When I was a lad … OK, you can stop reading already if that’s going to be dealbreaker … when I was a lad, we had a holiday in Devon, a south-western county of England where my parents originated. There’s a lovely place there called Westward Ho! I have no idea why it has an exclamation mark at the end of that name. Maybe it is the surprise that such a place exists or that it is so far away from London or that it was all about smugglers and bandits, but yes, Westward Ho! does exist.
My ma and pa were not smugglers and bandits, but they soon found that I was. I would often be rummaging around their wallets and handbags, looking for a few coins to buy some holiday souvenirs. My attitude towards money was not great. They tried to ingrain some sense of responsibility, but I always remember one holiday, when I was about seven years old, and I spent all my pocket money for the next two years on a rubbish statue of Buddha. I loved the statue, but I didn’t enjoy all the gardening and house cleaning I had to do for the next two years to pay back the money.
Thing is, it did teach me the value of money. Having said that, I still have that buy now, pay later mentality, as do many people I know. The house will cost a million? Sure, I’ll work out some way to pay it back (and then never do). The school fees are how much? Oh ok, we will just tighten our belts (and then never do). You want to go where for a holiday? Well, let’s go, I can afford it (and no I can’t).
You get the idea.
Many of us live in hock, and believe it will work out. It creates motivation to work. Spending our pocket money and having to knuckle down is what it’s all about.
What made me think about this is the long-running series in The Times called Fame & Fortune. If you haven’t spotted the series, they ask a well-known person a series of questions about money every week. Everyone from megastars to minor stars have appeared, and the questions are nearly always the same:
How much money do you have in your wallet?
What credit cards do you use?
Are you a saver or a spender?
How much did you earn last year?
Have you ever been really hard up?
Do you own a property?
Do you invest in property?
What was your first job?
What’s been your most lucrative work?
Are you better off than your parents?
Do you invest in shares?
What’s better for retirement – property or pension?
You need both, but I do love property — it’s simpler to understand.
What’s been your best investment?
What about worst?
Do you manage your own financial affairs?
What’s the most extravagant thing you have ever bought?
What’s your money weakness?
What aspect of the tax system would you change?
What’s your financial priority?
What’s the most important lesson you have learnt about money?
I could quote many of the celebs who have answered these questions, but what strikes me is that most of them say the same things: I don’t really understand money; I invest in properties because that’s a simple thing to do; I don’t really have much saved as things will work out.
Nevertheless, I thought these questions are pretty useful to think about at a personal level, and post this here to ask: what is your attitude towards money? Answer the questions and send me any answers if you feel like. I’d be interested in posting the answers of those who are not full of fame and fortune.
“I believe in the yogic concept of dharma, meaning the world will provide for you. If you relax, have the right energy, and focus on what you want, the money you need to live that life will come. People might think that’s airy fairy nonsense, but it does seem to happen. The old-school concept of ‘knuckle down and work hard’ isn’t true.”
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...