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In the past Misbah was someone who preferred spreading buttercream to pouring over spreadsheets, but recently things have changed. Inspired by her mum’s amazing cooking, the Sheffield-based mum has always enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen and was deemed ‘designated cake maker’ at every celebration for years. So much so, that friends and family encouraged her to turn her hobby into a career, and in March 2020, she launched her own baking business.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later the country was thrown into lockdown due to Covid-19. Undeterred, Misbah set about offering a delivery service aimed at those stuck at home looking for a sweet treat. And it transpired that starting a new business during a pandemic created opportunities for Misbah to become more financially savvy, too.

With her husband unable to work as a taxi driver due to coronavirus, he became her very first employee. “He handled the money side of things, and initially I was very happy for him to deal with all the financial admin,” admits Misbah. But after taking part in one of our discussion panels with broadcaster, Kate Thornton, exploring why women are reluctant to talk about money, the penny dropped: she was under valuing herself – even to the point of being embarrassed about charging friends for her creations. Ultimately, she was underestimating her own abilities.

“I knew I wanted to be more financially fit, and I wanted to learn. So, I got my husband to sit down with me and show me everything,” says Misbah. “Later on, I filled in my own tax return for the first time ever and set up a separate savings account for the business so I could start planning for the future.”

Now things are looking quite different for Misbah. She’s worked out how she’s going to invest and is now talking to her daughter about the need to manage her finances and look ahead. “In the past, I didn’t take money seriously enough,” she admits. “When I got married at 17, I blew all the wedding money on CDs! My mum was brilliant, but she never spoke to us about money. Now I’m determined that things will be different for my daughter. I tell her to have a goal and figure out how to work towards it. There are things you need and then things that are just nice to have – be clear which is which – and save where you can,” she says.

Misbah, whose ambition is to open her own tearoom eventually, has also found that being more open about finances has improved her relationship with the very same friends who had initially urged her to become a business owner. “There’s no shame in talking to girlfriends about money – you learn so much about your friends that way. Talking about money is empowering,” she says.


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