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Can a poem help you with your money?

We know jargon and complicated topics can be a barrier to getting your finances in shape. In fact, a fifth of people find financial planning confusing and have no idea where to begin. Could poetry make it simpler?

With nearly one in ten people in the UK saying they’re bad at managing their finances, according to investment and insurance company Legal & General, using plain English is a good start.

But I wanted to know if there were other ways to make it easier to be smart with your money.

Money rhymes – how could they help?

I spent this morning alongside poet Mark Grist talking to local radio stations about whether you can make money matters more accessible and understandable with poetry.

Mark is a spoken word artist and an ex-teacher who’s still very passionate about educating. He’s teamed up with Legal & General and Rough Guides to encourage people to think about their finances.

We’re used to learning through rhyme. We all know ‘I before E except after C’, and the reason Shakespearian actors could remember all the plays was because so much of the language rhymes. So I wanted to see if we could fill the gap in financial education and get people talking with some simple rhyming rules of thumb.”

Five rhymes to help you and your money

There are five rhymes Mark has come up with (you can hear all five rhymes here), and this one is my favourite:

You want that something

but is it worth it?

How many hours does it take to earn it?

I like this rhyme as it’s asking us to think about what money you have before you spend it, rather than dealing with it later on.

Mark says he worked cleaning toilets as a teenager, and working out how much work it took to buy something, forced him to think if he could afford it or even need it.

The topics Mark has written about are based upon a new Rough Guide to Money and Savings, which like the Your Money Advice blog aims to offer some easily understandable tips and guidance – something Mark found inspiring.

I wish someone had given me this advice when I was younger. It might have stopped me buying loads of trash on my credit card.”

Don't ignore signs of debt

Finding a rhyme we can all remember will hopefully trigger some savvier behaviours, but it’s not the only part of the project. Mark also hopes the poems can also get people talking about their finances, as with this one about money worries:

If you’re anxious, arguing,

or aren’t sleeping properly,

it’s probably time to speak to somebody

The L&G research also found two in five of people feel stressed about their finances, while nearly half the population sees money as a personal matter and not something to talk about.

We know at the Money Advice Service that the sooner people do talk about money issues, the quicker and easier the solution. If you don’t feel you can talk to friends and family, there is plenty of free and confidential advice available wherever you live.

Andy Webb and Mark Grist in the studio

I give it a go…

The final part of Mark’s aim is to get people coming up with their own rhymes to help them. Inspired by his work, I came up with my own little effort:

If you’re struggling with money

don’t try to fudge it,

Go online and start a budget

Why a budget? Life might get in the way, or you might get scared to get a true picture of what you have and what you spend, but ignoring the situation can cause problems later on. Having a budget is really important to getting on top of your money.

If you've got your own rhymes to help manage your money, share it in the comments below.

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