I’m Erin – 32-year-old single mum of one, currently living on the south coast.
Around the time I found Financielle on Instagram I was working with a counsellor. This is not unusual for me, it’s something I’ve done on and off for a number of years. What was different about this particular counsellor was that she offered a session on money. It was not at all what I was expecting. I thought we might talk about ways I might bring in some extra cash through a side hustle or roleplay asking for a pay rise at work.
We were talking about mindset and I don’t mind telling you I was not impressed by the concept that my own attitude to money might be the problem, nor indeed the idea that if I just changed it a whole lot more money might come my way.
But that is what we explored – an abundance mindset and how it could change my financial situation for the better. It felt pretty novel!
But let’s backtrack a bit.
My attitude to money really developed when, as a little girl, my parents separated, and I found myself in a household with three other children and not a lot of income. Money was, to quote that ‘old favourite’, tight. But we managed and, more than that, we flourished. And perhaps because of this and my genuinely joyful memories of childhood, it took me some time and reflection to pinpoint where and how my attitude to money developed.
Because there was no denying it. Money made me anxious – seriously anxious.
And the rub of it is, I’m not and have never really been in piles of debt. I’ve had credit cards (the maximum at one time was about two thousand pounds’ worth) and I took out a personal loan last year (pre-Playbook, more’s the pity) to buy a new car when mine died during Lockdown #1. I can impulse spend like anyone but a fear of credit cards, instilled in me by my mother, has always stopped me going nuts.
So, on the one hand, money anxiety has stopped me spending – because I have always believed I don’t have enough or (at some point in the not-too-distant future) I won’t have enough, so I should spend the absolute bare minimum now.
But on the other, money anxiety has meant I do not enjoy the money I earn, in fact I hold it so tight (in the words of my wonderful counsellor) it has no room to grow. And I overthink almost every decision that involves spending money – to the point where I’ve had anxiety attacks in Lidl about spending money on food that, obviously, I need to buy.
For most of my 32 years I have lived in a mindset of lack and scarcity when it comes to money. And not only is that not true – I earn a decent living, own my own home and save regularly despite finding myself a single mum with little support – it is not helpful. Because my fear of there not being enough money has blinded me to the possibilities of what I can do with the money I do have, how I can make it work harder and ultimately help me achieve some pretty big life goals.
Enter stage left: The Financielle Playbook (jazz hands!!!)
On 1 September 2020 I finally took the plunge and splurged (yes, it honestly felt like a splurge) on the Financielle Playbook. I had been thinking myself in circles about it for weeks, not convinced I could justify the expense and worried I would buy it, read it and not find it useful or, worse, just not implement any of the advice from lack of time or motivation.
But somehow, I made the decision and then I just devoured the contents of that PDF.
I had dabbled in the personal finance space before – discovered zero based budgeting, sinking funds and always dedicated time to finding savings accounts with decent interest rates (when those actually existed, back in the mists of time). But this was different.
The simplicity of the plan at the heart of the Playbook blew me away and made me feel slightly embarrassed – I mean, why hadn’t I thought of that?! It is so flipping logical and sensible – two things I love. The security of having a plan to follow spoke to the control freak in me in honeyed tones smoother than those of the most lust-worthy Hollywood hunk (or LALA lady, depending on your preference!).
I was excited, impatient and a little nervous – what if things didn’t go to plan? Is it too late to start? What about my plans to buy a house with my partner – the castle part doesn’t come until later!
Classic response, for me. So, I closed the PDF and did sod all for a couple of weeks.
Then, slowly but surely my brain kicked in and I realised that I could fit mine and my partner’s plans and the Playbook plan together. It’s not as pure as following it step-by-step, but it’s working for us and our situation.
We live two and a half hours apart and although he has mostly been with me during Lockdowns #1-37, he travels back every couple of weeks to see his children. And if there is one thing that eats into your excess, it’s travelling half of the M25 four times a month.
It’s also tedious.
So, we decided to use my savings to pay off his credit card – he was paying astronomical interest on it and it was dragging his already shoddy credit rating down. He then hustled hard to pay me back and now we are both saving to bring our deposit up to 25% of the value of the house we have found, to achieve a better interest rate on our mortgage. If we can do it our mortgage payments will be TWO HUNDRED QUID lower.
Oh, HELLO excess.
And with that increased excess we will:
- Build our emergency fund back up
- Snowball the living beJAYsus out of my personal loan
- Save for a house extension
- Live happily ever after
Ok, so this is all sounding flippant and daft but, in all seriousness, when I think about money now it is with a sense of excitement and quiet joy. It is a thing to be nurtured but also enjoyed and I can honestly say I am spending more on myself than I did for years, whilst also saving more than I thought possible.
I’m not where I want to be quite yet, but I know I’m on the right path and I can see my goals within reach.
Planning for my money, putting it mindfully and purposefully where I want it to go, brings a kind of high that is as intoxicating and addictive as any impulse purchase, without any of the destruction that kind of spending can bring.