MoneyTalk With Sally Kettle Inspirational & Motivational Speaker, Author & Adventurer
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Sally, and I’m a two-time Atlantic ocean rower, adventurer and mum. I’m a freelance inspirational and motivational speaker, and I teach corporate presenting too.
What inspired you to launch sallykettle.com?
In lots of ways, I had no choice! I really enjoyed speaking, and my bookings were increasing, so it made sense to bite the bullet and set myself up as a business. It was a little bit daunting registering with HMRC and then doing my tax return, but I asked friends with more experience to help me. I think that’s an important thing - don’t be worried if you don’t have the knowledge or skillset, ask for help, and there will always be someone who can give you support. Anyway, I had a freelance business and I started to pull together the collateral to sell myself, so a website, business cards, that sort of thing. I realised early on that you really have to put yourself out there if you want to get work, and people will automatically go online to find out if you’re legit. Investing time in your collateral is super important, and actually really good fun - I discovered I loved designing my own websites and I now do them for friends as a hobby.
What are you passionate about?
I’m hugely passionate about inspiring women and young people. I volunteer for two charities – GirlGuiding and The London Sports Trust, and with both organisations I try to spend time with as many young people as possible to encourage them to try an adventure and to take risks.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in your career?
That nothing lasts forever and that all things comes to an end. This is great when you’re going through a bit of a tough patch, and at times my expeditions have been very tough! It also reminds me to appreciate what I have whilst I have it. I’d love to say that I remind myself of this all the time, but like everyone, I often forget and get caught up in the moment and end up thinking “Will this ever change?” I think I’m pretty resilient though, so that definitely helps.
What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?
I’m a little bit frightened of money, which seems daft considering what I do! It stems from my upbringing. We had very little and my parents were keen to tell us that we couldn’t afford very much. This has made me very cautious with money, and I’m often quite anxious if I’m not working as much as I’d like.
It took me a long time to find my own value too. As a freelancer I have to set my own charges and at first I really undervalued myself. It took a while but eventually I had to have a cool conversation with myself. I was fed up of spending many an evening speaking at events for free. I’m now much better at setting reasonable fees. It helped to get an agent too, as they’re able to have those tough financial conversations that I’m sometimes a little under-confident about.
I would like to improve my relationship with money though – I’ve never sought the mega bucks, but I would like to feel more secure as I get older. I do have a pension though, and that’s unusual for freelancers, particularly women.
What does financial independence mean to you?
It’s hugely important. I’m very happily married, and so it could be easy for me to over-rely on my husband, but I’ve hate the idea of going cap-in-hand to him for money. Also, you never know what life will throw at you. We may split up, or he may die… it’s important not to be squeamish about these possibilities. If I’ve learnt anything usual from ocean rowing and adventuring it’s to be pragmatic.
What’s the one thing you indulge in?
I’m terribly moderate – I eat and drink moderately and I spend moderately. It comes from my upbringing. Also, I’m quite conflicted by the consumer lifestyle. I do like to have good quality clothes and nice things in my house, but I know having lots of ‘things’ doesn’t make me happy. In fact it really stresses me out.
Funnily enough… as I write I’ve realised I do indulge dreadfully in my garden! I’ve spent so much money over the years, but it’s one place at home that brings me real joy.
What is the best financial decision you have ever made? And what is the greatest long term investment?
I’d just left university and decided to buy a bedsit flat in Brighton. I had a very low paying job at the time, but the most amazing Mortgage Advisor. It was the cheapest property in town and he helped me to pull the finances together to buy it. I lived in the flat for five years then rented it out until last year. I sold up and the money I made helped with a renovation project my husband and I were working on.
Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”?
Definitely! I’ve mentioned it already but it’s the time when I decided I had to stop speaking for free. I must admit I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for work at the time – whether to start a freelance business as a speaker, or find a ‘proper’ job. I felt confident in my ability to be a professional speaker, I just needed to make the money work. It took a good 5 years for it to settle into a proper working business; much of this was understanding the ebb and flow of work throughout the year. During the summer corporates don’t tend to book speakers, and before Christmas they prefer entertainers. Getting to know this cycle helped me to manage the famines and feasts.
What is Vestpod for you?
I’m not sure yet, but I’m definitely going to invest some time going through the site! Hopefully it will help me get over some of my worries about money.
Own up. Have you made any major financial faux-pas?
I do it every year… and I’ve done it this year too… I keep leaving my tax return till the last minute. I make a promise to get things in order before January, but life gets in the way and I’m panicking just after Christmas. New Year is a tricky time of year, especially as I often forget to put away some of my earnings to pay my tax bill! Yep. I’m one of those people. Ah!!
What do you wish you have done earlier in terms of financial planning?
I should have set up and paid into my pension as soon as I started working. I have one, but I haven’t invested as much into it as I should have done.
What would you recommend to younger women?
Turn any worries you have about money into action. Sticking your head in the sand never helped anyone! Oh and don’t be tempted to overspend! If you can leave the credit card at home unless there’s a real benefit to using it – for travel tickets and big purchases, that sort of thing. It’s too easy to get caught up in today’s ‘have it all’ society, but stuff doesn’t make you happy. When I come home from my adventures, where I’ve lived out of a rucksack for weeks, sometimes months, I found the mental burden of having so much crap in my house really stressful. I’m still trying to sell, pass on or chuck a load of the things I don’t need or want anymore… I often wish I hadn’t bought it in the first place!
Favourite book & podcast?
I’ve recently read ‘Selfie – How the West Become Self Obsessed’ by Will Storr. It was really challenging and I ended up questioning myself and my motives. In fact it inspired a cosmic shift in my thinking. I really recommend it.
I’ve just started listening to ‘Fortunately … with Fe and Jane’ on BBC Sounds. It’s super funny and the women present Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. They’re a huge inspiration for a podcast I’m about to launch called ‘The Well-Beginners’ – a friend of mine is joining me in an attempt to improve our wellbeing. You’ll have to look out for it!