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A fashion editor’s week of spending and saving, as critiqued by a financial coach

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VERVE SUPER
WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

Revealing the extent of my chaotic financial habits for the greater good.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve always been hopeless with money. I’ve only really been good at saving when there’s a big life event happening, like travelling or moving to a new country. With a short-term goal like that in mind, I can accrue a sizeable amount of funds, but I’ll always blow them all while I’m away or in setting up my new life.

I really do enjoy all the fantastic experiences I can put my money towards – whether that’s a lavish dinner out, a stupidly expensive pair of boots or a trip to the salon – but as a result, I don’t have savings. 


Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.


Yes, I know, I’m silly and frivolous (as my dad likes to regularly remind me) and I have nothing to show for the years of hard work I’ve put into my chosen career as a fashion editor. To put it frankly, I need some help in the money department. So I’ve decided to ask a financial coach to weigh in on a week of my spending habits.

Honestly, I shudder to imagine what they will think of my haphazard attempts to claw my way out of debt and start accruing some savings. But ultimately I’m revealing the extent of my chaotic ways to the internet so I can start implementing some positive changes in my life (and if any of the above resonates with you, then this article’s for you too).

My week in spending and saving

Monday

  • I have regretfully overdrawn my bank account (yet again) so right now I’m being reasonably careful with my spending, which is still not as careful as I should be, as I try to get back into the green. I’m working from home today, which means I’m not tempted to buy lunch or a coffee. 
  • I transfer my housemate $25 for household supplies and $30 for a friend’s birthday present.

Tuesday

  • Back in the office today. I cave and buy a coffee for $4.50 and berate myself for the rest of the day. 
  • At lunch, I pick up a boring but necessary prescription from the chemist which sets me back $11.
  • I recently deleted the UberEats app and am trying to cut down on how much I eat out. With this in mind, after work, I head to the supermarket to grab some groceries – mainly snacks and fruit for work and a few ingredients for healthy, easy dinners that can be reheated for lunch at work. I spend $44.

Wednesday

  • Payday, thank the heavens! I have set up two automatic payments to a separate bank account that I don’t have a card for. I find automatic payments are the only method that helps me keep better track of my money and it’s also the only way I’ve been able to save in the past.
  • $120 goes towards paying off my overdraft. Another $150 goes to the same account for my New Zealand student loan payments. As a New Zealand citizen with a student loan, I have to make two lump-sum payments of $1500 each year, and automatic payments ensure that each week I’m putting money aside for these payments.
  • $108 of my pay is automatically paid into my super. Last year I switched my super as I wanted to be part of an ethical fund that supported women. I went with Verve Super, as it directs its investments towards companies that prioritise gender equality, which we love. It also has a big focus on financial literacy, which I’ve found super helpful in managing my money. 
  • I work till 6.30pm and I’m seriously late to a comedy show event that I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to through work, so I catch an Uber there. It’s peak hour and it costs me $21, despite only being a 7-minute ride. A little part of me withers away.

Thursday

  • I have a chai latte at work like the absolute idiot I am. It costs $5.67.
  • I cave and meet a friend for dinner, which sets me back $30.

Friday

  • I spend $6 on a beer at a photography exhibition on Friday night and go home at a reasonable hour which means no money spent on silly Ubers or late-night takeaways. I consider this a success.

Saturday

  • If you can believe it, I don’t spend a single cent today (or tonight). This is probably on account of me staying at home and clearing out my wardrobe. I dropped a huge bag of clothing off at Goodbyes, a consignment clothing store. I like to use Goodbyes as a way to accrue a lump sum of money as my clothing sells (sort of like another savings account), which I then transfer into my savings account.
  • I find out I have $350 currently in my account from the last lot of clothing I sold, so I transfer it to my everyday account to pay off some more of my overdraft. I’m getting there slowly, but there’s still a bit more to pay off.

Sunday

  • I do a big grocery shop – including washing liquid, shampoo and conditioner and new Tupperware for the house – that comes to $113. Yikes. At least I know I’ve got lots of ingredients to make dinners and lunches for the coming week.

Review by financial coach

Believe it or not Cait, you’ve actually got some great practices in place! If you can save for a holiday, you can save for a house. If you can set up automatic payments for your student loan and overdraft, you can set up automatic payments for your longer-term wealth-building goals.

If you can use your resourcefulness to create extra cash (thank you, Goodbyes!), you are capable of creating extra income through other means too. Setting goals, automating your money system, and creating new income streams are three fundamental strategies for building long term wealth. You’re on your way.

And this isn’t even the best news. The key catalyst for change is that you’ve decided to change your financial ways and make new money moves. Soon, you (and your dad!) won’t be using the words ‘silly and frivolous’. Even your dad’s going to be in awe of your wealth building moves.

Here’s some easy steps to follow that you, and anyone reading this article, can implement in your life, right now.

Step one: Dream boldly into the future

Put yourself in your 70-year-old shoes. Better still, close your eyes and imagine it’s your 70th birthday. I have Baddie Winkle in my sights right now. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you most proud of in your life so far, what stories are your friends and family telling in their speeches? How would your loved ones describe you?

Where are you living in retirement (in a private retirement resort with your best friends, or in a community funded facility in the burbs?). What are three of your favourite memories across your 70 years? Dream boldly. You’re young and creative, get together with some friends and re-think retirement. It doesn’t always have to be done the way it has always been done.

Now do the same in your 50s. What does a dream day look like for 50-year-old you? Where are you living? Are you working? Volunteering? Going on adventures?   

Plans change over time. After all, if we were all chasing our four-year-old dreams, we’d be out searching for unicorns. But in our 20s, 30s and 40s if we’re not squirilling a little cash away for the future, then we won’t have flexibility in our 50s and the opportunity to have a ball in retirement. So it’s best to make a plan and be saving for it, and then later change our goals, than to not be saving for the future at all.

Step two: Automate your money system 

List your top financial priorities, write down each goal’s timeframe and the money you need for each financial mission, for example: 

Goal one: Pay off overdraft

  • Timeframe: Two years
  • Total needed: Find out where I’m at with overdraft. Change everyday bank account so I can’t overdraw
  • Regular savings: $120
  • Where I can put it: Overdraft
  • Next step: Already automated (high five myself!)

Goal two: Pay off student loan

  • Timeframe: Five years
  • Total needed: Find out how much student loan left to pay
  • Regular savings: $150
  • Where I can put it: Student loan
  • Next step: Already automated (high five myself!)

Goal three: 50-year-old self

  • Timeframe: 20 years
  • Total needed: Get really clear on the life I want to be leading, where I’m living etc. Check out the MoneySmart compound interest calculator for motivation
  • Regular savings: I’ve decided to start with $20 a week, will ramp it up once student loan and overdraft sorted 
  • Where I can put it: Far off a house deposit so going to look into shares
  • Next step: I like my super fund Verve so going to check out its goals based ethical investing app

Goal four: 70-year-old self

Step three: Create more

Feeling excited about your new goals but don’t see a way to make them happen? If you can use your ingenuity to make some cash on the side with Goodbyes, you can use it to create cash in other ways. What other side hustles can you dream up?

Or maybe it’s taking a step up at work, did someone say promotion? It’s great to watch your spending patterns and have an awareness of where your money goes – but your superpowers come with instead turning your attention to increasing your earning potential.

Then you can have your dinners out, and an exciting future. Cait, you’re now a money mover! Tell that to yourself every day. PS when I want to change a self-belief, I write a positive mantra in red lipstick on my bathroom mirror, where I can’t miss it.

Disclaimer

The financial information contained in this article is general and doesn’t take into account your personal financial objectives, situation, or needs. It’s important to do your own research and consider getting in touch with a professional adviser to access specific information tailored to your own unique situation.

If you’re interested in learning more about Verve Super, head to vervesuper.com.au. Please read the Product Disclosure Statement, Additional Information Booklet, Insurance Guide, Target Market Determination and Financial Services Guide before making any financial decisions regarding Verve Super.

If you’re interested in learning more about Verve Money, head to vervemoney.com.au. While we’re not quite ready to launch the app, you can join the waitlist and be among the first to hear about it when we are.  

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