Those of us who grew up in the age of social media take it for granted that we are only ever a Facebook update or a tweet away from our friends. For many of us, social media is used for very little apart from socialising and procrastination. However, a social media platform like Facebook can potentially offer so much more, as I discovered when I decided it was high time I became more financially savvy.
I grew up in an artists’ commune. In many ways it was a wonderful childhood and it was only after I grew up that it dawned on me how few people come from environments where their creativity is constantly nurtured and encouraged. What my childhood didn’t confer on me, however, was a great deal of financial acumen and, as testament to this, in my short time on earth my financial blunders have included everything from eye-popping store card bills to stranding myself in Helsinki without a penny to my name! While I have always managed to extricate myself from my self-inflicted disasters, whether by taking on a gruelling split shift as a hotel chambermaid or borrowing a guitar and busking myself enough money for a last-minute flight, I had come to a point where I realised I needed to wise up and not get myself into such predicaments in the first place. I had friends for whom managing their money and keeping on top of their credit card bills seemed to come as second nature, but I was at a loss! Where could I turn?
I decided to ask my friends, both those I see on a day-to-day basis and those I mostly connect with on Facebook. As I’m a Facebook addict, more of the latter. Quite a few of my friends were as clueless as I was – in some cases much worse! Others seemed to think that budgeting was simply a matter of common sense. Interestingly, many of their parents were accountants or bank employees; it didn’t seem to have occurred to them that they may have acquired their financial savvy from mum or dad! I did get some helpful advice, however. My friend, Helen, pointed out that not only was there plenty of information on the web about managing your finances, there was even a wealth of advice and opinions to be found on Facebook itself. Pages such as that of Experian provide information on subjects like managing debt and explain the ins and outs of credit scores, while many newspapers had Facebook pages for their money sections and those too could provide some helpful insights. As well as reading articles and watching videos, it’s also possible to learn a lot by talking to other readers in the comments sections – although, as always, it’s smart to remember that anyone can offer advice on the internet and plenty of people do, regardless of their own level of knowledge!
The fact is most of us aren’t born with an inbuilt knack for handling money. That’s nothing to feel ashamed of. However, we can all learn to become a bit more financially savvy and I feel we owe it to ourselves to do that.