or watch a video clip, it’s like she’s that loud, truth-telling, no BS friend and I listen. I’d love to write to her in a few years and outline all the financial ways I made my ideal life a reality, for now, I’ll go over what has changed this year, the year I’ve turned thirty!
Also as Suze is a US financial expert I set out to find UK resources and have used them a ton too, scroll down to see the links at the bottom of the page.
My financial back story is that growing up I lived in a wonderful big house in a safe neighborhood, I didn’t see that at the time, it just felt boring, far away from the city of London and I took where we lived for granted. My Dad did his books to track his incomings and outgoings and my mum always kept reminding me not to get a credit card, though she had them in her purse. We shopped at the cheaper supermarkets before it was cool and it irritated me we didn’t get branded stuff, now I see this as a good thing. I also took for granted that just because I lived in a big house, didn’t mean I would end up in a beautiful big house of my own, do I wish someone had straight talked me to see that? Yes but I probably wouldn’t have listened at 10 and been too stubborn at 16. I’m not even sure who gets the house in inheritance, I haven’t asked yet and I’m not holding attachment onto that idea.
I moved out at 17 at the beck and call of ‘If you don’t move in then we’re breaking up’ that should have been the first red flag of a relationship but I was young and naive and what I thought was love, were only sometimes loving acts of someone who fell into depression. The rest was cohesive control and financial abuse. As psychologist Emma Kenny said recently in a live clinic on Twitter ‘That’s the thing about cohesive control, it f***s with your mind and you’re not sure what is and what isn’t control’. Somehow, I became the main bill payer and a fraction of my wage I was able to spend on myself, any money that came in, even birthday money, was gone, it may have been petrol for his car, or help with another bill, still, these little things stand out. I relied on my family to help with any studies I pursued, though no courses I did opened up any options and I wasn’t as self-sufficient as I thought. Most importantly it left no room to save and 9 years later after going through health issues and a personal journey of yoga and meditation I left. I left with all my belongings in my car and turned up to my mum and dad to stay in a spare room. For years I was put off leaving as that option had been blown up as the worst thing I could do, it was a saving grace and thank goodness I could do so.
In 2017 I called it my ‘single year’ though looking back, I could have taken longer and I’d encourage anyone to do so. I like Emma Watson’s term ‘self partnered’ replacing single, it feels so whole and content rather than lacking something or someone. This year I did a yoga training that was on my lips as an affirmation for years and it felt so great to do something I loved, it set me back £250 a month though it taught me the value of money to study. For the first time in my adult life, I was spending less on rent and I had more in my bank account than I knew what to do with. I went through the guilt of spending and eating alone until I found a happy medium.
There’s a common mistake I feel most of us make and that is when we live with parents or relatives, we take for granted that we spend less on bills and rent, then spend anywhere we can. Not always, as we may be studying, paying off debt but in my experience only now am I saving. Younger people, like my brothers two years younger say back to me ‘Yeah, but, er, save for what?’ I wish I could just explain it and I try, some things have to be experienced. That’s why resources like Suze Orman are so valid because she just says it how it is.
Back to the present day, I’ve recently turned 30, my maternity leave has stopped, I’m relying on my husband’s wage who is okayish with money. I have little savings, that has been dipped into and a potential letter from the government saying we owe them benefit money when I did everything I possibly could right in all forms of communication.
This may sound
Do I need it? Can I afford it? – I think as I buy an item, I also write NEEDS out each month on a shopping list and follow it.
Check your statements and call out any confusion – We may not have paper statements anymore much but this bears repeating as I once found I was paying £20 a month for a gym I thought I had canceled. Another time something came up on my statement as a gym 60 miles away, till I realized it’s funny title was a local yoga class – still good to check! One thing I do is keep all bills from one bank account and when recently I noticed it was coming out of another one, I took 3 minutes to switch it, that’s all it took!
People first, then money, then things – I call out to my husband as he lists more things he wants to buy. It reminds me of my value and what I want to bring into life and my daughters, she’s at a young age where she doesn’t ask for trinkets and enjoys everything around her. I use that to
Be a warrior even when you have fallen – I was listening to a podcast where a woman said she had fallen on hard times and was putting everything into practice and wanted to know what to do next, the response was to continue being that warrior as before! Feeling sorry for yourself and doing nothing won’t cut it, you’ve been there before you can get back there.
Pay off your credit card debt – I did it! This year I paid off my debt, I’ve learned about how interest works and that credit cards work better when you pay it off in full each month.
Listen to yourself first – Other people can get in the way of this, even in a well-meaning caring way. If I had listened to my husband saying don’t pay off your credit card then that £1000 would have been used to buy more stuff, I knew we would get by so I did it and I’m £40 better off each month. Another time I expressed I wanted a long mirror in the bedroom and family said to ‘just buy it off Amazon’ (I’ve come to loathe that phrase, having stopped shopping there almost entirely) and had I listened and thought, ‘Ah yes! It must be brand new’ I would have done that, however, there was a great one no one was using in another room, so I cleaned it and put it up on the wall, it looks great! The same happened with a set of drawers, another mirror, shelves, and a picture frame, all re purposeful in other rooms.
Create an emergency fund – Now, I am nowhere near the 8 month emergency fund line, I’m barely at one but what I did do was set up a high interest savings account that I can’t access from my phone, I have to log in on my laptop the old-style way and it works for me. There were higher interest rates if I set a limit on how many times I could potentially get money out or a notice period to do so, I’m learning about bank accounts and it’s fun! In this account I put a chunk of money I got given for my wedding, it means a lot that I got it at all so I’m not in a rush to spend and it’s something I will build up. Having left a past relationship with nothing, something I never thought would happen to me, I want to be prepared and money can help with that.
It doesn’t even have to be a life-altering thing for it to be included as an emergency fund, some stories from friends include: staying at a hotel after scares of an attempted burglary, losing keys and paying for new locks for a shared house, a husband being hounded for money for a chest freezer his wife bought on loan or the boiler system being replaced. It can be anything and as soon as I pay off my last little loan, this will take priority, small steps.
Sometimes helping is hurting and hurting is helping – This one is a biggy and the other night I truly felt it. W
Don’t be in a rush to be poor – So in case you don’t already know, we live with my mother in law, and while it’s great it can also have its downfalls, I would love to be in a position to buy and pay off our own home, this wasn’t in the original plan though like I said before – you can change your mind – and I have. It’s going to take a lot of grit, work, saving and praying to get there and as much as I want it I count my blessings and I’m not in a rush to be poor(er).
Feel your power in your clothes rather than get power from what you buy– Meaning if you (like me) decided to get rid of 90
It’s only a gift if it’s a gift to give it – This is a tricky one, it plays at my heartstrings a bit, we all want to give though at what price? Struggling in some months, doing so out of obligation and fear? It makes no sense and I don’t play along with it now, I ask is this truly a gift to give it, I ask others what they need or want. I honestly just buy for close family and one or two friends now. I save throughout the year for presents and December rather than experience so much stress at the most wonderful time of the year.
Live below your means and within your needs or just cos you have it, doesn’t mean you have to spend it! The second line I repeated to my best friend while out shopping yesterday, she got it and afterward reflected on how intentional she had been rather than in a flurry of choices and getting home to open a huge bag of stuff she wasn’t entirely satisfied with. This means to live within what you have or below and buy your needs, how many of us live paycheck to paycheck and don’t try anything to change that? I track everything now and while I can’t show stats on that because I’m still in the early stages of a financially independent woman being born, it’s changing things dramatically. Imagine if we all shopped only for actual needs? How refreshing.
It’s not how much money you have it’s what you do with what you have. This always serves as a great reminder a) it’s not about being the most charitable giving being you can, it’s about being responsible with what you have. Also b) I remember these words when the conversation has turned to someones new house with walk in wardrobe and garden view.
This brings me onto Suze Orman’s key to life in an episode on faith: ‘The key to life is to be as happy in your sadness as you are in your happiness’ and the mantra I’ve been repeating:
When one door closes, another door opens!
Suze Orman if you’re reading this, thank you and I’m going to write to the show when I have more goodness to report on, I’m just beginning and have a way to go yet. Together we will rise!
A list of UK money mindful resources to jump into:
Martin Lewis at Moneysavingexpert.com
Holly at boringmoney.co.uk
Books I’ve read and loved:
Rich dad poor dad
Do you have