Legal & General #MoneyHangout

Good Morning everybody and welcome to our first Google hang out here in it in a terrific Google
building which is actually one of Legal & General’s buildings! My name Nigel Wilson and I’m here to launch our new money
hangout series which aims as two purposes
really…One is to provide information to everyone about finance,
the other one is to give confidence to people in their ability to deal with the tricky
financial situations and complex financial
situations of today. At Legal & General we’ve done research
which has told us that at least half the people in Britain have poor or inadequate financial
education and talking some other this the Google
team this morning I realize that the they’re well-represented amongst that half
themselves! I’m really excited by the fact that
schools finally decided to teach financial education that’s a real positive step forward and they’re
fufilling their social purpose by doing that. We want people to be much more informed
about family finance and the purpose of today’s hangout is about
family finance. We’ve been asking people to submit their
finance questions and we’ve being inundated with one’s
about 2 or 3 particular topics around family
finance, and you can do that by social media using the #MoneyHangout.
Indeed as a father of 5 beautiful daughters I’m looking forward
to listening to the experts today and actually picking up a few tips myself. Welcome to everyone who submitted
questions, we’re going to try and deal with as many as we can over the next 20 minutes, but to provide tips suggestions and great ideas I’m joined by my three
experts on the left. We’ve got a fantastic wealth of
experience that they’re willing to share with everyone today and they will
help you take control, develop your capability and get some confidence about family finance. I’d like to
introduce them all or I’d like them to introduce themselves. First,
Esther Shaw. Hi, I’m Esther Shaw, I’ve been a personal
finance journalist for well over 12 years now. I’ve worked across lots of different national newspapers helping readers to address their money
worries. Hello I’m Stephen Womack. I’m a financial planner
with DWIFA in Northampton and am the father of two teenagers myself both of whom keep finding interesting ways to spend my money. Hi I’m Joanna Elson I run a charity
called The Money Advice Trust, we in turn run national debt line and business debt line which help people in financial difficulty. I’m the mother of three daughters so Nigel and I have a little in common I think! Indeed we have! Three
expensive daughters I assume. Welcome to everyone, we’ve been
getting a lot of questions from Twitter, Facebook and Google+ in
advance of this Google hangout. The main themes have been how to make financial household budget work, the
costs involved today in bringing up children and how to
manage your money and borrowing. So can we move on to the
the first question, the first question is from John Adams. John! Hi, there I’m John Adams, I’m a stay at home dad and write the parenting blog One of the family finance questions
readers of my blog are always interested in and forever asking is how they can save
money on the equipment they need to children.
Things like cots, prams, baby clothes, car seats. These
costs can really add up so I just wanted what advice the panel
might have for keeping these costs under control? Esther, would you like to have first go at that one? Yeah hi there John I mean that’s something as well
that the readers of all the newspapers I write for share, it’s very very common question as you say. There are so many expenses whether it’s child care, whether it’s nappies, whether it’s food. Toys, hobbies, holidays there are so many
expenses there but going specifically to the equipment, I think things like clothes , toys buggies, prams, cots…The key thing is you
don’t have to buy everything brand new. I mean you know there’s lots of ways
of getting things at a reduced cost that might be hand me downs ask friends, ask neighbors. Set up a mother and baby group with fellow mothers who live locally see if you can share stuff, ask around people are bound to have clothes that their children are no longer wearing that they can hand onto you. I just correct that slightly by saying that there is
somethings that you do need to buy brand new things like a car seat I think you can’t really compromise on things like that but are plenty other ways. Use discounts,
use coupons, find ways of just cutting costs wherever you can. Does that help a little bit John? Ah yes it does, just a tip I would possibly pass on myself and my wife have done is use local facebook groups we’ve noticed there are groups for people, openly swapping or selling things that are often family-related. And I think the other thing is that you don’t need to feel that your kids are
disadvantaged by this certainly my experience as parent is that my children are absolutely delighted when a bundle of clothes is delivered from their beloved cousins and they get to
try them on and then equally they pass them on and those clothes get
used by other children. It’s environmentally sensible as well and so nobody should feel ashamed. The only thing I’d add to that is don’t forget good old e-bay there’s
a lot of good stuff out there that you can get You don’t have to have designer brands you can get some really good value on the clothing out there at good rates. And a good thing is also once children are a bit bigger you can then
consider passing it on, perhaps selling it on and
even getting them involved in selling it on. It’s something that I do with our children
occasionally list stuff online and that starts as their financial education even. So hand-me-downs have become trendy and if
there’s a challenge for the Google team it’s to rebrand hand-me-downs as something
more exciting and sexy. It’s great to see that
social consciousness of young people coming through on all this, this
willingness to share to engage in a modern digital
economy throughout facebook, e-bay and indeed Google. John, thank you very much
we hope we might hear from you a bit later on again. The second question is from James Brooks. James Hi there, thanks for answering my question
or about to answer my question. My wife
and I about to become parents for the first time and and I just wondered what would you
say are your top three financial tips for new parents? Well, first of all James… Sorry I just jumped in before you even asked! There’s a comment from Twitter here, which they also want any tax tips for families where one-parent is a full-time carer so I leave that
question for you guys to think about while Joanna if you could answer James question please. Of course, well
first thing to say James is, many congratulations! It’s a very exciting time and going along with that excitement is
making a little bit of time to think about your finances. You’re obviously
doing that so you you’re ahead of the game already and really it’s the same things that
would apply to anyone who’s putting a budget together so it’s those common
sense things of… make sure you know what’s coming in,
what’s going out be thoughtful about those do you need
all those to be paying all those things you know when you go through your bank statements
and sometimes you find things where you think well that’s been on there for a long time do
I really need it those sorts of things. Being
realistic about your budget so don’t make it so tight that a there’s
no room for any treats It’s those sort of common sense things I think
we’ll see you through being a parent just as they will through normal life. And don’t forget that you are not alone you gonna get a
helping hand along the way and be sure or to claim all the things
that you may be entitled to the government will be helping out with
child benefit potentially with with tax credit so I’m not sure whether you’re you’re both working at the moment
are you? Yeah we are OK so it may well be that you one of you looks to stop work for a
while where we’re seeing some new changes in April which will allow both parents both
mother and father to share paid maternity and paternity leave
so that’s gonna be an interesting change So there’s lots of help out there don’t be afraid
to look at what you’re entitled to and make sure that you get it. Yeah I think one of the other issues is
employee benefits, I was at the breakfast here at Google this morning I was talking to the Google team about employee
benefits you get here and they’re a great source of value for
many people and I know from legal in general lots of people don’t take up the great things that we have on offer
and in this modern enlightened age there are a lot of great employees around whether it’s Marks & Spencer’s or Barclay’s, many other firms do a great job of looking after their employees people just don’t claim as much as
they’re entitled to and its you know even for the well-educated
financially iliterate at Legal & General they just don’t come as often as we’d
like them to. I think things like childcare vouchers and flexible working are gonna be really important and they might be
to you James, sorry Esther. I mean that if the money there and is up for grabs you’ve really got to take it. I mean added as you were saying there’s flexible working, there’s lots of ways that employers can help you it might be reduced hours, is it might be a
job share you know take advantage of that you don’t have to struggle you don’t have to suffer there are ways you know things you can do to make your
life a little bit easier when your bringing up little ones. We do also have that question from Twitter
about that the tax situation, obviously everyone’s tax
situation is different so it’s quite difficult to to give some specific advice but if
you’ve got somebody who is a full-time carer and therefore stops
having any income it might be possible that their partner could perhaps put savings that they’ve
got in their name into the name of the other partner which
would allow any income to be accruing tax free on that. That’s the first thing that comes into my mind. The huge tax benefits that people don’t take advantage of and the new auto enroll pension schemes
are gonna be fantastic for families going forward because it’s going to force them
to save and they’ll get the tax advantages from the
government and the employee benefit from from that having so this there’s a
great following win for lots of these things happening in the economy right
now on people just not as well educated as they could be as confident about even searching for the right
information about these things. I think if people need help there is plenty of help
out there and we’ve got lots of charities that can help you. There’s also the Money Advice Service lots of different websites if you can reach out a bit there’s plenty of places you can go and lot of tools, good budgeting tools, as
well that you can use you to help you get your finances on track. Yeah I think one of the other things
that people arn’t aware of is just there are some fantastic web sites the people should go to but because people think they’re not ‘sexy’ people think that they shouldn’t
shouldn’t go to them, its uncool to go & look for financial services web sites but they’re
really really helpful and can change people’s lives. I’m going to pass on the third question which is from
Jane Reese Jane. Hi I’m a mother of one, 8 year old daughter. For the first time in eight years my
partner and I are both fully employed, we’re finally back on our feet financially it hit us when we weren’t expecting it and my question is we never had a chance up until now to have a look at the baby bond that we were given from the
government. We don’t know whether it’s with
worth buying into it? Where do we put it, we just haven’t got a clue when it comes to this little pot of money that’s gone up and down over the last 8 years! Thank you Jane, someone from my part of the world great to hear from you! I was trying to cover up the accent no! We’ve also got a another comment
from twitter here from @dadblogs How do you really get the most out at the savings which is really what what Jane was talking about as well but for
children going forward? Maybe Stephen you can
pick up that up first? Yeah I’ll happily kick off on that one, so you said your daughter was eight years old? At the moment… okay.. I mean if you’re thinking about saving the first big question to ask yourself
is what length of time are you putting money away for what are
you actually saving for? If it’s going to be more than four or five years you really might want to
be thinking about investing rather than saving I want to
talk about investing I’m talking about putting money into
financial funds that are linked to stock markets over
that sort of 10-year five-year time horizon you’re
probably gonna have a better chance of getting better returns and just
parking it in a deposit account with some low
interest rate. So the first question is Am I a saver or am I an investor and if you’re
looking towards your daughters 18th then that’s a very good
starting point I’m You asked specifically about baby bonds I think you’re probably talking about what’s called a Child Trust Fund that would have been set up on your behalf
when your daughter was born that’s a tax-free account that is was seeded by some money from the
government, it’s certainly worth having if you haven’t really done much with it so far it’s great you’re now able to to re-engage with it and carry on investing in it. What I would say is have a look around because a lot of the providers that started off in that
market have moved on and the best thing to do is to have
a look and see what rate your getting on and what returns your getting on it and get a sense of whether or not it’s the best return it could be and you
might well find there’s this chance to do better by moving
it and in fact from April onwards you’ll have the opportunity
to to perhaps switch into what’s called a junior isa. Which will have a much wider range of options available, so that’s that’s quite
a long answer but I hope he gets get you started. Yeah, a lot of the banks look after children a very very positive way and give you great great service when you go
and in the branch because the looking at them as a 50, 60, 70 year customer
and so we have a massive opportunity to engage with banks who really care about the social need
for young children to save. Any other comments? Yeah I think the key thing is that any is to get children involved from as early
a stage as possible you know get them involved in saving by opening one of those accounts whether it’s a junior ISA, which we’ve touched on really tax-efficient really good way of starting to save
whichever type of account you choose whether a cash account or a stocks and
shares account, but also look at the some of the accounts on the High Street you know I think we’ve touched on here it’s really good
rates on offer you know, just try and get your
children involved with you get them into putting money away so they can see how the savings build-up what things cost you know, just
get them involved with this idea of money and how to manage it that you know from an early as possible age because
that’s when that the financial habits are kind of formed, the earlier on that you you can get them involved in that process the better. It’s the pre seven-year-olds that really matter so sadly yours Jane are just
outside but it but it is getting the habit formed very early, that savings is a good thing
to do and for them to be actively engaged in separate Yes and of course many schools now have
savings. little banks, within the school. Of course the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recently set up an initiative promote that so I think if your daughters school has
that it’s definitely worth engaging with what they’re doing there is there
actually getting the children to be the cashier
so they getting that practice of how it all works what it means and and that’s great experience for life.
Junior ISA’s are a great product and that you know I I encourage you to go to the High
Street branches and talk to them about them you’ll find you get great service and
it’s it’s a as as you said it it’s really an
investment product for the for the future. Thank you very much can we move on
to the next question please from Andy Smith Hi I’m Andy Smith and I’ve got two daughters
three cats and a dog. So we’re quite a big family. I was wondering do you have any
tips for managing spending successfully? I always seem to budget for unexpected events such as the
dishwasher breaking down It means I can never quite get my savings
started. How can I budget more effectively? That’s a great question, because I think that’s what has resulted in a lot of people moving
into payday lending these unexpected events which
are un-budgeted and people don’t have enough savings to get over these little bumps
in the road or big bumps in the road that come their way We’ve got another
comment here from from social media I’m how do you keep
motivated to continue saving and keep the
willpower to stick to your budget going forward it’s
a bit like the smoking habit you quit for a while or start for a while and
then you give up so how how do we stop that
Joanna? Yeah I think this is all about being in
control really so this is about understanding what it is
you want what is it if you’re saving what you
saving for, is that something that’s a long time away is this something you could save for that’s
a bit nearer as well up so that you kind of rewarding yourself as part of the process? The control bit is about
understanding what’s going in, what’s coming out so that if they’re unexpected
shocks you’ve maybe got a little bit of buffer room to cope with that and
really it is about that keeping on top of things it’s not easy not at all easy for people to
do but people who who get there we speak to
many clients at national debt line who’ve been in in debt come out the other side and they come out really determined to stay in a better place I think maybe
that gives you your motivation a to go on to the next bit because
you then start to get the rewards and it sure feels rather more
worthwhile. Could we just pick up the budgeting issue? because that’s something that people start and quit early…It’s about
doing it little and often with with budgeting you
can’t do it once forget about it need to go back to it
week after week after week I personally often sit down on
a Sunday morning before the rest of the families woken up have a cuppa tea just go through
things what’s come in and what’s gone out where are we what bills need to be paid? And kind of having that little personal routine just means it doesn’t get forgotten doesn’t get sort of ignored. The other thing I’d add on budgeting is technology can help you it can be can be
your friend there’s a lot of software outlets, apps you can
have your phone that can help with budgeting keeping track of your cash flow and that can be quite a quite a useful way if your into your phone, if you’re into doing things online, to mange those things on a regular basis. But you’ve gotta watch technology as well because one thing that is a concern is it’s so easy now to pay for things
on plastic you tap your card you swipe your card rather than seeing money in the wallet
which disappears as you spend through the week it’s been a card which looks the same to start
the week at the end of the week but he found you’ve spent a lot of money on
it, so technology can help but can hinder. I’ll add to that as well is just be
realistic don’t be too hard on yourself because there’s some months where your budget
doesn’t quite go to plan I mean there will be unexpected expenses we
touched on your car breaks down and extra birthday you’d forgotten, presents you need to buy you know just try and keep your budgeting in line but give yourself a little bit wiggle room because there might
be months where it doesn’t quite stay to plan. Thank you! Can we move onto the next question from John Adams please? John. Hi, okay, many readers from dadbloguk have told me once they have paid for regular outgoings like the food shopping, their utility bills, maybe set aside a holiday so that type of thing. The paying of debts are at the bottom of their list. Obviously borrowing money can come with quite high cost so I just
wondered what what tips you had for paying of debts quicker? Esther do you want to pick up on this one? This is an area of real complexity for people as to how do they even understand the level of their debts? I think John is is there something
again that our readers you know it’s something that we come back to over and over again people don’t know
quite how to manage their debts they often bury their heads in the sand because
it’s quite tricky to know how to address those debts I think the first and foremost it
depends what those debts are, I don’t know if you know were they payday loans or credit cards did you know what kind of debts they are? Thankfully no ones ever told me, they owe a payday loan companies but it’s credit cards is the one I hear time and time again is credit cards. Yeah I mean I think the key
thing is that I mean when you look at all your debts it’s so easy to eat up the whole household budget just on spending on food and you know day-to-day
life. You’ve then got to look at the most important bills first of all, which obviously is your
mortgage, your rent you gotta keep a roof over your head you’ve got to pay electricity bills,
you’ve got to do all that. But you can’t ignore your debts, you’ve got credit cards. Baby paying
you know all debt needs paying off at some point you might be in a fortunate position perhaps of having a 0% deal but that will run out, you’ve got to be sure that you can pay that off before you come to the end of that term or you’re going to get stung with really high rates on credit cards and on loans potentially, all borrowing comes at a cost and you need to be aware of that. Thankyou, can I just there’s another question on social media and guys to see whether anybody wants to pick this up is the the mortgages and the changes in the
mortgages that are coming through in the the new offers, new rates, new rules and Liz Burton wants to know what should she
be doing about that maybe Joanna you can pick that up? Sure, well let me just pick up something Esther said and then I’ll come onto that one I was just going to say that… I was just going to say, you
were talking about paying your debts back and I was going to say you’re not on your own, that’s what I was gonna say! Because actually there’s lots of help out there
so we run National Debt Line there are Citizens Advice Bureau there are other
charities out there and actually they deal with people every day
who are in these situations so picking up the phone to them, going
on my website is going to be where you’re gonna get much better advice because
actually is quite difficult for people to work out, you were talking Esther about
priority debts is quite hard people to work out what their priority debts are, so many people for instance don’t realise that their TV
License is a priority debt if you don’t pay your TV license you can go to prison. You know it’s that sort of thing that if you get advice that, that will be made clear to you. I hope not to many people are going to prison for not paying their TV licences but that’s a question for another day I think! We’re nearly out of time, but I just want to ask each the panelists if there’s one piece
of advice what’s the expert tip that you would
like to give maybe we can start with you Joanna? Yes I
think my one would be make sure you know what you’re entitled
to, so if that’s at work talk to your your line manager about what you’re
entitled to what the benefits are that your company or organisation offers go. Go on and see what the government’s offering you look at the other benefits that
there are and make sure you’re claiming all of that. I’d say make time for money whether it’s half
an hour an hour whatever time you can can give
on a regular bases if you make that time just address it
don’t put your head in the sand don’t be a money ostrich and and forget about it and pretend it’s not
there if you make a bit of time week in week out then you actually find
that life’s a lot less stressful than it
otherwise would be I think. And I would just add to that, get everyone involved, get the children involved the sooner you start them with the budgeting,
saving, spending the better! Get grandparents involved too, they can also help
children to learn about money so make it a family affair. Money is not a
taboo subjects whereas in fact that’s what we’ve made it in society at the moment. There’s some great information out there from
the government, we have some fantastic helplines amongst other things. And there’s lots of enlightened employees and people want to engage young children want to engage, students
want to engage, they just don’t know how to engage or how to get started. I think we’ve had
some great tips today about how to engage and how to move
forward on that and it’s about building confidence in your capability to learn because
once you get into this virtual circle you get some confidence you get some
education you start to do the right things you become less stressed and almost half the stress in the workplace is money related and it’s a huge social problem for us and everybody else. I hope that everybody’s feeling a
little bit more confident about financing and that please go to Legal & General YouTube if you want to
follow up on on today and if there’s any particular questions
that we haven’t answered please tweet us @legalandgeneral_uk using the hashtag #moneyhangout visit Facebook visit Google and again our panel have just done a fantastic job of providing really useful tips, easy
guidelines but people have to get off their bottoms
and do some other research themselves and engage both digitally and with
colleagues and friends and via Facebook and don’t be embarrassed about not
knowing we’re all a bit financially illiterate it’s a huge
problem right across the the the UK this is the first step. So thank you everybody for watching our
first Google hangout today we’re really really excited about the prospects for
future prospects for this test series once again thanks to the panel!

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