The year after I (Phil) had finished high school, I spent a year living and working as an adventure training instructor in England. Throughout this year, I was fortunate enough to spend a few months living with my elderly grandmother in the seaside town of Weston Super Mare.
Every four weeks, I would walk to the local Worlebury post office with Grandma and collect her pension payment. On returning home, I vividly remember that the first thing Grandma would do was take down five glass jars from her kitchen cupboard above the stove.
On each jar was a masking tape label, and on each label she had the name of a major household bill and the amount she needed to put in the jar every payday to ensure she could pay the bill when it was due.
Only after she had allocated money to her jars did Grandma truly know how much she could afford to save or spend on more discretionary expenses. Needless to say, Grandma never got behind on her bills and, having grown up through the depression, she always managed to squirrel away plenty.
Little did I know what an impact these simple money lessons would have on my life.
Being a touch on the frugal side it wasn’t until I was married truly started to appreciate the money management principles my Grandma had taught me…
Lianne and I were married in December ‘97. Like all young couples, we had dreams of buying our own home, starting a family, and being in a position to allow Lianne to be a stay-at-home mum.
The problem was that as two occupational therapists, it was unlikely we were ever going to be high income earners. We realised early on that if we were going to make our dreams reality, we would have to be smart in the way we managed our money.
So we implemented a budgeting system based on Grandma’s principles, setting aside 1/12th of all our expenses every month.
Our budgeting system ensured we could still have some fun, but more importantly, we were steadily able to save money, stay out of debt, start investing and work towards the goals that really mattered.
Enthused by our own success, I loved talking to friends, family (actually, anyone who would listen) about budgeting and the impact it was having on our own lives.
One day some friends from church asked if I could help them set up a budget and create a plan to help them get out of debt, I was so excited…
6 months later they were debt free and singing the praises of Grandma’s Jars budgeting system, very soon 1 client became 5, then 10, then 20…
In 2002 all seemed to be going to plan. We had two beautiful daughters, and thanks to our years of preparation, we could afford for Lianne to be a stay-at-home mum. However, God had other plans, and quite out of the blue, I was offered the opportunity to become a trainee financial planner.
What an opportunity – I could get paid to teach people about budgeting! The only problem was my income would decrease by over 60%. We would now be living on one minimum wage with the expectation that it would progressively increase over the next three years.
This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and after doing the sums, we figured we could scrape by for a couple of years. I made the jump and embarked upon an exciting new career.
However, despite building a solid client base, the anticipated increases in salary did not occur. One year at minimum wage became two and eventually three. While we never went without life’s essentials, there were many weeks where we couldn’t afford to add ice cream to the shopping trolley…
Throughout this time, just about every client I worked with earned significantly more than I did. It certainly didn’t require any imagination on my behalf to show them how they could cut back their expenditures. I was sure I was the only financial planner ever to be receiving governmental rental assistance. It was a humbling experience.
As tough as these three years were, they were the inspiration and foundation for building Grandma’s Jars.
As one of the biggest tech gumbies around building Grandma’s Jars, Software was one of the most time consuming and stressful processes I have ever been involved in.
But it was worth it!
In the 9 years since launching we have had the opportunities to help thousands of families all over the world take control of their finances, get out of debt and create financial certainty in their lives…
We have worked with clients in over 30 countries and our clients have collectively paid off more than $17 Million in debt and saved close to $40 Million.
In 2018 I was blessed to be awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship for Financial Literacy
This award gave me the opportunity to travel the world for 3 months to study the best financial literacy and programs and initiatives available.
The #1 finding of this research was that financial education in schools does not work, because money skills are a life skill not an academic subject.
Money skills need to be taught (and learnt) in relevant, age appropriate and real life situations… but the problem is there is no one teaching basic money skills…
In 2023 Grandma’s Jars will transform from being a just budgeting app to a financial education and coaching platform.
It will take time but the goal is to provide a low cost platform that provides young adults and families with the financial education, tools and resources needed to thrive financially…
Grandma’s Jars will become a safe place to ask ALL your money questions and get practical answers presented in a way that everyone can benefit from.
While we cannot provide “financial advice” our goal is to empower every person with the knowledge to confidently make their own financial decisions…