Monday, 13 May 2013

When money has a male face

When Winston Churchill was accused of being drunk by Bessie Braddock he is alleged to have replied,  “And you, Bessie, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning, and you will still be ugly”.
What a charmer. I bet Bessie wasn’t one of Winston’s greatest fans. Nor, were she still alive, would be Elizabeth Fry. For as the only female historical figure to feature on an English banknote, she has just been bumped off the £5 note by the former PM.

Quick quiz then. Do you know which leading figures feature on the following English bank notes?

1. The £10 note
2. The £20 note
3. The £50 note (old style)
4. The £50 note (new style)

Scroll down for the answers*.

Currently the £5 pound note depicts Elizabeth Fry reading to prisoners in Newgate Prison. From 2016 she will be replaced by Winston Churchill, giving every note a male face.

Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez has attacked the Bank of England for failing to eliminate gender discrimination under the Equalities act. Her solicitors have written to the Bank threatening court action and they have two weeks in which to respond. It’ll be interesting to see how they wiggle out of this.

Is this further confirmation that the money world is dominated by men? 

Which female figure would you like to see on an English bank note? I'm sure Maggie Thatcher might prove a popular though controversial figure, and I think Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton is a strong contender. 

The £10 note shows Charles Darwin, a hummingbird and HMS Beagle
The £20 note has Adam Smith, with an illustration of 'The division of labour in pin manufacturing'
The old style £50 notes feature Sir John Houblon and his house in Threadneedle Street. The new style £50 notes show Matthew Boulton and James Watt, with steam engine and Boulton's Soho.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

“Now what…?”

Simonne on how to make sure your future's a dream ...not a nightmare.

We love hearing about how Sheconomics changes lives. An inspiring review on Amazon recently told how it transformed one business woman's life. She cleared her debts and felt huge excitement about being back in control financially. 

Often clients are in crisis when they call up Simonne at Wise MonkeyShe helps them plan their ‘debt free day’ and says it’s positively exhilarating when that day arrives and they suddenly look out at the expansive horizon and new possibilities.

But then, frequently, the next question is where do I go from here?
A little financial planning could help you achieve your big dream.

In answer to this question, Simonne has three suggestions:

Step 1) Build a contingency fund
When money is no longer going into debt repayments it can be all too tempting to rush out and spend it. Start to b
uild an emergency reserve now so you don't plunge back into debt. Enough to live off for three months is ideal, saved somewhere accessible (e.g. in a cash ISA).

Build this fund by arranging a monthly direct debit to go out soon after you get paid.Then the money is automatically saved each month, before you can get your hands on it and spend it.

Step 2) Take a long view
Next look to that horizon and see how your financial future looks.

If you have an employee’s pension scheme review it regularly, especially the contribution rate. Sometimes the employer will match contributions up to a maximum limit. Simonne found that clients who were paying 1% of their salary into a pension pot, and the employer likewise, could get matched funding up to 8%. So by finding that extra 7% (as little as 4.2% after tax for higher rate taxpayers), they could be putting 14% more into their future.

In fact Simonne found one client for whom an extra £60 per month would result in having £238 per month invested (counting in the added contributions from her employer and top-ups from tax/national insurance savings)! Fortunately all companies are being forced to pay into pension schemes for their staff over the next few years through auto-enrolment. So check this out if you’re eligible.

Some people reduce their contributions during an expensive period in life, like buying a house or having a baby, then simply forget to increase them again.

And self-employed people, under the current rules, have to finance more of their future for themselves. Many of the self-employed hope their business will be their pension, but that can be risky. Starting to make small amounts of savings, with the power of compound interest, can make a big difference.

Simonne says it’s all about having a strategy and not necessarily at any extra cost. With some careful strategic planning now you can make a massive difference to your financial future.

Step 3) Mind the gap
Most people's financial strategy is to drift along, put a bit of money aside when they can and hope for the best. But doing some simple maths could take your future planning a step further

A = Assess where you’ll be a a future date. Maybe the mortgage will be paid off and the kids might even be off your hands? Work out how much income you'll need per month in today’s terms.
B = Then simply check out what state pension you'll get, and any company pension. And add in any other income, or circumstances, such as a property downgrade for instance.
Calculate A – B and you've got your shortfall

Once you know your shortfall online pension calculators show you what you would need to be saving to generate enough to provide the income you identified at A.

Pensions are boring and the future's a long way off, right? 
If that's how you feel, think of it instead as a gift to your future self. 

‘Know tomorrow comes’ is the 7th Law of Sheconomics. That needn’t be all doom and gloom. See it as a gift to the woman you’ll be in 10, 20,30 years time. Look after her, make sure she’s ok, and she’ll be immensely grateful to you. The steps you take now could dramatically effect whether her life is a dream .... or a nightmare.

What can be more exciting than knowing the dream life you want in the future ... and planning how to get there?