In the latter half of 2011, I was working full time and comfortably earning more than the average London wage. But somehow, I never had enough to clear my debts or save. One day, while at home mindlessly watching TV, I stumbled across the Oprah Winfrey show and was instantly hooked. The guest speaker, Suze Orman (Google, if necessary) eerily seemed to be speaking, directly, to me, about my financial mess.
My AH-HA moment.
As Suze will tell you, and as I learned, debt is bondage and it’s you alone that can solve this problem. You can be your best financial adviser, and you can be in control of your finances. Whether you’re earning an amazing salary or struggling to get by, financial bondage affects us all. For instance, I was making good money, but throwing most of it down the drain. Unnecessarily, every month, my wages went on holidays, gifts and eating out. But Suze’s words changed my attitude towards debt forever.
Get to work.
Within 18 months of identifying the problem and actively working to fix it, I aggressively paid off over £20,000 debt. During this period, I changed my thinking and managed to convince myself that clearing these debts would magically turn me into an excellent money manager. I felt I had somehow acquired a super saving power.
In reality, as soon as the freedom and independence of being debt free settled in, I stopped saving and started spending. #TheGoodLife #BecauseImWorthIt. My hard earned money went yet again on more holidays, a new car, giving money and gifts to friends. We had nights out - just because- and it didn’t take long for me to discover that debt repayment was only the tip of the iceberg. It took less than 3 years to end right back at the beginning with even more credit cards and debt than I started with.
By 2017, I had no savings, and a significant amount of credit and store card debt. On top of that, I had a car on hire purchase and very high outgoings. Then unbelievably, in all of this mess, I decided it was the perfect moment to go part time and study. Therefore, my salary was slashed by 55%.
The double whammy
Surprisingly, I managed the above for the first few months. However, this was because I had done so much overtime that I was oblivious to what my part time take-home salary was. Then, I was struck by a double whammy in December. The flu and most importantly, the shocking truth of what my payslip looked like, minus overtime.
The truth hurts
On my part-time salary, and even with a joint household income, it looked like I would be a massive £800 short every month.
This forced me to face, albeit painfully, the truth about my income and expenditures. The realisation that I seriously needed to change the way I managed my money, to avert disaster, quickly sunk in.
Knowing my personality type, I knew I needed a structure and some sort of accountability system. Around December 2017, a man from my small group at church shared a Youtube video. It was about a lady who had saved over a massive $100k after college in the USA. I was so curious as to how how she did it, and within two days I had joined her Clever Girl Finance Accountability Programme. Given my debts, the £15 a month (for six months) fees almost put me off. Nonetheless, I took the plunge, and can confidently say it was one of the best financial investments, that I have ever made.
Hindsight is 20/20
“If I only I knew 10 years ago what I know now”- says my ten year old self.
The Clever Girl Finance Accountability Programme was a lifesaver. As well as the accountability programme, this helped me face my 'Financial Goliath'. I came face to face with the cold hard facts; the numbers, the terms, the stupidity, guilt and shame. Facing this was depressing, but deeply liberating. When we face the truth, it's pretty painful, but the level of freedom we experience outweighs the pain you feel in that moment, when doing it.
I immediately started reducing my expenses. This meant cutting back on spending, reducing my bills and cancelling subscriptions. I also said no to invitations that cost money, be it a work do, a friend’s birthday or even a church event. No one received a birthday card from me for an entire year. With all this free time, I read financial books to transform my mindset about money. I learned about different budgeting tools, financial terminologies and how to become the boss of my money.
Boss Blog origin story
I created this blog to share my personal experience as I work towards transforming my finances. I will share what’s working for me and tips on how to stay on track once you begin to hit those goals. I will inspire you to take the necessary steps to becoming the boss of your money. Too many people are ashamed to talk about money, or lack thereof. The same goes for debts, savings, investment and so on. It saddens me to see families crowdfunding to finance their loved one's funeral. It saddens me to know that there are 3.9 million children in the UK, living in poverty -predicted to rise by 50% by 2020 (source: Action for children). It saddens me to hear about elderly people making difficult daily decisions between heat and food. It is a horrible reality when someone is forced to stay in a domestic violent or abusive relationship because they do not know how to manage money and be OK on their own.
How to be a Boss of your Money
“What does being the Boss of Your Money mean to you?” — You get to decide..
When it comes to money, you can either take proactive steps to be the boss over your money, or you can sit back and be reactive, letting your money be the boss over you. What it means to be the boss, will be different for everyone, depending on your stage in life. For you it may be sticking your budget, building your emergency fund, getting out of debt, learning to save for things you want and not just tapping the plastic (contactless). For others it may mean contributing more to your pension, saving to buy a house, investing, saving for your children’s education, learning how to protect your money and assets. It could be anything! But you get to decide what that is, and put that plan into action!
It makes sense!
For me, being the Boss of my money is living every day according to my values. It’s where my spending and bank statement reflect my values, the life I want now and in the future. It’s paying my bills on time, not owing creditors, not giving away my money in charges and high-interest rates to credit and store card companies. It’s about having an emergency fund, when something unexpected happens. It is knowing precisely what is coming in and what is going out and planning for where I need to be. I plan for my future and take advantage of compound interest. I’m paying myself first. It is leading by example, so my children can do better in managing their finances when they grow up, as well as leaving an inheritance for my family and protecting them when the inevitable happens. It means not having to worry about having the heating on throughout winter when I retire. Above all, it’s so I can enjoy myself and help others, without over-thinking how much will this cost?
I hope my story will give you the motivation you need to take control of your personal finances, so that you can live the life you have always deserved.
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