From a young age, when it came to finances, my dad taught me the importance of being good with money. His two favourite lines were and still are “save up yuh money” and “yuh carn spen wah yuh nuh have” (don’t try and Google translate, its Jamaica Patois). He was adamant on saving and not relying on credit i.e., spending money that’s not yours. These two sayings have served me well and helped me stay in the black. (I mean could I stay anywhere else? I digress). However, I’m aware that not everyone has been exposed to the same level of financial education as me. That’s not a criticism or a reflection on anyone’s parenting. It’s a reality. Many families don’t have the knowledge and financial understanding to pass on to their children, because their parents never had that either.
For many generations, as a community, we have been on survival mode. Working low paid jobs, getting by and never really securing many financial assets. (Although, many of the older generation do own their own homes- big up yourselves!). However, the dream of owning anything these days is a dream many of us may not be able to afford. Student loans, high rents and extortionate mortgage deposits leave us with little to no hope of buying a property. Not to mention women lagging behind in the gender pay gap. And us for us black mothers, kmt, say no more. But can we achieve financial freedom?
So, I’m no financial advisor, but here are some tips to help you begin to sort your finances to get you that step closer to becoming financially free.
I know, as soon as money comes in, it flies straight back out again! Therefore, at the beginning or end of each month, whichever is your preference, make a date with yourself to go through your finances and work out a budget for the month. List everything that you need to pay i.e., rent/mortgage, bills and foods etc. Within this list also include those one-off expenses like birthdays, car insurance or new school uniform. This will give you your total spend for the month and allow you to work out your disposable income.
Your disposable income is the sweet spot. It’s where any financial freedom will begin or sadly, where it will end. Set this money aside, you’ll need it later.
Having set your budget, you need to become intentional about how you spend your money. Think about if you really need to buy whatever it is you are about to purchase. “But she will look so cute in that” or “He wants a new pair”. I’ve been there, I know the lines, but children don’t need the expensive and extra caboodles. And for those other little items from Amazon and ASOS, they are not your friend. Take them out of your basket.
Get into the habit of asking yourself if you really need to make that purchase. It is really something that you need right now, or do you just want it? If it is necessity, I’ll let you off. But if it is just to post up on the gram, it’s a no from me.
Clearing your debt
Sadly, being on maternity leave or on a low income many mums become reliant on credit cards and loans. I’m not hating on credit cards as they do have benefits, but if not managed correctly can put you into financial trouble.
Debt is something you can’t escape unless you face it head on. So be the strong mum that you are and face it. List all your outstanding debts (and I mean all of them) and use the disposable income you identified from your budget to start paying off your debts. For the moment put aside attempting to save or keep with the Joneses so your children can impress their school friends. Focus on making affordable regular payments to clear your debt. This is where that budgeting starts to work.
I recognise that some of you may have little to no disposable income after paying bills each month and that is tough. If that is the case, start by reviewing your outgoings. Are you paying unnecessary bills? Do you really need Netflix and Prime? Can you reduce your phone bill or change broadband provider? Are you putting money into your savings but not towards your debt? If you have large debts can you downsize your car or house? I know the last options are not desirable, but to get out of debt it is important to reduce your outgoings. Take a fine toothcomb to your bank accounts to weed out any unnecessary bills and free up some cash to help you pay your debts. If you are in severe debt seek financial advice.
Save those pennies
As my dad says, “save up yuh money”. Many of us do not actually actively save. We only save what we don’t spend at the end of the month, like it’s just some afterthought. Say what? No honey that’s the wrong way round. We should be actively putting money aside. That sweet spot I mentioned before is what you should be saving each month. In fact, I’d even go as far to say savings should be classed as one of your essentials and transferred as soon as you get paid! This also goes for if you have a bank account for your children, you should be putting something in there every month, not just now and again. Whether it be £5, £50 or whatever you can afford, set up a direct debit and get it done.
We need to get into a habit of actively putting money aside for not only a ‘rainy day’ but to invest in our future. Having savings creates possibilities and gives us the financial freedom we deserve. And I’m not talking about buying the latest expensive tech gadget for the little one or a Birkin bag for yourself. I’m talking about real investment. Investments like shares, properties and assets things that appreciate in value rather than depreciate. Ladies we need to work towards building a legacy for our children and create generational wealth. We need to think about making real money moves.
This isn’t going to move you towards financial freedom, but it certainly will for your children. Get life insurance. As the dude from the beagle adverts says, “We protect are cars, our phones and our homes but we forget about life insurance”. I can bet that most of you reading this do not have life insurance. Hell, I didn’t either (I have now because I like to practice what I preach). Everyone should have life insurance, especially us mums. A subject no one wants to talk about, but funerals cost thousands of pounds. Yes, thousands! And unless you have thousands of pounds sitting nicely in your bank account when you pass, who do you think is going to pay for your funeral, your loved ones? And do they have thousands of pounds sitting around to pay for your burial? Mostly likely not. We can’t and we shouldn’t put that burden on our grieving family members. In fact, paying for funerals have left many families in severe debt. For a relatively small price in the grand scheme of things, you can secure a lump sum to cover funeral costs and something to leave your children to help invest in their future, so they too can invest in their children’s future and so on- generational wealth.
Educate your children about money.
This one is more for your children’s future and building their financial freedom. Never shy away from talking about money with your children this causes them to develop a negative relationship with money. Educate them on managing their finances. Talk about saving, talk about tax, talk about budgeting and setting up businesses.
For me, these children are way too advanced for my liking nowadays. Nevertheless, they’re never too young to learn about money. For under 5’s, they can put money in a piggy bank and play games counting money. For 5 to 12-year-olds, they can earn money from additional chores and help around the house. For teens, talk about things that they are interested in or good at, can they make money from their talents? You’ll be surprised what people will pay for these days! Talk about investment and shares, teach them about what costs are involved in buying a house. Whatever you do, be mindful how you talk about money around your children, as this will impact their view of money and financial future.
As I said before, I am not a financial advisor. In fact, numbers and figures is not my thing. But I want us women and mummies to really change our mindset towards money and work to becoming financially confident. I want to break the cycle of lack of financial understanding and just getting by. This notion of just having enough and that money is the root of all evil. (Can we get this straight. Money is not the root of evil; it is the pursuit of money. Jheez!). I want us to live a fruitful and abundant life. And it if that means taking it one penny at a time, then so be it.