In the current climate, there’s no better time to start making better financial lifestyle decisions. In this post, I delve into financial habits learned over the years as well as shifting my attitudes and beliefs around money.
Hey, Financial Advisor
After years of living paycheck-to-paycheck and avoiding discussing my pathetic saving habits out of shame, I finally made an appointment with a financial advisor which changed everything for me, which is why it’s the first point!
Even if you only have $50 to invest to begin with, remember: These guys aren’t being paid to judge you. I was shown how to save and aggressively invest. (Note: This is different from paying an active fund manager, which I don’t believe in for my situation lol).
Now I have a year’s emergency fund for times like these. I withdraw only 4% of what I need from the total value of my worth. I do a major re-assessment every six months and look at what’s working and adjust.
Live With Less
I wasn’t given pocket money and grew up wearing 4th hand clothes (nope, not kidding). Once a year I was allowed to go shopping with my mum to Target and select one pair of pants and one top.
All the clothes I’ve had in my wardrobe since I was a teenager and I only ever buy stuff on sale occasionally. Once a year I’ll buy myself a ‘non-sale’ birthday something (either trip or fashion item).
Btw now am still more than happy to check out Target haha… but will shop vintage for environmental reasons.
Live Within Your Means
I don’t have a credit card and never have (so I don’t try to buy stuff I can’t afford). I’m happy buying the bare minimum each week and only what I need.
When not occasionally eating at restaurants for the blog, I eat simply and grocery shop and cook 90% of the time.
Before COVID-19, I put in time and effort to find insane travel deals a couple of times a year (those flight newsletters aren’t always the cheapest option).
Also, unrelated…. but I make spreadsheets for my holidays (Yes okay, I need a life).
Think Outside The Box
Since the age of 17 I’ve learned to make extra money by thinking out of the box, but not selling my body or soul or hurting anyone (*cough* pyramid schemes *cough*).
I learned to sell on eBay as a teenager and while I’d never do that now, I always figure out ways to make money and am researching.
Six years ago I was all about working from freelancer sites like Airtasker. Over the years it’s become a flooded market and of course right now with COVID-19 it’s changed again as everyone is on there.
As of the last four years I’ve been a digital nomad. I look at different ways of investing, concentrating on diversified projects with minimal fees.
I’m not a ‘finance person’ so I learn as much as possible via books, blogs and Twitter, which takes time and I work some very odd hours and days. I try not to read the news every single day so as to not have an emotional reaction to events.
No ‘Milestones’ Thanks.
Some really major financial lifestyle decisions I’ve made are: Not buying a house, car, having an exorbitant wedding or a baby (and I’m cool with all of these things).
The lack of the above four ‘life events’ are both deliberate and circumstantial – I’ve been living around the world on different temporary Youth Mobility visas for the last 11 years and have found happiness through food, experiences and building my business. I also want to experience living in as many different countries as possible.
This is something not many people desire though (or think they want, unless they really sit with themselves which is hard to do).
I had an unusual amount of responsibility as a kid and had to do a lot of soul-searching to figure out that’s not what I wanted, despite the fact that every single person I knew was doing that.
Growing up I was led to believe achieving these milestones was the only path – and it’s been through solo travel and seeing the world that I realise all the different ways to live and what works for me.
Paying It Forward
This is a bit of a spiritual thing but I try to exercise financial generosity often in small ways to strangers in need or close friends who appreciate it (the latter is harder to figure out).
As mentioned, most of my life I was financially struggling and I experienced the kindness of people who operated from a place of purity, so I try to pay it forward where possible, even if it’s just a few dollars. This has led to an abundance mentality.
I have also tried to be reciprocal with people who have treated me and always have it filed away in the back of my head that one day if I ever meet x person again, I’ll take them to lunch.
Have a Plan B
Despite now making prudent financial lifestyle decisions, I could go belly up and lose everything one day and I’ve mentally prepared myself for that.
I’m more than okay with going back to working in retail if bills need to be paid (I actually really liked it – I did it for 4 years in college).
In this way I’ve already confronted my worst fear and made an action plan rather than shoving the thoughts away.
All of the above decisions are just one path – there are obviously reasons why this wouldn’t work for others especially in the milestone category (ie. You need a credit card to get a mortgage) but the saving +investing principles are applicable to anyone.
I hope this has helped somewhat for you if, like me, you’ve grown up believing there’s only one way to live. There is hope and things always turn themselves around eventually.
And when they do, you’ll be ready.