ICYMI, Iona wrote the main op-ed for the Scottish Sun on Saturday (29 February), with some quick and simple tips that everyone can put into practice.
Here it is!
Do you see money as a mental health issue? Possibly not. Say the word ‘finance’ to your typical millennial and they might think of maths, jargon and the Wolf of Wall Street.
To be honest, I used to think that too. Before I started the Young Money Blog in 2011, I was clueless about money. I didn’t know my ISAs from my insurance, my APRs from my ETFs. It was all a foreign language to me.
But I was still fretting about my finances. From how little I was earning to how much I was borrowing from my parents, money was always on my mind.
I wasn’t alone. Young people all around me were struggling. The 2008 financial crash turned our world upside down, making it tougher than ever to find decent work and affordable homes.
Indeed, our generation is the first to be less well-off than the last. Today’s 30 somethings are typically around £20,000 poorer than the same age group was ten years ago. No wonder two-thirds of millennials worry about the future, according to the financial app Revolut.
For me, the final straw came when all the money I earned since uni was stolen. Although admittedly that’s because I stuffed the cash in a piggybank that got nicked by burglars. D’oh!
That was the wake-up call I needed. The only person who could sort out my finances was me. I could sit around and whinge, or I could do something.
So I started reading and writing about money. I learned that our wellbeing is constantly affecting our finances and vice versa. I discovered that we form our money attitudes by the age of 8. The way we spend, save and borrow…it’s all very deep and emotional.
That’s why we grow up fearing money. It’s hardly ever discussed in the home, in schools, in workplaces. It doesn’t help that companies and ‘influencers’ are constantly selling us stuff we don’t need. Or that banks indulge in loads of geek-speak and offer debt as the answer to our prayers – even though it often makes things much worse.
But there’s hope. Not only have I transformed my finances, I made a career out of it. If I can turn things around, anyone can. But you don’t have to become a maths whizz or a world expert on mortgages. It’s simply about looking out for your own long-term interests.
Get to know the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ debt. Look after your credit score. Take regular breaks from social media.
Get organised. Choose a bank with good customer service and a top app (they do exist!) Keep your spending priorities simple. Remember the things that matter – health, relationships, peace of mind.
Save what you can, when you can. Read up on pensions and investing; they are less boring than you think and could be the solution to our climate emergency.
Start putting this stuff into practice and who knows? Maybe one day you’ll give me a run for my money.
MY SIX QUICK ‘N’ DIRTY MONEY TIPS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
- Don’t be tempted to buy now, pay later. Wait till you’ve got the money or walk away
- Overdrafts are getting more expensive, so look at a money transfer card to pay down your debt interest-free
- Create a list of free activities you love – e.g. running, playing music, having a bath – and do them more to stop you blowing your budget
- Make one new spending change a month, i.e. cutting out takeaways and cooking more, then stick to it
- Use a banking app where you can budget and move money into savings more easily. Try to have a few months of wages in an easy access account
- Use a Lifetime Isa if you’re saving for your first home to get up to a grand a year from the government