As part of our personal finance interviews, we are having a chat with Catherine Morgan. Catherine is leading the way for financial education for women and offers expert guidance on how to be financially fearless.
She also hosts the radio show ‘Money Mindset’ and blogs about how to save money and live the life we want.
Hi Catherine, thanks for joining us today. Is there a particular reason you started blogging and giving money advice? Do you also have a specific financial goal?
Thank you and what a great question! When my youngest son, Thomas, was five weeks old he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and I was told that I might lose him. It was an awful time but it wasn’t until Thomas came out of hospital that the enormity of it really hit me. Coupled with bullying and eating disorders in my teenage years, I used money to try and control my anxiety and overspend. I began spending money that I didn’t have on my credit card and going into my overdraft every month. I was lucky. I’m a financial expert so I was able to recognise what was happening and change my behaviour around money before I got into serious debt. But not everyone’s that fortunate.
I entered the financial services industry at the age of 18 and after 17 years of working in a male dominated, sales culture, I felt the financial advice industry has made it difficult for ‘ordinary people’ to get good financial advice. Financial education was non-existent in my days, and I wanted to use my knowledge and expertise to help people understand money and empower them to take control of their own finances. Money is still a taboo subject and it can be a very isolating one.
My financial goals are linked to what I value in life that heavily involve my family, my friends and creating life-long experiences. I guess like most people, I want to be financially secure, happy in my business and continually improve my personal development skills so that I learn something new every single day. I make sure that everything I do links to my goals and values which in turn creates wonderful financial wellbeing.
Do you have a favourite lifestyle hack you have used to save more money?
My biggest hack is to enforce a cooling off period to control my emotional spending habits. The emotion of the purchase drives me. So when I shop online, I add the item to my basket and then I give myself 48 hours to consider my purchase before I check it out! This has not only saved me hundreds of pounds but also altered my spending habits.
What personal finance tools do you currently use to track and manage your money?
I switched my Bank account to Starling Bank in January. They are a UK online only bank known as a ‘challenger bank.’ They were certainly no challenge to my high street bank! I can automatically categorise my spending and identify where I am spending my money and create pots of savings (with personalised pictures behind each one) for each of my financial goals. I currently have 4 pots – one for car expenses, Christmas spending, holiday to Lapland and a new dining table I am saving for. I am also a huge fan of money apps that automate my money. Anything that will save me time and are low effort.
Managing money is hard work and for many, can feel frightening. Small easy steps are key to managing money effectively. I love apps like Emma (one of my best friends is also called Emma and they integrated with Starling Bank in March!) that help to keep you on track. Keeping on top of your finances not only helps you to save more money but it also makes you feel positive and this improves your overall financial wellbeing. I use Emma to help me avoid slipping into my overdraft and it prompts me to save money. I almost feel like this Emma is this money gal sitting on my shoulder as my financial accountability friend! She keeps me in check.
What’s the best way you have found to make money online? Do you have a money making tip you would like to share?
My top tip would be to use cashback websites for every single financial transaction. I use ‘Topcashback’ or ‘Quidco’ for everything, including my holidays, mobile phone contracts, home insurance, car insurance and utility bills. I use ‘Kidstart’ for all my Amazon purchases which I link up to my children’s savings account to build some money for them. If buying from your PC you can download plug-ins such as ‘Pouch’ that track the websites you are visiting. I have earnt over £2000 in 2 years using these sites.
Money saving tip – Exchange your cashback for vouchers and store these up for birthday and christmas presents. You know these will come in handy!
As a mum, do you have any specific idea on how you’ll teach your child financial skills?
I have two boys aged 4 and 7 and I have already began teaching my children how to think about money. Financial skills come from strong positive financial habits and behaviours and evidence shows that these habits are already well established by the age of just 5 years old! My two top tips are:
‘Don’t just talk the talk, do the do.’ – Children pick up on messages every single day. What you say to them will instill messages that they will carry with them for their rest of their lives. If you hear yourself repeating the same messages, think about re-phrasing it and being a role model. For example rather than saying “it is too expensive,” you could reframe this to “let’s see how much we have and how much we need to save to get that.” Children will always remember how you made them feel more than what you said. Make sure what you say is positive. If you want to be a role model for them, you have to do the doing.
Give them financial responsibility – Try giving your children a small amount of money each week to make their own decisions with. It could be as small as buying something from the supermarket or choosing their own dinner after school or at a restaurant.
When I was 11 years old, my Mum and Step Dad took me and my brothers and sisters on a caravan holiday to France. One evening, we were each given £5 to buy our own dinner. The message given to us here was choice. I was given the opportunity to make my own decisions, whether it be good or bad. It is also quite humorous to check out your children’s choices – at the age of 11 I just wanted pot noodles and chocolate! My brothers and sisters all clubbed together to buy bulk ( they were pretty smart).
What’s the biggest financial mistake you have ever made? Everyone has one.
My biggest financial mistake was in 2007. My husband I and purchased a property at the peek of the markets before the market crash. Not only was it ill-timed but we also borrowed £20,000 to buy the house. We over stretched ourselves and suffered the consequences for years after. We allowed our emotional attachment to money to get the better of us and had we had used the ‘cooling off’ period tactic, we may have avoided this mistake!
You can visit Catherine’s blog by clicking here