Hi. My name’s Miss Lani Make Do, I’m 26 years old, and I have debt.
I don’t have any credit cards, and I do have savings, but boy, do I have debt.
The good news? It used to be a lot more.
I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at frugality and personal finance blogs lately, and it’s been very interesting to see the range of personal finance bloggers, their situation, and what motivates them. I don’t think that personal finance and frugality has really taken off in Australia yet, at least not in the same way that it has in the States. So I thought I’d do my bit in my little corner of the internet and talk about my finances in the hope that there’s someone out there who might benefit from my story.
In May of this year (2017), I had $13,000 in savings, and $24,761.94 in student loan debt. I decided to set myself the financial goals of having $15,000 in savings and $10,000 in student loan debt by December of 2017.
Today, in September, I have a little over $17,000 in savings, and $10,000 in student loan debt. That means in around four months, I’ve saved $4000 and paid down nearly $15,000. That’s around $19,000 saved in four months.
Looking at the numbers above, I’m actually blown away. I have documented proof, in the form of budget spreadsheets I’ve kept since April, which is when I started getting serious about my finances and actually keeping track of where my money was going. But I’m still gobsmacked that I’ve managed such progress, especially as I’ve been feeling a bit down that I haven’t managed more. I don’t work full time either; I have a part-time job (three days a week) and also freelance in two different creative industries. This means that I can predict my base rate monthly income from the part-time job and make a budget from that. Anything extra that comes in from freelance work I split between savings and my student loan.
Full disclosure: I did get some money from my parents to assist in the payoff of my student loan. They had some money that my grandmother had left me, and contributed $5000 to the payoff of my student loan. That still leaves $10,000 that I’ve paid off on my own in four months, as well as an extra $4000 I’ve saved. So while it was a huge help and I’m super grateful, I’ve still paid off a lot by myself.
What I Ditched and What I Kept
How did I manage it? Well, first of all, I decided to actually care about where my money was going. I knew I was spending quite a bit, but I was earning a fair amount, and so I didn’t worry. Keeping comprehensive records of money in and money out left me shocked at how much I was blowing on frivolous purchases, and that’s when I started trimming the fat from my spending.
Four months ago, I was spending a lot on meals out, coffee dates, going to theatre, frequent op-shopping, all that. Tightening my budget has not only saved me a heap of money, but has also shown me that spending isn’t necessary to enjoy a good life.
So, what have I ditched? The list includes: dining out (at all), buying packaged foods, coffee dates, theatre shows, frequent op-shopping (my capsule wardrobe has helped heaps with this!), going out for drinks, buying things new (as much as possible), and I’ve also returned to my natural hair colour, saving a lot of money on expensive hair dresser trips.
What have I kept? I still go to pole dancing classes and practice, because that’s like gym for me and keeps me healthy and sane. I try and stick to plastic-free groceries as much as possible, as well as keeping up my vegan lifestyle. The biggest money-suck in my budget is my car, but moving a few months ago to a place that allows me to walk to supermarkets and my pole studio has been a move in the right direction. As well as trimming the fat from my budget, I’ve also taken on extra work to get some more money coming in.
Seeing my financial progress laid out in front of me has really encouraged me to continue on my saving journey. I’m hoping to have my student loan completely paid off by the end of next year, as well as continuing to grow my savings.
How are you going with your financial goals? How do you power through a lack of motivation?
Featured image: Niels Steeman