Ahead of National Numeracy Day, we speak with National Numeracy ambassador Timi Merriman-Johnson otherwise known as Mr MoneyJar (pictured above).
What’s your first money memory? For Timi Merriman-Johnson it’s saving 1p and 2p pieces into a money jar with his brother. “They were coppers that my parents didn’t want if they got change. When the jar was full, we’d take it to a Post Office or a coin-cashing machine and then buy stuff with it.”
Timi, who now creates educational financial content, would have been about seven at the time. “I seem to have had an interest in money since I was a child. The other day I found a diary from when I was about 10 from the year 2000, and I’d recorded money in and money out - £10 from Mum, 30p on Chewits, things like that.”
For Timi, looking back at early memories and experiences with money is a key step in understanding where your money mindsets come from, especially if you’re someone who thinks they’re ’bad with money’. Unpicking these phrases and attitudes is a big part of what he does as a financial content creator, speaker and podcaster.
Timi, 33, is also an ambassador for National Numeracy, a charity that aims to improve people’s confidence and skills with numbers. His business name, appropriately, is Mr MoneyJar.
Becoming Mr MoneyJar
“I started talking about money online in 2019,” he says. “As a researcher for a financial PR company, I got very interested in the subject matter - banks, insurance companies, FinTechs. On top of that, as someone in my early 20s in my first job and in my student overdraft, I realised that I didn’t know much about managing my own finances so I took it upon myself to read loads of books and listen to loads of podcasts and share what I was learning.”
His bookshelf is still packed with money books: What They Don’t Teach You About Money by Claer Barrett, Get Your Money Right by Emmanuel Asuquo, and How To Save It by Bola Sol. While his phone is full of his favourite financial podcasts, such as The Martin Lewis Podcast and Money Clinic with Claer Barrett.
“Back in 2019, lots of the information was in dollars, not pounds and pence, as there weren’t many UK creators. Thankfully, that’s changed now.” Across his social media platforms, Timi has more than 21,000 followers. His biggest audience is on Instagram, where he shares everything from tips on how to chase an overdue invoice to breakdowns of new government policies, such as childcare reforms under the budget.
Numbers and supermarket discounts
“Numeracy is about your confidence with numbers and your ability to use them in your everyday life, as opposed to maths, which I think of more as theoretical concepts,” he says. “For example, on National Numeracy Day, I run savings challenges like the 1p challenge.”
For the 1p challenge, you save 1p on day one, then 2p on day two and so on until you’re saving £3.65 per day, one year on. If you do the challenge for a year, you’ll end up with about £700 in savings. “It makes it fun and bitesize,” he says.
“National Numeracy and I are developing a programme that shows people how to apply maths to everyday life. For example, what the interest rate for your credit card means, or how to calculate how much you’ll save through a discount at the supermarket.”
National Numeracy Day will be taking place on 17 May 2023. You can find out more through the National Numeracy website.