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  • Writer's pictureKeren-Jo Thomas

Financial Planning is Liberating!

Financial planning can change lives! This is the first of our blogs telling an in-depth true life story about just how much of a difference it can make to take control of your personal finances.

Lien was once a university lecturer with young children who was worried about how to make ends meet. She is now an expert in financial planning with a good level of passive income. Here she shares her journey and what she has learnt along the way.

“My parents arrived in the UK with very little money. They only had a small income, but I never felt poor and never thought about money. We lived a simple and frugal life, which meant that there was always food on the table and my parents could also support our extended family back home.

I had no material desires; my ambition was simply to go to university. I lived on a student grant while studying for my first degree and then a scholarship for my PhD.

I only became concerned about money when my husband left a well-paid job in Switzerland and we returned to the UK.

We had three young children under the age of 5 and my husband had just set up his business, so we had to survive on one salary and a small rental income while building the business. It was a real stretch. I felt stressed and concerned about how we were going to survive as a family, never mind support our relatives back home.

To help us to try and work things out, my husband arranged for us to see a financial adviser. That meeting was truly life-changing for me. Rather than focusing on talking to us about products such as life insurance or ISAs, the financial adviser asked us three simple questions:

  1. What goals did we want to achieve?

  2. When did we want to achieve those goals?

  3. What was our financial situation (net worth)?

That meeting was liberating!

We realised that we did not need to carry all our financial worries alone, that a professional advisor could help us work things out so that we could achieve our goals in life. We felt inspired because for the first time our goals and objectives became articulated, recorded and discussed. We also felt empowered because we now had a clear map of our future.


That meeting made me realise that financial advisers and planners can play an important role in helping people improve their lives. I was hooked. With this realisation, I changed my career as a university lecturer and re-trained as a financial planner. I quickly educated myself and passed many exams to qualify as a Certified and Chartered Financial Planner. I loved the learning process as I could use the knowledge I was gaining to help my friends, family and clients. In the process, I also reaped the benefits of feeling in control and confident about my own future.

The career change also went hand in hand with a shift in my mindset. My husband and I were running our own business and I had to develop a less conservative stance, particularly towards financial risks. My husband used to work in investment banking and already believed that taking risks was necessary to accumulate wealth. Aligning my mindset with his, we took actions together to achieve our goal of financial security.

I am now a university lecturer again, this time teaching finance because I love to work with young people and help them achieve their goals. My husband is also a university lecturer, and both of us are dedicated to helping our students. We feel lucky that we do something we enjoy and at the same time make a difference to our students’ future.

Lessons I have learnt

  1. Everybody needs some kind of financial education so that we can make better and more informed financial decisions. We need, for example, to understand financial risk, rather than feel afraid of it.

  2. Everybody needs passive income. My advice would be to invest early and find a way to generate passive income, so that you are not reliant on your work to make money.

  3. Women have an important role in the family. We need financial eduction so we can take an equal part in managing the household’s finances. My husband and I discuss what is best for both of us. This brings a feeling of control giving us more security, confidence and peace of mind and a healthy relationship because we make decisions jointly.

My advice

1. Educate yourself about money, its role, what it can do for you and how to make it work for you.

2. Encourage your children to invest early and understand what compound interest means. I gave my eldest daughter a copy of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and she told me it was life-changing for her.

3. Generate passive income. Having adequate passive income gives you financial security and time to do what you really want to. Many people think having a job brings security, but it does not. What gives people financial security is assets, such as properties, shares, and ISAs, which can generate capital growth and a passive income.

4. It is not how much you earn, but how much you spend that is important. Never spend more than you earn and always save for a rainy day.

5. Make time to manage your finances and review these on a regular basis.

Have you got a story to share that other women could learn from, or is there something related to personal finance that you would like to know more about? Please let us know in the comments below or contact us directly. Keren’s email address is and Julia can be reached at

We understand that anonymity is important - we can change details so individuals can’t be identified. We would love to hear from you, and so would our readers.

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