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How not to manage your money like an Apprentice candidate

Yahoo Finance
Alan Sugar makes short work of spotting The Apprentice losers: Getty Images
Alan Sugar makes short work of spotting The Apprentice losers: Getty Images

Love them or hate them, the candidates in The Apprentice reckon they’ve got what it takes to manage money. But have they? Or you?

“This year’s candidates have already shown real promise – especially when it comes to their capacity for amusingly poor decision-making,” says Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

She says it’s difficult to imagine how they have succeeded in life so far, especially when you consider how their approach would work in the real world when it comes to managing money.

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“If you were to take the same approach, facing Alan Sugar’s pointy finger in the boardroom would be the least of your problem,” Coles warns.

Here are her tips to avoid make the same mistakes as The Apprentice contestants make.

MISTAKE: Don’t waste time on the budget – guesswork will get you through

Over the years, we have seen some awesome results when candidates failed to do their calculations – including the team that ordered 100 chickens in order to make 100 chicken pizzas.

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Time spent drawing up a budget is never wasted. A useful first step is a spending diary, so you know exactly what you’re spending each month. That will help you draw up a list of your income and expenses, and establish sensible ways to balance your budget.

If you don’t understand, just pretend you do

Last year’s Apprentice finalists, Alana Spencer and Courtney Wood, had something that pleased Lord Sugar; Getty Images
Last year’s Apprentice finalists, Alana Spencer and Courtney Wood, had something that pleased Lord Sugar; Getty Images

The shopping task is always more entertaining when the teams have no idea what the items are, but carry on regardless. Last year’s hunt for a Moroccan dish in a Turkish shop was particularly funny.

When it comes to money, when something isn’t immediately obvious to you, it’s always worth finding out more. Take savings, for example, if you’re worried about the security of new challenger banks, you might be tempted to just stick with your usual bank and its 0.05% savings rate. If you read up on them, however, you’ll discover their competitive accounts are covered by the same FSCS guarantees as the high street banks (so the first £85,000 you save with them is covered if the bank fails).

MISTAKE: Ignore the long term, today is all that matters

If The Apprentice contestants spent as much time managing their money as they do battling each other, they may end up better off: Getty Images
If The Apprentice contestants spent as much time managing their money as they do battling each other, they may end up better off: Getty Images

The moment when candidates walk back into the house gets more toe-curling each week, as they realise the people they stabbed in the back in order to stay out of the firing line will be their colleagues for the next show. It’s no wonder each series ends in chaos and thinly disguised hatred.

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In money matters it’s easy to prioritise your needs today, because long term aspirations like buying a home or retiring, seem so far away. However, unless we find a little wiggle room in the budget and put aside whatever we can afford for the future, we may never reach the day when we can finally afford to buy a property or retire.

Confidence is everything

It takes a certain person to declare: “If we went to Mars right now, I’d find a way to be excellent”, or “My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money”. (both Shibby Robati in series 6). Those with the most jaw-dropping confidence, however, don’t tend to back this up with many other useful attributes, and even Baggs didn’t take the series title.

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In money matters, as in so much else, confidence is useful when it is founded on knowledge. Once you understand your circumstances and needs, and the most appropriate approach for you, then you can be truly confident in your savings and investment choices.

Never listen to advice from people with experience

Ignoring the focus group has brought many a project manager down – including hapless Rory in series 3 who insisted on pressing ahead with his hideous pooch pouch for dog walkers, despite dog walkers insisting they wouldn’t be seen dead with one.

When it comes to savings and investment decisions, there’s a wealth of help and information now available online to help you make better decisions. If you really want someone to sit down and go through your finances with you, consider taking professional financial advice.