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I grew up with a complete lack of a money mindset. I do not come from a wealthy or middle-class background and money conversations growing up rarely went beyond ‘how do we pay the basic bills?’ or a discussion on the lack of money in general.

Growing up without the concept of an allowance or saving, the first thing I did when I was old enough was get credit cards and max them out. At the time I studied in Germany and accumulated student loans on top of reaching my credit card limits. Once I graduated, I took a loan to pay off the credit cards, but unfortunately my bad money management mindset remained, and I ended up using the credit cards again – thus making the problem worse. 

However, I did have a good career working in tech, so I was able to make sure I was never late on any payments, but I did not have any retirement savings, emergency funds or investments. This all changed when I turned 27. I realised I had nobody to help me out should I get into financial trouble. Inspired by many of the financial narratives and ideas – such as FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early), zero based budgeting and ‘The Minimalists’ – that suggest good investment and budgeting can reap life-changing rewards, I started gaining my super-power: Financial Literacy.  

What the heck are bonds? What are dividends? Compound what??? It all became clear very quickly. I started aggressively paying off my debts and in three years my balance was £0.  

‘£0 Net worth’ never sounded sweeter.  

By this time, I had moved to the UK where I could push my career in tech even further. Also, by then I had fallen in love with personal finance and I was ready to see if it was not too late to financially secure myself. 

My main aim was to adopt a fairly minimalist lifestyle so that I could save as much as possible for old age. I felt I was somehow late to the race but there were still plenty of things I could do financially for a better future. Since I now lived in the UK, I was looking to invest my money into all of the great equities I had learned about, but I also realised that I did not have the time to master the art of trading stocks and that’s when I discovered Nutmeg. 

Nutmeg gave me the opportunity to invest in equities and other assets by only making two decisions: ‘how much?’ and ‘at what risk?’ I started with a stocks and shares ISA after I saw the hilariously low interest on cash ISAs at my local bank. It was pretty clear that if I didn’t invest in markets then it would be almost guaranteed that – inflation considered – I would lose value in a cash ISA by the time I got to old age. 

After getting used to the Nutmeg dashboards, reading their blogs and engaging with UK–based financial communities on Reddit, I felt confident in the investment decisions I’d made. Then, a job move inspired me to consolidate my former employment pensions into a personal pension at Nutmeg as well. Having developed a good savings habit, I started contributing to my Nutmeg pension regularly as well, while maxing out the work contributions on offer. These days my financial portfolio is split across the following:

I use most of the range of investment styles that Nutmeg offer depending on the account: some are socially responsible, some are higher risk than others, some are fully managed and some have a fixed allocation. I like seeing the different accounts compete. 

I have only invested for three years but Nutmeg has been flexible and made it easy when I decided to take a six–month break from work. I am now back in the game ready to max out ISA allowances and pay in as much as I can into my pension.  

I am currently able to save a total of 60-70% of my income and hope I’ll be able to catch up to the financial independence I want later in life. I appreciate where I’m at. A lot of this is thanks to choosing the right career and benefiting from a healthy industry and wages. 

Not everyone is so fortunate, but if I could go back to tell my 20–year–old self to invest – I would.  

Risk warning

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. A stocks and shares ISA may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure if an ISA is the right choice for you, please seek financial advice. 

A stocks and shares Lifetime ISA may not be right for everyone. You must be 18–39 years old to open one. If you need to withdraw the money before you’re 60, and it’s not for the purchase of a first home up to £450,000, or a terminal illness, you’ll pay a 25% government penalty. So you may get back less than you put in. Compared to a pension, the Lifetime ISA is treated differently for tax purposes. You may be better off contributing to a pension. If you choose to opt out of your workplace pension to pay into a Lifetime ISA, you may lose the benefits of the employer-matched contributions. If you are unsure if a Lifetime ISA is the right choice for you, please seek financial advice. 

A pension may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure if a pension is right for you, please seek financial advice.