RACHEL LACEY: Growing older and wiser on the job

Rachel reflects on her 17 years at Moneywise

Rachel Lacey
Wed, 07/29/2020 – 09:00


I’ve been at Moneywise most of my working life. The adventure began 17 years ago, when I had just returned home from another adventure, a gap year travelling around the world.

A lucky break had landed me my first job in journalism so I was anxious about how I would find my second with the pressure of rent and bills hanging over my head.

But luck was again on my side and a fellow freelancer (Moneywise stalwart Sam Barrett, if memory serves me well) told me Moneywise was looking for journalists to do shifts at its Canary Wharf offices.

A week on shift turned into month-long bookings: I was writing news and features and looking after all our correspondence pages, like letters and Ask the Professionals. Previously I had only written about health insurance and mortgages for financial advisers, so consumer writing was a real change and a real challenge.

I finally joined the Moneywise team permanently a year later when the magazine was bought from Reader’s Digest by the investment platform interactive investor, and we moved to offices in the City.

My job was changing and so was my life. What I had written before had never had any resonance with me, but now what I was writing for work was helping me with some pretty major life events. First buying a house, then getting married and eventually, in January 2009, starting a family.

By this point I was now editing Moneywise. We had launched Moneywise.co.uk and were embracing new ways of sharing content – like videos. We had no budget whatsoever – certainly none for hair and make-up – and I’ll never forget interviewing an estate agent in my back garden, desperately trying to hide a growing baby bump.

I took a break to have my first son, Will (pictured above, who went on to star in his own Moneywise video on child trust funds) but returned to the magazine in late 2009, this time part-time.

Moneywise has always been more popular with women than your average financial mag, and I found myself writing more about the challenges in my own life, including work, childcare and juggling everything.

I don’t think it was just my advancing age, but it felt like personal finance was becoming more important around this time too. Interest rates had plummeted to 0.5% on my maternity leave, austerity was biting and people seemed more tuned in to their personal finances.

I was used to people changing the subject when I told them I was a financial journalist, now I would get hit with a barrage of questions. Money saving had become a competitive sport.

I had another break from Moneywise when baby number two (Edward) came along in 2011, but flexible working made my return to work easier. I was spending more time working from home.

I had learnt so much by this point. I could certainly spend more time shopping around for the best deals, and my love of retail therapy still hasn’t abated – but what Moneywise had given me was the motivation to save and the confidence to invest my cash. I had set up my own Stocks and Shares Isa as well as Stocks and Shares Junior Isas for the boys.

But it wasn’t until 2015 that I started to learn perhaps my most valuable lesson. Following the introduction of the pension freedoms that April, we launched a sister magazine to Moneywise, How to Retire in Style, to help over-55s plan their retirement income.

It taught me not only why pension saving is important but also that it’s something you need to actively engage with if you want to retire on a half decent income – particularly if you are a woman.

One of my proudest achievements was last year’s Great British Retirement Survey, a collaboration between Moneywise and interactive investor, which some 10,000 readers took part in.

It confirmed what we all suspected – that women had less money saved than men, they were more wary about managing it and were less excited by retirement as a result. It painted a pretty bleak picture.

As I start to plan ventures new, this very much lurks at the back of my mind. Life’s ups and down mean pensions and savings can’t always be a big priority, but thanks to Moneywise my eyes have been opened and I’m aware of the challenges ahead.

After 17 years, only art director Mark Stammers has been here longer than me. But I think, thanks to everything that it stands for, Moneywise will remain in the hearts of everyone who has written or worked for it over the past 30 years. In our mission to help our readers manage their money better, we have also learnt plenty of lessons ourselves and we are all so sorry that this journey has come to an end.  

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