Our approach to money – Huw’s Story

By Jade Shelton

As mentioned last month, we as a team have been sharing with you our experiences with money and how it has helped shape how we approach money.

You will discover that none of us have been perfect (we are human after all), but we’ve found ways that didn’t work and we’re laying it all bare for you to read.

Today we are sharing Huw’s story…

“I didn’t use to be very good with money although I left university largely debt free.  Student loans were only around in my final year – so I only had one and it wasn’t for very much.  Before that I was lucky enough to receive a maintenance grant and this was in the days before tuition fees.

When I started teaching I never seemed to have enough money. I think I was pleading poverty but in reality I was spending money well in excess of my salary. My newly acquired credit cards took up the slack. My money decent had begun. It would be many years until I finally acknowledged and accepted my poor money behaviours (I’ll get to that in a bit).

So after a couple of years teaching I bought a house. I embraced spending on my house too. Mortgages, insurance, maintenance, stuff – even scatter cushions. It was a whole new world. And it all cost money – lots of money. My spending still outstripped all my income but things had gone up a notch. Salary, ad-hoc rugby money (the game had gone pro the year I finished uni) and income from some private tuition were not enough. Credit cards took up the slack. I’m not sure how things would have turned out if I’d carried on like that. Actually I probably do – and it would have been less than optimal.

Then the universe re-arranged itself and I took a different path.

My Dad had just set up on his own as an IFA and so after 4 years teaching maths I decide to move back home and join him in the business – which then became a family business! I sold my house and cleared all my credit card debts with the equity. I moved back in with my parents and saved a little. And the more I helped people with their finances the more I learned about my own relationship with money.

My learning was slow and accidental (you don’t know what you don’t know). But over time I became comfortable with the the art of money. I eventually reviewed my past money habits. This was a difficult thing to do. My money inadequacies were laid bare. But I believe this is necessary first step in getting a grip on your money. I needed to acknowledge and accept my money habits with no blame and no shame. If I didn’t understand what had got to where I was financial it would be impossible for me to ever get anywhere else.

So I added up all the money I’d ever earned and I added up the value of everything I owned. The difference was my spending habit. I stared at the number on the page. It wasn’t pretty. Far from it. But now I knew the magnitude of the problem I was able to spot my bad money behaviours before they occurred.

I don’t think it’s over dramatic to say this transformed my relationship with money.

Fast forward to today and I’m now into my 7th year of running a budget. I’ve got an emergency cash fund and a regular savings habit. I’m still not perfect with money. Far from it. But I’m aware and as a result I’m much better at catching myself before spending mindlessly – most of time at least!

A lot of money problems are caused by people spending money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. Mine were. I now subscribe to Vicky Robin’s definition of frugality: wanting what you already own.

If you’re wondering who Vicky Robin is, she’s author of my favourite ever money book – Your Money or Your Life. It changed my relationship with money. I’ve re-read it several times and if you haven’t already, I think you should read it too.”