Let me introduce you to Emma leaven. She is a cartoon character who first appeared in my PensionsGuru cartoon strip as a supporting character. These days she has a regular weekly cartoon strip of her own on the mouthy money website and this book is a collection of those strips thus far. Her solo career as a cartoon star began following the brexit vote and on the eve of the disastrous general election of 2017. She is a product of our times. Emma is a working mum in these brexit days and in her very early thirties. Her two children are in nursery school and burning up what little cash she has. Her partner Rob is in full-time work as a car salesperson, but wants to give it all up and become a writer. He may even want to be a rock star; he hasn’t decided yet. But as he can't play an instrument or sing and he can't write for toffee His chances of becoming anything other than he already is are slim. Emma has a good friend from work, Tricia, who is a single mum. They both regard everyone else they work with as idiots. Emma has a younger sister, Jane, who is in her late twenties. she has been travelling around the world constantly since leaving university. Her approach to life is to work in any job she can for long enough to finance her next trip. She regards herself as taking her retirement at the start of her life rather than the end and in doing so is happy that no future politician will be able to deny her right to retirement as she will already have had it. She realises that she will probably have to work way into her seventies before the state will provide her with a pension, if it does so at all, but she regards those later years as crap years anyway so doesn’t think it’s worth worrying about. Emma’s mum is a WASPI campaigner and runs her local protest group. She would have retired when she was 60, but now won’t do so until she is 66. This injustice dominates her life now and she has become a good example to her daughters of why trusting the state with your financial dreams isn’t too smart a thing to do. Their dad is a salary-man who has worked full-time for the same employer since he left school aged 16. He would have retired by now, but his company pension scheme blew up before the pension protection fund came into being. He still continues to go to work hoping he’ll get overlooked somehow as he gets ever older and he will be able to keep on getting his salary. His main aim in life is to keep his head down and hope for the best. He’s a good example of why employers and pension schemes can’t really be trusted either. Emma has a friend from school, Felicity, whose partner, Brad, works for a financial institution as a financial conceptualiser. Felicity works for the same firm and thinks Brad is a genius (as does Brad). Between them they earn a fortune and are able to finance a big mortgage and send their young son to a private school. Brad is obsessed with getting his ideas into the Sunday personal finance pages. Together the protagonists in the strip will stumble across the personal financial landscape of our so-called modern times. The story of them all (and others I hope will join the strip as it develops) will be told weekly on the mouthy money website. Steve bee 2017

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