Are your finances affecting your wellbeing? Do you know how to budget? What’s the best way to pay off debt? For our July 2022 Creative Access masterclass on finance, we were joined by two brilliant panellists to tackle these questions and more.
Peter Komolafe is a financial expert and a content creator. Peter has been on a journey from foster care and being homeless to the executive team of a multinational Fortune 100 company in Canary Wharf. He is qualified as a Financial Adviser and a Mortgage Adviser, and has held key roles at numerous financial institutions. Peter’s passion for the financial markets and his mission to demystify the unnecessarily complicated world of investing has led him to create Conversation of Money, a cross-channel platform with over a million viewers and listeners globally.
Interviewing Peter and bringing her own wisdom to each topic is Emma Munbodh, the Deputy Editor for The Times Money Mentor. Emma started out in the field as a Creative Access intern for MoneySavingExpert.com founded by Martin Lewis and has since been a journalist for more than a decade. Emma was formerly a money editor at the Daily Mirror, and has worked at The Independent, London Evening Standard, and Closer Magazine.
As Peter kicks off, he outlines what got him interested in talking and thinking money. His first motivation was experience, he says; at different stages of in his life, he has experienced poverty, homelessness, and massive debt. Now that his circumstances have changed, he wants to bring pragmatic information about personal finance that have helped him get to where he is to a wider audience. So what are the key points to take away?
Goals are a starting place, not just something to work up to. Peter encourages anyone who wants to gain better control over their finances to firstly identify a clear goal. Maybe this means paying off credit card debt, creating an emergency fund (3+ months of income to fall back on if needed) or maybe it’s saving to buy a house. The more specific the goal the better, as this allows you to set the figure you want to save and a realistic timeline to get there. Then it’s about working backwards to understand what balance you need to strike between spending and saving to get there.
Asked about what can be realistically achieved on a lower income, Peter says that you shouldn’t be put off planning for the future but it will take more time, and require discipline around spending. He quickly illustrates the way that income can be broken into three chunks: essential, discretionary, and savings. This is a simple way to visualise where your money is going and what you can afford to spend in your day to day while keeping faithful to long-term goals.
Find the right tools for you and start using them. The benefits of the digital age shouldn’t be overlooked, Peter points out. There are a lot of free resources out there, including on social media platforms, sites like MoneySavingExpert.com or Times Money Mentor, and video content like Peter’s own YouTube channel. Some banking services – including Monzo and Lloyd’s – offer the possibility of a ‘rounding up pot’ feature that brings all your transactions to the next pound above and automatically deposits the extra into your savings account. There are tonnes of useful tools out there and Peter stresses that it’s important to do your research and find out which products suit you.
Open up the conversation. The panellists agree that money can be a taboo conversation. But Emma is very direct in saying that, economically speaking, we’re in very strange times and this requires tackling the conversation head on. ‘Talking about money has never been so important; we’ll all be impacted by inflation and the cost of living.’ One approach for more honest and productive relationships when it comes to talking money is the idea of an ‘accountability buddy’. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of managing your personal finance, why not get someone else involved? Sharing your goals and checking in on your progress can be a great way to alleviate anxiety and form solidarity with someone who’s in a similar boat. Peter adds that your savings aspirations in themselves can be motivating and improve your relationship with money, because they allow you to look towards the future in a positive way.
Peter and Emma cover an enormous amount of ground in their conversation not covered in this article. What exactly is an emergency fund? How do you stay on top of your different income channels if you’re a freelancer? To side hustle or not to side hustle?
Watch the full discussion on our YouTube channel here to catch up on the whole conversation, including live questions from the audience.
A huge thanks to both Emma and Peter for joining us and sharing their financial wisdom!