Sunday, 14 November 2010

Guest post from Sarah Pennells

We're thrilled to have this guest post from top financial journalist Sarah Pennells. Sarah has a fabulous finance website and gives us her expert views on managing money here:

I’ll let you into a secret: I wasn’t born with a ‘money gene’ and I didn’t find money inherently fascinating at a young age. In fact, I wasn’t really interested in finance until I started working for a programme called Moneybox on Radio 4. Previously, I used to avoid programmes about money and bin the personal finance sections of the papers (sacrilege, I know!). 

But something clicked when I saw for myself how financial companies behaved and discovered the far reaching consequences of a particular course of action.
It amazed me then – and still does – that financial companies would happily give their customers the brush off but would often move heaven and earth to offer speedy compensation once a journalist was on the trail. Unearthing big financial scams and stories was undoubtedly rewarding, but so was giving people information that would help them to make better decisions about their own financial situation.

Over the last few years there’s no doubt that life – certainly in terms of the financial choices we face - has become much more complicated.  I almost ran out of fingers recently when I was trying to keep track of the various government announcements about pensions!  And – like many areas of finance – the changes to state and workplace pensions will affect women and men differently. 

So, this leads rather neatly onto why I started my finance website for women called Apart from sites such as Sheconomics there really hasn’t been that much information about money that’s aimed at women.  Sure, you’d get a smattering of articles about subjects such as women’s shopping habits or childcare costs (especially if there was a change in the rules), but there was – and is - very little that acknowledges that women and men can have different ideas about money.

We often have to make different financial choices – either because we earn less than men, because we have career breaks to bring up children or because we take on a caring role. But even if we start from the same point we may not follow the same path. One example is that women may have a different way of assessing risk in relation to investments and can be more cautious about what we do with our money.  Research shows we tend to be more put off by financial jargon than men are. 
It’s not that men particularly like jargon but it seems that they accept it as something that goes with the territory. 

However, although we may not know our allocation rate from our exit fee, we’re perfectly capable of getting to grip with our finances and making good money decisions. 

But some of us (men as well as women) have convinced ourselves that we don’t need to worry about money or that that it’s simply too dull to think about.
From where I’m standing, it’s too important to ignore. While I don’t actually believe that having pots of money is a sure fire route to happiness, knowing how to make sound financial decisions can certainly help.

Thanks, Sarah. 
Don't forget to visit her site for lots of tips and information.

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