Budget Bootcamp: the fast track to healthy finances
For those whose waistlines are rather more bloated than their bank balances at the start of the year, Barclays has come up with a novel solution: the ‘Budget Bootcamp’.
These unique ‘bite-sized’ sessions encourage people to get both their finances and their bodies in shape – with a spin class from Olympic track cycling champion Victoria Pendleton followed by a financial check-up by Clare Francis, Barclays Savings and Investments Director.
The Bootcamps were developed in response to a Barclays survey that revealed only 12% of people in the UK pledge to sort out their finances in their New Year’s resolutions. That compares with 30% who say they will eat more healthily and 29% who want to get fitter.
Launching the initiative, which is being piloted in London, Francis explained: “We understand that tackling your finances can be daunting but our Budget Bootcamps are designed to help and show that bite-sized chunks of time are all you need to move forward and start achieving your financial goals.”
Pendleton added: “You can apply the same principles around good physical health as you can to your money. It’s all about regular sessions and taking small steps in the right direction – Barclays Budget Bootcamps are a fun way to introduce a taster of fitness and budgeting in a short slot that could even fit into a lunch break.”
Dealing with money worries
The launch of Budget Bootcamps is just the latest Barclays initiative aimed at helping those who may be struggling with their personal finances. The Barclaycard Money Worries Hub – launched in partnership with StepChange debt charity – is an online resource designed to help customers identify their own financial difficulties and ask for help.
“The Money Worries Hub was born from the fact that there was a very obvious need to be able to break down the fear that customers feel when they’re in debt,” says Rachel O’Connor, Senior Commercial Manager at Barclaycard. “We didn’t have any information online to really show that, actually, we’re here to help.”
The Hub contains a range of case studies, based on real-life stories, which detail the help available for those who find themselves in debt. They include ‘Carl’, who is trying to support his family and keep up card payments after losing his job, ‘Kath’, who has just separated from her husband, the main earner in the family, and ‘Ruth’, whose mental health issues are making it difficult for her to manage her money.
“The Money Worries Hub has been a great addition to helping people,” says Garry Hepherd, Relationship Manager at StepChange Debt Charity. “Often they’ll wake up in the middle of the night and if they can access help and advice online 24/7, confidentially and anonymously at a time that suits them, it really helps them to face up to that debt problem and seek help as early as possible.”
His colleague Kevin Gillespie, Marketing Manager for the charity, describes Barclays’ work in this area as “trailblazing”. “When Barclays does it, other banks follow,” he says. “It is prioritising engagement first rather than picking up the payment, and it is all about demonstrating that you do understand the reasons why people fall into debt.”
Barclays also provides related tools and resources via its personal banking website, including Financial Wings – a series of online modules offering free, impartial advice on a range of financial matters.