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Can you be good with money if you suck at maths?

Can you be good with money if you suck at maths?

It's National Numeracy Day on the 16 May, and all week I've been thinking about the link between money and being good at maths. 

I always was pretty good at school. I got good exam marks, found learning to be a generally easy and enjoyable experience - but was (and still am) not very good at maths.

I’d get anxiety thinking about going to a maths class at school, and found myself skipping the lesson because the thought of it was so painful.

It was a catch 22 situation really, because I was always told I wasn’t very good at maths, I didn’t really try.

I had resigned myself to go through life not being able to do my times tables or long division, so it is pretty funny that I ended up in personal finance, which is pretty much just maths.

If someone had suggested writing about money as a career, I’d have turned my nose up at it because all maths, including money, seemed boring to me.

It can change

But it took not having money, and the subsequent getting of money when I started working, to get me interested. Because I wanted every hard-earned penny to count, I began to care about how I spent my money and began to have the confidence to start planning for my future.

Dealing with money is basically ‘stealthy maths’ or even ‘maths in action’. It doesn’t feel like those dreaded Xs and Ys that made no sense in school because those Xs and Ys are things in your life. They’re your rent, food, kids pocket money etc.

I think it was (well for me anyway) hard to understand how maths, as it was taught at GCSE, had anything to do with real life. It’s all triangles and equations.

When growing up, I didn't feel very confident about money. I was never in debt, but didn’t think I understood things like interest rates or how mortgages worked.

And I didn’t. It was like I was at school again - because I didn’t think I was going to be good at it, I didn’t try to understand it.

Confidence is key

But my job (which was writing about saving money) wasn’t going to allow me to do that. I had to start trying to understand what these things meant, and once I got over the idea that I might look stupid asking questions - I was almost able to ‘picture’ the maths, which is key for me. I don’t like to just add numbers, I need to picture the money or the items I am buying.

I still panic sometimes when I see something complicated, like how my mortgage works but I no longer think that it’s too hard to deal with, I just need to have confidence and take my time with it.

In fact, the key really is confidence. I think a lot of people like me have had it knocked out of us at school, so just write off the idea that you can be good with money.

Am I good at maths? Nope. You throw a fraction at me and my brain is going to turn to jelly. Am I good with money? You bet. I’ve worked hard to get my money and I want to do the best with it, so am able to budget and save.

Technology can be your friend

The truth is, you can cheat, or make it more manageable, thanks to technology. You don’t need to be able to do everything in your head.

Check out our blog which has all the tricks and tools to get computers to do all the fiddly maths for you.

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