Halloween is almost here and I love how the UK is starting to incorporate a bit of ‘Americana’.
Depending on where you live, you may have a gaggle of kids visiting your door screaming ‘trick or treat’ or you may see candles and cobwebs going up in windows and doorways.
But what is it about banking that gives so many of us the jitters – and not in a good way?
I mean, as a kid, Halloween is the trifecta of awesomeness – playing dress up, running around at dusk, free sweets. Although, sure, it also has the potential for a tiny bit of hell with costume drama, sugar overload, over-tired meltdowns. And that’s not reserved just for the kids either!
Sometimes ‘Managing Your Finances’ feels exactly the same way to me (note the capital letters!).
There’s the anticipation of checking your current account when you know your salary is due in, the anxiety and dread when you realise you’ve entered your overdraft, and the horror with the fees and automatic payback – you just don’t have what you expected in your account for the rest of the month. That definitely feels more like a trick than treat.
But why can looking after your money end up being such a horrifying experience?
Banks are supposed to be a safe place to put your money, to manage your saving and spending.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t often feel anything like that. In fact, like the hapless couple with car problems on a B rated Halloween movie, most people would rather ignore their bank to their overdraft peril. Therefore, before you know it, the confusion begins. First, it’s a question of whether it’s authorised or unauthorised. And then the list of fees and days calculated and whatever other terms and conditions you never read comes into play. And then you end up feeling trapped and uncertain, helpless to stop the cycle you’ve fallen into.
It is, overall, more chiller than thriller.
Now think again of that movie couple. Why do they have car trouble? Could it be the same rationale most of us do not wish to engage with our finances?
Having access to real time information about your account can be a challenge. So often we hear, and experience, banks sending letters well past the point you could take action. Add all the jargon and small print to understand how your account is charged when you do something ‘wrong’, and once again you’re in totally overwhelming and scary territory. Even when you have unknown, perhaps fraudulent charges on the account – it seems like it takes ages to reach the contact centre and talk to a person to ensure your money is ok.
Essentially, the banks today have trained us to be suspicious. To fear the sharp blade of the unknown hanging over our heads.
It’s no wonder many just hope for the best and accept uncompetitive fees and charges as long as they continue to get from point A to B (or til the next payday).
Are there easier ways to make money not so scary? Maybe small steps can make a difference.
Money management is just understanding how much money you have and how you save and spend it. It doesn’t need to have the fear factor. There’s no need to overcomplicate.
At Starling, we’re convinced a product developed around customer needs with real time capabilities can give more access and transparency than ever before.
So that means showing you how much money you have and where it’s going.
Showing how your spending takes you to the next payday so you avoid monthly scares, telling you if there’s a problem before it happens whenever we can, and providing tools so you can take control of your account rather than leaving you fretting and waiting for customer service.
When you know what’s going on with your money, you’ll feel a lot more prepared – which may not be as exciting as free chocolate or sweets, but it is a lot healthier.