Opening up about our finances can help our wallets and our wellbeing
Our incomes have taken a hit from Covid, making talking about money even more vital.
Clean Slate, home to Quids in!, focuses on supporting people on low incomes to manage their money better, find work or better paid work, and to get online.
People like Clare, who is slowly putting her life back together after losing her business due to the pandemic. She overcame her embarrassment about talking about her situation and now feels it’s beneficial to share her experiences to help others.
“I definitely feel comfortable talking about my journey now,” she says. “I would have been embarrassed before. Now, I almost feel determined to bring this to light.”
Clare, 42, had set up a landscaping business with her partner and took out credit cards and overdrafts. In 2019 she had a baby and the following year the business began to suffer due to Covid – and the debts built up.
She split from her partner and was left with two children, unable to pay her bills and worrying about putting food on the table.
Clean Slate stepped in, taking away Clare’s feelings of shame and finding practical ways to get her back on her feet – like moving her debt on to two interest-free credit cards.
“People would probably look at me and assume that I’m not having money worries,” says Clare. “I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how can I admit that I’m in this position?’ Even my closest friends didn’t really know.
“But it absolutely does need to be talked about and people need to feel that it’s OK. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. There’s a lot of stigma that needs to be broken down.”
Now, after receiving help from Clean Slate, Clare has enrolled at university to train as a mental health nurse – which brings council tax relief and saves her £120 a month.
All from opening up about her situation and finding the right help.
“I’m proud of the fact that I asked for help,” she says. “It’s part of who I am and it’s certainly kept me grounded. If my story can help, then great. If it helps people to change their habits, open their mail, open their bills. It’s a knock-on effect, I guess.”
With her qualification, Clare plans to open a retreat for others facing trauma to offer the kind of support that helped her get through.
People are shy to admit what they don’t know, says Mark – who recently teamed up with Clean Slate to talk about the financial benefits of being online.
“I speak about money all the time,” he says. “So people in my chair, they’re very willing to talk about finances. I think that’s creating a safe space for people to talk. There’s a lot that I’ve seen where they’re embarrassed about things like being in debt and not knowing how to get out of it. I”m very open about my situation. If I’m in debt, I’ll say that I’m in debt.
“If more people were open and honest then others would be more comfortable talking about their issues or asking for help.
“You’re not the only person who doesn’t understand finance, you’re not the only person who doesn’t know how to use the internet,” he says.
Talk Money Week is held every November, coordinated by the Money and Pensions Service, to highlight the benefits to our wellbeing of opening up about money.
The aim is to encourage the conversations – with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues – that help us look after our financial wellbeing.