My life in money makala green

My Life in Money: Makala Green

Welcome to My Life in Money, our Good Housekeeping money series where we ask our favorite financial gurus for their thoughts on everything from the best financial decision they’ve ever made to the worst.

This week we speak with McCalla Green, financial expert and the UK’s first black female chartered financial planner. Makala began her career as a bank cashier at the age of 16, working as a financial advisor and speaker. Her book, The Money Edit, is a jargon-free, shame-free guide to making positive financial steps, no matter what stage of life you may be in.


What did you learn from your parents about money?

I was raised by hardworking parents and often heard the saying “money does not grow on trees”, which I didn’t fully understand as a child, but which became apparent to me as an adult.

I’ve been taught since childhood to value money and the hard work and effort that goes into making it happen. My father was giving me a monthly allowance from the age of 11, and I had to learn how to make my money. This taught me the principles of budgeting and money management from a young age and it still stuck with me.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I will classify myself as a saver. Having started working in the bank at the age of 16, it taught me many positive financial behaviors and principles from an early age that I might not have had before. I am excited by saving the money and the benefits and opportunities it provides.

Although I love to save money, I also appreciate spending, especially when it’s good, but until then, I’m always looking for a good quality deal. It’s all about balance – there’s nothing wrong with being a spender as long as you make room for savings to protect your money in the future.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Yes, I have had moments where I made poor decisions with financial consequences that I wish I had avoided. However, when it comes to money, I have been fortunate to have made good profits since entering financial services at the age of 16.

It is important for me to have an adequate emergency fund and protection so I am financially prepared for worst case scenarios. The combination of good money management and planning prevented me from suffering financially.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought (besides property)?

Besides cars, the most expensive thing I ever brought was a Rolex watch. I saved up months to buy my first luxury watch, yet it still pained me to give up the thousands of pounds it cost. However, since its acquisition, its value has increased by 30%, so it is fair to say that it was a worthwhile investment.

makala green

What is your favorite money app?

I use my own system to keep track of my money and keep my budget in order. However, I like Moneyhub and Emma for their simplicity, easy-to-use features, and free access.

What do you brag about, and what do you provide?

When I splurge, it’s generally on clothes and shoes. I often attend or speak at events, so I need to keep showing up and look the part (well, that’s my excuse at least!). I love fashion as much as I love finance, so I always try to find the balance between the two.

I create savings pots to justify my spending habits and try to save on whatever I buy, whether I’m shopping, getting discounts or promotions, or simply saying no if I’m tempted to buy something I know I don’t need or can’t give.

What is the best financial decision you have ever made?

Learn to say no. Yes it can be expensive. I’ve had many financial regrets that I couldn’t say no, and I’m not alone in this because I hear it from women all the time. I have now learned to evaluate my options and prioritize in terms of value now and in the future. If it doesn’t make sense financially, it doesn’t from me.

What is your biggest financial mistake?

Taking on debts to buy luxury items is a big deal to me now, but in my twenties, it was quite the opposite. Now that I’ve been there, done that, and got the T-shirt – I’m totally over it.

Although it is a financial mistake that I am not particularly proud of, I realize that there is no blame or shame in making financial mistakes. I discovered that financial mistakes can lead to better money management, as I discuss in my book The Money Edit. If we don’t make mistakes, we will never learn.

Do you invest your money?

As someone who loves to plan ahead, it is only right that I love investing my money. Investing doesn’t always have to be stocks and shares, although they can be great assets to build potential growth for your money.

The investment can extend to buying real estate, starting a business, buying watches or even luxury handbags (yes, it’s done). I think a combination of different investments – known as diversification – is a great way to build growth for the future while reducing risk.

What is your money motto?

I think money phrases are great ways to build a more positive relationship with money. So I live and swear by them. My money mantra changes depending on how I feel and what I aim to achieve. My current money mantra is “I’m rich in more ways than one”.

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