Happy New Year 2017!

Your 20s are a time to learn as much as you can about yourself and create some good habits. The decisions you make and opportunities you create now, will define you in the decades to come. No pressure, but you wouldn’t be reading this if money wasn’t important to you so begin by putting these simple tips in place.

1. Pay yourself first

You’ve probably not been working for very long (in adult years) which is why now is the best time to get used to taking some of your salary each month for yourself. Too many people pay their debtors first – travel, rent, credit cards, phone bills but then overlook themselves. It’s just as important to pay yourself. Tip: set up a standing order to a different account which you don’t have easy access to.

For example, once your salary goes into your current account set your standing order to automatically take out 5-15% (or whatever you can afford) a couple of days later. Something that I have noticed that helps is not to give myself easy access to this account so I have opted out of online banking and I don’t own a debit card for it to prevent me from spending the money. It minimises temptation to easily transfer it from one bank to another via my smart phone, for an impulse buy in Topshop that will end up in next summer’s car-boot sale. If you’re really serious about saving then I would really recommend this method – it’s rewarding to see the amount build up over time.

2. Get rid of debt early on 

If you don’t have any debt whatsoever then you can skip to point 3 and well done you, you savvy lady! But for those who do, and this is not a bad thing by the way, it’s important to clear your debts as soon as you can. Debts come in all shapes and sizes and some are more time-pressing than others. For example, a student loan is low-interest and is paid monthly from your salary so I would class this as a ‘good debt’. Credit/Store cards however are the ones you need to focus on paying off quickly. Credit cards can be used in a positive way – I give more information on this in my Credit Score blog.

Tip: Pay off your high-interest cards first and pay as much as you can. Resist the temptation to pay back the minimum payment each month as it will frighten you to know how much interest you end up paying back. Another option would be to transfer to a 0% interest credit card and pay back before the interest rate goes up.

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/minimum-repayments-credit-card – work out how long it will take you to clear your debt if you stick to the minimum payments each month and even more importantly, how much interest you will have paid back over that time.

Store cards are bad news – I have one myself so I’m saying this from experience. I can’t find a reason to show you why to hang on to one to be honest so start paying for things upfront. Start changing your mindset towards store cards because they can get you into serious debt – each time you are tempted just remember if you can’t afford to pay for it in cash and you haven’t needed it before then it’s probably best to leave it (I know it’s hard!). But it’s even harder to pay it back. Read more about why the Topshop card is not the fashionable way to pay.

3. Read as much as you can 

They say that women that read are dangerous. Well, I’m not too sure on who ‘they’ are but

it does have some truth in it. The only way you’ll learn how to become financially savvy is by teaching yourself and why not start now? I set myself a goal of completing one new book a month. If you’re a commuter then this is a great way to make your journey more interesting. If you’re a Northern/Central/TFL/Southern Rail line commuter – I feel for you. Reading actually takes your mind off all of the disgruntled commuters around you. Start by taking a look through my recommended book list.

If you have a smart phone and really want to take your financial game up a notch then download The Economist or WSJ (Wall Street Journal) app. They send short headline notifications to your phone in the mornings and although it might not make sense at first, you’ll soon start understanding what a FTSE live index looks like without even realising. You might not want to know this now, but once something has subconsciously become part of your daily routine, by the time you get round to buying shares in a company you will have learnt more than you think. Picking up City AM or reading the Business sections in the free newspapers are also a good place to start.

Tip: For quick and easy to understand snippets start following accounts such as This is Money or Martin Lewis on Twitter.

4. Spend your money wisely

Let’s be honest, we have all felt the need to walk into Mulberry and sniff their bags at some point. The truth is, this type of purchase is so unnecessary, it’s ridiculous. Clever marketing and social pressure can make you believe that a high street handbag makes you less worthy. Well, it doesn’t. Unless you receive it as a gift or your disposable income is so high that you struggle to spend all your money, then I would advise not succumbing to such extravagance in these years. Treat yourself in other ways, like investing in yourself; attend a seminar or pay to up-skill yourself for example. Buy a cheaper handbag and travel, learn, grow.

Remember – it’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits!

I am not suggesting that you never buy clothes again, I think I’d be infringing on a Human Right if I did, but what I am saying is that you should think a bit more carefully on what you spend your income on. Have you ever heard this saying? “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”

Tip: To really see what you spend your money on, create a list of things you buy over the course of a month. You’ll be surprised how quickly things tally up and the things that you can cut back on will jump out to you once you’ve seen them written down. Warning – it’s a bit scary.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

I have friends from all sorts of backgrounds and in a variety of different careers and it’s interesting to see how they have each adopted a different money style. Some have their parents to turn to for advice and some don’t. Others are earning double than their peers. A few are driving brand new cars and some even have a mortgage. I am proud of each and every one of them, but the point is, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I’m focused on me. And I certainly don’t allow myself to feel inferior or disheartened if I haven’t achieved something they have in the same time frame, as we are all working towards different goals. You’re doing the best you can with what you have, and as long as you always adopt this mind-set you’ll achieve what you set out to do.

Tip: Mind your own business. If you’re not focusing on your own goals and reflecting on how to improve then how do you expect there to be changes? We may not all have the same starting point, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have the same ending.

The best thing to do if you feel like your friends are doing ‘better’ than you is to have a chat with them about it. Ask them how they bought their home or how they saved for their luxury holiday. They’re your friends after all.

If you’re putting some of these ideas into action in the New Year, I’d love to hear how they are going – please get in touch.