Young Money Blog: I started blogging about finance 10 years ago and it helped turn my life around - iNews

This week is cause for celebration, as we get to properly reunite with our loved ones. But I have an extra little reason to raise a glass. Because this week marks the anniversary of my website, Young Money Blog, when I turned things around.
In May 2011, I was an unemployed, unhappy musician living at home with my parents. I knew nothing about money – I thought it was all terribly grubby and boring. To cap it all, what little money I had was stolen in a burglary earlier that year. Top tip: don’t put all your earnings in a bright pink piggybank on your windowsill for all of Edinburgh’s rogues to see.
Granted, it’s not the most auspicious origins story for a financial blogger. But you can’t say I didn’t have (to use that trendy phrase) ‘lived experience’ of what my readers were going through. This was just a few years after the 2008 financial crash, and the UK was falling in and out of recession, with businesses making cutbacks and austerity kicking in. Rents were climbing, access to affordable mortgages was stalling and competition for so-so starter jobs often felt like The Apprentice on steroids.
I didn’t know any young person who wasn’t wracked with feelings of inadequacy and failure. It was a time of rude awakenings and bitter disappointments, especially for those who had been gone to university in the belief it would lead to well-paid jobs and a better financial outlook but found themselves earning less and owing more debt than those who graduated pre-crash.
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A decade on and Generation Z are at an equally (if not more) alarming juncture. Research published by the innovation foundation Nesta has found that 18 to 24 year-olds are twice as likely to have been made redundant or furloughed than the over-45s during the pandemic. It also found that 40 per cent of people who are currently out of work have been unemployed for more than six months, with 30 per cent saying the constant worries about work have affected their mental health and 41 per cent reporting lower self-esteem as a result. 
Those tempted to say young people will quickly bounce back should study the effects of long-term ‘scarring’, both economic and psychological, among those who leave education during a major crisis. The Health Foundation’s academic research estimates that an extra 200,000 people will suffer mental health problems if the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 per cent in the final quarter of this year, as predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
I can believe it. The link between poor mental health and financial problems is all too real. As I struggled financially between 2009 and 2011, I increasingly alternated between excessive worrying and deep hopelessness, which I now recognise was the onset of anxiety and depression. I pulled through with the support of my family and by establishing Young Money Blog, which not only boosted my own financial confidence but also gave me purpose and renewal. 
I’m acutely aware that not everyone will be as fortunate as I was. Still, nobody is completely on their own. I started my blog because I desperately needed it, with few relevant resources and communities to guide me. Today, there are so many brilliant influencers, educators, and social entrepreneurs out there, all harnessing the internet to help people get out of debt, grasp their rights and work towards their future goals. 
Financial technology has changed beyond recognition since I created that fateful WordPress account, when there was only one banking app on the market. While ‘fintech’ is no silver bullet, it offers the potential for far more inclusive services, especially through open banking, where people give explicit, ongoing permission to share their banking data securely with trusted third parties. 
Nesta itself has just put £3m towards six solutions that focus on marginalised and vulnerable groups. These range from tools to help low-paid workers maximise their income and find grants to hands-on career support for homeless and disabled people, as well as students and graduates.
The aim will be to scale up these apps to reach one million people. But we can’t just leave this to a few innovators. This is the moment when policymakers, the financial industry and families everywhere need to step up to the plate. Our young people, indeed, many of our fellow citizens, need us. 
Thousands may hit rock bottom, just as I did. Are we going to let them languish there, with all the torment that brings? Or are we going to give them a fighting chance with opportunities to learn, earn and save for the future?
Hope is what pulls you out of the darkness. Let’s give our young people good grounds for it. That way, in another 10 years, maybe we’ll be reading the joyous story of someone who turned things around, way back in May 2021.  
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