Thursday, 25 August 2011

Have you got a money mate?

According to new research only a fifth of us have someone we can talk to about money.

There are times when we all find it reassuring to talk over our concerns in life - from careers to relationships, but when it comes to money matters, it seems many of us don’t have anyone to confide in. Results from a new survey by the Money Advice Service reveal that 76% of us admit to feeling generally happy about life when we feel good about our money, yet only 19% of us say we have someone who we trust to confide in about our money situation.

It's time we talked about money folks!
Today, the independent Money Advice Service launches the Money Chat campaign and 
we're right behind their aim to get the UK talking about money. 
The campaign will run from now until the autumn, offering free tips and tools to help people get their conversations started – online, over the phone, or face-to-face.

To launch the campaign the Money Advice Service surveyed over 2,000 adults to find out how the UK population feels about money matters.

Their results, published today, highlight that while money can’t necessarily buy us happiness feeling on top of it really can.  Having financial control gives us a positive boost that helps us cope better with other aspects of life, for example:
· 44% of us feel more in control of our lives overall when we feel in control of our money 
· 33% of us feel more confident when our finances are in order
· 37% of us can get on better with other aspects of our lives when our finances are in order

It's good to know you're not alone...

Being able to talk about money is key to getting on top of financial matters. 
In Sheconomics we have a whole chapter called Share Financial Intimacies in which we show you how to understand each other's money mindset, start a money conversation and even achieve joint account harmony (yes, it can be done!).
You can even download a tip sheet on How to talk to your partner about money.

The Money Advice Service’s free unbiased money advice is available nationwide - online at and on the phone via 0300 500 5000. 

So - what are you waiting for? Go and have a money chat with someone today.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Shouldn't financial education be compulsory?

Today teenagers across the country will be getting their A level results and finding out whether they're en route for Oxbridge or Uxbridge. 
In three years time many will emerge with a degree - and a debt of up to £54,000* 
Debt used to be a dirty word but since the introduction of Uni tuition fees it's now not only OK to have debt but the government encourage it. 
Isn't it sad then that many students come out of school having had NO education in managing debt, understanding interest rates and financial management? 

Today the Department for Education said:
It's a national disgrace that in the 20 years since introducing student loans, we’ve educated our youth into debt when they go to university, but never about debt. We're a financially illiterate nation, with millions caught by misselling, overborrowing and being ripped off. Is it any surprise we’ve just had a debt imbued financial crisis. This must change. Companies spend billions on marketing and teaching their staff to sell – it's time we got buyers' training. The most cost effective way to start is to ensure every child in the country gets a basic understanding of personal finance & consumer rights before leaving school. This isn’t a large resource requirement. Some schools already do it, but the majority don’t and that needs to end. Unless it's compulsory, head teachers can’t prioritise for it. 97% of people support this, yet no one will take up the baton. We have one of the world’s most complex consumer economies; it's time our children were taught how to thrive and survive in it.
You can sign a petition to support compulsory financial education in schools here
The extent of the debt - and it's not just the kids who need educating:
*£54,000 calculated by the long-term savings and investment company Standard Life. Their research shows that many parents are also ignorant about the extent of student debt. More than half of parents underestimate the maximum amount of debt their child could leave university with. 
When asked to take into account the increase in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year from 2012, and any other debts accumulated from living expenses, student loans, bank loans, etc, 58 per cent of parents think the maximum debt their children could leave with is £40,000 or under, including many who think this would be a lot less. Despite this, a fifth (21 per cent) of parents have started to make regular savings to help ease the costs of their children's university education. And nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of parents are putting money aside on special occasions (e.g. birthdays or one-off windfalls). 
Julie Hutchison, Head of Technical Insight at Standard Life, said: "The findings of our research are positive as they show that parents have identified the need to save for their children's time at university. Unfortunately their expectations of what that cost could be and therefore the target amount they want to save might actually be too low."

Sunday, 7 August 2011

We're not influencing our daughters as much as we think.

How we parent our adolescent off-spring 
has a strong influence on them, right?
My daughter Camilla and I - but who's influencing who?
New research* shows it’s probably the other way round – your teenage daughter is influencing you.
The researchers from the Temple University Fox School of Business looked at whether teenage girls tended to buy what their mothers bought, or vice versa. 
They sampled 343 mother-daughter pairs and found that mothers who are young at heart and fashion conscious tend to copy their daughter's consumption behavior. 
This runs counter to traditional psychological research on role-models and suggests a reverse-socialisation effect. Daughters, it seems, just don’t see their mums as role models when it comes to fashion. Shame really, just think of all the hand-me-downs they could profit from!

The researchers concluded that "children affect their parents' consumption behavior with regard to the products that the parents themselves consume."
So next time you find yourself stocking up on acne cream and pink hair dye and squeezing into a pair of micro-shorts, stop and ask yourself who’s been getting under your skin.

This highlights how human behaviour - financial and otherwise - is often driven by invisible forces. By unconscious motives and emotions that rarely crop up on our mental radar. In Sheconomics we show you how to notice - and get to grips with - those hidden forces so you are always in control of your spending and your life.

Temple University (2011, July 26). Mothers have a stronger tendency to mimic their daughters' consumption behavior than vice versa.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Everything must change

This is a blog I wrote this month for Jayne Cox, the body image consultant who is currently running a wonderful campaign to help women cope with cancer. I thought I'd repost it here because the central message - about adapting to changes in circumstance - applies to the many twists and turns that life takes.....

There’s a song by Nina Simone that starts:
"Everything must change.... nothing stays the same"

It’s a beautiful haunting song.

One line goes, "There are not many things in life you can be sure of..."

A poignant reminder that everything changes. 
Our ideas shift. Our moods swing. People come and go. The weather changes. So does fashion.
Our bodies get sick. Friendships are gained and lost. 

We live in a world where nothing stays the same. And sometimes it’s hard to hang on to anything that will offer us security and protection. But there’s one lesson we can learn from nature. If you adapt, life is so much better. And that means letting go of old ideas and ways of being, and becoming more flexible.

Flexibility is key to coping with change, to having a good life and meaningful relationships. A flexible person is one everyone wants to be with. They don’t make unreasonable demands on others. They’ll go with the flow and still smile through it. They let go of the past easily and embrace change.

Faced with one of life’s crises, such as cancer, flexibility helps a woman cope with the fears and frustrations. She can adapt to the present reality, even though it may not be the reality she had planned.

Because reality knows nothing of your plans. It will come up with ever new ways to frustrate and frighten you. If you can’t adapt to the new reality you may be stressed, irritable, hostile - perhaps overwhelmed, grumbling, resisting.

That leaves little mental and emotional energy for dealing with what matters. Relaxing rigidity and expectations will help you to yield to others without getting too depresssed or upset. It also gives new space to those around you to express what they are thinking and feeling.

In our behaviour change work we give people who are coping with change a new mantra. Do Something Different. 
Because, in a changing world, if you’re still trying to hang on to old ways of being you might come crashing down.
Instead you can adapt and flourish.

Nothing has to stay the same. If you always loved classical music, try blasting out some rock. If your wardrobe was sensible and conservative, wear something wacky. If you were a shrinking violet, get gobby and voice your opinions. Wear odd socks. Give more hugs. Dance under the stars. Give some money away. Sing loudly.

If anyone says, “But you don’t…” be ready to say, “Well I do now”

Times of change are also times for reinvention. Don’t be afraid to use this time to become the person you always wanted to be.