I’m in finance, how did I get into a money mess? #BreakTheTaboo

When someone says, “Let’s talk about money,” what are your immediate feelings? Fear? Fear? Shame? Fear? For most people, there will be one, if not all, of these. Talking about finance has been a taboo for years and I’m on a mission to break it (#BreakTheTaboo – geddit?).

According to the Money & Pensions Service, 47% of UK adults do not feel confident making decisions about “financial products and services”. But beyond that, I wonder what percentage of adults in the UK feel uncomfortable talking about money at all. Do you?

Shame about money is common

Personally, I’m used to talking about this in general terms, having spent most of my adult life in the financial services industry. That said, there are definitely areas I don’t like talking about – debt, salary, the fact that I’ll probably be renting until I die – maybe a bit extreme, but you get the point!

I can imagine that there are many people reading this who are or have been in the same boat. And that’s why I decided to share (about) today.

As I am a huge advocate of leading by example and as I am on a mission for #BreakTheTaboo, I have decided to speak on these topics that are close to my heart in a very open forum. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone in hopes that it will inspire and encourage others to do the same.

Here goes…

Money problems can spiral

Hello, I’m Hayley. I am thirty four years old. I’m divorced. I make good money but my lifestyle is impacted by the fact that I am currently paying off debt. This means I can’t afford to buy a house even though my rent is much higher than what a mortgage would cost me.

Even as I type this, shame and embarrassment creep up on me. Thoughts run through my head like “I work in finance”, “I have a good understanding of money” and the real kicker “How did I get involved with this? Location?”

To be perfectly honest, the main reason is that I refused to talk about it – oh irony! I didn’t want people to know I was in trouble. Not me, not Hayley who works in finance, I can’t have money problems…More and more money went on the credit card so I didn’t have to tell people what was going on. I also totally denied my unhealthy and controlling relationship, which I don’t really want to talk about even now. All of these factors have prolonged a problem that perhaps could have been resolved sooner.

I’ve found that being open about my situation has helped me get to a much better place.

Simple solutions to debt

Fast forward to now; I’m out of this relationship and I’ve found that being open about my situation has helped me get into a much better place. Once my friends recognized the situation, there was less pressure to say “yes” to social situations that I just can’t afford and that would have landed on the credit card earlier. Once I was able to stand on my own two feet and be solely responsible for my finances, I was able to budget without any nasty surprises.

I can now confidently say that I will pay off my debt and be debt free within three years. I can’t wait for that feeling of utter relief knowing that the weight I’ve carried – gulp – for 15 years has been lifted from me. It’s been a journey getting here and I’m not done yet. I get that it’s not that easy to flip a switch to reveal what your biggest pain points might be… trust me, I know. But if you just take one step at a time, you will get there.

I know it’s all too easy to get bogged down in debt (that’s another topic for another time). I also know that I am not alone. I can imagine that there are many people reading this who are or have been in the same boat. And that’s why I decided to share (about) today. I want you all to know that you are not alone and that through these difficult conversations, it can really help to lift you out of this big black hole and into a place where everything feels a little bit lighter, a little bit lighter and a little more optimistic. You are doing great.

Hayley Rabbets, Head of Verve Service, The Verve Group

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