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October 16, 2016

15 Money Lessons I Learnt The Hard Way

Money Lessons | Money tips | Saving | Budgeting | Frugal living | Money | Life advice


Insights & actionable tips (without the cliche 401k talk). Promise.


Let me start by saying the thing I’m not supposed to: I like money.

Quite a lot, actually.

Money is wonderful. It’s the difference between having choices and having none. It’s the difference between worrying about bills and having the mental space to think about more creative things.

I’m not saying you need to be balling on Instagram, by any means.

But quietly and gracefully enjoying your own money? Now that’s “#goals”.

Here’s how to get started. Disclaimer: there’s no cliche, irrelevant or overly complex advice here. Just actionable and relatable tips I’ve learnt along the way.

  • Being creative doesn’t mean you have to be broke. Many people whose work you know and love fund their creative pursuits by having commercial clients on the side. (Whether they admit it or not.) Making money alongside or from your creative pursuits isn’t selling out, it’s sustenance. Take George Clooney for example, who will produce a brilliant indie movie and then have to do a blockbuster like Gravity. Or Martin Amis who, despite being a best-selling author, supplements his income by writing newspaper articles. As soon as you make peace with the divide between your creative and commercial pursuits, your career becomes a lot more fulfilling.
  • Always negotiate your salary before you accept a full-time job. It might feel awkward, but you know what feels worse? Working hard in the same job 18 months later and wishing you had. Accepting the first offer without a (polite) fight is a disservice to yourself. Because, no matter how hard you work, budgets change, managers change and promises get broken. You can’t guarantee you’ll be given a pay rise, but you can ensure your salary is the best it can be from the beginning. Go get it.
  • Freelancing is fantastic. It gives you options, more cash and more possibilities. Everyone should freelance or have a side hustle that pays. But don’t call yourself a “freelancer”. Consulting, advising or even having your own agency all make you sound more impressive, and therefore more expensive. You’re welcome.
  • Speaking of freelance work… When you’re asked what your daily or hourly rate is, always ask for more than you expect to receive. And then add 10%. I’m not kidding. You’d be surprised by what people are charging out there. If you have some great experience and know you can do an amazing job, charge accordingly, invoice proudly and feel absolutely no shame.
  • As a general rule, working for free is NEVER ok. The small exception is when you’re starting out and the brand is so big it’ll have a direct impact on your portfolio and, in turn, your earning potential. That. Is. It. No other exceptions apply.
  • Saving money is hard. I know it, you know it, and yet we all need to do it. I’ve skipped the lattes, left my bank cards at home and even had a “one in, one out” wardrobe policy. What I know for sure about saving is this: Start small and increase your monthly goals. Think of your savings account as another bill that has to be paid. Sophia Amoruso said it best: “Money looks better in the bank than on your feet”.
  • Having an emergency fund — whether it’s £100 or £1000 — will help you sleep better at night. Fact.
  • It’s ok to spend money on things that make you feel better about “showing up” in life. New work clothes, books and fitness classes are all investments in yourself. Rounds of drinks for people you don’t even really like? Not so much.
  • Research your market value often. I regularly use websites like Glassdoor and PayScale to check if I’m being paid fairly. When fighting for a raise, it pays to back it up with facts.
  • Also, never feel too “grateful” to ask for more. If you’re earned it, you deserved to be paid it. It’s that simple. Most men have been asking for more for years… isn’t it time you did too?
  • Don’t be held back by inherited ideas from your parents or beliefs from your socio-economic background. Don’t be afraid to think big.
  • You’re allowed to be wealthy. You’re allowed to like money. You’re allowed to want more money.
  • Quit comparing your financial situation to other people’s, especially those on the internet. Never assume how much money someone may have. The reality is often startlingly different. Life lesson: the people who shout the loudest about having money, usually have the least.
  • You have nothing to prove to anyone, financially speaking or otherwise. Remember that.
  • Take the taboo out of money talk. Ask your friends what they earn over dinner. Do your research. And, above all, always know your worth.

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  • Lucie

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing post, Bianca! I love it and I actually need this one. 🙂

    Have an amazing Sunday,
    Lucie //

    October 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm Reply
  • Walkiria

    Some great tips here. It is a shame I did not have your tips at hand when I was working. It is also very important to look at the conditioning we all inherit from our parents about money. A good relationship with money, as much as it is possible, brings quality to life.
    I find that it is a touchy subject to ask people how much they earn, however, if you are close friends then you probably know it already. In the case of close friendships where there is trust, then it is a good thing to discuss money, share experiences and help each other asking for a pay increase or manage money better.

    October 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    This is flexible advice that basically applies to everyone, whoever they are. You don’t have to be great with money or investing or have a grand financial plan to be inspired by this, which it why it’ll hold such wide appeal

    October 24, 2016 at 5:36 pm Reply
  • Fii

    Actually, I love that part about inherited ideas from our parents. This is the 21st century so if we’re still stuck with all those old ideas from them, then we may be bound to failure.

    October 25, 2016 at 4:09 am Reply
  • Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR)

    Good post Bianca. I largely agree except for one. From my experience, working for free can be OK under a specific set of conditions, especially as a prelude to getting that great job or contract that will more than make up for the temporary loss of pay by working free. More details here:

    October 25, 2016 at 5:41 am Reply
  • Adrian @

    Thank you for this nice post, Bianca.
    I love your last point “asking friends about their salary”. I sometimes do that and it is always big fun to see different reactions. Often I also start with what I’m earning and then ask them for their figure.

    October 26, 2016 at 8:01 am Reply
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  • Kate

    Thank you for sharing this post Bianca, I also read it on Medium and I find it really inspiring. And I agree that we have nothing to prove to anyone in all aspects, that is so true! I used to get so bogged down worrying myself about proving myself to people who’s opinion I shouldn’t even really care about, now I don’t give as much of a fuck as I used to haha. Also keep up the awesome writing, I love your writing style and always find your posts to be really inspiring and motivational, so thank you for that 😀


    November 23, 2016 at 7:46 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Kate! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I totally agree with every word you’ve written here! You have nothing to prove to anyone except yourself, *especially* when it comes to money. Never forget that people are far too self-absorbed to be thinking too much about you. (Another trick that has taught me a lot!). Thank you, thank you, thank you. x

      November 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm Reply

    Kate Hello,
    Thanks for the lessons on money and remember failure is only another opportunity to do better next time!

    January 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm Reply
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