LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY

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IN 2018, IT SEEMS THAT THERE ARE RELATIVELY FEW TABOOS LEFT. HOWEVER, THERE ARE A FEW SUBJECTS, INCLUDING RELIGION, POLITICS AND MONEY THAT STILL HAVEN’T QUITE MADE IT ONTO THE LIST OF ‘SAFE’ TOPICS FOR CONVERSATION ROUND THE DINNER TABLE.

And even when we make a lifelong commitment to someone, it seems that we’re generally still pretty reluctant to reveal all about our finances.

Just this morning, an email landed in my inbox stating that according to a poll commissioned by Champneys, 17% of women confessed to lying to their partners about how much they really spend on clothes, while 8% won’t tell their partner the true size of their overdraft.

Of course we’d all love to be seen as financial whizzes who are too busy maxing out our ISAs, balancing our portfolios and planning for a swanky retirement to put a step wrong when it comes to our financial planning. However, I think almost everyone has at least one money-related hang-up which they’re self-conscious about.

So, following on from last week’s post about how to be a grown-up, here are a few thoughts on how not to hide from your finances like they’re that terrifying bogeyman that you feared was hiding under your bed as a child (in both cases, hiding under the duvet will only get you so far.)

Take stock

Most people don’t know how much they owe. And it’s virtually impossible to come up with a good plan to get your finances in order ’til you know exactly what you’re dealing with. I’ve certainly had my moments of having to take a very deep breath (and occasionally also sit down with a soothing cuppa) before opening a stack of bills. I won’t claim it’s a fun process, but once you know exactly how much you need to pay off, you can work out a basic budget and start to feel more in control.

Enlist Advice

If you’re worried about money, talking to someone you’re close to and whose advice you trust, can really help. Also, if you’ve been putting off taking action and need a bit of extra motivation, I find that once you’ve spoken to someone you love and trust and they’ve given you some good advice, you’re less likely to bury your head in the sand as you’ll want to be able to tell them what steps you’ve taken since speaking, creating a bit of accountability. Also, most worries seem huge when you’re facing them alone in the early hours of the morning. However, when you’re talking about them with someone else, things generally look a lot more manageable and it’s easier to stop panicking and start planning.

Google

Whether you want to check that you’re on the best energy tariff, take out a loan or shop around for a better deal on your ‘phone, it pays to box off some time every few months to get Googling. These days, companies like CashLady, which specialises in short-term loans if your credit history’s poor, list all of the info on the APR and the pros and cons of using them on their website. This means that whatever type of loan you’re considering you can check exactly how much you’d need to repay and whether it’s affordable. You can also check your credit score with a company like Experian to find out which types of loan you’d be eligible for pretty swiftly. Essentially, the more you know, the better your chances of getting the best deals on new services and of renegotiating your deal with old suppliers. Speaking of which…

Pick up the ‘phone

Admittedly, this is one of the hardest steps (frankly, it’s right up there with opening all your bills). However, I’ve tried it recently and it works. Essentially, if you feel that you’ve been with a company for a long time (whether it’s your bank or your mobile coverage or internet provider) and you haven’t been paying all that much attention to what you’re being charged, it’s worth double checking that you’re still on the best deal and if you’re not, then ‘phone up and explain that you’ve been a customer for however many years and want to check that you’re still on the best deal. Be willing to negotiate and you may find that a few minutes on the ‘phone can save you quite a bit of money. Personally, I was able to get a few overdraft charges refunded and to switch to a much cheaper ‘phone contract (which is worth listening to a bit of hold music for!)

This post was sponsored by CashLady, but the words of advice (and financial confessions) are all my own.

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