Money fascinates me. We all know a lot about it and deal with it every day, even though economists can’t agree on exactly what it is. As a banker I’ve dealt professionally with money and debt all my working life. And I have personally struggled with overdrafts and credit card debt for many years before gradually getting the upper hand. I’ve also tried to help other people with their money management problems. For several years I volunteered as a Debt Counsellor with Citizens Advice, and now I’m a Money Coach for Christians Against Poverty, who have developed the excellent CAP Money System as a way of managing money.
I’ve learnt that managing money well or badly has as much to do with emotion as with logic, and that psychology is just as important as arithmetic. A lot of money blogs seem to assume that we all like dealing with numbers and we just want some help in analysing the cheapest deal, or the highest rate of interest on a savings account. In this blog we’ll be starting from a different point. My assumption will be that most of us don’t like thinking about money. We only do it because we have to. We don’t feel good about money; we never seem to have enough and we often struggle to make it stretch to the next payday. We suspect that other people manage it better than we do. Perhaps thinking about money makes us feel guilty – perhaps we feel that we have failed in some way – because we’ve not earned enough, or not saved regularly, or spent too much on the wrong things.
My hope is that I can help more of us to enjoy the feeling of financial wellbeing more of the time. That means not thinking about money most of them time, and when we do occasionally have to think about it, we feel OK about it. It doesn’t mean being rich, but it does mean being able to open the morning post without a feeling of dread. This is what I mean by “easy money” – making it easier to manage money on a day-to-day basis by organising our finances so that we only have to think really hard about money (which we don’t like doing) very occasionally.
I’ll be talking about simple ‘easy money” tools and techniques that we can use to increase our financial wellbeing. Some of these you’ll already know about, others may be new to you.
Things like “Jam Jar” accounts: many of our grandmothers had a row of jam jars into which their husband’s weekly pay packet was divided – a jar for rent, groceries, milk, rainy days etc. It was a good way of making a small amount of money stretch. We can use multiple bank accounts in the same way. You can start by using one account for paying all your regular monthly bills, and a separate account for everything else. That way you don’t have to worry about having enough left in your account to pay your monthly bills, and it’s a lot easier to see how much you’ve got left to live on.
Things like using cash when shopping for groceries. We find it much harder to spend cash – we actually find it painful – so we instantly become much cannier shoppers. Research has shown that people who go shopping with cash spend significantly less than people who pay with plastic.
I’ll be talking about these ideas and others like them in my blog, and I’d be interested to hear from you about your experiences, and about tips and techniques that have worked for you. Let’s learn from each other.
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