January 02, 2018

New Year, New Money Hacks

This article was first published on Primark.com.

My New Year’s resolution last year? To talk more frankly about money, whether publicly online, with coworkers or with friends over dinner. Not going up to strangers in the street and demanding to know their salary or anything (can you imagine?). But my resolution was to just basically be less awkward about it.

Disclaimer: I’m no Suze Orman — I have friends who work in finance and actually know stuff. But even though I’m not in a place to give financial advice, I felt like I had to use my platform to at least open up some conversations. To try and rid ourselves little by little of this idea that money’s a totally taboo subject. I mean, it’s such a huge part of our lives to be hiding away out of sight…

I used to be terrible with money. I felt physically sick thinking about the amount I knew I’d wasted over the years: on bad decisions, overdrawn  balance fees, stupid impulse buys… I used to clam up just at the mention of it both in and out of work – even something as basic as splitting a lunch check. Money just made me feel so tense! Turns out you don’t have to be an expert to get the conversation about money out there. Starting a dialogue can be really helpful and practical. Yeah, it can be totally awkward at first (it’s an emotional topic, and we all have a different situation going on).

But the benefits of an honest conversation really outweigh any initial awkwardness. After my year of money talk, I feel less uptight, less secretive and less guilty about money: spending it, losing it, making it, saving it… I’ve learned about great tools and hacks to help with both short-term and long term money goals, just by not being afraid to ask questions.

It’s good to talk.

So here are a few things I’ve learned this year, to bring with me into 2018: 

Set up a weekly notification

Checking your bank balance can feel like ripping off a Band-Aid. We want to do it as fast as possible – the result could be painful. Are you that person who totally dreads looking – or even forgets to look? Set up a weekly reminder from your bank’s app via text message. I get mine sent to me every Monday so I can start the week knowing what’s up.

Get a bank that categorises your spending for you

This can really help you figure out how much you’ve been spending each month and where most of it’s going in one snapshot. If there’s a “Categories” section, it’s great for seeing where you’re spending (okay, over-spending). If they name the merchant, even better: you might be hitting up the same coffee bar one too many times…

Remember: it isn’t personal

One thing I learned this year: when you ask for a raise, or for a bigger fee for a project, don’t take the answer as a personal thing. Your boss/client will take your request into consideration, and will say yes or no based on whether it’s workable or not. The answer isn’t about you as a person – and no one’s going to think badly of you for asking the question. Always ask! It almost always ends up being a yes.

Set up a non-judgey WhatsApp group

Having a group of like-minded friends in the same industry that I can ask openly for advice has added so much to my work life. I don’t work in a traditional office, so my online networks can sub for office coworkers most of the time. Being able to ask other self-employed friends for a ballpark number or how much they charge for a similar project makes all the difference. It takes the stigma out of conversations about money. And it feels really good to be helping each other get paid what we’re really worth.

 

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