My smart brain told me saving money was really important, but my other brain – not sure what that would be called – rationalized every spend and every month my bank balance read zero. The problem was, living month to month was not a solid financial plan and the idea of working for the rest of my breathing days scared the heck out of me. I had to start thinking about putting aside some extra dosh. I had to put myself on a financial diet.
A dietitian will tell you it’s all about balance. A financial planner will tell you it’s all about looking long-term. But to me, if you don’t have the foundations of good life habits, balance and long-term views mean absolutely zero. In my attempt to jump off the hamster wheel of debt, I learnt that creating a habit is just as much consistency as it is self-control. I learnt that you will fall off the proverbial wagon and binge on The Iconic (obviously). You will make silly choices and probably whip out the credit card again, and that’s ok! Just like a cheat meal on a weekend, a little spending spree will inevitably happen. As long as you’re not having cheese and wine for dinner every night, and you bring your focus back to your main goal, you will start to see your little money tree grow and the #finspirational results from your financial diet will begin to show.
Since starting Fearless Female Traders, my inbox has been flooded with motivated ladies wanting the inside goss on my saving habits – the ones that lead me to my first house and being debt free. Hint: they’re not that dramatic and they can be done in the comfort of your own lounge room!
Keep it clean and simple – It’s payday and you’re rich, that’s until you splurge on date nights and continue your commitment to propping up the retail market. Start simple by moving 20-30% of your pay into a savings account, like the ING Maximiser. ME Bank also offer a similar low-cost account with high interest rates (2-3%) on your savings. If you earn $4000 a month, this means tucking away $800-$1200 and not touching it; keeping it clean and taking advantage of compound interest.
Cut the crap – It turns out my favourite chilli scramble with chorizo can in fact be made outside the four walls of a cafe and costs a lot less too! Don’t fall into the bi-weekly brunch ritual, or the daily delivery of work lunches, it’s a dangerous place to be. I save around $70-$100/week by spending 10 mins cooking my weekend brekky at home and reducing coffee purchases to 2 a week. I also manage a food budget, to keep my spending in check. Apparently, there’s a health benefit to that too!
Go lean and mean – social media is the easiest way to go off the spending rails. The most drastic (for some) but the most effective for fast results, is deleting the app off your phone altogether. On average, 75% of Instagram users who click on a link will convert to a sale (that’s a true stat peeps). We’re basically a slave to the advertising algorithm. I calculated that $820 out of my last $1000 worth of purchases (over 6 months) came directly from seeing it on Instagram. INSTAGRAM! In the name of science, I deleted the app and accidentally (on purpose) saved $2000. In the same vein, unsubscribe from all the marketing material that hits our inboxes weekly, sometimes daily. It’s a big, nasty trap!
Work smarter not harder – the financial overlords are tapping into our cashless habits and have started to introduce ‘round ups’. It’s bloody genius and works by rounding up your pay way/tap/pass purchases, saving the excess without you even noticing. The Acorns app takes it one step further and invests your round-up savings into shares. I have saved $110 this month alone and had no idea! Another tool is the Pocketbook app, which tracks your spending and sends notifications when you’re getting a bit cheeky.
Retire the excess – hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted each year in forgotten direct debits. We all have the best intentions when signing up to our monthly yoga, boxing or gym memberships but are we really using them? At one point I was spending $320 a month in fitness direct debits – ludicrous! I now have one membership, which can be cancelled or suspended at any time and costs me $150/month. If you’re a runner, you’re in financial luck because you don’t need to spend a thing. I dream about being a runner. Cheapest exercise on the planet.
You see, I am your classic yoyo-er and have experienced both ends of the financially-fit-body-confident spectrum. The day I learnt about balance and ignored the hashtag fitspo was also the first time I stuck to a budget and started saving. The key is, you just need to start.
Fearless Female Traders