Hi everyone, I hope you’re all well!
The other day, I posted a kind of financial history of sorts on my Instagram Stories (@thebrightongirl) – shameless plug! I got a lot of responses to it, so I thought I’d talk about it on here, as one of my aims with this blog is to make talking about money, and finances, and debt, less of a taboo.
So, growing up I was never good at saving; I had friends that would stash away at least 50% of their pocket money, paper round or Saturday job, but I was more the ‘spend it and worry about it later’ type. It’s taken me a lot of years to shake off that mentality.
At the age of 18, I had been working full time for nearly 2 years but I still wasn’t great at saving. I went shopping one Saturday to get an outfit for a night out, a few days after I’d turned 18, and when I was paying the shop assistant offered me a store card. To my 18 year old brain, who was probably more naive than most 18 year olds, I essentially heard what I wanted to hear, which was that I wouldn’t have to pay for the clothes today, I could just put them on this magical card, and in fact if I wanted anything else I could just stick it on the card too and worry about it later. And that I did.
On my very much minimum wage income, it couldn’t handle being hit with the repayments for that card, so I panicked and got myself a credit card to tide me over. I’d soon hit the limit on that, so I got a second one, and then a loan, and another loan, and another loan and another loan, because each month my income was swallowed up by debt and I needed another source of money to get me through until the next month.
It was an endless spiral and I buried my head in the sand. I cancelled the repayments, I ignored the letters and the calls; I couldn’t afford any of it and I was petrified about what to do. I expected bailiffs to turn up and knock my front door down, storm in and take every possession I owned.
I hid it from everyone, as I was so ashamed that I’d gotten myself into such a bad situation at the age of 19 or so. Most of my friends didn’t even have one credit card by that age, and there I was with about 15 different streams of debt.
In the end, I got a loan to consolidate every bit of debt and made one repayment every month. It was a big repayment, so I was still financially crippled and dreamt of the day I’d pay it off.
At this point I was working full time during the day, then as soon as I finished work I’d go to my second job of working in a pub so that I had some form of money to live my life, even though I was always working so barely even had the time to spend it.
This was years ago, and even though it was so long ago, I still remember how helpless and miserable I felt. It was my own fault as I was stupid and reckless with money, but I do also think that stores should be careful with so freely offering out store cards to people so young, as a lot of us at that age probably didn’t know how to manage our money properly.
I know I’m not alone as so many of you replied to my stories saying the same thing happened to you, and what a horrible time of your life it was. I empthasise with anyone who’s been through it or is going through it as it consumes your life. I’d say to anyone going through it now, any company you have debt with can provide you with a repayment plan, so utilise those as much as you can and create something that’s affordable for you.
These days, I have very minimal debt because I remember all those years ago what it did to my life. I have allowed myself one credit card which I rarely ever use and I want to keep it that way. I want to buy myself nice things and go out for dinner and drinks, but I also would not live outside of my means now, and saving is a priority for me.
Saving is something I have always been shit at, mostly because I have my Savings Account with my bank, and so on my online banking I can see it there, and it’s so easy to withdraw from it all the time. I honestly had surrendered myself to a life of never saving until at the beginning of the Summer, an AD came up on my Facebook for a savings app.
ADs came up on my Facebook all the time for different things so I don’t know why I actually looked into this one but I did. It was a savings app that you linked with your bank account; it got read only access to your transactions and balance, and sets up a direct debit. It could do different things that you could choose to turn on or off, turn up or slow down; it could take your spare change by doing round ups, and put that spare change you have into the savings account it had created for you on the app, and it could also do an Automatic saving once a week or so, where it would look at your transactions and say ‘Okay, I think she can afford to save another £12 this week’, and it would take the £12 and put it in the savings account.
The savings account was situated on the app, or Facebook Messenger if you decided, and you have a 4 digit pin to go in and see how much you’ve got saved or withdraw from it. You can withdraw instantly from it, and the money goes back into your bank account either that day or the next working day.
I was worried it wasn’t safe, linking an app to my bank, but the more research I did, the more relaxed I felt. Over half a million people in the UK use it, they use a highly secure encrypted software, they have read only access, and Mango Pay, the payment company they use, if they were to go bust, you’d get your money returned, so it’s completely safe.
I started posting about it on my Instagram and so many of you either signed up, or already used it, and sung your praises of it. People message me every single day saying they’ve saved hundreds or thousands of pounds from it, and how it’s helped them go on a dream holiday, fund Christmas, help during an emergency – it’s honestly amazing. I’ve even had messages from people who work in the Fraud team at banks saying how much they love it, which is saying something.
If you want to download the app and see for yourself, click here or this link. It’s a referral link, but I’ve used it for months and love it so much. My boyfriend, parents, friends, family – I’ve gotten them all to use it and they all love it. Trust me.
Speak soon, and I hope you liked this post!
All my love BGP xx