Published 4th October 2018 by 4th Estate / 364 pages
Opening sentence: “This is a little guide that I could have really done with ten years ago, when I was twenty-three, and fresh off a First Great Western into London, one of the world’s most expensive cities, ready to start my first full-time job as the global economy crashed.”
To quote the great Liza Minnelli in the film Cabaret: ‘Money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round…’ Yes, very true, Liza. So why oh why, as money is so important as a general life skill, are we not taught at school how to manage our finances when we are let loose into the world as fully grown adults? We are taught about the history of Egypt but have zero clue how to apply for a mortgage. This is ridiculous.
I spent most of my twenties panicking about money – mainly the lack of it, but then when I did have some: Should I save it? Where should I save it? Should I put it all in a pension? What about the dreaded student loan? There were just so, so many scary questions that I pretty much just put my head in the sand and ignored my bank statements.
So, like Laura says in her opening sentence, I really wish I had this book then! It is brilliant for two reasons: It reassures me that I was not alone in my dubious behaviour towards money and it offers practical, easy-to-understand advice on major financial milestones (buying a house, investing, finally cracking how to budget while still enjoying life) that you can apply to your own situation to make a positive difference.
As well as the practical side, I really like how this book discusses the emotional side of money too: ‘Be kinder to yourself about money. There are few more emotive, yet oddly taboo topics. We should not be afraid to admit how bad money can make us feel.’ Money is often a cause of stress or worry, Laura talks about learning to be more open as it will really help – both in a problem shared way and to find practical help.
Divided into dedicated chapters, you can dip in and out of it as your financial situation changes, or a question crops up. Money: A User’s Guide is definitely one I’ll be keeping on my shelf in easy reach (it already has about 20 mini Post-its scattered throughout) for copious future use!