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Toni natters to people all day long about anything and everything – relationships, work, family, love… as a hairdresser, she says nothing is off limits. Except one topic: money. “People don’t really like to talk about money,” she says. “They might let us know that they’ve had a bonus so can get their hair done twice in a month, but that’s about it. It’s quite strange, really, and I don’t know why.”

One of the reasons that money talk amongst women rarely happens is because no one initiates it, Toni says: it’s almost taboo. And yet, when we got her and her friends chatting about money, saving and financial planning in our discussions with broadcaster Kate Thornton, there was no stopping them. Faced with some of the bald facts around the gender pay gap and the disparity in women’s pension pots compared to men’s Toni was gobsmacked. “It’s insane. It blows my mind. I read all this stuff on social media about men and women being equal, but I don’t think most people know the shocking statistics,” she says.

So, do money conversations change anything? Checking in with Toni again, Kate discovered that in fact it had – she’d boosted her income in the intervening months. “My boss asked me if I’d like to work an extra day and I jumped at it,” says Toni. “She was surprised and said, ‘Why didn’t tell me you’d like to earn more money?’ and it got me thinking… why didn’t I? It shouldn’t be taboo to voice that you’d like to earn more.”

Toni has also added an additional revenue stream – turning a hobby into a side hustle. “I started making cakes for friends and family. After a while I thought I’d get set up on Instagram and see how it goes – and now I’m making some extra money from it,” she says.

Delighted to be earning more, Toni is even happier with the difference it’s made to her outlook on life and wellbeing. And some of her friends and colleagues have also been inspired to look at ways to add another income stream to bring in extra cash. “I’m buzzing with excitement now – and people at work are, too,” says Toni. “We openly discuss how many orders we’ve taken and how much money we’ve earned, and it’s had a knock-on effect in the salon – now all the juniors join in – it’s had a domino effect. I’ve learnt that it’s OK to talk about money and I want to keep the conversation going so that more women can get the buzzy feeling you get when you take charge of your money.”


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