Iona Bain is a freelance journalist and speaker who writes The Young Money Blog. Covering advice for young people’s finances including housing, stocks and pensions, The Young Money Blog recently ranked in the Top 10 UK Personal Finance Blogs. We spoke to Iona about the financial issues facing today’s youth, using valuable research from PR sources and engaging her audience.
How would you describe your blog?
My blog is the first and pretty much only UK blog dedicated to covering young people’s financial problems – what they are, how they came about and what we could do to solve them.
Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2011 when I was 23 because there was no coverage of financial issues that affected young people in the mainstream media at that time. We were entering a new era where teens and 20 somethings faced unprecedented financial problems, from student debt to unaffordable housing, but were getting very little guidance or representation. I used to be a musician and music journalist, but the work started drying up and I moved back home. It was a difficult time. My dad used to be a financial journalist before he retired last year, and he said I could start a financial blog. That way, I would build my confidence around money and possibly help others at the same time. I am very glad I did.
What’s the biggest issue facing personal finance today?
Hopelessness and the feeling of alienation among young people. If we start to think there is no chance of saving any meaningful money or having a healthier relationship with spending, then we are destroying any chance of cementing our long-term financial security AND happiness. It is possible to be frustrated about the status quo and determined to not let it defeat or demoralise you at the same time.
How do you think Brexit will affect our finances in the UK?
I don’t know. I see very little point in speculating about the future. Waste of time. None of us know how things will pan out. Anyone who pretends otherwise is putting on a very good show.
What piece of advice would you give a young adult in relation to how they manage their money?
Don’t get a credit card. If a company offers you one, delete the email, close the webpage, throw the letter in the bin. They’re not worth the huge psychological price you will end up paying throughout your twenties. I don’t have one because I can’t trust myself. We’re only human – credit cards pander to our weaknesses and make us pay dearly for them.
How do you engage with your readership?
I am sympathetic to my readers – I’m not constantly telling them what to do. I say, ‘Hey, I get it. Handling money is tough – particularly these days.’
It helps that I’m not an old fogey. But I don’t talk down to readers either. I don’t assume that they’re thick, wrong-headed or easily bored just because they’re young. I don’t write insultingly short blogs in big font with simple words. I try to write the kind of blog I’d like to read – intelligent, witty, thoughtful and insightful. I don’t always succeed but hey, I think people appreciate the effort. I respond to comments and I’m always trying to reflect the zeitgeist, what young folk are thinking and worrying about.
What makes your blog successful?
I think the title says it all. Young Money. It’s simple but it represents something important. Nobody really cared about my generation and its money problems when I started in 2011, bar a few articles/news items here and there. Now we’re starting to recognise that young people need to be listened to, understood and helped when it comes to their money. And I think the blog has become a very visible focal point for that feeling. And it helps that I’m a journalist, applying certain standards to what I write.
How do you like to work with PRs?
I like PRs who really understand what journalism is about. Any research or insights have to be commensurate with that. Good PRs think about what the blog is, what it’s trying to do and make a real effort to come to me with something valuable (maybe even something I could use as a freelance journalist).
What’s the one thing all PR pros should know about you?
The blog doesn’t accept advertising or guest posts provided by companies. It’s independent – readers trust that I’m not swayed by commercial considerations. But I am definitely always interested in hearing about genuinely original research or insights into young money issues.
What other blogs do you read?
To be honest, I have massively cut down my online time recently. It was quietly driving me around the bend and dulling my creativity/free-thinking. So, I’m making more time to read offline. Newspapers, The Week…and magical things called books. There are blogs I admire and respect, but in the end, you’ve got to go your own way. That’s the only way you create something original or significant.
Iona Bain and The Young money Blog are both listed in the Vuelio Influencer Database, which is the UK’s leading influencer database available to the PR and communications industries.