You're telling your own story: You just graduated during a pandemic. Your ceremony was held on Zoom.
You’re one of the lucky ones: you got a spot on a grad scheme in the city. After applying to every single opportunity you could find.
You move to Brixton with four uni mates. Your rent is £700. You forgot council tax. You missed utilities. We’re talking an extra £150 each month you can’t really afford… Damn.
But you’re too buzzed about your first salary for this to bring you down. You’re about to become a young professional.
Up to your eyeballs in flat whites and Pret breakfast baguettes in the AM. Switching to slimline Itsu bento boxes and diet cokes in the PM. Lunch with your colleagues? Why the hell not. Afterwork drinks? Rounds on me.
You get the memo about spin classes before work. You sign up for ClassPass' free trial. The dust’s barely settled on your bike before you’ve used up all your credits. In three days. You want to save face with your colleagues, so max out on the £70 monthly membership.
Pretending you can afford this lifestyle, almost makes you believe it.
Now’s not the time to worry. You’re discovering London - it’s your time to shine! You go out regularly. Try the newest vegan cafe each week. Order indie magazines for your coffee table. You build up a collection of spiral candles.
Each month, you just get by. A week before your payday, things start getting tight. Too tight.
The following days become a blur of tinned food. You go on Super Noodle status for a week. (It doubles up as a drink.)
This is your rhythm for the next few months. Spend. Splurge. Suffer. Repeat.
Your best friends are planning a holiday that summer. Just like magic, you got offered a new credit card by your bank. You decide to put the cost on there and promise to pay it back within three months.
Two years later, you get promoted and get a small salary increase. It barely covers your daily pastry.
You have paid back some of your debt, but have borrowed even more since. You’re now £3000 in debt. You’re only repaying the minimum payment on your credit card and have missed a few of those. Talk of interest rates bore you. You say you’ll figure it out later. (You know you won’t.)
You don’t open an ISA or save for a house deposit. You’re barely covering your expenses each month. You would rather worry about more pressing decisions.
Fast forward five years, you and your partner want to move in together. You’re over flat sharing with four other housemates who drive you up the wall. Hell. Things are more tense than all the Spice Girls crammed into one room after Geri’s departure.
Some of your friends are already buying houses. You secretly hate them for it. You buy a monthly subscription to Calm to channel away negative energy. You breathe deeply. And smile.
You check your credit score, for the first time. You lose your smile. You realize those missed payments have landed you with a poor record. No mortgage for you anytime soon. You unfollow The Modern House for a week. In mourning.
You’re stagnating at work and not negotiating your salary.
Let’s head further down the road: You didn’t start thinking about your pension and only got the minimum amount paid into it whilst you were employed. You’ve fallen out with friends and family over debt. You’re going out too often and spending too much to escape your problems, but you’ve never felt so alone.
Hold up. We don’t want to hear this ending. Neither do you.
Let’s rewrite this story. Let’s say you make managing your personal finances a top priority. You get informed, and make smart decisions:
You graduate uni. You get accepted onto a graduate scheme.You set up a 50/30/20 budgeting rule (50% ‘needs’ / 30% ‘wants’ / 20% ‘future savings’). This gives you a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend on rent and other expenses. Gains.
You build up an emergency fund: when that laptop dies, these SOS savings cover the bill. You don’t take on any other debt. You’re in the clear, it helps you sleep at night.
You check your credit score regularly and build it up. You keep climbing that ladder. The view’s good up there.
You negotiate your salary every year. When the opportunities dry out, you find another job that pays you more. You feel empowered. Serious hot girl sh*t.
You start a side-hustle making wax candles on Etsy. The craft crowd goes wild.
By the time you’re 31, you and your partner have got enough for a 10% mortgage for a two-bedroom maisonette. You buy it and settle in. Adulting feels good.
Your side-hustle picks up and you go part-time. You feel confident taking the leap knowing you’ve got an emergency fund to support you during this transition.
You start stocking your candles in small boutiques and soon, you drop your full-time job and pursue your passion project full time.
You have savings for your kids and know you'll be able to support them through uni, putting them in a much better position than you were in.
This isn’t a cheesy Hollywood ending - this could be your story.
Few of us realize how small financial decisions have the power to change our world. They may seem insignificant at first, but each one adds up and counts more than you’d think.
Picture yourself at the start of your journey. You can choose to go one way or the other. Which story will you write for yourself?
Make it one you’d want to read too.