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My first financial goal: It won’t happen overnight but it will happen

People often ask me where my idea for MyBudget came from and I tell the story of working at a debt collection agency. With nowhere to send people for help, I decided to help them myself. But it’s also true that my ideas about money and budgeting started developing even earlier, while I was still at school. Let me tell you about setting and achieving my first financial goal and the lessons I learned from a shampoo commercial.

I was 14 and, like a lot of teenage girls, captivated by the Pantene shampoo commercial. In it, supermodel Rachel Hunter swishes her long, beautiful tresses from side to side as she testifies that her once lifeless locks were resuscitated by the powers of Pantene. “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” Rachel promises.

I was desperate to experience the magical benefits of Pantene’s deep-penetrating vitamin B5, but I dared not ask my mum to buy it for me. Why? Because she would have said yes! By my teen years, I could see that our lack of savings was connected to a lack of household budgeting. My mum is one of those generous souls who, despite the fact we couldn’t afford supermodel shampoo, would have bought it anyway.

Instead, I considered my options: I could miss out or I could find another way. That’s what led me to getting my first part-time job. With a fistful of cash from my first pay, I went to the supermarket and bought a glorious bottle of Pantene! (Imagine the scene in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ where Indiana Jones takes possession of the Golden Idol – it was like that.)

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Not only had I secured the Holy Grail of shampoos, more importantly, I came home with a budding sense of financial confidence and independence. My bottle of Pantene took pride of place in the bathroom. It was testament to my newfound financial empowerment and next-level hair game.

But my brother Josh had other ideas. He has Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes physical and learning disabilities. He quickly noticed the new bottle in the bathroom and, like me, was enamoured by the shimmery liquid inside. In the process of investigating it, he tipped the entire, cherished contents down the plughole! My dreams of having “supermodel locks” literally went down the drain.

Once I got over my teenage angst, I had time to reflect and reset. Did I fail? Did I waste my time and money? Did it mean that dreams are worthless? No. In every setback, there’s a lesson. There may be obstacles and delaysㅡincluding inquisitive brothersㅡbut none are a good reason to stop. The lesson was not to quit, but rather to save up, buy a second bottle of Pantene and hide it in the linen cupboard!

The experience set in motion an understanding that goal achievement is a process. Sometimes plans go awry. Sometimes results take longer. Goals, especially long-term goals, take time to formulate. Baby steps need time to snowball into giant leaps. The answer is not to pack it in, but to persist–or as Pantene promises: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”

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This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.