Our new blogger JUN MERRETT is a former financial journalist turned industry professional – but even she admits to being baffled by money.
When it comes to money, it’s like I adopt a ‘use it or lose it’ approach even though I know that is madness. Truly gifted in the art of spending, at the age of 28 I am yet to master the science of saving.
To most people I come across as financially savvy. I am a former a financial journalist, now working in content marketing at a financial services company, which means people assume I know my stuff.
In reality, the extent of my knowledge is: I need money (the more the better) and I need to invest to make more of my money. I don’t actually know what sectors to invest in or how to maximise my potential.
Being in ‘the industry’ means I am bombarded by warnings that if I don’t start investing for my future I will probably not have a future. My generation won’t be able to rely on a state pension and we’re going to live longer, prolonging our poor existence.
I am paralysed by fear. There is this incredible pressure that I should have started saving 10 years ago so I better choose some incredible investment in order to get the gains I need so I can somewhat enjoy my retirement (the three years of it I’ll end up getting by then, anyway). Which means I haven’t done anything, I’ve just run away from the responsibility.
I blame living in London. I blame my obsession with food and eating out.
I’ve become massively risk-averse at a time where I simply cannot afford to be. But this has not curbed my, frankly, out of control spending habits.
I blame living in London, I blame my obsession with food and eating out, I blame, for lack of a better term, ‘wanderlust’ which means I’m travelling a fair bit. If I’m honest, I just blame me. But I don’t think I’m unique, I think most people my age are the same.
I wrote a blog post about how financial advisers, who traditionally target prospective clients aged 50, need to overhaul their mindset and look into attracting and engaging people my age with low-cost and light touch online services in order to guarantee us as clients of the future.
I met a lovely financial adviser, who knows he needs to appeal to the younger generation.
From that, I heard from a lovely adviser called Adam Carolan at Xentum, who offered to give me some financial advice and help me out. He’s incredibly switched on and innovative in his thinking; he knows he has to approach the younger generation as the world changes. It obviously helps that he is part of this younger generation as well!
Our initial meeting was nothing like I expected it to be, which is saying a lot as I’ve been immersed in the financial advice world for the past five years!
While I panicked about pensions, Adam emphasised we needed to first concentrate on the present day: my savings culture, or lack of it.
To cut a long story short, we have set out some goals for me to achieve over the next six months. I can tell you that they seem like nothing but, a few months into it, I’m finding them pretty tough! They are:
- Spend a maximum of £200 on food and drink, including all meals and socialising costs (bear in mind I live in London and am a massive foodie! I would usually be spending around £300 or more);
- Never go into my overdraft (seriously, ouch);
- Take money out and spend actual cash, don’t just use card for everything (sometimes I feel there is a disconnect with my spending when I just beep a plastic card over a machine every purchase).
So, this is my journey for the next six months. We’ll see how much I’ve managed to save over this period and if I’ve still maintained my sanity. For full disclosure and as a massive pre-emptive excuse as to why I may not have saved a lot, I have also started putting just over 10% of my monthly salary into my workplace pension scheme. So I am planning for my future, but in a somewhat passive state at this moment in time (passive, but painful financially!).
In my next post I’ll update you on my progress and give you a few hints and tips of how I’ve learnt to cope with spending less (and yes, it’ll be a bit more helpful than ‘take packed lunches into work!’)
Jun Merrett is Content Editor at Nucleus, the online wrap-based platform for financial advisers.