Linda sees her financial health as a constant battle. Between switching suppliers and deciphering jargon, it all just gets a bit much. But far from shying away, she’s grabbed the financial bull by the horns.
My relationship with money: "Hard work"
"When you get it you have to spend it in the right ways. You have to make sure you have the right utility bills and it’s like a constant battle. And every year you have to do it again. You can’t just sit there because it costs you money."
Pensions were harder back in the day
"I have a small company pension and I’ve always found it really difficult to really understand them and trust them. My relationship with pensions has not been the best. When I started putting money in I was 23, and then when I started having children I wasn’t allowed to put money in because back then if you’re not earning you can’t. Pensions were just something that never worked for me. As a woman it never worked.
"It’s changed now because you can put so much in a year even if you’re not working. But I missed all those years and thought I’ll never be able to put in enough. One thing led to another, so I’ve only got a very small company pension. I think I’ll get about £99 a month or something. So I’m disappointed. I try not to think about it."
I’m naïve about investing, but I do enjoy it
"I invest on and off. Every now and again a stock would be recommended to me and I’ll invest some money, but not often. Probably got about £5,000 in shares at the moment – all individual companies I’ve picked myself. But I should probably have a professional look at it and see what I’ve got.
"I don’t think I’ve lost any money. And you get the odd bit of dividend but other than that I don’t think I’ve made much money either.
"I don’t gamble – I don’t do the lottery. So I think maybe investing is my way of doing that. I’m a bit naïve really when it comes to stocks and shares."
Jargon tends to stop me in my tracks
"When I get an email and it says something like ‘rights issues’ I don’t know what that means. I think I got one from M&S the other day and I have no idea what it means. Am I missing out on something? You don’t really get that support to know what it means.
"When that rights issue came out it was just a generic email. Would be nice to have had some options as well in that email – what can I do now? It’s just like terms and conditions but I need someone to break that down. Translate it into what I need to do.
"Sometimes I just ignore it because I just don’t know what it means. I will Google things to see if I can find out but anything that takes time and energy, like reading another article, makes me think it’s not worth it, so I move on."
My biggest money question...
"How can I manage my finances on a regular basis to check I’m getting the best deals and everything is correct?"
Answer by Julie Lord, Magenta FP
I suspect that like a lot of people you are suffering from the fear of missing out (FOMO) when it comes to financial matters. As you say, things change so quickly and you might not have the knowledge, experience or motivation to do the research.
I suggest that you turn things around and think about what is most important for you to achieve in your life and then work out how much you will need and when.
This approach will help you (with the aid of a good financial plan) to determine how much you need to save and at what rate of growth for you to be successful.
For example, once you know what you have to save (say, £100 pm) and what it needs to grow by (say, 4.5% pa) you can then invest in a way that is most likely to give you this return.
You need to check that you are still on target from time to time and a good lifetime cashflow forecast will help with this and keep you disciplined.
Now you know what will work for YOU, you can stop worrying about other financial solutions, sure in the knowledge that this will allow you to pursue your passions and live your desired lifestyle.
There are many ways to get from where you are now, to where you want to be in the future, just as there are different ways of getting from home to work each day. But if you go by train, I bet you don’t worry about what the journey might be like by taxi or by bus.
Financial planning is the same - decide what you want out of life and then organise your money to most effectively get you there and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing - they have a different destination!