LET'S TALK ABOUT IT
KATH, PROGRAM DIRECTOR
GETTING INTO DEBT AND LEARNING HOW TO GET OUT OF IT TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT HOW MONEY CAN WORK FOR YOU – AND AGAINST YOU
As a 50-year old with teenagers, I’ve been thinking about how I talk about money and how I want my daughters to feel about money as they grow older and become independent. We teach our children to be body positive and not use negative or shaming language – but we don’t always teach them to be money positive.
I feel as if I lurched towards understanding money – and making it work for me and not work against me – via plenty of mistakes and wrong turnings along the way.
In my 30s I fell into a large amount of credit card debt. I had small children, loads of outgoings, my husband was part time and our spending far outweighed our earnings. I’d always left my husband to manage the finances but I realized I had to get involved, especially as much of the debt was on my personal credit card. I had no clear plan on how to get out of debt until I started reading debt support sites which told me about things like balance transfers, and following Martin Lewis who taught me how to create a working household budget.
I also wrote a magazine article about being in debt. Although it was scary to admit to the world the extent of what I owed, it was also a massive relief to be open about it. There can be so much stigma involved in talking about money or only talking about it negatively or passively. All of which just holds us back when it comes to taking control of our own finances. Once I took control, I realized how empowering it felt to set goals, however small. At the start I worked out how to save just £3 a week as it was achievable and it got me into the habit of saving. I became as disciplined about money as I used to be about going to the gym.
Getting financially fit will mean different things to all of us. We’re all at different stages, much like everyone in a gym or yoga class. Some of us will be at the start of the journey, others will have much they have learned and can share. What’s important to me is to break the taboo of talking about money. If we can share our learnings and successes, we are starting to own a conversation that’s been largely a male domain
There’s no instant solution to getting financially fit, but I know from experience that all of us can improve our situation by understanding more about how to save, spend and grow what money we do have. Knowledge is power.