Looking After Your Pennies 

A passion for improving financial education   7 March 2022 by Casper Arboll

Are you saving up for a deposit or thinking about managing your money better? Then this blog post is for you.

We recently interviewed Charlotte Jessop, also known by her Instagram handle “Looking After Your Pennies”, about financial education, green investing, and her journey from maths teacher to finance blogger with thousands of followers.

How did your time as a teacher equip you to life as a finance blogger?

My background is as a maths teacher. When I was teaching, I needed to put maths into real-life situations to provide context to the learning, but textbooks always use simplified and unrealistic scenarios. While applicable at a basic level, it’s not particularly relevant to real-life.

For topics such as compound interest on the maths curriculum, I would look at how this works in the stock market as an example, or how it works for depreciating assets, like a car, to provide actual practical knowledge to the students I was teaching.

I even invited a financial adviser for a couple of lessons with a challenging class. I’ve never seen my students listen so intently or ask so many questions. That moment was an epiphany – it was clear to me that not only is there a need for better financial education, but there is also a thirst for this type of knowledge.

The result? Well, I decided to marry the worlds of teaching and learning about finances creating Looking after your pennies – the fact that it’s proven so popular shows there is so much demand for this type of information to be easily accessible.

What do you aim to achieve through the Looking After Your Pennies platform?

My mission is to educate as many people as possible about their finances.

I’ve observed that my followers usually fall into one of two categories:

1. They’re oblivious as to how money works, or
2. They’re willing to pay someone else to look after their finances for them.

I aim to create a healthier middle ground where money management becomes a simple task and empower people to make confident decisions about their money with good information to back it up.

How do you think the pandemic has impacted people’s financial wellbeing?

Ultimately, this depends on who you ask. For some, lockdown life on furlough meant they were spending less and saving more. For others, it’s been a stressful time with job insecurity and financial challenges.

The universal component here is that everyone has learned something about their finances – either their saving potential or the fragility of their current financial situation.

How has the advice you’ve given changed since the beginning of the pandemic?

As things got worse during the pandemic, including the economy and finances, the need for Looking after your pennies just increased. When we first started the blog, it was more about providing people with practical tips to help them save money. Then, at the peak of the pandemic, it was all about helping people survive this challenging time.

Now, people realise that we’re heading towards tougher times as energy prices rise, inflation reaches higher levels and national insurance contributions increase. Many people may now need to readdress their finances, make a bit of extra cash, and look to maximise their savings.

What type of guidance do you think people will be looking for this year?

Our lives have been on hold for the past two years, but we can’t be stuck in our pyjamas forever! With restrictions easing, people will want to start travelling again, and I expect many will be trying to find out how they can best save money for a holiday.

At the same time, we’re moving into an unprecedented time for many consumers. Inflation is high, and interest rate rises are now a reality. I bought my home in 2012 when interest rates were 5% (considered good at the time) compared to today’s incredibly low interest rates.

We’ve become so accustomed to this low interest rate world, and there’s a whole generation of people who have never seen rates at 5% or more. These individuals will need to know all about what rising interest rates mean for them and what to do if they are planning to step on the property ladder or remortgage, for instance.

What do you think is the best first step for someone wanting to rejuvenate their finances?

Every time I get the ‘I’ve fallen off the financial wagon’ feeling, I go back to writing down my income and expenses. The action of writing down what I earn shows me exactly how much I’ve got to enjoy, while setting out my expenses tells me what I’m doing with that income. This simple exercise can help find the disconnect between intentions for money and what really happens.

How can I deal with my finances and be eco-friendly?

I love this topic because I’m quite lazy and like to do things that are good for the environment without having to do the small things, like washing out our jam jars. What I mean by that is I like to make financial decisions that have a positive impact and that make you feel good about your efforts to support the green agenda.

I’m open about the fact that my pension and investments are in ethical places. I think it’s sensible to put my money in places that are making positive steps towards tackling climate change without me having to slog over the small things.

As far as I’m concerned, anything green or eco-friendly is the future. There’s going to be a point where we can’t use these finite, fossil-fuel resources anymore. I’m not worried about this being a fad either, so I might as well make a start by taking steps to support green initiatives.

Having your pension invested in something green has a much more significant impact on CO2 emissions than things like reducing your travel on planes, going vegan, taking the bike to work, or reducing your water consumption. If you put your money into an ethical pension fund, rather than just leaving it where your boss thinks it is giving a good return, not only is it having a much more significant impact, but you can feel like you are playing your part in tackling climate change too!

Want to find out more about how you can improve your finances? Click here to visit the Looking After Your Pennies website.