Business consultant and Audrey co-founder Faye Watts says it’s time to get better at money

Dreaming of a better life – or maybe just a more exciting one – is all very well if you have the money for it. And a lot of us don’t. We all have different circumstances – commitments, kids, mortgages, holidays, loans, a certain lifestyle to maintain. And that book you’ve always wanted to write, that career change you’ve always fancied or the business idea that you like awake plotting and planning can all come to nothing when you factor in those pesky financial pressures that just can’t be ignored.

Often it’s not about money, but mindset. Say your secret plan is to open a coffee shop. Terrifyingly that means ultimately giving up your job and financial security, which is out of the question until you’re in a position to find another way to pay the bills. But there are, of course, steps you can take now, smart steps that fit into your cunning plan, so that at some point it’s actually doable without the family becoming destitute.

But most people don’t even take those steps. They just go ‘can’t afford it, can’t do it’ and leave the coffee shop plan on the ‘oh well, never mind’ pile. But we need to get better at playing the long game instead of giving up at the first hurdle.

Obviously timing is an issue when it comes to financial pressures. If your daughter is at uni or your other half’s currently out of work, you can’t throw caution to the wind and rush out and buy the fancy espresso machine while the household finances are being squeezed. But you can at least be planning for when you will have the freedom to do it, perhaps two or three years on. So what steps can you take now?

“There are smart steps you can take now so that at some point your cunning plan is actually doable without the family becoming destitute”

I’ve been an accountant for many years, and I get to witness first-hand people’s financial habits and fears. What shocks me is how common it is for women to have zero control of their finances. Does this ring any bells? For many women it’s their partners who sort out the money side of things. In the UK we’re still too polite about money, but also fearful of it. And if you have an audacious plan for your future, that’s got to change.

What really helps is having a close look at your income and outgoings. How much are you frittering away on things you don’t really need? If you’re not exactly careful with your money, now would be a good time to change. Becoming conscious of what you spend and regularly checking your statements will make such a massive difference. Are there things you’re paying into that you don’t even use? Time to stop.

If you have a dream project, start putting some money away now so you’re prioritising your plan rather than living too comfortably (if that’s what you’re doing). Because handbags and houseplants might be lovely, but is it really necessary to get another one? You might be the type of person who always ‘needs’ a better car and expensive holidays, or maybe you just eat out a bit too frequently and get Ubers everywhere. Whatever the case, if you’re spending needlessly you might need a quiet word with yourself. Because having a goal means you have to prioritise it and be more savvy about where your money goes.

Of course money may already be mega-tight for you and treats out of the question. You may be excellent with your cash, watching every penny. If that’s the case and you long to jump off the treadmill and do something different, think about what big changes you’d need to make in your domestic set-up to make that possible. Contemplating the longterm benefits of making a big change can help you put your finances in perspective.

Women’s financial adviser Miss Lolly says we need to be prepared to start out with modest investment rather than waiting until we have every penny saved up to make a big leap into a new venture. “In my experience women tend to be 100% or not at all when it comes to making big life changes. If, for example, you think you need £20k to open a coffee shop, could it be done in stages, starting out with a smaller sum? Start off with an imperfect version and gradually add to it”.

If you’re the type of person who has no idea where your investments are, and have taken little or no interest when financial decisions have been taken, this would be an excellent time to re-acquaint yourself with what you have – pensions, endowments, ISAs, mortgage etc.

“Become more savvy and comparative and aware of what’s available.”

It all starts with simply understanding your finances. You may choose to buy a latte every morning and have a gym membership you never use (but always mean to), but you could make huge savings by cancelling both. Become more savvy and comparative and aware of what’s available. Make better choices. And get into better financial habits.

Here’s how to make a start

Got a plan? Get it down on paper.
It’s not enough to have great ideas in your head if you don’t get them down on paper. Doing so will help you work out the steps you’ll need to take and how much it’s going to cost you. And remember, in many cases you might not need as much as you think.

Get advice
Have an informal chat with a local IFA (Independant financial advisor) or accountant. A lot of people are terrified of getting advice cos they think it’s going to cost a fortune, but in fact most IFAs will give you an hour of their time for free to help you work out what your financial priorities need to be. Get a referral from someone you trust and speak to an IFA about your situation so they can at least give you some pointers.

Share your plan
Putting it out there makes it real. Get some coaching to voice your ideas and get feedback. Or create an informal accountability group through contacts who share your interest in self-development, so you can help tackle each other’s hurdles. This is where you can address the issue of financing your project. If you get used to talking about your plan and getting advice on how you’re going to finance it, it will feel less like an impossible burden to bear.

Change your mindset
For a lot of us our dreams are achievable with the right mindset and the right plan. We’re not all skint, we have options if we can think it through. You may not be ready to open your coffee shop just yet, but is there a compromise way of doing it that’s more affordable, at least for now? You could at least do your barista training or a business course at night school while you still have your day job. It’s the first step to making it a reality.

Miss Lolly is at misslolly.com

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