I don't think you are ever ready for your card to be declined as you try to buy a cheese and pickle sarnie in Tesco Metro
for your hungry toddler. That's also not to mention the swathes of quietly judging people behind you as
that sandwich gets popped back on the chilled shelf of financial dreams. ("How is she in charge of a human?")
But aged 35 I'm still a shambles with money. My wallet resembles a bulging rubbish bin after a West Ham football match. There's
receipts in abundance and out of the 25 cards (including one from Claire's Accessories with a 2014 expiration
date) in there, only one that isn't dog-eared and scratched to within an inch of it's usable life.
But wallet admin aside, that shame-drenched sandwich-yearning moment made it abundantly clear that it's not just about me
anymore. I can't be left high and dry with my hungry toddler thankful that I'd randomly stuffed a warm
Babybel in my back pocket. Alone, yes, it would have been an amusing pub story, chez squawking life burden
("Mama why can't I eat the sandwich?"), less so.
So I told you all about it; I penned a blog post about being 35 and not being on top of my dosh. I said that while the Instagram
pixels can seem all tap dancing and jazz hands at times, we're all just Sellotaping over the cracks – financial
and emotional. And the response I got was overwhelming; from those of us rifling through the bargain bin
for a 34p loaf to others celebrating a Pizza Express two-for-one deal and delighting in the power of eBay
for second hand goods.
Two people got in touch, who made me take it from words to actions: my Dad, who is a self-made man with a truly razor-sharp
approach to money (he owned his own house called ironically 'The Shambles' at 24) and someone from Capital
One - a company that aims to dispel the myths and
clear up the jargon opens in a new tab
around credit - who read it and got in touch to say that I'm not as alone in navigating this financial jungle as I initially
At school I learned about algebraic equations but never about APR (Annual Percentage Rates), for example. I understood how
to dismantle a Bunsen burner but couldn't tell you about how mortgages work. I even got an A at A-level
in Economics for my intricate knowledge of macroeconomic policy. And, yet, while launching a business,
buying a house and keeping a small human alive, I've dropped the money ball.
So instead of the whole 'New Year, New You' guff at the beginning of this year, I decided to focus on the bedrock of making
it through the day: dollar. I don't want to close my eyes at the cash point and hope anymore, I don't want
to furrow my brow at complex credit terms such as credit scores and eligibility checkers, I don't want
to have a head-in-the-sand approach to credit cards. I truly want to know my APR from my CPR.
It's time to clear out those receipts, edit down my Claire's Accessories discount cards and sort the confused wood from the
potentially fruitful trees.
To get us started, check out these basic tips below to help you take control of your financial health;
Know your credit score – if you know where you stand, you’ll know whether you need to make changes to improve your score
or not, you can find your score at the three main credit reference agencies Experian, Equifax, Call Credit
or you can try
CreditWise opens in a new tab from Capital One.
Check your eligibility before you apply for a credit card, Capital One's
Quickcheck opens in a new tab
tool will tell you with 100% certainty whether you'll be accepted before you apply, without affecting your credit score.
Know the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) you're applying for and whether this could change after you've applied. Check the terms
and conditions, all available product details and the summary box. With Capital One the APR you see when
you apply is the APR you'll get. The Capital One Classic credit card features a 34.9% APR representative variable rate.
Try and pay more than the minimum, if you already have a credit card paying more than the minimum amount each month will
save you time and money.