Spotlight: Timi Merriman-Johnson

Banner image of Timi Merriman Johnson speaking to Wealth8 about personal wealth

Tell us a bit about your background.

I studied Law at University of Warwick as any good Nigerian child would. Following graduation, I worked for a financial PR company and a lot of my clients were banks and investment houses. I worked as a researcher and I became familiarised with how banks and the monetary system works. I was also learning the value of research, data and developed my communication skills through the writing of press releases & articles. Since then, I have worked both in marketing and more recently as a Finance Manager in the charity sector. All my professional experiences have led me to what I am doing today, which is running a financial education company for people in the UK.

Tell us about your professional journey so far. What was the inspiration behind Mr MoneyJar?

I always had this sneaking suspicion that the monetary system only worked for a select few. I was tired of being excluded from the money conversation. I felt like there was a lot of jargon and that it was unnecessarily complicated. I was always that friend who knew about the latest deal or was using the latest apps. Mr MoneyJar is essentially about me sharing my knowledge and my experience with people in a way that is hopefully engaging. So, whether that is by reimagining the income tax system by using the Nando’s peri peri scale or by using Big Macs to explain percentage change, I am all about making learning fun.

How would you describe your relationship with money growing up?

My relationship with money otherwise known as my — money script — was “work hard for money and the amount of work you put in correlates to the amount of money you should make”. I found it interesting when I grew up and realised that how hard you work does not determine how much money you will make. More often than not, it is actually the amount of value you provide to society that determines your income and that was a big lesson for me.

What can be done to increase access to financial education for the next generation?

Financial literacy is particularly important in today’s society. A question that is constantly asked is why financial education is not taught at schools. Truth is, it is part of our national curriculum, but there are limitations to how much can be taught and whether there is anyone available to do it. Rather than asking why it’s not taught behind the traditional four walls of formal education; I believe the word “school” needs to be redefined. School is merely a place where you go to learn information; it does not have to be a building. I consider the work I am doing as another form of school. It is online, it is self-service, anyone can ask questions, speaking up is encouraged and there are no exams. I think the key to increasing access to financial education for the next generation is meeting them where they are — on their smartphones, their game consoles, wherever they are. We need to unshackle our idea of school being solely within the formal education system.

Click to learn more about Wealth8

How do you manage your savings & investments?

I am a big fan of having different accounts for different purposes. So, my salary gets paid into my main bank account. I also have a separate joint account that I share with my fiancée. My day to day spending goes into my Monzo. I manage my investments with a digital platform. I really like it because you can have different investments accounts within that platform. Because my fiancée and I live together, we are now working on managing our investments and savings together because as a couple it’s really important for us to look forward to the future and starting a family.

What top tips would you give millennials when it comes to building wealth?

Prioritise Pensions — Pension wealth can be considered one of the biggest sources of wealth in the UK. So, it is important to make sure you are consistently paying into a pension. Find out if you are eligible for a company match and whether an increase in your pension contribution, would result in an increase in contribution.

Start investing early — Another rule of thumb with investing is to start early. Wealth building is not a get rich quick scheme. There is a reason why a lot of wealthy people are wealthy at a certain life stage. Wealth is built over time and it is built by consistently contributing over a long period of time. The earlier you start, the better.

Wealth is knowledge — My content library comes from books and articles I have read, podcasts I have listened to, videos I have watched and conversations I have had. So, the more knowledge you have developed is what will support you to build your wealth.

What is something you have learned that you lean on daily?

The power of compounding. This does not just relate to money but also relationships, knowledge, and health. The small things that you do in your everyday life and all the interactions you have with people are all the things which will pay returns later in your life. Once you think about things this way, you do not feel bad about starting, because you know that in the long term the things that you’re doing are going to grow into so much more. Whether it is starting a daily reading habit or going for a 5-minute walk, I am happy to start because I know I can then build it up.

Who did you admire most growing up?

Warren Buffett is a huge inspiration for me. Not just because of his talents as an investor and as a businessman but because of the life advice he gives. He recently turned 90 and reflected with a message on what he deems as success at his age. The biggest marker of success is not the size of your bank account but is the number of close people in your life, who you love and that also love you.

It took me about two years, but I have also read all his shareholder letters and they are a fantastic masterclass on how to be a great investor, businessman but overall a great person and leader.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy running, playing chess and spending time in the sun (when able to do so!).

What does financial freedom look like to you?

There is a movement, the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement in the financial community. I am interested in the financial independence part of it but not so much in the early retirement part. I don’t envisage a point where I just think, “alright that’s it I’ve done all the work I’m going to do and I’ll pack it all up”. For me, financial freedom is about being able to wake up and spend your day doing exactly what you like and creating value. Despite living in the sixth wealthiest country in the world, it is still possible to end up in a poor financial position. So, financial freedom is about being liberated from the possibility of that and being able to live the life that you want.

Where do you see Mr MoneyJar in the next five years?

What I am building is essentially a school. I want to continue creating amazing content on Instagram and YouTube. I want to write articles, books and create physical tools like budget planners that are accessible to people of all ages and all works of life in the UK. I also want to partner with the best brands and build awareness around the best offerings on the market for people. I was initially weary of the impartiality of working with brands but I realised that people are going to need these products on their road to financial freedom. It’s my job to show them what the best options are.

Lastly, Christmas is around the corner. What are the top 3 things on your list from Santa?

I would love Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It is a Nintendo Switch compilation of Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise and it has Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. I remember my brother and I getting Nintendo 64 for Christmas and how amazed we were. I would also like Barack Obama’s new book — “The Promised Land”. Lastly, I would like a COVID-19 vaccine so we can go back to normal in 2021.

Santa, I hope you are listening.

Timi is the founder of Mr MoneyJar, a financial education platform for people in the UK. Mr MoneyJar offers accessible, practical guidance around personal finance and investing through digital content, workshops, events and 121 coaching.

You can book a 121 session with Timi by contacting him via his Instagram page, at instagram.com/mrmoneyjar

Click to learn more about Wealth8

When investing, the value of your investment may rise or fall and there are no guarantees you will get back all the capital you have invested.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store