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Month: November 2016

Do you care what other people think?

Do you care what other people think?

A lot of people claim that they don’t care what others think of them. I’ll hold my hand up and say I’m one of them. The truth is, most people do care what others think… to some extent, at least.

Do I care what other people think of me?

I’m not bothered about people thinking I’m cool. I fully expect a lot of people think I’m kinda boring. And a little odd. I’m happy for them to think that.

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve realised that’s how I want people to think of me. If I thought people considered me one of the crowd, normal, or cool, I’d be a bit miffed. I wouldn’t change myself, but I’d wish they’d see me differently. So, clearly, it means I do care what people think.

It was my husband that made me realise that I do actually care what people think. He knows me very well. I guess he should do, but I guess one of the things I’ve considered myself is a closed book. I’ve enjoyed being unpredictable, but as I’m ‘predictably unpredictable’, he always knows how I’ll react! It’s infuriating.

How about you- do you care what people think?

Are you someone who cares what people think? Do you think that you don’t care, when deep down there is a way you want (or don’t want) to be percieved? Or do you really not give a damn?

If you don’t care what people think, consider how true that is…. and especially if unconscious concerns lead you to spend money in the way that you do!

Here’s an example. Someone once said they really wanted to buy their boyfriend a personalised number plate but they hadn’t got any money.

To me, it’s a baffling thing to want to buy if you have no money. It literally just sits on your car. It doesn’t make the journey more efficient, or the ride any more comfortable.

Is there any other purpose than to give a certain image? And if you want to give a certain image, does it not suggest that you do care what other people think? I can see the argument for buying one as a symbol for yourself that “you’ve made it”, but if you barely have the money to buy it in the first place, your definition for making it is different to mine!

On reflection, another time springs to mind when a friend ruthlessly ribbed me for my old samsung mobile. Those were the days when a phone would literally last 5 years. When I got a promotion, she tormented me relentlessly about sitting in my big posh office (I didn’t have a big posh office) in my power suit (I didn’t have a power suit either) with my ‘clam’ phone.

Obviously, I liked that image of being slightly odd, of not doing what everyone else did, because that’s what made me hang on to that phone until the 3 key stopped working!

It seems normal to care what people think, to some extent. Society needs that so we don’t go round looting, and killing each other.

If you think you don’t care what people think, it can become a blindspot that could keep you inadvertently spending money to create a certain image, without you even realising!

Make sure you know exactly your motivation for buying something, and make an active decision about whether you want to make a purchase. You mind just find yourself effortlessly saving money!

Do you care what other people think? And does what people think affect the way you spend? Let me know in the comments!

Raising financially responsible kids

Raising financially responsible kids

There’s a lot of noise about the lack of financial education for children, but so far not enough action. The school curriculum has come under fire for not giving kids the knowledge they need to be able to manage money in the real world.

I’m a huge advocate for financial education in schools. It’s a crucial step in making sure kids grow into adults that are able to understand the financial world. However, we’re missing something else; teaching children to have the right attitude towards money.

As with many things in life, knowledge cannot make up for the wrong attitude towards money. Schools can try to cultivate the right attitude towards money and debt, but families are in the best position to do this. Your children see how you handle money on a day to day basis, and like it or not, it makes a big impression.

Raising financially responsible kids

There’s not a single thing that makes a child grow into an adult that’s good with money. At least, I can’t pinpoint something specific from my childhood. I wrote about fear of missing out and opportunity cost decisions that my dad gave me the opportunity to make.

There was also a feeling that money was hard to gain and easy to lose, a resource that should not be wasted. This helped cultivate a positive relationship with money when I was younger. Here are some of the sayings (and statements) I remember my parents and grandparents using and living by as I was growing up.

It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend

As I got older, I’d be cheekier and retort “It’s a little bit what you earn”. My dad wanted to instill in me that if you choose to do use all your money up doing things and buying things, you’ll have no money left, no matter the amount that you earned the first place.

A fool and their money are soon parted

This is a favourite phrase of my dad’s, especially when someone (including me) had spend money on something he thought was a waste. When aimed at me, it made me question the way I’d chosen to spend money from the point I was able to start making decisions

You’ll need your money when you’re older

This was a phrase from Nana. She’d give us a couple of pounds pocket money when she saw us, and it would often be accompanied by this phrase. It helped fix the idea of my future self at a young age. Most of that pocket money went straight into my savings account and was part of the deposit when I bought my house (thanks Nana!)

Look after the pennies, and the pounds look after themselves

I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone says this to me now. For some reason, it was accompanied by a wag of the finger when said by my Dad. It’s a good reminder that small amounts of money that may seem insignificant add up to large amounts of money when pooled together. It’s the reason I don’t like to buy bottles of water or ad hoc bags of crisps when I’m out.

Whatever you do, never, ever get in debt

This was only said to me only once and at an age when I thought I knew it all. My grandad leaned forward in his chair to deliver this sage advice in an ominous tone. This cheeky teen couldn’t help but reply “what about a mortgage”. He updated the advice. “Other than a mortgage, never, ever get into debt.”

Houses are expensive

This becomes so obvious when you have a house, but it isn’t when you’re a child. You have no concept of how much your parents earn compared to the cost of your family’s lifestyle. Why and how could houses be particularly expensive when everyone lives in one? This regular warning discouraged me from spending pocket money on useless tat, and paying it into my savings account instead.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and I’m not made of money

Although I never heard my parents worry or argue about money (and I know now that money was very tight for a long time) it has always been clear that there are limits to money, that it has to be earned, and we can’t have everything we want. The fact that our money was finite contributed to my fear of missing out on something better.

Money can’t buy happiness… but it sure does help

We all know that money can’t buy happiness. Most of us have probably experienced the feeling of emptiness after a session of retail therapy. But a lack of money that leads to debt can cause a lot of unhappiness and stress. Money also gives peace of mind, greater freedom and a greater capacity to be generous, all of which lay the foundations for happiness.

 

Actions speak louder than words

It’s not enough to simply share these pearls of wisdom with your children, they need to see you practice what you preach too. Which means saving up for the things you want, instead of getting into debt, and not scooping a few impulse purchases onto the conveyor belt when you do your shopping.

My Christmas gifts were probably smaller than most, if not all, of my friends. How ironic that that is the best gift that I could have been given.

What money sayings do your family use and does it influence how you spend your money?

Remembrance, why I love Canada, and attitudes towards money

Remembrance, why I love Canada, and attitudes towards money

On the 11th hour, or the 11th Day, or the 11th Month, we pause for a minute’s silence to remember the fallen and the sacrifice made for us.

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A minute filled with such poignancy that a painful lump swells in the back of my throat and I fight to push it down again. Thoughts have to be pushed away… after all, did grandad not fight so that I might keep my stiff upper lip?! I do most of my remembering before the clock strikes 11 and after the minute’s silence has passed. In truth, I spend a long time thinking about and imagining the horror of the great war, and the wars since.

I can’t share too much about my grandad’s story. He passed away when I was young, and even if he hadn’t, he never shared anything with my dad about the horror he’d endured (stiff upper lip and all that).

I know that he did suffer a life threatening injury. In fact, shrapnel was still embedded under his skin when he died.

A Canadian soldier saved my grandad’s life on the battlefield. I don’t have the heroic specifics (see above re stiff upper lip). But I know my grandad wouldn’t have survived without the help of that unknown Canadian comrade. And so, a strong impression was made on me as a child. That Canada and Canadians are good.

Grandparents and parents have such an incredibly strong influence over their children’s attitudes as adults. I love Canada, because my family does, because my grandad otherwise would not have lived.

Here’s something else about my family that made a big impression on me: my family are debt averse. Of course, there are times when debt is necessary. On the whole though, I am debt averse and do what I can to avoid it. An aversion that translates to being good with money. Maybe that sounds boring. But you know what they say. You only live once. And I wouldn’t want that to be a life mounted in debt.

Our grandfathers didn’t fight for our freedom, so that we might imprison ourselves in debt.

I’d normally pose a question here, but I’ll just invite your thoughts. It could be about remembrance, it could be about family attitudes, it could be about money, or it could be how much more I would love Canada once I’ve actually been there!

Thanks for stopping by!

Why donate to a foodbank?

Why donate to a foodbank?

I like to do research before giving to charity. Usually.

I do sponsor people who do challenges for the causes they believe in without digging into the charity’s background, but where I choose to give directly to a cause, I like to do my research.

I want to be able to give to causes that use my donations in the right way, that don’t have unreasonable administration costs, that don’t have millions and millions in reserve. Maybe I still don’t make the best choices, but anyway.

For a long time, I haven’t donated a food bank. And here’s why.

I was uncomfortable with the fact that food banks were needed. In a first world country, there shouldn’t be such a significant rise in the demand for food banks. The government shouldn’t leave people starving, without even the money to put a hot meal on the table.

From what I’ve read, Food banks in the US are an even greater entity than they are here in the UK. Small food banks that were started by a community volunteer group have mushroomed; operations are on an industrial scale, volunteers feel under pressure to support complicated logistics, and people feel obliged to give. And supporting food banks just allows the situation to continue, to worsen.

So, I didn’t give to food banks.

But that’s changed, for a few reasons.

People are hungry in my town. Right now. And whether they are hungry because of a position they’ve been put in, because of decisions the government has made or because of mistakes they may have made (we can all think of times we’ve spent money in the past on things that now seem wasteful), they don’t deserve to be hungry.

Food banks have stepped it up a notch. They’re not just a place to get food any more, they offer more practical help managing finances and make sure people have access to the services available that will help them get back on track.

I was recently given a brief tour of my local Trussell Trust food bank and found out some interesting things:

  • As you probably know, food banks ask for food with a long shelf life. But lots of people think how miserable it would be to go without the fresh fruits and vegetables you’re used to and probably take for granted, and so food banks also receive fresh goods too. The thing is, many people who use a food bank may have only basic cooking skills. On the day I visited, there was a fresh pack of peppers that had been donated as well as vegetables such as runner beans (it was harvest time). The volunteer was worried that people wouldn’t take them as they simply wouldn’t know what to do with them. Fresh food can go to waste.
  • No Trussell Trust food bank has ever had baked beans on their list of needs, and yet every one is inundated with them! You can now check what items are most in need at local Trussell Trust food banks by checking out their website.

I’ve ummed and ahhed about whether to give toiletries, whether that’s the purpose of a food bank. But someone made a good point on this front. If you’re not able to take care of your teeth, emergency dental work will cost taxpayers money that could be avoided with a tube of toothpaste.

When you’re at a low ebb, how do you even begin to tackle the day if you don’t feel clean? How do you maintain a professional, or tidy appearance, needed for your job if you can’t shave or properly wash your hair?

I open my food cupboards and often think I have nothing in. In truth, my cupboards rarely have space to add anything. I can’t imagine the feeling of opening the door to empty shelves.

Giving to my local food bank has become part of my regular giving. Not because I feel obliged, not because the government should be off the hook, and not because I want them to become a permanent fixture of society (particularly on a grand scale).

But because sometimes people need a helping hand. Because refusing to donate doesn’t help solve the problem. Because to find the energy, the drive, the motivation, to bring yourself back from a low place, the body needs food and the soul needs compassion.

My question isn’t for you, the reader. It’s for the government. What are you doing to reduce society’s need for food banks? In the unlikely event that Theresa May doesn’t respond, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.

Where does all my money go?

Where does all my money go?

A question lots of people ask themselves is ‘Where does all my money go?’

The thing is, you have the power to find the answer. But you probably know that already.

There’s a reason that this blog, claiming to be about earning, saving and investing money, doesn’t yet have a post about tracking money. And that’s because it’s tedious and boring. Tedious to write about. Tedious to read about. Mostly, it’s tedious to do.

This is coming from a lover of spreadsheets. I love playing with the numbers, assigning my categories, changing assumptions to see how my savings balance will change, etc. But tracking where every payment goes so you can have confidence in your budget is tedious.

It’s a necessary evil if you want to take control of your spending and not be skint any more. And it will be so worthwhile when you can afford to take a holiday of a lifetime, you’re making you’re last ever mortgage payment, or when you’re simply getting to the end of the month with cash to spare.

However you choose to track your money, make it as simple for yourself as you can. It could be writing down every expense in a notebook, as a note stored in your phone, or in a beloved spreadsheet.

Or you could collect all your receipts together (and I mean ALL) for the month and add them all up, and go through every direct debit and standing order payment on your account.

When you know where your money is going, you can start making active decisions about where you want it to go and what your priorities are.

There is some good news; light at the end of a tunnel of tedium. The more you get a grip of where your money is going, the better you can take control of it. The better the control you have, the sooner you can stop fastidiously tracking your spending.

Are you ready to find out where all your money goes? If you’ve got any tips to make tracking expenses a little less dull (perhaps you use fluorescent gel pens to list your expenses) I’d love to hear them!