So tonight we had our first barefoot date night. We chose somewhere nice to go, although the book seems to imply a fancy place, I wanted to go somewhere closer to home, that’s still nice (turns out the food could have been better – we’ll know for next time). We applied to open up our accounts, made a financial plan – I think this is motivating and gives us something to look forward to, and we talked about how much freedom we will have when we no longer have 3 interest-free accounts and a credit card hanging over our heads. We will already be $400 per fortnight in front from what we will be saving in repayments when we chip away at this.
I not long had a conversation with some girls at work who asked me how we managed when I had accidentally been paying too much tax for 12 months. I had accidentally ticked a box on my tax form to say I was not claiming the tax-free threshold, plus I was still paying my HECS debt which was already all paid off, leaving me paying $600 extra in tax every fortnight. Needless to say, I got an amazing tax return and we used that as half of our deposit for our house. That’s one way of coming up with a deposit by accident. It wasn’t until someone at work saw my payslip and wondered why I paid so much in tax. We were planning a wedding during the time, and living mostly on 1 wage (minus that extra tax), my then fiance was studying and worked casually here and there, but we hadn’t committed to a great deal and I tried my best to keep things as simple as I could. It makes me wonder how we go from surviving in those circumstances to thinking that having 2 full-time incomes was going to put us well ahead. Instead, we ended up with more debt than I would have ordinarily thought was ever a good plan. I can see how easy it is for people, you think about how small the payments are, and with things like easy pay now available it’s easier than ever to spend so much money we don’t even have yet.
I am motivated and hopeful that this new strategy is going to finally move us forward. I’m 33, and when I was 30 I had a big meltdown. I had celebrated with family, and then broke down into tears for 2hrs afterwards when I felt disappointed with where my life had gone in all that time. A divorce, a degree and debt. We have since been married, got out of some of that debt but replaced it with even more. Now we have a mortgage, a car loan and a personal loan, in addition to these interest-free accounts and a credit card. Now at 33 I am looking at where I will be by the time I’m 35. Hopefully with only one debt left in addition to our mortgage, and that seems almost like paradise.
It’s sad to think that such a huge amount of stress and anxiety comes from us mismanaging our finances. How do we learn to manage our money? Do we learn from trial and error? Do we learn from observing our parents? I would like to think I am better than I was when I was 19. Someone suggested saving to me then and I felt like that was such a hard concept to consider because I wanted to go shopping all the time, but where does that leave us? With a lot of clutter but nothing to really show for our efforts. My Dad was frugal with money, we only used to the heater if it was really cold and we already had used a blanket, after living with him and then my grandparents we knew what it was like to have to live on a budget, like so many other children do. So why are there so many “Gen Y’s” who are in financial turmoil or wish they had been more responsible with money? I know a few people who had strict up-bringsings, who instead of learning from that decided to rebel against it. Thinking they would not lead the life their parents did, and instead getting work and buying whatever they want and having nothing to show for it but a good lifestyle, or so they thought. But, would those years not be the years in which we should be setting ourselves up? Getting whatever education we need at a younger age to get into the workforce sooner? Maybe that’s my regrets coming out in me, there are really no right or wrong ways to get ahead these days, but I do wish I was more mature with money when I was younger. Instead I survived minimally while at TAFE, then I worked through uni and finished my degree when I was 25, and now feel as though I could have had a few more years of working up my sleeve. But you live and you learn.
And it’s never too late!
Since we decided to get dedicated, even before I read this book. My husband had quit his job to study a new degree, so we went into more debt, but we moved closer to work, we managed to pay for our wedding, then the very next year we bought a house, and this year we are making small renovations and paying off some of our debts.
I guess what I wanted to share with anyone who might be reading this is that it’s never too late to get on top of things. I understand if you don’t have two incomes or you don’t have much left over, I guess things just take a little longer – but you can get there in the end. Mostly I wanted to encourage anyone who feels things aren’t on track or feel like you could use some help saving for a house or something that seems unachievable to give this system a look, I am planning to share our progress… But, it even feels liberating to see on paper how much we could have saed by this time next year, or how much progress we will have made at dominoing our debts.
See how we go.