2023 has been a transformative year, not just for me, but also for countless clients I have had the honour to serve, the hundreds of employees I have spoken to through the workshops I delivered, and the thousands of readers who week after week read such articles about a subject which has never been spoken about in Malta.
Financial literacy is not taught at school, and this lack of financial knowledge leads many to stress not just financially but also mentally. I met scores of people who earn good salaries or who even manage their own businesses, but feel inadequate when it comes to managing their own personal finances.
My biggest satisfaction was receiving a WhatsApp message one evening whilst I was working on one of these articles… it made me stop and sit back. I smiled. Because I knew that whatever advances I made in my own personal venture, that message was the highlight of the year:
“Thank you for introducing me to personal finances. I was someone who was totally overwhelmed with money matters, I lacked planning and simple knowledge. The education I received has changed my life.”
This year, I’ve witnessed remarkable transformations. There was the couple who learned to sit down every Sunday evening, coffee in hand, to talk about their finances. These conversations, once a source of tension, became a ritual of understanding and partnership.
Another vivid memory is of a young professional who came to me overwhelmed by her spending habits. Together, we charted a course towards a budget that didn’t just add up on paper but also aligned with her life goals and values. It was never about making sacrifices only, but also about living a balanced life.
Personal satisfaction and learning
The immense satisfaction of seeing someone’s relationship with money shift from fear and avoidance to empowerment and control is indescribable.
This year taught me a great deal. Each person I met with, with their unique challenges and perspectives, has led me to appreciate the different perspectives that money holds. It’s a subjective topic, and whoever tries to generalise it is giving a disservice. Each person has his/her own money story, just relying on TV advice, or the generic advice of a financial advisor is simply not enough. Empathy with the other person’s story, understanding how they feel makes the money journey more real and worth it.
The importance of financial literacy
Financial literacy, I’ve realized, is much more than understanding numbers. It’s about making peace with money, seeing it as a tool, not a master. It’s about breaking down the walls of shame and secrecy that too often surround our financial lives.
Overcoming money shame
Money shame, particularly among those who ‘should’ have their finances together, is a silent epidemic. It’s been a cornerstone of my work to create a space where clients can openly discuss and confront these feelings. The first step to healing is acknowledging the problem, and this year, I’ve seen many take that brave first step.
As I look towards the next year, my heart is full of hope. Hope for more stories of transformation, more lessons learned, and more barriers broken. Financial well-being is a journey, and I’m excited to continue guiding and being part of these journeys.
Follow Luca Caruana’s weekly column here, and his LinkedIn account or his Instagram for more budgeting hacks. For other money-related columns, check out Luca’s thoughts about how to make the one-income household work and his advice to couples who argue about money.