Sunday, 28 March 2010

The one thing you need to teach your kids

As a child psychologist, I meet mums who tell me their kids have all the latest toys and gadgets yet never seem satisfied.

I also see worn-down teachers in despair at the rising number of pupils with attention problems.

And when I look at the psychology of money, impulsivity and short-termism seem to underpin most financial disasters.

So here’s the one thing you need to teach your kids.

Teach them to wait. To delay gratification. To resist impulse.

Mimic the marshmallow-waving psychologist Mischel - tell them they can have one sweet now, or two if they wait five minutes. Or the whole packet if they wait a week.

Buy now, pay later. Click to purchase. Surf 120 channels. Express delivery. Free upgrade. Loans by phone.

The wholesale commercialization of our society has seduced us into gratifying our impulses immediately. With easy credit, being skint needn’t stop us having what we want now.

And the 24/7 internet means we don’t even have to wait for the shops to open to feed our greed.

Research shows that adults who can transcend impulsive urges are more likely to be high achievers. They’re the ones who’ll ride the ups and downs of the stock market instead of over-reacting to every blip. They’ll be the slow-burners, the savers with long-term plans and flourishing investments, quietly gloating over the live-it-up splurgers. And with kids, as Mischel found, those who can sit it out for the two sweets turn out to have higher IQs.

So I’m convinced that if you nurture children’s ability to delay gratification, they’ll do better in all walks of life.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Budget 2010: Simonne's summary

Why does the Budget have to be as dull as dishwater?

One twitterer (is that a word?!) captured my sentiment in the following tweet:

"Alistair Darling has made as much of an impact as farting at thunder!".

There was lots to grab the headlines to keep most of the electorate sweet, unless you’re a cider drinking, chain- smoker buying a property worth over £1m!

From what I can see he played it really safe, not giving the Opposition any ammunition in the run-up to the election.

Anyhow, here’s a brief summary of some of the highlights:

· ISA allowances to increase in line with inflation from 2011 (maximum £10,200 from 6 April).

· 0% stamp duty threshold to rise from £125K to £250K for first time buyers.

· Stamp duty to rise from 4% to 5% for properties above £1m.

· Child tax credit to rise by £4 per week for one and two year olds from 2012.

· Cider duty to increase by 10% above inflation, compared to 2% for other alcohol and 1% on tobacco.

· A £2.5bn one-off growth package for small businesses, paid for from existing spending and banker bonus tax.

· No change on the amount you can inherit without paying inheritance tax.

· No change to capital gains tax other than reducing the tax rate to 10% for the first £2m of gains for entrepreneurs.

· Aiming to improve financial inclusion, by making sure everyone can have a basic bank account.

· Support for under 24s out of work for more than six months.

  • Mortgage support for the unemployed for six more months.

Hope that was fun reading! Lots more available from the BBC website.

Thanks, Simonne, for summing up for us.

I'm off for some strong cider now...

Monday, 22 March 2010

Simonne's a guru!

Yes, it's official.

Simonne's not just a gorgeous girl with get-up-and-go but she's also a guru! Isn't that ggggreat?!

She's featured in the Daily Express today as THE person to go to for financial advice.

They feature her TIPS FOR A BETTER FINANCIAL LIFE. She suggests you:
  • Identify the emotional triggers that make you spend
  • Keep a diary, note the time of day and how you were feeling when you spent
  • Find alternative ways of filling that time, emotional gap or need
- So if guilt about not spending time with your children motivates you to splash out on gifts for them, play a game with them that evening instead
- If shopping is a lunchtime habit turn in the opposite direction instead of heading for the shops, you never know what you might discover!

There's lots of other life advice in the article but don't neglect your financial health, when we're financially secure it affects our whole sense of well-being.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Simonne owns up to some unintended generosity!

Mobile phone warning

Do you use your mobile phone while abroad?

If so, be careful to avoid the mistake I just made (says Simonne). As my phone has the facility to pick up emails and connect to the internet, I use these facilities minimally while abroad to avoid hefty charges. But while playing the fun Aunt and letting my niece play a game that was downloaded on my phone , I didn't know each time she used it she was connecting to the internet. I managed to rack up a shocking £120 of data roaming charges for that short pleasure.

At least it wasn’t as bad as the German guy who was charged £41,000 for downloading a TV programme on his mobile!

My phone company’s been understanding and (as a true Sheconomist would) I’m in the process of negotiating these charges down to something more reasonable.

From July, new rules are being introduced to prevent this, but for now my advice is switch off the data roaming facility on your phone before you leave the country. If you don’t know how, ask any teenager to show you!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Are you a financial adulterer?

Should every woman have their own secret pot of running away money or are financial secrets in a relationship always unhealthy?

That was the topic I was talking about on Woman’s Hour today.

My take on is that if you’re willing to share a bed with someone, why not share a bank account?

If you’re reluctant to merge your money with your other half then ask yourself why? What’s at the root of it? It might be lack of trust, fear of losing it all or being raised with a scarcity mindset that still lives on in your squirrelling and hoarding tendencies.

I’m all for female financial independence (especially given that more women will be left alone in old age with inadequate pension provision) BUT, as I said to the lovely Jenni Murray on the show this morning:

It’s bonkers to believe the answer lies in a wad of tenners at the bottom of your knicker drawer!

Instead, financial independence means being open and honest about money, providing for your financial future and wising up about the best way to invest and maximize your income.

We have a whole chapter on this in Sheconomics, called Sharing Financial Intimacy.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Do you hate asking for money?

Why are women so rubbish when it comes to asking for money?

Bill Morrow (the inspiration behind angels den) told me recently that when entrepreneurs have to pitch to investors, the women rarely ask for ­enough money.

This led me to thinking about the psychology behind asking for money. The very thought of it makes many women cringe with embarrassment. Even if we don’t grovel to someone clutching a begging bowl, the simple fact that they have the money we need shifts all the power their way.

The truth is, shrinking Violet won’t drive a hard pay bargain for fear of upsetting people.

Women are socialised to be people pleasers; we put the feelings of others before our own needs. Men are likely to see the financial benefits as worth a few moments of discomfort.

I’d love to get to the bottom of this sex difference.

Please help me by taking part in a short survey.

It’s just 7 quick questions and there’s a chance to win a £25 Amazon voucher.

Click here to take part.

Also don’t forget Sheconomics tip sheet number 2 - How to Ask for Money – can be found on our website.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Use it or lose it - don’t leave it too late to save tax

Another timely reminder from Simonne:

There are only a few weeks left to make those all-important last minute payments into tax-efficient savings like Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). Remember, these are excellent ways of saving money without paying tax on the interest.

If you don’t put the maximum allowed into ISAs before 5 April, you can’t roll over the amount into next tax-year’s allowance. So if you’ve got money to invest or save tax-efficiently, you need to act fast.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Are you 50-ish and ready to retire?

Pension tip from Simonne:

Are you aged between 50 and 55 with a personal pension plan?

The opportunity to draw your pension from age 50 (currently the minimum age) will be lost if you don’t take action quickly. The minimum age is rising to 55 from 6 April 2010.

This could be your chance to get your hands on your tax-free cash sum and enjoy an early retirement. Otherwise you’ll have to wait up to 5 more years to start spending the kids' inheritance!