UK: Q&A on Brexit with “Good With Money”

UK: Q&A on Brexit with “Good With Money”

WMN Feature Brexit Big Ben

Brexit. The news is everywhere. How does this affect families in the UK and around the world? We called on our friends (literally, they are friends with Jen Burden’s sister-­in-­law!), “Good with Money” in Great Britain, a site launched by two moms who provide financial information and inspiration for families, to get their perspective from inside the UK!

What is Brexit (the short version!)?

Brexit. A week or so before the EU referendum I was in the playground with my youngest son. An elderly Chinese man looking after his grandson started up a conversation. I could just about understand his English. His comment was, basically,

“What on earth are you doing, Britain, holding a referendum on whether to leave the EU or not? Are you mad?’” Well, clearly, we are.

The UK woke up on the morning of 24 June, many of us in utter disbelief on realising 52 per cent of the country had voted to isolate our tiny island kingdom and leave the European Union. The EU currently has 28 member states, a combined population of more than 500 million, a combined GDP of more than US$18bn and an internal single market governed by its own laws. The UK joined the precursor of the EU, the European Economic Community, in 1973. So to answer the Chinese grandad, yes, we are mad, we held the referendum, and (gulp) we voted leave.

And, if that was not enough madness in itself, we’ve since seen the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron (Remain), who called the Referendum somewhat as an election winner, resign. The two main Leave campaigners, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, also resign (from the resulting Conservative Party leader election race and as leader of the UK Independence Party respectively). The other key UK political party, Labour, remains in turmoil with a leader, Jeremy Corbyn, refusing to step down despite more than half of his ministers resigning just after the vote. AND…we’ve still not really heard a peep from the Greens or the Liberal Democrats (who led our coalition government between 2010 and 2015). The only person with any sense saying anything with any sense is the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who is Canadian!! (Read our latest on that here.) And current Prime Minister Theresa May, who voted Remain, vows to follow the will of the people after the vote to Leave.

Leave or Remain, there is no averting the harsh lesson we are now getting in how that abstract and amorphous “economy” deeply affects our personal lives and society both close to home and further afield.

They say nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. Well, in the two weeks after the vote, I’d say that’s been proven, and one million times over. Previous certainties about jobs and the employment market, freedom of movement, house prices, household bills to loan rates and other personal finances have all been thrown upside down, topsy­turvy.

And one of the worst things is that some of those who are most likely to have voted Leave – the disaffected and disenfranchised – will now be among those most negatively affected by the country’s decision.

We will ALL be affected, and in far more subtle and profound ways than just how much our mortgage bill or rent goes up, as the impact of the financial crisis proved. Following the shock of 2008, higher house prices resulted in an increase in the age at which people get married and have children; the huge public deficit resulted in more people working into retirement and young people who can’t get jobs have to live with their parents for longer. More of the same again cannot be ruled out.

Despite the crazy turmoil at Westminster and in the City of London, a lot of clever people are working out how to protect us from Brexit’s illest effects. Lower interest rates and money printing are on the cards. These strategies might be a recipe for ever­living debts and poor retirements, but they will buy us time.

What are the top 3 effects on the world economy after the Brexit vote to leave the EU?

The effect on the UK economy has been, understandably, pretty pronounced. There are apparently 700,000 fewer jobs advertised in Britain since the Leave vote. Across the globe, too, markets were rocked and currencies in freefall, although they have since recovered.

Almost two weeks after the vote, the British Pound had hit another 31 year low, and it still remains well below its pre-Brexit value over one month later. There is talk of it reaching parity with the US Dollar before the end of the year. Good news for tourists visiting the UK, but not, generally, for many others.

Meanwhile, inflation, made worse by the falling Pound making imports more pricey, looks set to increase. But by how much? A few spikes notwithstanding, inflation has been fairly low for a number of years. Now, economists predict it could more than double before the end of the year, rising to as much as 4 per cent next year.

In the UK we import 60 per cent of our goods ­- that’s a lot, hey? So what do we do if our EU or even global trade agreements are not (re)negotiated fairly? That’s a lot of stuff to miss if our friends in Europe no longer choose to sell it to us ­ at favourable rates. Say au revoir to affordable Mozzarella, Balsamic vinegar, Feta cheese… blimey, this could even spell the death of our beloved Prosecco habit!

The GBP has seen a devaluation. What are some of the challenges this presents for families in the UK and abroad?

As soon as the Leave vote was announced, the British Pound slumped to its lowest level against the US dollar in 31 years. Almost two weeks later, it fell yet further, to new 31 year lows. It has also tumbled against the Euro. Despite a growing chorus of positive voices, this still makes for pretty hard reading.

It means British families with holidays booked to Europe, the US, or even elsewhere, are going to find it pretty tough going, financially.

With the Pound worth less than it was a month ago, everything is going to seem almost unstomachably expensive. So, those Brits who’ve yet to book a holiday will most likely see the summer of 2016 as their Staycation year, keeping the money closer to home. UK resorts should do well from British travellers, and they should also do well from an influx of visitors from around the world making the most of a cheap Pound.

More worryingly, perhaps, the 4.5m British families living and working overseas (with 1.4m in the EU according to the UN) are in limbo, wondering for how long they will be able to stay, and suddenly finding everything significantly more pricey.

While some in the Leave camp argued prior to the vote that Britain would be able to carve out a fuller role in foreign aid outside of the EU and would be able to develop broader international political alliances, such as with former Commonwealth countries, there’s still scant evidence emerging that this will be the case. (Frankly, there’s little evidence of anything emerging, on any future matters at all, eeek!) In fact, a number of leading names in international aid such as Oxfam, WWF, Christian Aid, ActionAid and Save the Children, signed a letter pre Brexit stating their view that only by remaining in the EU can Britain extend its reach and influence when tackling global humanitarian crises such as Syria, Middle East and north Africa.

Britain currently spends 0.7 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid, with the official budget rising to £12.2bn. The signatories of the letter said: “Every pound of aid the UK spends through EU institutions is matched by £6 from other member states. This larger pool delivers better lives for the poorest people. It also helps tackle problems in areas where the UK has no large presence. EU aid complements activities that other aid agencies cannot undertake, like police and security missions in fragile hotspots.”

So, much as those Brits living and working abroad are likely to suffer, people from developing countries who work in the UK will also be hit, as the value of what they have to send home falls further.

Will the UK’s exit from the UK make it more difficult for EU members to work in Britain and vice versa?

The jury’s still out on whether it will be more difficult for people from EU member states to work in Britain and Brits to continue working across the EU. Although I am very happy in Britain (even if it still feels a bit like a rather rudderless, possibly sinking, ship at the minute). I did find myself embracing my Irish roots (my mother is Irish) when I woke up on 24 June, the thought of wanting my kids to have the same European freedom of movement I’ve been lucky enough to have, if they so wish. I heard a rumour they’ve shut the Irish passport office though, so too late for me!

What is your top practical financial advice for families everywhere?

If like many of us in the UK ­ British, European, African, American, Asian, etc., ­you find yourself wondering w h a t   t h e   h e c k   t o  d o  n o w , we’ve come up with a few post ­ Brexit ‘keep calm and collected’ financial tips:

  • ­Consider switching your energy supplier. ­Homegrown renewable energy is less sensitive to price volatility and kinder to the planet.
  • ­Check your savings balances. ­ Up to £75,000 deposits are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme; the EU deposit guarantee limit is Euro 100,000.
  • ­Analyse your everyday spending to guard against too much vulnerability to further falls in the Pound.
  • ­Hold off buying foreign currency. (Or see it as a chance to change all those Dollars and Euros hiding in drawers and down the back of the sofa back into Pounds!)
  • ­Consider fixing your mortgage. ­ Yes, rates are tipped to fall, but there may be short term volatility and fixed rates are super­low at the moment
  • ­Go local, buy local. Support the local economy, it’s going to need it.
  • ­But go global, too. ­ Investors should ensure their portfolios are globally diversified and denominated in several currencies, not only the Pound.

You could also check out our Positive, Practical and Principles Good with Money tips to get your family finances back on track post­-Brexit.

For more on the financial effects of Brexit and more, Lisa and Becky can be found providing financial tips for families in the UK at Good with Money.

This is a guest post to World Moms Network by Lisa Stanley in the UK of Good with Money. (Thank you, Lisa!)
Photo credit to Jennifer Burden.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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Belgium: 5 Things You Can’t Do Anymore When You Have Children

Belgium: 5 Things You Can’t Do Anymore When You Have Children

8637286065_45771f32f9_zWhen you become a parent you soon realize that there are a million things you CAN and WILL do, only you never suspected you were capable of doing them.

You might gag the first time, but trust me, after a few rounds of ‘fish the poop out of the bath’ or a couple of midnight sessions of ‘guess what the baby threw up’ you will be surprised at how big that ‘I can handle this’ list becomes.

But what about the things you cannot do anymore? Here is my Top Five. Feel free to add your own.

1. Splurge a big amount of money on a whim.  I’m not a Kardashian, a Hilton or the owner of a money tree. Life is expensive and kids cost a Gazillion dollars/Euros a day. Just feeding them might cost you a small fortune. So I budget and think each purchase through. Carefully.

2. Seeing a movie/ reading a book where something bad happens to a child.  Along with the muffin top and the dark line on my lower abdomen came a strange new sensibility. Or rather an inability.  Books, movies and documentaries featuring children getting hurt or dying are a NO GO these days. I cannot sit back and watch a drama about how a sick child tears apart his/her parent’s marriage and how they deal with the loss of said child through music/pottery/becoming crazy cat people.  Tears will drop at an alarming rate and there will be sobbing. Because that could be my child. That could be me, grieving the most terrible loss a mother can experience. Just the thought of one of my children getting hurt or sick is enough to cut my heart in two and fill my chest with the blackest despair.

3. Get any satisfaction from cleaning /tidying any room or space in your house.  Even though I’m a notoriously messy person I too experience those rare moments when I can no longer stand the filth or mess of my entire house or just certain rooms. It is at times like this when you might stumble upon a ‘Cleaning the basement: found the whatnots again! Thought it was lost forever!’ tweet if you follow me on Twitter. These little episodes used to leave me with a deep feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction that I was – after all – a responsible adult.
Having kids sucked the joy right out of that feeling. As soon as they could walk, their tiny grubby feet left muddy footprints everywhere, and every room they entered immediately looked like a tornado had gone straight through it.
At first I tried to keep up, but honestly, what is the point in cleaning/tidying up when you know it will only be spotless for about a millisecond?

4. Be a dirty, disgusting schlob. Picking your nose? Scratching certain body parts? Drinking straight from the carton? With children in the house these actions will either be ancient history or something you do in deepest, darkest secret. One of the delights of parenthood is that society expects you to educate your children about the many Dos and Don’ts of polite behaviour. To put it bluntly : you are expected to lead by example. Little Freddy/ George/ William will not see why he cannot adjust his boy-parts right in the middle of the store when daddy did so the last time he took the little angel grocery shopping. Nor will little Betty/ Grace/Jennifer refrain from digging that booger out of her wee nose and inspecting the find before putting it in her mouth when mommy did just THAT a few minutes ago.

5. Sleep in on a Saturday. No explanation required.

What are the things you can no longer do as a parent?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tinne at “Tantrums and Tomatoes” from Belgium. Photo credit: olnetchannel. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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INDONESIA: Back on the Career Path

INDONESIA: Back on the Career Path

career pathNeed to go and get his hair cut…” I made a mental note as I run my fingers through his now obviously long hair.

But why Mommy?

Oh no, I missed a question…” I inhale and look at him deeply. “Why what? Sorry I was just thinking you need a haircut soon.

But why you have to go back to work?

Sigh…I tried to compose myself even as his messy hair is still between my fingers.

Because I have to make a living so I can pay for your school. So you could do after school activities…” and so I can add you to a health insurance coverage (I added this bit in my head).

Will you work out of town?

No, Pumpkin. I will find something here.

Ok…” he hugged me and I hugged him back tightly and told him I only ask that he study well in school and he behave well.

You know I love you and I will always be there for you, right?

I love you Mommy…” and in the dimmed room I wiped my tears.

The memory of his teacher’s reactions when I told her last year that I will be moving to Bali to pursue a career flashed before me. Back then, she told me that my son’s behavior in school has improved so much ever since I quit working. She was worried.

And for the past few days I’ve been weighing all my options.

Working from home through my writing is sadly not enough to cover everything we need, my son and I. Being a single mother, I am the sole breadwinner, and I have realized for months now how behind I am on getting his needs met. New school uniforms…thanks to my parents, that and my son has a brand new sturdy backpack for school this year from them.

I was content working from home. I get to spend more time with my son; I am home when he gets home from school. We are happier. I didn’t have to get up around dawn to beat morning traffic. I am a happier single mother.

So, I have decided to put my contentment aside, dust up my resume and started sending them out today. Hoping my old field of career will have an opening somewhere, somehow. He will be fine, I keep telling myself. My son understands that I need to do this not just for the obvious financial reasons but also to help me feel better about being productive again.

How do you prepare your kid(s) when you go back to work full time? Any advice? 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen from Scoops of Joy in Indonesia.

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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FLORIDA, USA: Africa’s Treasure

FLORIDA, USA: Africa’s Treasure

DSC_0172ed“Hey bro, vipi? How much for these shoes?” I ask the second-hand market vendor.

“Ah! Those, for you, those are $30 U.S.dollars,” he responds with a tone indicating that he’s giving me a deal. He didn’t know I was Tanzanian, maybe because I hadn’t yet spoken more than a few words in Kiswahili. Words that any foreigner who cared to find out would have known.

“$30?! I can get a new pair of shoes in the U.S. for that amount!” I say in return, flabbergasted by the price this man just gave me.

After a few minutes of haggling, going back and forth about the quality of the shoes, and his realization of my nationality, we do not close the sale of these shoes, but commence having a very important conversation about the poverty of Africa.

I will call this man Peter, as I do not recall his name.

As I talked down the price of the shoes, Peter said things like, “You people have money!” and “Come on, you can pay this amount easily.”

When Peter and I started talking (immediately after I decided not to purchase the shoes), I asked him his reasons behind hiking prices up so high for foreigners. He simply said, “Because we are poor here in Tanzania, and in Africa, so I have to try to earn money some way, and you guests have the money.” (more…)

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Mommy, Are We Rich?

This is a gold ATM machine: you can purchase gold in any amount. The machine is in the mall, near a Starbucks.

That’s been a question I’m asked a lot lately. It’s a question I was almost never asked when we lived in Manhattan, even though it’s home to god knows how many hedge-fund gazillionaires.

When we moved to Abu Dhabi in August, I prepared myself for all kinds of changes–food, customs, weather, schools, jobs–all the big stuff. But it never occurred to me that, of course, here in the land of Gulf petrodollars and expat tax-free paychecks, my kids would be exposed to the trappings of wealth in a way they’d never seen before.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they were walking barefoot in the snow to some rat-infested public school in outer Bushwick where there weren’t enough math books to go around.  Both boys went to public elementary schools, true, but one was in a lovely little neighborhood in Gramercy Park (a very affluent ‘hood) and the other went to a gifted-and-talented school that wasn’t very fancy on the outside but was delivering a kick-ass education inside (albeit in over-crowded classrooms with underpaid teachers).

We have friends with weekend houses and beach houses; friends who take great vacations and explore the world, but my kids don’t really see those things as signs of money—in part, I guess, because they’re still young and don’t quite understand what it takes to support two households, or truck a family of six to Egypt for the winter holidays.

I wasn’t prepared, myself, for the way that wealth is on display here: that the Porsche Cayenne is basically the Chrysler mini-van of the Gulf; (more…)

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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