I’m reading selections from another Harriman House publication; this handbook is for anyone who didn’t get taught about money at school. If you find personal finance confusing, and have no idea where to start, this book from a financial planner and podcaster breaks down exactly what you need to know and do to start managing your outgoings, get out of debt, protect your future, and start investing.Listen to “064: The Best Money Book for UK Readers? Meaningful Money” on Spreaker.
065: Unusual Days Out For Free Subscribe if the link isn’t live yet!
Catch up on all the past episodes & resources
Invest In The Book Or Audiobook
If you sign up for a free trial or purchase via an affiliate link below, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you that goes towards the running costs of producing all the free content across the blog, podcast, YouTube etc.
Watch/Listen To The Meaningful Money Handbook Review via YouTube
Transcript: Best Books On Budgeting, Debt & Investing
Bear: [00:00:00] I previously shared Own It! A book published by Harriman House. And today I’m sharing another Harriman House title, The Meaningful Money Handbook by Pete Matthew. He set up Meaningful Money “with the hope that many more people would be able to take control of their personal finances without the help of a financial advisor.”
You might’ve come across Pete via the MeaningfulMoney Podcast before, because that’s had millions of downloads. He’s a Chartered and Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of Jackson’s Wealth Management in Cornwall. Now, the reason he agreed to write this book for Harriman House was partly because of his scripted podcast.
He says, “Each show is about half an hour long, which translates to about 3000 words.” He had over 750,000 words at his disposal when he came to drafting the book. But if he had put that into the Meaningful Money Handbook, it would have been 18 inches thick. So this has been edited down from all of his expertise over the years,
including on the MeaningfulMoney website, where he had over 600 pieces of content at the time of writing. And so he was [00:01:00] getting asked by podcast listeners all the time about where they should start. So The Meaningful Money Handbook is to help you navigate that maze if you’re coming to this topic or Pete’s work and seeing the huge volume of what he’s created and thinking, where do I begin.
Personal finance blogger Mrs. Mummypenny calls it “A beautifully written book explaining complex financial matters in such a simple way.” And I totally agree. And it’s also a quick read. It’s only about 200 pages. And then obviously, because it is a handbook, the idea is that you would keep this to hand in the months afterwards and keep consulting it
as you work through the action steps inside. The subtitle is “everything you need to know, and everything you need to do to secure your financial future.” And so that’s how each section of the book is split up with the bare minimum that you need in order to move forward with each section of your finances. And then he gives you the action steps for that section.
I’ll read some selections for you today, so you can find out for yourself. I’m not going to read a whole chapter like I did with Own It! I believe if [00:02:00] you join Pete’s mailing list, you can get the first chapter or a whole chapter from the book as a sample. One of the things I like about Harriman House is that any of their books that you buy as a physical copy, you do get a free ebook as well.
So you get two formats for the price of one so that you can really consume that anywhere. Full disclosure: I did ask for a copy of this book, but I specifically chose to feature this one. If you’re wondering, why would I talk about books that cost money at all if you’re trying to save money? One of the reasons that I enjoy investing in non-fiction and allocating money to this area of my spending is because I usually find that you make back the cost of the book in the reading of that book
anyway. The third section of The Meaningful Money Handbook is about investing. And while I’m not a financial advisor, so I definitely can’t give financial advice, and I’m not a financial planner, I would be surprised if someone implemented the investing information that’s in the book and didn’t make back the cost of the book in future.
If you’re still wondering who this is for, Pete wrote this for anyone who didn’t get taught finance in school, which is [00:03:00] most of us. And also my first impressions when I came across Pete, were that he was mainly dealing with people in a later stage of life who are maybe already worrying about retirement and investments.
But funnily enough, if we got to grips with those topics earlier, we wouldn’t have to worry about them later. We would already know what we are doing. He says in the preface, “My older clients all tell me that they never bought anything without saving up for it first. Younger clients often buy what they want now and pay for it later.”
So he actually deals with a wide range of ages. But that also just really jumped out at me because my parents are quite a bit older than my friends’ parents were, so they’re the immediate post-war generation; and I did notice that distinction when I was growing up, that they really taught me to make do and mend and not buy anything
if you didn’t have the money upfront, unless you were getting a competitive deal on a mortgage for a house for instance. I’m basically an 85 year old trapped in a much younger body, but this isn’t a book about how you shouldn’t have spent what you spent already and how you’re not going to be able to buy anything you want anymore [00:04:00] without saving for 20 years first. Even in my lifetime, I’ve noticed a real difference in how
the nation relies on credit cards. And more recently we’ve had the rise of things like buy now pay later that suggests that anything and everything should be something that you could pay for in installments, even a 10 pound t-shirt until we get to a point where we actually don’t own anything anymore, but we do owe a lot of money.
Pete also says the self-serving personal finance industry likes to keep things complex. And he’s saying that from within the industry, right? And that’s one of the reasons why I do what I do despite not having the qualifications that Pete does. And that’s why I am very careful before I record and when I edit to go back through what I’ve said and make sure that I’m not making specific recommendations for anyone’s specific circumstances, because I can’t do that.
I just try to share my own experiences or things I’ve discovered about personal finance that other people might find interesting and can then go off and research whether it is right for their situation. There is a suggestion [00:05:00] that personal finance bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers like myself, should be regulated in the same way that financial advisors and financial planners are.
And that’s because you get the odd, bad faith actor who is trying to sell some pump and dump crypto scheme or MLM or a Ponzi scheme or something. Now I agree that you obviously don’t want to get scammed. Pete says, “Personal finance is riddled with strange terms and acronyms, and sometimes one word means three different things. All levels of the financial services industry have benefited from this complexity by creating financial products with names like Venture Capital Trusts, Relevant Life Plans and Permanent Health Insurance, and then charging you to own them.
Complexity means you need to rely on experts, and experts cost money. Thankfully, the internet is democratising personal finance like never before, and simple, effective products presented in easy language are appearing.” And that’s why I present my layman’s perspective. And it means I can also pass on the word about books like this one, because if you [00:06:00] asked your bank, they’re probably not going to teach you anything that’s in this.
They would just try to sell you a venture relevant capital life permanent trust plan insurance. The book is split into three sections and step one is: spend less than you earn. Now I know some finfluencers don’t like the word budget, because they say it’s restrictive and that it’s counter productive to psychology because if we associate something with restriction or deprivation, what that ends up doing is that we just want to break free and run wild and spend all of the money.
So I’ll just read what Pete says at the end of chapter one, “In learning to control your money, you will learn valuable self-control. Having a budget is about showing your money who’s boss. You’re in charge; you get to tell your money how it will be spent.” I just wanted to highlight that wording because it alludes to, I think, why some of us think budgeting tied to self-control somehow also means being a sad [00:07:00] hollow shell of a human being who never has any fun, because you’re so controlled.
But actually quite often the feeling that we seek from pleasurable spending that isn’t controlled, it’s the same sense of freedom that we would get from being in control of our finances. But you also wouldn’t be broke at the end of it. As an aside, I’m sure from my own experience and from what I’ve talked about with friends and family, that lots of us feel trapped in a job,
or, we have relationships that we don’t feel like we’re in control of, and that can have a knock on effect on how you spend your money. So if you have tried budgeting before, and it didn’t work out, or you’ve never tried it before, this chapter might be the real sense of freedom that you’re looking for, and that you’ve been trying to buy instead.
So Pete takes you through setting out a starting position, how to approach your bank accounts so that you can budget for success, how to plan the month, and review. If you’re thinking, well, budgeting isn’t for me, because I already know that my outgoings are higher than my income, chapter three is all about getting out of debt.
So the things I really liked about this [00:08:00] chapter are that Pete covers good debt and bad debt, because I think some of us are raised with the idea that just all debt is bad, or conversely that it’s normal to be in debt at all times, and that the only way to live is off debt. And he also takes the same approach to student debt as Martin Lewis and money saving expert.com,
if you’ve ever seen their literature on student loans, where they refer to it as more of a graduate tax. And that’s the approach that I agree with too. Pete doesn’t mention this in the book, but aside from the financial services industry, there are also some politicians who would like you to rally around their cause and their cause is to try and convince you
that student loans are crippling and that if you vote for them, that low-income families will suddenly get to go to university. But the thing is low-income families can already go to university, if they weren’t misold the idea that student loans are bad debt. As Pete says, “You repay based on your earnings and for a finite period of time. Many people will never get [00:09:00] anywhere near paying all of their student loan off as they just won’t earn enough to
do so, and those who do will earn more anyway.” I mean, can you think of any other loan that gets wiped out after 30 years, regardless of how much you paid towards it? Pete also covers emergency funds in this chapter. Now I’ve also heard from influencers trying to stake their claim on the land saying, don’t call it an emergency fund, call it my special name for the thing.
‘Cause they don’t like emergency funds because they think if it’s not named something, that that money could just get frittered away on anything, just like any other income. So as a counter to that, how do you store money away for an emergency if you don’t know what the emergency is going to be? And Pete says, “If your total outgoings are more than £1500 per month, then I would look to get an emergency fund of a thousand pounds together.
If your expenses are less than that, then £500 will probably do, but anything is better than nothing, so don’t get too hung up on the numbers.” I wouldn’t get too hung up therefore, if you are [00:10:00] receiving conflicting sources from different money podcasters and bloggers, and one person’s saying you should have an emergency fund; lots of us say you should have an emergency fund.
And if there’s someone saying, I don’t believe in emergency funds, and here’s why, you also have to keep in mind that quite often, the influencers who are saying don’t call it a budget, don’t call it an emergency fund, it’s also in their interest to cultivate an audience that’s more focused on generating income because they’ve got products and services they want to sell.
So a lot of this just comes down to language, but let’s not make it more complex than it needs to be. I can think of another objection you might have and Pete tackles this as well. He says, “Why not take the money you have amassed for your emergency fund and use it to pay down your debt? Well, if the debt is small and can be paid off that quickly, then that makes sense.
But most people won’t be in a position to pay off their debt with just a couple of months’ hard graph. The reason for putting a starter emergency fund in place is that it puts a buffer between you and the reasons most people get into debt in the first place. You see, [00:11:00] often it is life’s unexpected events that cause financial difficulty.
And if one of those events happens while you’re trying to pay down your debt, then you’re likely to get deeper into debt, unless you have an emergency fund to protect you.” I feel like Peter is the uncle I didn’t have to talk about money when I was growing up. Perhaps it’s my fault. Perhaps I should have been asking my uncles about pensions and retirement and savings and debt.
I mentioned that my parents raised me with the idea of, you know, if you want something, you save up for it first, that mortgages aren’t necessarily a bad debt to have, but that you don’t want to live off credit cards or loans. But at the same time, I really wouldn’t have had any idea growing up how they were managing their finances.
So did they know about debt snowballs? Did they have debt? Did they have an emergency fund? And I don’t think there’s any harm in talking about these topics within your family and perhaps a book like this is a good conversation starter for something like that if you and the other person have both read the book. Chapter four is called Pay Yourself First;
now I first learned about pay yourself [00:12:00] first, and that’s as many times as I can say first in a sentence, from David Bach, but he’s very US-oriented. So you might’ve heard of him from his Automatic Millionaire series. I got something from that as a teenager, and then I would always kind of hit a point with his books where, because I’m not in the US, I’d say ‘what’s a 401k?
I don’t think this is for me.’ And under this chapter, Pete says, “Your savings rate is a good measure of financial success.” I’m going to repeat that, especially because there are binmen outside. I’m sorry if for this entire recording, you’ve been able to hear the bins being emptied. Pete says, “Your savings rate is a good measure of financial success.” That really leapt out at me because how often do we think that financial success is
what car you drive or what you wear? We never go to a party and say to someone, ‘ tell me your savings rate; tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.’ So when we look at someone, we can sometimes assume that they’re financially successful. But you might have no idea how much debt they’re in and how much they’re just trying to demonstrate [00:13:00] on the outside that they’re financially successful.
So I really like that concept that you would use your savings rate as a measure of success. I won’t go through chapter five, dealing with setbacks and challenges, because I’m fairly certain Pete did a video, not too long ago called something like what happens when things go wrong financially. So I would look into that until you get your hands on a copy of this, because you could watch or listen to that in the time that it takes to
eat breakfast or lunch, I’m fairly sure, or make a cup of coffee. So just by the end of step one of this book, you should have your bank account set up so that you’re set up for savings, “a solid monthly budget, looking ahead, not backwards, which you have built and are sticking to; an emergency fund in place or in the process of being built” and a clear pan… A clear pan? You might have a clear pan. But you should also have “a clear plan for paying down your debt.” Step two is called protect against disaster. I won’t go into those chapters because they’re quite detailed about insurance and wills. So I can’t really give those credit just with a sentence [00:14:00] today, but it’s very much in his area of expertise as a financial planner;
so if you hired Pete as a planner, I’d expect that’s some of what you would be working with him on depending on your specific circumstances. And then step three is invest wisely. So he explains the difference between saving and investing, why cash is not an investment, and it has a whole chapter on risk, timescale and reward.
Before you run away at the mention of investing, I want to read out what he says about inertia risk. “This is the risk of missing out by doing nothing. Too many people wait too long to get going because they’re scared they’ll mess things up or they just want to read one more book before they start investing.
One of the mantras of successful investing is that the length of time you’re invested is more important than many other factors and variables, including trying to start at some kind of optimum point. The best thing you can do is start now. The longer you’re invested, the more time you have to grow your money,
so why wait? Inertia is the opposite of being intentional. It is dithering and worrying when you should be acting and executing. That’s not [00:15:00] you, but be warned that it can always be a temptation. You’re only human after all.” And then for the other chapters after that, he covers the different types of investments and what to know about that in relation to tax.
And the action point for that is extremely simple, which is to look at pensions and ISAs because of the tax breaks. Now you may have gathered from that, that this is not a careers book, so he’s not covering how to generate more income in the first place or how to make money online if you have a day job that’s unsatisfying when it comes to income.
But this book isn’t assuming that you have got a mountain of money to invest on day one. That’s why he’s taking you through these steps. He’s got that chapter on debt because he’s not assuming at the start that your income is more than your outgoings. He’s not trying to be a careers advisor as well. So I just wanted to mention that that’s why there isn’t a whole section on increasing your income besides investing
if you’ve decided that one of your priorities is to increase your hourly income. But if you’re a [00:16:00] freelancer and you’re working on an hourly basis, this isn’t financial advice, but I suggest you research package pricing instead; it might just change your finances for the positive. Let me know what you think,
and if any of that jumped out at you as well as something that resonated, or what you’ve already tried in any of those areas. If you do catch up with Pete on his podcast, or his YouTub – His YouTub? On his YouTub channel, which is… I think he has a YouTube channel as well. You’ll probably find him better there instead, or on his mailing list. By all means,
let him know if you found him through me and I’ll quote Pete one last time: “I wish you the very best of luck.”
Support How To Save Like A Bear
Leave A Rating Or Review On Apple Podcasts
Share & Follow Save Like A Bear
If you enjoy the episode, why not take a screenshot and share it out on Instagram or wherever you hang out online? Tag me @savelikeabear so I can see your comments, and perhaps give you a shoutout.
If you need a microphone whatever your profession or hobby, I use the Samson Q2U.
If you’re interested in podcasting, I use Spreaker for my hosting. You can get your first month free via this affiliate link. I chose Spreaker because as far as I know they are the only host that lets you monetise from day one the effort you put into your content at no extra cost to the listener. They are very price competitive considering and have an easy peasy interface for uploading, incorporating ads, and integrating your podcast with other platforms so that you can automatically spread the word when a new episode goes live. Give them a go!
For quicker audio and video editing I use Descript (affiliate link).
The mailing list functions thanks to email service provider ConvertKit (affiliate link).
I invested in the annual plan (which nets a discount on paying monthly). This is because when I start a project, I like to commit to seeing my goal through, so paying upfront ensured I wouldn’t quit emailing blog readers after a week!
You can start with a free plan though if you’re really not sure where you’re headed, or you’re technology shy (affiliate link). I find ConvertKit very easy to use though despite setting up automations and sequences and all that fancy jazz.
Many of the images on the blog are thanks to photographer and content extraordinaire Kayla Marie Butler.
Kayla offers a package of stock photos and marketing resources so that busy entrepreneurs have the power to quickly create content that boosts their traffic, leads and profits:
Kayla does offer free stock photos for anyone shy of investing in the future just yet. Or it’s possible to buy individual bundles of her photos from the Ivory Mix Stock Photo Shop. Kayla breaks these into categories, so that it’s easy to just buy stock photography for business and finance brands for example.
Let me know if you want to know what else I use to run the blog besides what’s mentioned on the Bear Resources page, or if you have questions. What do you need help with in your side hustle or business?
If you’re serious about investing in podcasting equipment to sound as professional as possible, this page has recommendations for every budget: