loading
drag

I keep blowing my savings on the weekend so I asked an expert for advice

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TED MIN

WORDS BY GENEVIEVE PHELAN

Everybody’s working for the weekend. 

Money and me have a turbulent relationship, but I’m a good business day operator. I grind Monday to Friday and cut loose from 5pm at the end of the working week until Sunday, hemorrhaging the remuneration I’ve been hustling for. I’ve developed this vicious cycle of slogging it out during the week (think crazy deadlines, multiple inboxes, many bits on the go), only to cover the costs of my social dalliances and superficial spending desires on the weekends.

Without these antics, I cannot possibly complete my work week. I need the release and the lavish dinners and the copious cocktails and the far too late, spontaneous nights. They leave me with fantastic anecdotal mileage, and I have stuff to look forward to and I get to indulge. But in blowing off all this steam, I seem to be blowing all of my savings. 

These ‘savings’ are in a sad state of inertia as I frivolously transfer chunks of hundreds of dollars into my access (read: recreational) account each weekend. It’s like trying to fill a bucket with water when there’s a gigantic hole in the bottom. 

I also have a flair for the spending dramatics. My wayward money habits are only propelled by the Dumb Girl Shit I find myself knee-deep in from time-to-time. It’s usually automotive-related, like running 5 kilometres over in a 40 zone while I tune in to a poddy on the frantic commute to work, or the other week when my car got towed during a work-from-cafe morning on High Street, Armadale.

Panicked, I barged into the new StyleRunner store and accosted a fellow 20-something girl to search for answers. She informed me I’d indeed parked in a clearway zone and my car had been taken to a depo in Collingwood, incurring me a $500+ collective parking and towing fine. Brilliant. This is not what I had budgeted for when I spontaneously purchased a green knit graduation present set from Scanlan Theodore days prior. 

Having a few part-time gigs on the go means I’m lucky to have separate, constant streams of income. But there’s no method to the madness that is my haphazard saving. It’s spasmodic and undirected, going towards no tangible, distant goal. I like the graft of earning, but I struggle with impatience when it comes to saving up. And then I say ‘yes’ way too often to stupid events and outings and faraway plans when I should be whacking any spare dollars into a bulletproof safe. 

While I am (ostensibly) a turbo workaholic who should be very on top of her savings plans, I am actually far too self-sabotaging and hedonistic to be making any kind of notable progress. And this all must be curbed seriously soon if I hope to ever move out of home and make proper Big Girl Moves in life.

I wish it was all as simple as chucking a debit card in an ice block or flicking a switch that made me hate buying nice things, but the impending return to regimented working life this month has mandated a chat with a local oracle on money matters. Emma Edwards is somebody I admire and envy. She has created The Broke Generation – a non-boring, anti-shame and accessible community for millennials who want to learn how to get financially fit.

A not entirely (but almost) lost cause, I asked Emma how to iron out my spendthrift behaviour as we all hit the desks again this year. She did not disappoint in the pragmatic but playful approach she took to my financial reform. Take note with haste.

How do I stop blowing all the money I work so hard to earn during the week on my weekends?

When people think about this type of question they often think it means giving up your fun all together. I personally prefer to optimise rather than eliminate. So look at what’s sucking up all your money and how you can still do it without breaking the bank, and making small tweaks that will add up to big changes. For example, if you don’t want to give up your Saturday night out, perhaps you still go on the night out, but instead of an exxy dinner beforehand, scarf down a meal-prepped feed before you leave.

Even if you do that once a month and stash the $50+ you might’ve spent at a restaurant, it’d add up over time. Or, if it’s the hungover brunches that are guzzling all your cash, try whacking a batch of frozen hash browns in your freezer instead for the next morning, and still meet your mates for coffee and a croissant rather than the full smashed avo expense. It’d save you over half your usual spend, but you still get the experience of heading out to a cafe with mates.

What do I do when I feel an impulse to buy a stupidly expensive new outfit for an evening on the town? 

This is such a pain point for me too so I TOTALLY GET IT! I personally got around this by finding a couple of go-to outfits that are timeless and make me feel amazing, and I have them listed out in my Google Keep (or iPhone notes section). I whip that out when I’m tempted to buy something new and remind myself of all the epic lewks I have in my wardrobe already. Another thing I’ve done is renting clothes. Pre-COVID I would sometimes treat myself to a rental box from GlamCorner where you get three rental items to keep for the month for about $99 or something. I loved it because it meant I always had fresh outfits but I didn’t have to store them or wastefully consume from fashion brands.

How do I ask friends to pay me back for things (insert: drunken Ubers, house whites etc) without being a massive dickhead? 

SUPER important – don’t let yourself be the one who foots the bill for everything. If you’re finding it’s really becoming a problem chasing up $$$ from pals, I’d recommend actually stopping being the person to put it on your card. One way of doing this is to take cash so that when it comes time to pay, you can put your cash in and be done with it. If it’s simply an organisation/following up issue, I’d get into the habit of doing a group chat message the morning after with what everyone owes. 

What are the simplest everyday routines to change throughout my work week that will allow me more spending money on Saturday and Sunday?

I’m a huge fan of playing my schedule off against itself to free up more money for more spendy times, so if you love going all-in at the weekends, I’d suggest really cutting way back during the weekdays. Simple things like having a ‘no spend day’ two days a week can massively free up cash that you can stack towards weekend spending. It’s really about working out what expenditures can realistically co-exist within the boundaries of your income and savings goals.

Ideally, we’d all be eating lunch out every day AND going hard at the weekends, but for most of us, that’s just not possible. Rank your purchases/spends in terms of what brings you the most joy, and prioritise those that score higher. For example, if you love your Saturday night pasta date with friends, but your weekday burrito was more of a convenience thing than real enjoyment, cut the burrito and get something cheaper or bring lunch from home, and free up that cash for the thing you really enjoy doing.

I convince myself I deserve a ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ for my work nearly almost every week in Mecca. How can I pare this back? 

FEELS. A bit like with the tweaking weekend plans, try treating/rewarding yourself with something that seems indulgent, but isn’t actually eating into your bank account as much as a $200 jumpsuit would. Instead of treating yourself to something mega exxy, opt for something cheaper or even free. It’s all about countering your usual actions with something that’s more aligned with what you’re trying to achieve.

You can even use a sliding scale. If you usually treat yourself to that $200 jumpsuit or a $90 foundation, scale it down. Maybe you treat yourself to a fancy $12 sheet mask instead, or a glass of wine in the bath, or an almond cappuccino on your way to work. Still a treat, still bougie, but less hard on the bank balance. Again, it’s not about never treating yourself or never spending, but rather identifying what the trigger is and adapting the behaviour to suit. 

I love the ritual of latte retrieval at work (being desk-bound most of the day and all). I waste so much money on food/Myki/parking/parking tickets/coffees. How can I unlearn this behaviour? 

Right, the key is to unpack the behaviour and work backwards. so the desk-bound thing is your trigger, and you’re seeing the food/coffees as relief from that trigger. How can you get that same relief without spending the big money? Maybe you make a coffee at the office and go for a walk with that coffee rather than buying one. If your lunch is your daily saviour treat, find ways to shave a few bucks off that spend.

Often we think bringing lunch from home has to mean a soggy salad with zero calories and zero fun either. But it doesn’t have to mean that. You can bring things you love from home, or stock your office drawer with handy go-to lunches for when you’re in a rush. In terms of public transport expenditures, they are often unavoidable, but if you use it regularly, check out the bulk passes because it majorly reduces your cost per day. 

@the.brokegeneration

Lazy Loading