Poor money management makes people feel like their life is one step away from a financial cliff. As a matter of fact, 9.5m UK adults have suffered with mental health issues as a direct result of financial anxiety. Although, being good with money is about more than just making ends meet, developing good money management skills and putting things in order is not mission impossible. Especially not now, when open banking apps offer easy ways to track and manage your personal finances. The magic formula lies in getting started and following a decent consistency level in your journey of keeping your money under control.
In this regard, we spoke with Dr Nikki, also known as the Female Money Doctor, who provided us with useful insights on money-related issues people often face. Dr Nikki, is the only doctor to be featured in the top 25 feedspot list of Personal Finance Blogs in the UK. With over 10 years of experience as an NHS doctor and women’s health specialist, she sees the impact poor money management skills have on the mental health of her patients and colleagues, and is on a mission to change that.
So, without further ado, let’s find out what Dr Nikki’s journey is and what she suggests to those interested in staying on top of their money and, eventually, their life.
Hi Dr. Nikki, thank you for joining us. To start off with, could you tell us more about your journey as a money coach and what kind of finance-related challenges do you help people with?
Thanks for inviting me! So I was in a big debt hole that I’d created in my 20s, and I had an epiphany moment in a grown up gap year where I realised how bad things were. I spent 2 years learning everything I could about building wealth, getting out of debt organising my finances, and then when I went back to work as an A&E doctor, I started noticing money problems among my friends, colleagues and patients. I could see how important being in control of money was for good health, so I decided to start blogging about my experiences. I loved it so much I decided to train as a money coach so I could help others to feel good about money. Now I help people on a 1:1 basis, and in group work to help them with putting strategies in place to help them gain control of their finances; things like budgeting, organising and strategies for getting out of debt. I also help beginners to start investing in the stock-market, and lately have introduced money mindset coaching too.
Poor money management has a proven impact on mental health. In your opinion, what does it take for people to improve their relationship with money and how such improvement affects their entire well-being?
There are numerous ways that someone can improve their relationship with money. The most important thing is to dedicate consistent time to it. Read books, listen to podcasts and speak to people who are doing what you want to do. It doesn’t need to be huge, big leaps, it just needs to be small, consistent steps in the right direction. It’s amazing how this leads to BIG results. It’s also important for people to treat themselves regularly. The temptation can be to go on a spending equivalent of an extreme diet in order to make up for savings or getting out of debt, but that’s not the answer for sustainable wealth building or for our mental health!
Oftentimes people find keeping monitoring and organising their finances tiresome. What’s your recipe for successfully helping overcome this barrier and avoid procrastination? What role do you think a personal finance app such as iSpent19 plays in facilitating this process?
Yes, I totally understand that, and I’m not perfect at my own finances. Some months I track really well, and other times I’m not so good at it because I allow life to get in the way. So the way I’ve got around this is to use something called money-pie budgeting. This is where I literally portion out my money into different categories – essentials (like bills/rent etc), fun money (to spend how I like), saving for short term, saving for long term, investing, health and education. I make sure there is enough in each category to allow me to spend as I need to every month. Now you can choose which categories you like, but at the very least have savings and essentials, and if you have debt, this is a separate category as well. I set up a monzo account to help me do this. It provides a facility that allows me to spread my money into different “pots” that I can label as I like. What I like about iSpent19 is that it will show me what I have in each of my monzo pots so I know at a glance the state of my finances. Even if you don’t use money pie budgeting, it is helpful to have all your accounts in one place, plus it has a handy way to remind you of when your bills are due, so I feel confident that I’ll always have my accounts topped up ready for them.
Education plays a huge part in one’s financial literacy. What are the top 3 pieces of content you have produced that everyone who is looking to stay in control of their money should read?
So for me, managing money really comes down to three broad areas.
- How you think about money and behave around it
- How to organise and manage it
- How to grow it for the future
So for these topics, I would suggest:
These are great places to start, and then from there you can branch into my other resources to build on them.
In your view, what impact would Open Banking bring to personal financial management experience? What are the top 3 problems that your followers are facing that an app like iSpent19 may help resolve?
Open banking has brought about a fantastic opportunity for apps like iSpent19 to be developed. It is freshening up the banking industry and responding to what people need and want from a bank account.
The first is awareness of your spending. Many people stick their head in the sand and have no clue about where their money is going. Using an app like iSpent19 can really help to uncover the truth of what is going on.
The second is to be able to stay on top of what is coming out and when. Life is busy, so it can be really hard sometimes to stay on top of your bills. By knowing what’s happening, you can then take action to cancel things that are no longer needed, and make sure the money is there so nothing comes as a surprise.
The third is to use it to direct money to different categories as I’ve already mentioned. Simplifying your budget really helps! Having pots of money set up to pay your regular expenses frees up your capacity to plan in advance and stay in control.
Are you already following Dr Nikki on Social Media? What about tuning to her podcast? If not, check her handles below.
Twitter and Instagram: @femalemoneydoc