In this Spotlight feature, Araminta, founder of the Financially Mint blog, talks about her new student money series, why apps are so useful for millennials and why she thinks everyone should read “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you set up your blog?
My name is Araminta, and I started Financially Mint a little over a year ago writing about personal finance for university students.
It all started when I read ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and was shocked at the lack of financial education in schools and universities. I was taking a gap year and was due to start university in September. At first, I used the blog to teach myself how money works and how to make more of it. Soon I realised I could actually help other students too. I research, do experiments and interviews, trying to understand what money really is all about and what is the right way to use it.
It’s been a crazy journey. I’ve met a lot of interesting people, learnt a lot and even had a lil’ feature on BBC Radio 4!
You recently launched a new student money series. What’s the thinking behind this and what can we expect from future case studies?
A great way to learn about pretty much anything is to see how others do it. And since money is still quite a taboo subject in our society, not many of us know how much others make and how they spend it.
So with this student interview series, I’m hoping to share money management strategies that students use so others can relate and try them out too.
It’s also a great way to raise awareness. So I decided to try something different, and went on the streets near one of my universities and started interviewing random students about how they manage money. The actual process of talking to them hopefully got some of them thinking… In the future, I’d like to do more in-depth case studies and then some personal coaching for others to learn how they can improve their own situation.
How do you think millennials and other age groups differ when it comes to managing their finances?
Young people studying now range from around Generation X to young millennials. And they are under much more pressure to be in control of their money and finances than ever before. This is simply because 20 years before, going to university, getting a degree and then getting a job was the way to go. You would get a pension and bam, you were done for life.
Now, people are continually changing jobs, and we have to pay into our own pensions. This requires a lot of self money management – but no one is teaching us how to do this.
That’s why now it’s ever more important for millennials and Gen X to be in control of their money – or they may have to keep working even after retiring.
Do you think millennials have any distinctive patterns of behaviour when it comes to managing personal finances?
Another thing that emerged pretty recently –around the 1950s – was consumerism.
This means simply buying more of what we ‘want’ on top of what we ‘need’. It’s now easier than ever to spend your money on stuff you don’t need, making it easy to develop bad habits and get into debt. Because of the lack of financial education, people can easily fall into unhelpful patterns such as consumer debt, not saving and living beyond their means. So yes, this doesn’t help.
BUT! It’s not all bad; the technology that’s developing nowadays is helping us get this under control. There are some amazing budgeting apps and mobile only banks that gamify the whole personal finance management world. I’m confident that the more we develop these apps, the easier it will be for young people to manage their money! Woohoo!
How well served do you think millennials are by the financial services sector?
Tough question. Traditional banks, the loan industry, investment banks; they make money when you don’t understand what’s going on. If you don’t know how expensive your debt is, the more fees and interest you’re building up and the more you’re paying them.
However, as I said before, the new apps and fintech programs that are coming out are becoming more transparent, cheaper and way more efficient. I don’t know what I’d do without my Starling bank app and my budgeting app Yolt. As the banking industry evolves and disruptors emerge, we’re going to see many more helpful technologies in the financial services sector. Great news for us.
What can students be doing now to help set them up for a healthy financial future?
Taking control of your money can be overwhelming and might sound like something tedious and boring. The number one obstacle to setting yourself up for a healthy financial future is not being willing to put in the effort.
Once you’re willing to make an effort to fix your money, the rest comes easily. Here are some easy steps to get started:
- Prepare a budget (you can literally do this in less than 10 minutes)
- Pay Yourself First: The minute you get your income, allocate 15% to savings (part of your budget). Set up a direct debit. This is key to getting out of the ‘rat race’.
- Keep your expenses low, but don’t obsess too much about it (here are 18 cool ways to do this)
- Look for ways to increase your income – I have a great PDF on how I earned more than £500/month as a student doing extra gigs and side-hustles
- Learn how to invest and continuously financially educate yourself.
This process does not happen in a day. Not even a month. I didn’t start investing until I was three months into my own personal finance fixing journey. Take things slowly and try to improve a bit every single day. Focus on the small wins.
What money advice would you give to students?
Following the process outlined above will get you far and you’ll be more than prepared once you graduate and start working.
But none if this will happen if you don’t set your mind to it now. You need to start taking action now.
So start with something small, something easy. Example of easy things to start with:
- Setting aside 10 minutes to set up your budget.
- Playing the online Cashflow game
- Watching the documentary The Minimalists
- Reading the Student Interview Series
- Reading ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’