Hello! We’re Keren and Julia. We’ve known each other for over 20 years since we started working together at HSBC in the early 2000s.
We have recently decided to collaborate on writing a blog on financial planning for women. We have a shared belief that everyone should be financially independent, regardless of their gender or marital status.
Our own stories are different, but we have a few things in common, including our love of hiking - here is Julia resting during a hike of England's South West Coast Path and Keren hiking in Wildspitz, Switzerland.
Both of our mothers lost their lives quite suddenly at the age of 59. As a result of this, we understand that life is precious and that there is not a moment to waste whilst we are on this planet. We have a shared passion for living life to the full.
We have also both witnessed women trapped in controlling relationships and we vowed never to be financially dependent on a man.
Despite women having greater wealth than ever before, too many of us still shy away from critical money conversations. We live in a world of gender pay gaps and huge gender pension gaps. Women continue to live in financial fear and insecurity. In our blog, we intend to address one of the biggest barriers for women to get involved in long-term financial planning – understanding personal finance issues and options.
Keren has worked in the financial services profession for over 30 years and has seen the disparity between men and women when it comes to finances. Julia has also worked in the same profession and knows the importance of taking charge of personal finances and living life to the full. Our goal is to share our own stories and that of others to inspire women to take charge of their finances.
The path to financial literacy and independence will not always be straightforward. We need to constantly review and adjust plans as our personal circumstances and the world around us change. We are told to dream but we are rarely told how to reach that dream. Through our writing, we intend to provide you with clear waymarkers to help you navigate the road.
We would like to share the beginning of our individual journeys as a starting point as to why financial independence is important to us. We will be sharing more of our stories and experiences in our future blogs as well as practical advice.
I have always been passionate about my vocation and life thanks to my entrepreneurial parents. My father, who is in his mid-eighties, still says work for him is like a holiday. My late mother was also an entrepreneur and had many ventures throughout her life. However, like many, their story was not an easy one. My parents split when I was 2. It was my mother’s choice. She had no plan, no savings. With little financial support from my father, for the first few years, she struggled to get by. This was my first and most important lesson to be financially independent and understand the true value of money.
This goes for my other siblings; they too learnt what it meant to be independent at an early age. This life experience helped me to understand that we must always follow our dreams, believe everything is possible and only rely on ourselves financially. I see this as a blessing.
It takes courage to live life to the full when the unknown is scary. Knowing we have only one life, the worst thing would be to have a life of regret for not stepping out of our comfort zone and denying ourselves new ventures and experiences that we all deserve.
I grew up in a household that was careful with money. My parents had stretched themselves to buy our house, and there wasn’t much to spare. I remember watching my mum poring over a large ledger at the dining table. She would record every financial transaction and add them up to make sure that everything balanced. These days, I use a spreadsheet to do something similar.
As a child, I had a Post Office savings account, to which I made regular deposits from my pocket money and small jobs. As soon as I was old enough, my parents took me to the bank and opened a current account for me with a chequebook. They taught me how to keep a track of money in and out so that I could be sure not to spend what I didn’t have.
For me, earning and managing money was something that both of my parents actively participated in, and it didn’t occur to me that I would do anything different. I remember being shocked when our next-door neighbour died and his wife had no idea how to do even the simplest of things, like paying the bills. I knew that I did not ever want to find myself in that position.
I have known other women who have stayed in desperately unhappy, and sometimes even violent, marriages because they felt that they could not afford to leave. If our blog helps just one woman to make decisions that are right for her without fear of how she will make ends meet, then we will have done our job.
Have you got a story to share that other women could learn from, or is there something related to personal finance that you would like to know more about? Please let us know in the comments below or contact us directly: Keren’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and Julia can be reached at email@example.com. We understand that anonymity is important. We can change details so individuals can’t be identified. We would love to hear from you.