Iona was also Vanessa Feltz’s guest on today’s Papers Review on BBC Radio London, prompting one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars to comment that she had been an “impressive guest” and would be asked back!
Iona talked first about she founded the blog in her early 20s in the aftermath of the financial crash because she realised young people didn’t know the first thing about money. “Getting into debt at university is the new norm and it’s easy after that to think this is what I have to do, this is what you need to do to get by. But if you do start to think about money you can not only transform your finances but your well-being. So many young people feel anxious and suspect they don’t have a bright future and this is one really important step you can take to start getting control and feeling more optimistic.”
Iona chose several stories to comment on, the first was a political story on Brexit arising from what she called Boris Johnson’s “epic essay” in the Telegraph last Saturday, which Iona said showed that “newspapers still have this power to capture the agenda”.
She went on: “Whether you are pro-Remain or pro-Brexit we need leadership and unity right now, we have to go into these negotiations knowing what we want or it is going to put us on the back foot, and being prepared to walk away if we don’t get it.”
On the foster parents being investigated over Friday’s tube terrorist attack, Iona said such people were “unsung heroes of society” and she wondered whether they were getting enough support and enough help. “They have shown huge goodwill in taking in these troubled young men who obviously have huge issues.”
Iona said unless you were in their position you couldn’t appreciate the nightmare of the people stranded by the Ryanair fiasco. “They are talking here about a £22m compensation bill, I would love to think that the people affected are all going to remember this when they get home and get straight on the case. But my feeling is that some people will forget and think it’s not worth their while and won’t be straightforward. I was at a conference recently where it was revealed that 96% of people don’t complain when they have had bad service.”
Vanessa interjected that people tended to get off the plane and think ‘I’m alive and well’ and leave it at that. Iona said she had in recent times made frequent use of social media to complain about bad service suffered by herself or friends and had every time received compensation or an apology. To Vanessa’s query as to whether it was really worth spending the time Iona said “it’s always good to get free money!”
The discussion moved on to debt, with Vanessa asking how people struggling on low incomes or zero hours contracts could really expect to budget or get on top of their finances, and how was it Iona felt so confident about it.
“I was very fortunate to grow up in a house where frugality was the watchword, my mum encouraged me to be mindful in my spending and my dad said save whatever you can…most of us form our ideas about money by the age of eight, so although financial education is now on the curriculum if you are in high school you probably already have your attitudes formed.”
Vanessa said it wasn’t possible to save when people were in debt, which was often spiralling out of control.
Iona said too often when people encountered money problems it could get out of control very quickly because they were presented with solutions which encouraged them to borrow more, and that became the default option. “What we need in this country is a culture where saving becomes that default option, where for instance you always have three months income put by for when the washing machine breaks down or you have to visit an ill relative.”
Vanessa finally moved on to a story about sleep – whether lack of sleep was in fact a bigger problem for many people than lack of money.
Iona: “The two are linked because if you are not in control of your finances you won’t sleep well at night.”
Vanessa: “That was a great link.”
Iona: “But it’s true. The number one predictor of divorce is money, Often you don’t find out your partner’s attitude to money until it is too late. And if you feel more comfortable in your outlook you will sleep better.”
Vanessa: “But look at all the rich people who don’t sleep well at night.”
Iona: “That’s the problem, when you get more you end up wanting even more and it becomes addictive. What it’s about is having the money for what you really want in life.”