We have come to the end of Talk Money Week, and I was delighted that we were able to address so many of the concerns raised by our friends in the Police.
It was a lifetime ago that I was worried about never being able to buy my first home, but it all came flooding back when I was listening to Tricia and Alan on Monday. I wish the free money from the government that comes with Lifetime ISAs was available when I was first buying, but I did benefit from much lower cost properties when I bought over 20 years ago.
The most important message now – and when I was first buying – is “just start saving - NOW”. It doesn’t matter how little it starts at, but get going with it. And take advantage of whatever help is available: the Stamp Duty holiday of the last year has come to an end, but there are still several things out there to help grow your deposit. These include the potential opportunity of an extra £1,000 a year the government will add to your savings, escalators to grow your savings quicker, and saving in something other than a bank account.
I wish my children had been able to listen to Sarita and Sue’s budgeting tips and tricks. If my two are anything to go by, kids will listen to what other people tell them so much more than what their parents say, so while I have been trying to get the message across that they should always feel they are in control of their day-to-day finances, sleep on any spending decision and work out how many week’s pocket money it would take to buy the thing they can’t live without to decide if it really is worth it. I think the messages might land more succinctly if they heard them from Sarita and Sue’s lips. If we had been able to record the sessions, I would break out the popcorn and chocolate bribery tin and sit them down to watch the recordings.
One of the recent topics of conversation in the Petchey household has been the increase in the limit for contactless payments. My kids are reasonably good at saving money, mostly driven by not having much opportunity to spend it. For the last year or so they have been getting £25 a month each for taking part in the ONS Covid study – someone comes to our house each month for us to do a PCR test, and we all get £25 for our pains*. As the kids only get £1pw pocket money and £3pw jobs money IF they do their jobs, the Survey money has grown their savings considerably.
They each have a bank account with a debit card and have moved from using cash or punching their PIN in to contactless as a result of the pandemic (much to their initial disappointment: I understand the joy of having cold, hard cash in hand but, for some reason, putting their PINs in felt very grown up to them). When we have gone shopping together, I have noticed how much more we all spend with contactless payments. I think it must be that it doesn’t really feel like real money in a way that handing the cash over and having less in my wallet afterwards does. Coffee? Tap. Hot chocolates x2? Tap. Sandwiches? Tap. Not much more than a year after the limit increased from £30, it is now up to £100, which makes it easy to spend more without feeling the pain until the bill comes in.
Shoes? Tap. Clothes? Tap. Warhammer figures? Tap. Yet more hair things? Tap. Three-for-two wine? Tap. (Not for the kids but needed by the end of a day shopping with them). Whereas I might have racked up £20-£30 using contactless payments pre-Covid, it is easy to spend a whole day without having the chance to pause, meaning it can be a couple of hundred spent now. I’m not arguing against progress, but it does mean another discipline my kids and I both need to consider.
Hopefully, the fact that they have debit cards rather than credit cards and the repeated messages will help them learn, plus I have given them each a Metfriendly card protector to make sure they don’t accidentally tap something, or get caught by a pocket scan on a bus or train. We usually have stocks of these at the events we attend so please come and say hello and ask for one.
* It really is a pain for my husband and me: we also do a test for antibodies, which involves stabbing our own fingers and trying to squeeze what feels like a cup of blood out.
Annette Petchey, CEO Metfriendly