At 25, I wish I knew more about financial management.
Educator Caroline Anukem shares her views on the importance of financial literacy.
Ony: For those of you that don’t know, I’m based in Toronto and my mum is in London. We’re doing this call over the phone even though she’s gonna be joining me here next week. For the benefit of those that don’t know you can you give us a brief introduction?
Caroline: I’m Caroline Anukem, also known as, Mama, AK, sis and several other names. I am a mother of four wonderful ladies — and I can say ladies because they’re all adult ladies. I am married to Stanley Anukem and I have worked with the education sector for the last 26 years. I am from a legal background, studied law and went into education.
Ony: This is really exciting having you on the podcast as my first of 25 women that I am speaking to for the series. The first woman I ever knew, and the first woman I ever loved! So it’s great to have you on here with me today.
Caroline: I love you right back darling!
Ony: Let’s just jump into it… so you said at 25 you wish you knew more about financial management — can you expand on that a bit? What, in particular, do you wish you knew about financial management?
Caroline: Growing up, I came from a family where pocket money wasn’t really the done thing. We got money for whatever we needed and we asked for it on an as and when basis, and I didn’t have a good idea of managing money that well. I think it came from that not having that experience from the very beginning. I didn’t strategize my financial planning and always thought there was a lot of time.
One thing that takes out to me particularly was when I was 25, somebody was talking about pensions and I nearly fell off my seat because I thought it was light-years away. I really wish at that moment, I got into that habit of being a bit like a honeybee and just having that little stash regularly for a rainy day. I was very good at putting money aside for a specific event, but not on that never-never and I think just greater financial awareness of saving plans, ISAs, TESSAs would have have been so useful. This is one of the things I advocate to be taught in schools now, that younger children from a very early age, get taught this in Maths rather than just trigonometry and algebra. Having a situation where they actually learn, and have practical exercises on saving and investing and things like that.
Ony: Would you say that the lack of financial knowledge was a generational thing? Would you say that 25-year-olds now are savvier? Or do you think the same sort of thing is repeating itself?
Caroline: There is a lot more information out there these days about finances, but a lot of the 25-year-olds I see at the moment are living their best life, and it’s great to live your best life — travelling, going out of posh brunches, orders coming in every day beautiful outfits from PLT etc. But I think a lot of them are still unaware and aren’t actually thinking about that thinking about the long-term. And also in particular in London, house costs are quite high, and one of the first investments that a lot of people saved for was a house in my generation, so when you started putting away your house — that was your motivation to save.
Ony: I guess for the average 25-year-old (in London and I would say even here in Toronto) buying a house at 25, just isn’t a realistic goal to set. Those who are savvier and better at saving look outside of the central (downtown) area to buy a house, because the reality is living in the area that you grew up in (for most people) isn’t really possible.
Caroline: So just to go back to your initial question on whether 25-year-olds today are savvier than my generation — yes and no. They have greater awareness, but they’re living a slightly different lifestyle in my generation. Back those who saved and put money aside, it wasn’t so much because of financial awareness but more a natural inclination.
Ony: At 25 you mentioned feeling like you had a lot of time to get your finances together. How, at that time, did you see the next 25 years playing out?
Caroline: I didn’t think I was in a bad financial position, but just looking back I could have made decisions then that perhaps would have left me in a better position: there was living, there was saving but I think back I could possibly have bought more than one property with better financial management, I could have invested in stocks and shares. Those kinds of investments would have made a very big difference.
Now at 25, if you’d asked me to look to 40 to 50, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I would have wanted at that time. And I think in having the vision that then leads you to create the path or the progression routes to get to that point.
Ony: Do you have any other advice that you would give to 25-year-olds now or any advice that you would tell your 25-year-old self?
Caroline: This piece of advice that I’m going to give now — I suppose it’s something that I’ve actually learned from you, rather than advice that I’ll give you but I just hope to keep on using it and all others do. It’s the SatNav approach to life. Planning. It’s important to take a little bit of time to plan, you don’t have to be orchestrating every move but really map out a plan. That’s what I would ask every 25-year-old to do: create a vision board. And just plot it. you’re not being held to it, you’re not accountable. But that’s not to say that you can’t take different routes, because life throws various things others that we don’t legislate for. However, having this vision board in place, you really stop and it helps you visualize where you want to be.