Guest blog: Unlocking financial wellbeing

In this guest blog, Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity explains the charity’s vision for Financial Wellbeing, and how their resources can help to achieve it.

BSA Introduction 

The Money Charity developed a set of resources for BSA members to use to develop the financial capability of groups of adults in their communities, both virtually and in-person.

These Understanding Money resources were launched in Spring of this year, and cover

  • Better budgeting
  • Borrowing and debt
  • Money safety
  • Saving for success

In this guest blog, Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity explains the charity’s vision for Financial Wellbeing, and how these resources can help to achieve it.

At some stage, most of us will have encountered someone saying (or even said it ourselves) how life would be that much easier if we just had ‘a little bit more money’. But Financial Wellbeing is less about how much money people have and more about how they use what they have.

It’s about people’s ability to get to grips with their money, their confidence in dealing with financial decisions and options. It’s about being open and honest with our income and expenditure, while knowing how to balance these in good times and bad. It’s about being enabled to make well-informed financial decisions focused both on short-term needs and longer-term goals. It’s about developing the skills and knowledge to manage our money well, but also having the self-awareness to understand our attitudes and behaviours when it comes to our finances.

Because ultimately, our financial lives play a foundational role in our overall wellbeing.

Numerous statistics make for tough reading regarding the UK’s relationship with its money. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reported in 2020 that 28% of UK adults had low confidence in managing their money, while 14.2 million adults (27%) had “low financial resilience”, defined by the FCA as having problem debt, low or erratic income, or low savings. Finding positive ways forward from this scenario can be challenging, especially when so many still view talking about money as taboo. The Money and Pensions Service found that 29 million adults (52%) say they do not feel comfortable talking about money.

Employers similarly struggle, with CIPD/Close Brothers reporting that over half of large UK organisations do not yet have a Financial Wellbeing strategy in place, which likely can be seen played out by the 67% of UK employees reporting that they don’t feel their employer places importance on their financial health. With the link between mental and financial health becoming ever clearer, especially highlighted in the current situation with employees feeling more anxious than ever, this is a real concern.

Many organisations rightly seek to address these issues by helping and supporting people who get into financial difficulties. But The Money Charity sets its sights further back, aiming to equip people of all ages and at all stages with what they need to hopefully never get into those situations. In other words, prevention rather than cure.

The Money Charity’s vision is that everyone achieves Financial Wellbeing by managing their money well. For over 25 years, we have been helping people from all walks of life to take control of their finances, become Financially Capable and achieve Financial Wellbeing. We do this in four ways: 1) through delivering Financial Wellbeing Workshops and Webinars to groups of adults in workplaces and community groups, 2) bringing Financial Education Money Workshops to young people in schools, colleges and community organisations, 3) delivering consultancy projects of all sizes for organisations who share our passion for Financial Wellbeing and Financial Education and 4) using our unique expertise and insight to influence key decision- and policy-makers in improving the financial systems and structures we all live within.

There are plenty of organisations keen to help people with their money, but what differentiates our work is our fully independent and impartial starting point. We never endorse or promote any specific financial products or give financial advice anywhere we work; our goal is for people to have everything they need to make the right financial decision for themselves and their family, not to tell them what those decisions should be! We aim for all our work to be upbeat and non-judgemental, making no assumptions about anyone’s knowledge or abilities.

We work with a wide range of people in both the workplace (staff from sectors such as construction, retail, tech, manufacturing, hospitality, finance etc) and the community (groups of refugees and asylum seekers, women's refuges, mental health charities, young adults groups, homeless groups and many more.) Across them all, our message remains the same.

We believe that Financial Education and Financial Capability are the key tools to unlocking Financial Wellbeing and Financial Resilience. It’s why we do what we do. Helping people to understand and talk about money (often for the first time) and then supporting them to take those first steps forwards. Basics like budgeting and saving really can make a difference. For example, just having £1,000 set aside can be the buffer needed to stop a downward spiral. Indeed, research from our friends at StepChange says £1,000 could stop half a million people from falling into problem debt.

Engaging people across the UK with the positive message that they can harness their finances as a power for good in their lives is more important now than ever. As the UK continues moving forward in its recovery from the pandemic and with ever more organisations recognising the vital importance of Financial Wellbeing, there’s no better time to find out more about what The Money Charity can offer to workplaces, schools, colleges and community groups, or to get involved in supporting our work. Just head to: https://themoneycharity.org.uk for more, or find us on social media for our latest news.

Building societies and credit unions are trusted institutions based in diverse communities across the UK, and are therefore well placed to help support people’s understanding of money. We were delighted to develop these resources to give them a strong basis for this vital work.

For more information visit The Money Charity

The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.

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