Money can’t buy you love, or happiness, but it does make the world go round… well according to the old song anyway!
There’s no denying money is a huge part of our lives, particularly in the current climate; so why do we still struggle to talk about it? Is it learned behaviour? Money trauma? Misconception? Stigma?
Probably a mix of everything; but whatever it is, I’m here to encourage you to overcome all those things and try to speak more openly about money, more regularly.
Essentially, I believe the more we talk about money and try to normalise it, the easier it will be to deal with the stress and pressure it can create. I’m on a mission to #BreakTheTaboo surrounding money, to promote better understanding and encourage people to be open and honest so they can learn, share, and talk about money until it’s no longer a feared subject, shrouded in shame.
Talk Money week
Even though we work in finance, that doesn’t mean we’re automatically any better at handling our money! That’s why at The Verve Group HQ, we ran a series of money workshops for our team during Talk Money week, covering the very cheery (but important) subject of death, credit (the official theme of Talk Money week) budgeting, saving, pensions and investments.
We also now have a team of people who’ve volunteered to join our wellbeing team and become our Money Champions. The idea behind this is for our team to have a number of people who are there to encourage them to open up, support them, and give guidance on every aspect of money, not just during Talk Money week, but whenever they need it (information, not advice, of course!).
Since we delivered the sessions, we’ve already had people share their stories with us – our Money Champions have all been very honest in their bios about why they have volunteered and have shared their personal money experiences. We’ve also had people look more closely at their pensions, build budgeting spreadsheets (we do love a good ole spreadsheet!) incorporate ‘The Death List’ into their planning, take out life insurance and start working on Wills.
Phew! All that action from a group of us sitting in a room, sharing knowledge and brainstorming ideas. I can’t put into words how proud I am of that.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with my mission, it all started back in January when I was asked to become The Verve Foundation’s Ambassador for Education.
I kick-started things by taking to social media, encouraging people to talk more openly about money, had a series of articles published on the subject and shared some good news stories on the positive impact talking more openly had on people. I even shared the nitty gritty of my own personal money situation (gulp) and came under fire from the keyboard warriors (but I got their attention at least!).
During the summer I ran a series of money workshops for the residents of my local YMCA. These sessions were a big eye opener for me, as I had always thought we need to begin an education overhaul with the next generation… but what about the lost generation of people who missed out? Is this a factor in why people end up living in a hostel for years?
I’m not looking at this through rose-tinted glasses; I know there are a number of reasons for people being homeless, but I do think that a huge reason they stay stuck there is through a lack of knowledge.
One resident had been living at the hostel for six years, never being able to save enough money for a deposit to move into private housing. I delivered the last session and included a section on how to save, giving tips on how best to achieve goals and so on. I then had an email drop into my inbox from one of the support workers, saying that this resident had taken onboard the tips from the session and had managed to save some money towards a deposit; something they’d never been able to do before. I was astounded. Nothing I said during that session was ground-breaking, but just simple, everyday stuff that we all assume people know about.
This really made me realise how that lost generation (I feel a hashtag coming on!) of people need financial education to be able to move on with their lives. And this also shines a light on the advice gap we all keep banging on about – the people who need help the most are often the people who can’t afford it. So, what will happen to them?
There is so much good that we want to do as an industry and I’m seeing lots of amazing new initiatives and having discussions with so many like-minded people, I’m certain a lot more will be done to create an impactful shift in the way we view money and the financial education people will receive in the future, but we simply cannot afford (pun intended) to keep quiet about it all. Talk Money week shouldn’t be a thing – we should be talking money every day.
It makes the world go around after all!