I am very much an independent woman, and extremely proud of it, but I think being so fiercely independent sometimes gets in the way of one simple thing – asking for help from other people.
It may seem silly, but asking for help is actually a pretty brave thing to do. You’re opening yourself up to someone else and exposing “weaknesses” which can be scary. It struck me after listening to a patient talking about feeling depressed for the past year, and how it had taken him ages to come and tell a GP about it. He hadn’t even told his wife how he was feeling!
These moments are so humbling and causes me to reflect on my own actions.
It made me see how much I had been resisting “asking for help” in all aspects of my life – from my partner, to my website. In all areas I was trying to do everything myself and feeling “guilty” or “weak” when I was needing something from someone else (even the man who means the most to me).
“Asking for help is actually a pretty brave thing to do. You’re opening yourself up to someone else and exposing “weaknesses” which can be scary” – Dr Nikki
So How Does This Relate To Money?
For years I was just floating along without a plan, meaning that my money situation got ridiculously out of hand. Thankfully these mistakes are being overturned step by step – this month I discovered that my net worth was finally positive. A small victory that has HUGE consequences. It’s a process that takes time, but I could NEVER have done it without help.
There are many ways in which asking for help will improve your money situation, and in this post I will go through the ones I have taken advantage of to help me get to a positive net worth at last.
Discovering books, blogs and podcasts – a variety of people have a variety of insights
There is an absolute wealth of information on the internet, and with the growth of podcasting, this is only going to mushroom further. My first step into the world of finance came from reading books. I was travelling at the time, so I read constantly. This is when I started forming opinions over whether I should invest or get out of debt first (or both). I read about snowballing my debt and what index trackers were.
The people who put together blogs, books and podcasts are doing such an amazing service (and this is not because I write one myself – I am a drop in the ocean by comparison!). There are niches for literally everything and everyone. The body of financial bloggers is growing, as evidenced by my recent FinCon experience!
I would definitely recommend starting with books, blogs and podcasts as a way into the world of finance. Perhaps start with my recommended lists and go from there.
Buying courses – money, mindset, marketing, blogging
To learn anything new, a book is great, but sometimes an immersion is better. After I got back from travelling, I went on a bit of a self-development spending spree and took online courses in all sorts of areas.
Courses are how I learnt how to improve my finances and my mindset. They are how I am currently learning how to make my blog better and how I can reach more people with it. Spending money on myself to do these things is no longer something I question – it has become an absolute necessity. This is why “education” has a firm line in my budget.
My next aspiration will be to have one on one coaching, but the price tag on things like this is huge! Stablising my finances is more important to me at the moment, so I’ll use what I already have for now to build my blog and work on myself. Sometimes there can be “too much”, and it is important to know when to say enough is enough to avoid burn out and overwhelm.
Facebook Communities- Uk Money Bloggers, Women in business, Mindset
Just like with immersing myself in a podcast or a course, making use of facebook communities has been a huge help for me. There are so many niche groups on money, business, mindset, marketing etc, that if I have a burning question, I have somewhere to go. I was so inspired by these that I started my own group which aims to answer questions on general money management that are down to earth and practical.
It feels good to be able to connect with people all over the world and share wins, problems and enthusiasm for all things money!
Groups are also great places to learn from other people’s questions too. You don’t know what you don’t know, so other people’s questions will often reveal holes in my knowledge that I can then do something about!
Just do a quick search in the bar at the top of your facebook page for whatever type of group you are looking for, and if there isn’t a group that you want, why not start your own one?
This is a hard one for me, but I’m getting better at it as I get older (and my tolerance for BS goes down). Recently I complained to my beauty salon about a sub-standard wax job and got a credit on my account for a free one next time (that’ll help in January when money gets tights before payday!).
I also complained to a bank this year when I was kept waiting on the phone for over 1 hour to talk to customer services – I received the cost of the call plus £50 as a “sorry we messed up” settlement.
In short, complaining is a way of asking for help too, and this can be helpful for our budgets! We work too hard for our money to be wasted on substandard services and products.
In the UK we often “skim” over bad customer service or products so we don’t “cause a problem” or “inconvenience” someone else. Well I have to say that since my recent trip to the US, where customer service is infinitely better than ours, I won’t hesitate to tell someone now what I think – both good AND bad experiences!
Hey, no one thinks twice when complaining about the NHS right?
Approaching my bank
I had the most extraordinary experience when talking to my bank recently. In short, I came away with a much better deal than what I had started the conversation with.
I had initially rang up to pay a large chunk off of my personal loan, but I ended up talking for over an hour to a really helpful customer services representative.
At the end of the call I had a new savings account that will earn me a little bit of interest on my emergency fund and a cash back deal that will earn me money on all my utility bills and transactions in certain shops.
It had been worth allowing this person to talk through my day to day finances, because it meant I was able to take advantage of the latest offers.
Honestly, I think it is so worth just having a conversation and asking questions – loyalty can be a great bargaining chip. Conversely, if you don’t like the service you are receiving, then vote with your feet and move elsewhere. You’ll often get paid to do it too!
Using utility bill switching services
This is along the same lines as talking to your bank, but I’m often amazed by the discounts I can get by talking to the companies that offer the services I use.
Just recently, I cancelled my mobile phone contract and switched over to a cheaper pay monthly deal. I paid the £400 exit charge (which pays off the phone I purchased as part of the deal), but it still left me better off – I went from £45 per month for 4Gb of data to £12 per month for 10Gb of data. This was off the back of one phonecall. Don’t forget to mention working for the NHS or police service if you do, because this will often generate an extra discount.
I have also recently discovered an app called Onedox. This app monitors my bills and then will tell me when I am paying too much and when to switch. It covers all of my bills, including my car insurance, gas/electricity, sky and broadband. It takes time to “learn” about your bill pattern, but I think it will be handy to be “nudged” into taking a look at how much I’m spending. It’s an example of how technology is helping me with my finances!
Apps for my phone
Talking of technology, apps have revolutionised how I manage my money. The UK is definitely leading the way on this! Pretty much every bank now has their own app for online banking (which is so helpful for monitoring spending) for example. There are apps to help with budgeting like Yolt, YNAB and Monzo (if you sign up with this link, you’ll get £10 from Monzo as a welcome gift!), and there are apps for helping us to save money like plum* and chip.
Curve is my debit card of choice because I can select which bank account I use for each transaction, but only take out one card! I use the stocard app to keep all my points cards in one place so I don’t forget to use them. The app takes everything from Costa to Boots (but not every shop has caught up with the technology yet, so they have to type in the card numbers manually).
I also love using shopping apps like Topcashback, Quidco, Greenjinn and Shopmium*. Old receipts earn me money via apps like Shoppix* (use code 6V547HRK and we both get 200 points to use towards vouchers like amazon, iTunes or love2shop) and Receipt Hog. There are so many options out there it can be overwhelming, but I pick ones I like to use and delete the rest to keep it simple.
Now there are apps to help with making financial decisions. I will hold my judgement on this until I have had a chance to take a look at them and report back!
Conclusion – just ask, most people are only too happy to oblige
So there you have it! 7-ways I have asked for help and made my financial life that little bit better. Times are changing, and we no longer have to tolerate poor service and lack of education. The information is out there, we only have to ask!
Remember that it isn’t “weak” to do this – it actually takes considerable courage. In my experience though, people are only too willing to oblige, so smile sweetly and see what happens!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Why not comment below or come over to my facebook group and let me know there.
Until next time,
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Every week I'll send you something inspiring, useful and fun related to our favourite m-word.....MONEY! I look forward to "meeting" you. Love, Dr Nikki x