LET'S TALK ABOUT IT
NILZA, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
BY MAKING SMALL CHOICES AND TAKING LITTLE STEPS, I KNOW THAT I’M HEADING TOWARDS A MORE FINANCIALLY FIT NILZA IN THE FUTURE.
Being raised by a single mother as the eldest daughter of a conservative Catholic family, I learnt very early on about the importance of saving money, being frugal and avoiding any unnecessary spending.Though I understood the reason behind this, growing up I always found it unfair, because most of these rules didn’t seem to apply to the men in my family.
While my sister and I were expected to learn everything about managing a house and any expenses that came with it, because ‘we were girls and had to prepare for our future’, our brothers had the freedom to focus on their studies and on a career that would allow them to provide for a family in the future, because ‘they were boys’. No more, no less and we were expected to accept it!
At 21, I moved from little Lisbon to London for my studies, with less than £1000 in my pocket. Although they had felt unfair, I actually became thankful for the lessons my family had taught me as they made living alone in a new and unfamiliar country, much more manageable.
With my new acceptance of those early teachings, also came a realisation of their biggest flaw – I was told to be frugal but wasn’t told what that skill could allow me to do or be. No one ever told me ‘take some of those savings and put them aside for retirement’ or ‘have you thought about investing some of it?’.
It wasn’t until I started working in the City that setting up a pension became a concern and, needless to say, investing had never felt like an option for someone like me. This forced me to reassess my relationship with money, and start thinking about the financial stability of future Nilza, not only as someone that could become a wife and/or a mother, but also as a woman on her own.
It took some time to get used to this new world of opportunities, and the more I learned, the more I resented my initial lack of knowledge which, in turn, made me question the entire foundation of my financial education. As life went on, this had significant impact on my desire to raise awareness amongst those around me, in hopes that they too could see the need to become financially independent, now and in the future.
Though it’s different for everyone, embarking on this ‘getting financially fit’ journey, to me, meant being able to take charge of my money and learning to let go of the fear of the uncertainty that comes with it.
I’m not ‘there’ yet, and I don’t exactly know where ‘there’ is, but by making small choices and taking little steps, I know that I’m heading towards a more financially fit Nilza in the future.