Try Not To Box Yourself In
At university, I studied journalism, so working in finance wasn’t something I felt destined to do. In many ways, I knew nothing about money before I started working in this world. But I also minored in psychology, which has turned out to be more useful than I ever imagined. It just goes to show that studying something specific doesn’t have to mean working in that exact field. Also, while I’m in finance now, my job mainly centres on creating content for Charles Stanley, so in many ways I still draw on the things I learnt at journalism school. The most important thing is to pay attention to things in your life that don’t feel like work and try to make a career out of them. It doesn’t have to look like what you originally anticipated – as you get older, you realise there are so many jobs out there. It’s also completely okay to change your mind and do something different if it’s not what you expected.
Mirror People’s Energy To Get What You Want
The psychology part of my degree has been invaluable – especially when it comes to interviews or getting to know new people. Interviews can be one of the most daunting parts of working life, but I’ve found mirroring people’s energy or way of thinking is a sure-fire way to succeed. In the best scenarios, that means being as warm and friendly as they are, and the result should be vice versa. But it’s also a theory that extends to starting a new job. If you go to the office in a bad mood, or you’re cold or snappy, you’re only going to get that in return.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up About Early Financial Mistakes
To this day, I still wouldn’t call myself a financial expert. I learn something new every day, but when I was in my early 20s getting my first pay cheques, I was like anyone else. I spent the majority of my first pay cheque on a really expensive leather jacket I’d had my eye on for months. Hindsight makes it easy to say I should have done something more responsible with that money, but I firmly believe that working life needs to have its rewards – back then, I was working really tough hours and long days across different time zones, and that leather jacket was my treat.
Find A Side Hustle
In a financial sense, I spent most of my 20s just surviving. It was all about working as hard as I could to climb the ladder. If you’re in a creative or passion-based career, a lot of those early jobs are poorly paid at the start, so to stick with it, you might need a side hustle to supplement your income. I was a part-time nanny to make sure I had enough money to keep a roof over my head, while also progressing in my day job. As young women, we don’t talk about how hard this period is –nothing is going to happen overnight, but it hopefully makes for some good stories along the way.
Ask For What You Think You Deserve
Asking for pay rises or promotions is a tricky business, but I’ve always subscribed to the idea that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. There is a delicate balance to be struck – you need to go to the table with lots of evidence to support your achievements. But my experience is that young people don’t understand the leverage they accumulate quite early on – or how lowly paid those first jobs really are. From day one, it’s important to think about the experience you’re building and how to use that to your advantage.
Always Have Specific Goals In Mind
I knew I wanted to start investing before I turned 30. It was always a goal of mine. One of the things that surprised me most was how easy it was to start. You don’t need to be an expert to work towards a more secure financial future. That said, there are some steps worth taking before you start investing. For example, you want to make sure you’re contributing to a pension plan at work. Try to maximise any work benefits on offer and pay off any high-interest debt – credit cards or loans – then build an emergency fund to cover three to six months of bills. All these things need to be in place before you even step a foot into the investing space. Financial literacy is the key to financial freedom – so take the time to learn as much as you can about all these things to give yourself more power in the future.
Once you’ve cleaned up your finances, start by downloading a regulated investing app – I obviously use Charles Stanley’s –then set up a monthly deposit. Think of it like your gym membership; a sum that automatically leaves your account every month. From there, pick a couple of funds that align with your values. I prefer ESG funds which track companies that prioritise the environment, as well as social responsibility and corporate governance. You need to do your own research to find out what matters most to you, but once you’ve found the right investment product for you and deposited your money, don’t touch it – investing is supposed to be boring. This isn’t about short-term gambling or making a quick buck – you need to be prepared to leave it alone for at least five years to reap the rewards.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
People might be surprised to hear I still rent my home. I completely understand the value of owning your own property, but prices in London are eye-watering and I’m currently saving up for a wedding. The difference is I’ve come to terms with the fact certain goals are going to take time to achieve. Owning my own home is something I’ll be working towards probably for the next five years. There’s way too much pressure put on young people to buy their own homes and doing so without financial assistance is virtually impossible. For that reason, it’s so important to try to block out all the noise coming at you from the media about what you should or shouldn’t have achieved by a certain age.
Ignore The Hype
This is true of financial goals, but also life and careers more generally. People only put their highlights reel online, so if you think your old school friend or peers at work are doing better than you, remember they also have their own problems. Just because someone got a promotion today doesn’t mean you won’t get one – or deserve one – in the future. People only show off about the things they’re proud of, and it’s hard to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. I strongly believe this is what leads to imposter syndrome. Like anyone, I have to work really hard to silence the doubts in my head. If I ever have a confidence wobble at work, I ask myself why? Why don’t I deserve a place in this meeting? Why don’t I think my opinion is valid? Oftentimes, I can’t come up with an answer – which reassures me I’ve actually earned these opportunities.
Make Small Changes Today To Transform Your Life Tomorrow
A lot of people ask me for simple tips that will transform their financial or professional future. The good news is, there are things you can do. The first is change your saving habits. A good one to adopt is the 50-30-20 rule. Roughly 50% of your pay cheque should go towards bills, rent or mortgage payments – things that keep the lights on. Then, 30% can go towards discretional spending, like dinners out or gym memberships. Finally, 20% should be put into savings, paying off old debts or investing – assuming you’re in the right place in your life to do so. From a career perspective, it might sound odd, but I believe making time for fun is essential for success. So, make sure you use all your holiday days – so many of us fail to make the most of them. As women, we’re not always great at carving out time for ourselves. The most important factor in building a successful life – both financially and professionally – is feeling like you have a well-rounded one.
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