If getting a grip on your finances is at the top of your New Year resolution list, and even if it isn’t, there are sources of intel out there that not only give you the lowdown on pension schemes in plain English, but will also furnish you with food for thought on topics so varied as immediate steps to take if you’re bill-phobic and how to be creatively frugal while still maintaining a life. Basically, the kind of down-to-earth real talk that you probably needed at school while you were honking away on a recorder or making a battery out of a potato. Here are eight finance oracles to tap to kickstart your ‘new year, new you’ money savvy self. Or at least cajole you into looking at your bank statement. Baby steps.
The Financial Diet
A personal finance blog founded by writer Chelsea Fagan, who wanted to get her monetary affairs in order without becoming a hermit or sacrificing lattes, The Financial Diet features relatable first person pieces, expert insight and a wide range of views and tips from a varied community of writers. While it’s a US site, making some of the college and real estate sections in particular somewhat obsolete for us Brits, content focused on budgeting applies across the board, “living with debt” deals frankly with the practical aspects of getting back into the black while sharing advice on how to cope emotionally, while posts on family and managing money whether you’re single, in a new relationship, in a long-term or long-distance relationship or planning a wedding take on the complexity of money in the context of matters of the heart. You’ll also find a goldmine of articles on money at work, investment myths and dealing with the literal and visceral costs of looking after everything from mental health to menstruation to eating well.
Top tips for the New Year: “Add at least one source of extra income. There are endless side jobs and gigs out there to supplement income, bolster savings, hone new skills or even make a career transition. Even if you just dedicate a few hours a month to a side job, one additional stream of income can have a huge impact. It could be babysitting or tutoring English on Skype or working a full-on part-time job, but try to always have at least one side hustle on the burner.”
BBC Money Box Podcast
BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme began in 1977, so it’s hardly the new kid on the finance block, but listening live or downloading the podcast will ensure you’re informed about the issues of the day and also clued up on the financial implications of the latest headlines, from Brexit the The Budget to the rise of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. The lineup of presenters includes Louise Cooper, a former Goldman Sachs stockbroker turned business journalist who combines extensive technical financial knowledge with a skill for spotting a human story behind economic news. Her recent interview and investigation into how banking services treat vulnerable customers and protect us in the case of illness and difficult life circumstances is particularly thought-provoking, and it’s refreshing to hear an expert female voice on all things finance- a cursory round-up of finance coverage and blogs reveals that men still dominate the economic discussion arena, as they do the workplace- a 2016 Women in Finance Report revealed that of 200 active financial services firms in the UK, there’s an average of just 23 per cent female representation on boards and a paltry 14 per cent on executive committees.
Top tips for the New Year: This weekend’s episode focuses on the recent ban of charges for using your credit card. Good news alert.
The Financial Times Money Show
Whether or not you regularly study those salmon pink pages, the FT Money Show condenses a variety of finance related topics into bitesize 15 minute episodes, and the show is produced and presented by women- namely Claer Barrett discussing everything from champagne vs. prosecco sales to what to do if you get fired and UK housing prices with an expert panel, and Lucy Warwick-Ching on production. If you’ve ever considered the costs of teeth whitening while pondering the issue of investment fraud within the same breath, this is for you, and if you haven’t, it’s fascinating stuff that everyone and anyone can fit into their day. It’s impossible to nod off when discussions veer from “rich people’s problems” of losing drones to whether you should adjust your financial strategy in line with Corbyn’s increasing popularity.
Top tips for the New Year: Physical health as well as financial wealth was on the agenda this week- “Don’t waste money on fads, diet books, trendy foods you hate or gym memberships that don’t make economic sense for how often you’ll realistically go. Go to the supermarket when you’re not hungry- you’ll naturally buy fewer junk foods and probably less meat and automatically save money as a result while ending up with a healthier basket.”
Another American blog, this career focused site is “co-hosted” by childhood friends Joymarie Parker and Courtney Cleveland and aims to generate intelligent, diverse discussion around jobs and money from a ‘young professional’ angle. While the money section of the site is sponsored by a US bank, podcasts and blog posts relating to everything from asking for a pay rise (regularly) to the challenges of building wealth when you’re a cash strapped millennial will resonate for any young audience, plus the focus on professional and financial success for women of colour in particular is much needed- the current pay gap for black and ethnic women in the UK stands at a shocking 26 per cent.
Top tips for the New Year: “When in doubt use cash. It gives you restrictions, keeps you on track with other money goals, and once it’s gone, that’s it!”
Bad With Money with Gaby Dunn
“Money makes us freak out, cry, and do wildly inappropriate things. So how come nobody ever talks about it?”. This was Gaby Dunn ’s impetus to devise her “safe” podcast space in which she and her myriad of guests (comedians, musicians, financial psychologists, her own parents) muse over the fact that money can be confusing, scary and determine our mood and self-esteem levels on any given day. Example episodes include ‘What if You’re F*cked? (aka No seriously, What Then?)”, in which Gaby discusses long-term freelance working life, identity theft and money issues that arise when you have bipolar disorder with a panel of ‘been there, done that’ guests. This is no holds barred, seriously frank finance and life chat, and it’s funny, refreshing and confronts many of the taboo aspects of money that the majority of us bury under carpet during the day to day.
Top tips for the New Year: We’re hanging on for a new podcast series, but we’ll leave you with last year’s mantra of “don’t let the fear steer”.
The stateside money tips continue, this time from actuarial scientist and finance expert Tess Wicks , who’s mission statement is to combine no BS advice and truth while encouraging readers to spend the money they want to and can afford unapologetically. She wants you to learn about supposedly intimidating finance topics and instil a sense of shrewd money management, but if you want to buy the wine, she thoroughly advocates leaving said indulgence in your budget and buying the wine. While a blogger, she’s currently focusing on her Youtube channel , with such gems as getting by on less while still enjoying yourself if you live in a big city and combating an ‘instant gratification complex’.
Top tips for the New Year: “Make your goal setting S.M.A.R.T- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.”
A passion for personal finance may not sound so racy, but Canadian Jessica Moorhouse has had one since she was young- she never received pocket money, worked from the age of 15, paid her way through university and started her Money, Life, Balance blog five years ago as a means to keep herself accountable and explore issues such as strategic budgeting and investment. Since then she’s also launched a successful Mo’Money podcast , featuring interviews with successful entrepreneurs and finance experts, while both blog and podcast cover topics such as empowering yourself through financial literacy and why staying in a job you hate could actually be financially unhealthy.
Top tips for the New Year: Resist the sales: “every January for the past few years, I do what I call a spending cleanse. All that means is I like to limit my spending on just my essentials. I spend so much of my hard-earned money during the holidays, I like to try to reign in my spending in January so I don’t get caught in a cycle of spending for the sake of spending.”
Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert
Finishing with a finance guru you’re no doubt very familiar with, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis is always on the pulse when it comes to the latest high street savings and ways to slash your household bills, and his blog consolidates the business and finance news, unpicking what it means for the average consumer and analysing the best deals, loans, accounts and providers to opt for at any given time. From extolling the benefits of using credit cards over cash (controversial) to demystifying student loans, Lewis delivers financial nous with boundless enthusiasm and clarity.
Top tips for the New Year: “The festive financial hangover is about to start for many. Debts are the worst bit, so don't wait till the bills fall through the letterbox - that'll just keep interest accruing for longer. The most important thing to do is to reduce the interest rate you pay, so more of your repayments clear the actual debt rather than just profit the lender, getting you debt-free quicker. Prioritise repaying the costliest debt first, i.e, the one with the highest interest rate, as it'll grow the fastest. Use all spare cash to clear it and just pay the minimum on everything else. Once it's clear, focus on the next costliest.”