The other morning when I was getting ready for the day, I got to thinking about the advice I’d give my future children. Hold your horses because there are no imminent Daisybabies en route, but I did think that it’d make an excellent blog post, especially given the variable age range of my readership.
If I had a pound for every time that I wished school had taught us valuable things about tax, politics and financial advice alongside the usual curriculum, I’d probably need never worry again.
Personally, I feel the UK education system is quite solid bar this niggle. Algebra, whilst not useful to me on the regs, might have informed a peer that they adored Maths, in the same way that my English lessons were where I discovered my passion for words. Anyway, rambling anecdote aside, I truly wish there had been more ‘life skill’ lessons at school because I’d be much further ahead now, if I’d known all of this then!
The 50/30/20 Savings Rule
I try not to fret too much about my savings situation because I’ve been working at it for a while, albeit not as long as I desperately wish I had.
If I could turn back time, I’d tell post-graduate me in her brand new full-time job to save that dollar. I had the time of my life spending extravagantly and living almost above my means when I worked in London, which was basically from the moment I finished Uni until I moved to Hong Kong.
This meant that I had little to no savings and, essentially, nothing to show for those 4 years of employment except a) a good time, b) several luxury handbags, and c) some bloody great holidays.
At the age of 27, I realise that of course all of those things are perfectly acceptable, just not in the excess amounts that I was going at it.
I’ve been employing the 50/30/20 savings rule for about 2 years now and it’s working really well for me. I’m finally getting somewhere with my savings and my once lavish lifestyle is on the back-burner, only brought out when I can justify it within my ‘20’ portion. You can read more about the method here.
Honestly? I try hard not to wonder where I’d be if I’d just been a little more sensible between the ages of 21 and 25 because I reflect on those years and LOVE the memories I created, but it is a little dismaying now to consider the amount I could’ve saved.
Stay with me here because this is going to sound incredibly boring: research Cash ISAs! Once you’re earning a stable, salaried amount, I’d totally recommend you open up a Cash ISA and begin to save in a tax-free account. The return you receive is pretty great and they’re almost addictive to save in. I said almost.
Your Study Path May Not Be Your Career Path – And That’s Okay
I don’t think this next point is spoken about enough, and that is that your chosen study path may not be your career path. And that is completely okay.
Not only are we expected to decide at the age 16 what we want to devote the next 5 years of our lives to, we’re conditioned to believe that we must then pursue this afterwards. The truth is that higher education is extremely tough and often graduates are left disillusioned and sans passion for their given subject.
I caught up with a friend from Uni the other day and we realised that hardly anybody from our course (fashion journalism) had pursued a career in fashion journalism. It’s completely normal. Several of us now run our own businesses after developing and harnessing core skills in our industries, a couple have gone on to teach, another couple made a complete career switch and some are pursuing marketing or PR.
Regardless of what we’re doing or what I’m doing, what IS important is you.
Perhaps you feel like you’re at a bit of a crossroads or maybe you feel pressured to pursue something in the field you’re studying – take a step back, breathe, and remember there are literally hundreds of viable options out there. You just make the call.
Personally, I plan to enrol in an educational course this year during an inevitable lull in clients to improve my skills and broaden my skillset. You heard it here first.
Designing Your Life
Hand-in-hand with my previous point, you are completely in charge of your life. It might not feel like it now, especially after being guided by tutors, lecturers and career advisors for much of your life, but it is down to you to craft the life you want. Whether it’s been your lifelong dream to teach yoga or open a floristry, or perhaps you know in your gut that starting a little café is your jam, what’s stopping you?
For the longest time, I sat politely at my desk with the telephone that didn’t belong to me, writing in a notebook that had been given to me and reporting numbers that ultimately didn’t affect me and I was bored.
I no longer wanted to spend the majority of my day fulfilling someone else’s dream. My boyfriend always says this line to me when I feel especially stressed or down in the dumps:
“Will this all still matter to you in 5 years’ time?” If the answer is no, you don’t have to fret so much.
And that, dear reader, has been the game-changer for me.
There are three avenues that I want to pursue and craft a living from: words, clothes and another top-secret one that I can’t reveal at the moment. At the age of 27, I personally don’t want to waste another minute in case I can’t make my own dreams come true. Whenever somebody guilt-trips me into believing I need to follow the crowd and go back to my 9-5, I remember that everybody’s path is different and just because something is right for them, it isn’t always right for me.
What advice, career and finance-wise, would you offer to your younger self?