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Timi Merriman-Johnson: “Maths is for everyone!”

18 Oct 2023

When it comes to everyday numeracy, Timi Merriman-Johnson – AKA Mr Moneyjar – is keen to stress it’s a skill people can learn. 

However, occasional mathematical errors can have unexpected benefits, as the financial educator and National Numeracy ambassador discovered after ordering dinner one night…

Timi Merriman-Johnson

“There was one time I ordered a takeaway and they got the order completely wrong – it was ordered for two people, but five people’s worth of food arrived,” explains Timi.

“We messaged the app saying: ‘This can’t possibly be for us, there’s so much chicken here.’ So they sent what was supposed to be our correct order, but it was wrong again. We could basically almost open a chicken shop there was so much chicken in the room. So we told them again, and to apologise they sent us even more chicken! It was as if someone had got the decimal place wrong or something, although the neighbours were pleased when we shared it with them!”

Don’t close the door on maths

“I think a lot of people will have had a maths lesson at some point in school that they either found difficult, or they missed the concept, and then they almost closed the door on it at that point in their life, saying: ‘Maths isn’t for me.’ But maths is for everyone,” explains Timi.

“National Numeracy, for me, is about letting those people know that they can do maths as well and you can get started at any stage of life.”

Helping people to feel more confident about numbers

Timi used his skills for National Numeracy Day earlier this year by putting together an activity sheet for children to help them learn about money in a fun and engaging way. 

He also took part in a Big Number Natter alongside fellow financial experts Bola Sol and Tayo Oguntonade, which saw the trio open up about how they feel about numbers.

“It’s an enormous privilege for me to be working with the charity and the other ambassadors to help people around the country feel more confident about numbers, to realise that maths is fun and that it’s something they can use to improve their everyday life,” Timi tells us.

Embrace numeracy and ways to improve skills and confidence

As an expert in getting money management advice across via online channels, does Timi feel people are more willing to embrace the idea of improving their numeracy skills and confidence than they were a few years ago?

“Absolutely. You need not look any further than social media,” he says. 

“If you go on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube, there’ll be pieces of content around maths that have hundreds or thousands of views and loads of comments. It’s normally where people are learning about concepts or people are teaching it in a way that’s fun or engaging, clearly there is interest. 

“I think it’s important that we focus on the numeracy side, rather than specific maths concepts. What people really want is to be able to use maths and numbers in their everyday lives.

“When I try and teach people about maths and money I make sure that it’s related to whatever life outcomes they’re looking for because they’re just that much more likely to listen.”

Check out the Number Confidence Week hub

Timi’s maths message

“My message is this: whatever your experience has been prior to this, maths is fun," says Timi. "It’s absolutely fine to use tools to get to the answers and solutions that you want. You use numbers all the time without realising and understanding how numbers work and improving your numeracy can have material benefits for your life, whether it’s around managing money, going for the weekly shop, going from your house to a friend’s house or planning your day, all of these things involve numbers and maths is for everyone. The great thing is, once you grasp the concepts, you can navigate life that much easier.”

Try the National Numeracy Challenge