Helen Glover on budgeting and savings goals

Team GB’s Helen Glover MBE recalls how her awareness of money started early in life.

Once athletes become well-known, their financial future is likely to be more secure, but that hard-wired discipline and goals-orientated mindset remains useful when managing cashflow. This focus could pay off for business owners as they strive to hit savings goals and protect against unexpected bumps in the road.

It was an eye-opening experience into the world of work – saving up, having to pay off my student debts. I remember it being a shock in terms of ‘this is real life now’.

Helen Glover MBE

A down-to-earth childhood taught her the value of money

Double Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover MBE grew up in Penzance, Cornwall, where she and her siblings were encouraged to enjoy simple pastimes that made the most of the nature around them without spending too much.

“I learnt a lot about being careful with money from the way we lived,” she explains. “We’re a family of five kids and we would ask to do things, or make suggestions, but we wouldn’t be able to do them because there were five of us. Everything becomes expensive very quickly when you have that many kids,” she adds.

“Most activities were free: it was walks, it was adventuring, exploring, things that didn’t cost money, but when I look back, they’re the things I remember much more, rather than what we spent money on.”

Adventures that perhaps laid the groundwork for a childhood filled with sport, which she excelled at from an early age – although rowing didn’t come until later.

Learning to budget as a teenager

Despite an appreciation of money instilled in childhood, and a conscious effort to budget since her teens, Helen was still shocked by the demands of real life while studying for her degree in sport and exercise science.

“When I was at university, I went to pay my rent and I had no money, and it was like ‘woah’. It was really, really scary but in the long-term I think it was quite a good experience for me because it was the first time in my life that I had to rein things in and start budgeting and understanding my spending. I had to be more careful and organised about the way I was spending at uni.”

Following on from this, before she started rowing professionally, she took up a role as a PE teacher, but it came with its own lesson. “It was an eye-opening experience into the world of work – saving up, having to pay off my student debts, and things like that. I remember it being a shock in terms of ‘this is real life now’.

But all of this stood her in good stead for the balancing act of budgeting, spending and saving, and it’s still “good to know what our priorities are in our spending”.


Passing on an awareness of money to her children

Now a mother herself, she’s keen for her three children to be aware of money, but points out that because of their young age (all under 6 years old) it’s difficult to educate them, particularly as they don’t really see the physical money. “When I go out, I try to explain to them that this is not free; when we buy this food, we have to pay for it. They’re only little right now so it’s just a broad concept.”

Find out more about how to channel those aspirational savings goals.

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