A lot of tasks. A lot of responsibilities. A lot of items on the ‘live your best life’ self-improvement list.
If watching Miss Americana taught me one thing (and look, it taught me many), it’s that if even Taylor Swift feels overwhelmed sometimes, we all do.
We are all Taylor, yo.
And somewhere in between jobs and partners and kids and to-do’s, we are meant to be building our financial fitness.
Setting budgets, searching out specials, putting savings aside, and a whole lot of other things.
But it’s hard. And we are busy. So today, I’m here to make a deal with you.
How about you pick JUST ONE THING?
Just one thing to focus on this month, in the pursuit of financial-best-selfness.
Now, it’s totally up to you which thing you do. And guess what, I’m giving you five to choose from!
Option 1: Track your expenses everyday – You can either download an app (there are plenty) or simply log into your bank account every day.
The closer you get to all those spending decisions, the more you’ll be encouraged to think twice about them.
For bonus points, you could download your statements from the last couple of months and do a backwards-looking review. But I don’t know if that counts as TWO things, so, no pressure.
Option 2: Give up one expense/bad habit – We all know our kryptonite spending habit. Maybe it’s buying that second coffee in the afternoon. Maybe it’s logging onto the Iconic to ‘browse’. Maybe it’s going up to the fun level of the mall when you only came to buy groceries (like me).
It’s easy to feel like a failure if you go too hard. Tempted to do a Marie-Kondo on your entire wardrobe and vow to never buy another piece of clothing? Not recommended.
It’s impossible, and then failure becomes a demotivator.
Instead, target one habit that’s not serving you well and get on top of it.
Option 3: Unsubscribe to all your shopping newsletters – The email equivalent of an all-over body scrub at a spa. It legit took me five minutes and I feel so fresh and clean!
I found a tool called unroll.me and linked it to my Gmail. In seconds it had scraped a list of all my subscriptions.
No Supre, I do not need those personalised booty shorts.
No Review, I don’t care if you have 30% off clothes I don’t need.
So much less tempting if you don’t know about it!
Bonus round is reviewing all your other micropayment subscriptions like Netflix, Stan, Spotify, Apple Music etc. I’ve heard of people who pay for one streaming service, their family member pays for the other, and then they share. Obviously I would never advocate such unethical behaviour. Just the word on the street.
Option 4: Log into your super – The point of this is simply to make friends with it. Think of it as a friendly coffee catch-up with your retirement savings.
If you don’t know how to log in, that’s the main task. Set yourself up, even if means giving your fund (or funds) a quick call. If you already have a log-in, skip to the next part.
Once you’re in, check your balance, update your contact details and make sure your employer has actually been paying you for the last year (can you believe this doesn’t always happen?).
Bonus round is reviewing your investment option and insurance coverage, and/or rolling over accounts with other funds. But that’s intermediate level – read this post for more tips if you’re keen.
Option 5: Make a mindful spending manifesto – I like this because it’s all about words, not spreadsheets. I really don’t enjoy looking at numbers on a page.
Instead, I think about where I want to be allocating my money. (There’s a whole post about it here).
Remember, priorities change over time. Last year I was spending a lot on fitness, including personal training. This year, I’ve got an annoying shoulder injury plus a reduced income, so I’ve dialled that down. Instead, I’m investing money in my business (including an accountant – FML).
I’m updating my priorities to keep my spending in line with my goals.
Honestly Fierce Girls, my friend Jess and I got so excited about this topic, we actually have another five activities to choose from. But I am going to give us all a month before I overwhelm you.
If you are on board with the One Thing Challenge, head on over to the socials to share your wins.
Do you ever do that in your work emails? Start the subject line with PLEASE READ?
Nah, me either. Would never be that desperate. Of course. Who would even?
Anyway, can I please take a few minutes of your time to tell you some cool things that have happened since that time I quit my job.
The First Ever Fierce Girl Finance Event!
If you’re in Sydney, (pretty) please come along to this super affordable event on 5 March to hear about how to get started with investing. It will be informal, feature women who I think are amazing but super relatable, and there will be WINE. All for $22!
To celebrate Valentine’s Day (well, distract myself), I scripted, filmed, edited and posted a video on IGTV and Facebook. Honestly, I impressed the hell out of myself and am legit baffled about how I could possibly still be single.
Anyway, here it is. (I promise I’ll get better with practise).
New brand and website
But wait, there’s more! I know right, I’m on fire.
You can see the new brand colours and logo on my Insta page.
In the background, I’m beavering away on a new website, which is going to be gorgeous and actually done by professionals (not me and a Canva template). So, stay tuned for that.
I need your help … please
Fierce Girl Finance is finding its feet again. After a couple of years of enforced anonymity, I am finally able to build it into the platform I want it to be.
Wanna know how I managed to spend three weeks swanning around New York City last year? I lived with my amazing friend Gigi, who is a legit Manhattan property owner.
Yep, that’s right, home girl saved her way to a sweet apartment in the very hip East Village.
Not only is she a great friend for letting me stay there, she is a certified Fierce Girl.
Nine years ago, Gigi packed up, left Sydney and made a life in the Big Apple. And while she’s had lots of fun times and cool experiences, she’s also been really sensible with money.
We started chatting about some of the ways we’ve both achieved our financial independence and there was so much gold, I’ve captured it all in one post. Please enjoy Gigi’s Guide to Life & Money.
It’s not about being a ‘tight-arse’, it’s about balance.
When we started our chat, I was asking for Gigi’s best ‘tight-arse tips’.
But she pointed out that’s not the right way to frame it. “It’s the same way I don’t like healthy eating being framed as a diet. To me, these are tips for how to live a financially healthy life.
“Not buying a flat white every day isn’t being a tight arse, it’s saying ‘I would prefer to do something else with that $100/month’. Same with not spending money on make-up, bringing lunch everyday or eating less meat (though I started doing this for environmental reasons, then calorie reasons, then money reasons).”
She explains that it’s not just about cutting costs, but redeploying the savings you make
“When I cut that coffee spending of $100/month, I top up my auto savings. But not by the full $100. By say $50 or $75. Because I don’t want to never buy another coffee again, I just don’t want to spend $100/month on coffee. Kinda of like not eating back 100% of the calories you burn at the gym.
“And don’t think that people who spend a lot on something big are always spending that much. For me, the way to have a guilt-free big Saturday night is to not buy lunch and coffee during the week.” (Can confirm: Gigi never tries to avoid buying a round at the bar).
This is basically the ethos behind Mindful Spending, which I have written about here.
More isn’t always better.
“Having one of something will make you happy, but having multiples of something won’t multiply your happiness. True with eating treats and true with buying things.”
Side note: Gigi decided a couple of years ago to lose some weight that had crept on during her party years in New York. She’s done an amazing job of losing it in a healthy, sustainable way. We both agree there are many parallels between healthy eating and healthy finances.
Anyway, she had this insight from someone in the Reddit weight-loss group.
“They pointed out that a biscuit/cupcake/icecream can be amazing but eating more of it won’t make it more amazing. It’ll never taste as good as that first bite. Something about it really resonated with me”.
Having just done a major clear-out of my wardrobe, I agree this is true. No more sassy slogan t-shirts for me.
Meal planning makes cents!
Ah, see what I did there?
Puns aside, planning healthy meals and bringing a salad to work every day were easy wins for Gigi on both the calorie-cutting and saving front.
“Meal planning means you don’t buy random stuff you don’t need, and don’t waste it. One thing that helps is learning to love leftovers. Be ok with eating the same thing four days in a row.”
I know people who say ‘oh no, I don’t like leftovers’ blah blah. I say to those people, toughen up: it’s all in your mind. Humans evolved by eating the same animals and plants over and over, and you can too. (Admittedly, by day 4 it gets old. But you can definitely do 3 days)
Anyway, if you want to get better at meal planning, I have your back! Here’s my guide.
Let your sober self be cheap, and your drunk self splurge
Gigi crystallised this for me a while back. If you’re going out on the town, don’t be lazy – take public transport there. Then you can give yourself a leave pass to get an Uber home.
Similarly, try and start the night at your house (or a friend’s) with a good bottle of wine or two. That way you can probably have some cheap snacks as well. I know it sounds suspiciously like the pre-loading you did when you were 19 years old. But this is the adult version, with a nice Pinot Grigio, not Smirnoff Black.
Make friends with your banking app
“Something I think is a great habit is to look at your spending and savings regularly. I log in to online banking and go through my spending twice a week, just out of habit. It shocks me when I hear that not everyone does that”.
There are two advantages to this: it provides a reality check if your spendy self is getting a bit busy; and you notice any unusual charges that might be fraud.
I also have notifications on my banking app (Macquarie) every time I make a transaction. As the world has become a tap-and-go free-for-all, that reminder makes me think twice about where my cash is going.
Say no to things you don’t want to do
Sounds revolutionary huh? But think – honestly – about the number of times you go to stuff without really being interested.
Gigi’s actual words were: “Can ‘just say no to weddings you don’t want to go’ to be a tip?” I say yes. She figures: “If you care so little about it that you don’t want to be there, then the bride/groom probably won’t miss you”.
One thing that’s become outrageously expensive are hen’s and buck’s parties. Back in the olden days (pre-Instagram), it was a modest affair like a dinner, a club and maybe a stripper. But these days it’s easy to drop $500 on one event. WTAF?
So while we aren’t trying to ruin your friendships, we would suggest that just because you’re asked to do something – from dinners through to hen’s parties – doesn’t mean you have to.
Just stop buying stuff
This is Gigi’s final tip. “Like, go a month without buying anything”.
I know, she’s no Carrie Bradshaw, right? (She is, in fact, a self-declared Miranda).
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