Many advisors working with people who pretty much have nothing to spare will wonder where £3 a day, or £20-odd a week, will come from. But we have to believe that what starts as finding a few coppers lying around becomes a habit that discourages this daily newspaper, this bag of crisps, or this Dominos pizza along the way. Of course, not everyone living on the breadline is unconsciously splashing out this way but some do, (and plenty I’ve met myself at money skills sessions over the past few years), so the Challenge is one of a number of ideas to try to inspire people to get saving.
I’m not someone to tell people how to spend their money. I just believe in giving people choices. When I worked at The Big Issue, I’d get frustrated at very well-meaning people saying: ‘I don’t mind buying the magazine but not when I see the vendor has better shoes than I have.’ I’d always have two things to say to that. Firstly, they’ve earnt that money so no-one can tell them how to spend it any more than they can tell you how to spend your wages. Secondly, as they’re often homeless, and always working outdoors, they probably need decent shoes more than you do! So, drop the judgey!
The Readers Club email currently goes out twice a month and the great thing about our digital service is we can see what people open most. In the first of January’s emails, we published The 5 Serious Savings No-Nos, and guess what... It was the most opened item. And so we can see how many went further to explore their savings options, we built in lots of links to more information and sites comparing savings accounts.
One of the goals of the Readers Club emails is to encourage recipients to utilise the internet more to save money and access appropriate financial services, so the Penny-A-Day feature also looks at digital banking, using Monzo as an example.
Monzo is App-based and they’re been turning up at financial capability events like the MAS/ MALG conference during Talk Money Week. Their App and banking facilities do feel new and modern and easy-to-use. One feature is a virtual ‘Coin Jar’, where customers can set up a sub-account and a facility so when they buy something using a Monzo card, they can round it up to the nearest pound. What would have been change in a cash transaction drops into their savings pot.
Monzo accounts also make use of third party ‘Applets’, including one that apparently mimics the Penny-A-Day Challenge. No need to rifle around down the back of the sofa, just take a penny today from your main account and drop it into a savings jar, two pence tomorrow, etc. Fine if there’s money in the bank but I guess it’s less directly link-able to the cash saved from not buying a takeaway. (I might be tempted to be more gung ho about Monzo, if I’d been able to get the App to work on my phone. So, no, I’m not on commission and they are just one of a number of digital players in this space.)
As outlined in the Quids In Professional Network’s main feature this month, on Help to Save, there is a lot more to overcome when trying to instil a savings culture among people with very little to spare. But the Penny-A-Day Challenge is one more trick we should keep up our sleeves for proving to people that good habits can grow almost as tangibly as a little emergency fund in a jar.
More here on the Quid In Readers Club money email service for social tenants, benefit claimants and workers on low pay.