Total Net Worth $-31,401.29
Actual Variance from Last Month: $4387.29
Word to your respective mothers! A thought that has been crossing my mind recently, as I think about how flipping far I am from reaching my goal, is how crucial it is to not lose sight of your vision. If you’re looking to rid your self of debt, or build wealth, there are habits you need to adopt that are counter cultural and going against the grain definitely takes more effort.
The key thing is to remember what made you set out on this path in the first place – otherwise you can waver, efforts become half-hearted and your end point will fall further out of reach. This was the exact thing I was rambling on about in this vlog post. When the waves of life buffer you it is easy to forget why you are on the journey you are on, especially if that journey is costing you a sacrifice or two. Human beings either run TO pleasure or FROM pain and if you can’t keep an eye on where you are going the pull/push of either of those two drivers can knock you off course. This is why I enjoy sitting down and reflecting once a month on where I am in relation to my personal goals, especially becoming debt-free.
Tracking your progress isn’t always sexy nor exciting so my best piece of advice is to keep your eyes fixed on where you’re going and don’t let the bumps on the road knock you of course. See below for this month’s wins and spins.
Wins this Month
- Own Your Situation
One of my biggest wins this month has come from my liaison with the Student Loans Company (SLSC) back home. On first arriving here all my financial responsibilities back in Blighty were, in the main, lumped nicely into the ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ box: I had tied up most of my loose ends and wasn’t leaving a family and small children to their own devices, or any other wilful abandonment, but didnt really pay much thought to any outstanding liabilities. I had only planned on visiting Straya for a few months to a year, then heading back to Blighty to pursue a place on a Head-Teacher training programme. Next thing I know, I’ve been here nearly three years and am no way near a classroom (although I do have quite the fetching whiteboard in my bedroom.) The thing is, once I reconciled myself to the fact that Sydney was home for the foreseeable I had to do the right thing and get my head out of the financial sand, as it were.
Student Loans in the UK while undeniably a debt to your name, are on super low interest, so a significant number of Poms live their whole live chipping away slowly through mandatory deductions from their salary. When you move abroad, the onus is on the debtor to contact the SLSC in order to arrange a voluntary payment plan – when I finally mustered up the courage it became apparent that I had landed myself into $6000 of arrears from ‘missed payments’. Whoopsie!
At first it was a winding blow to the chest and felt a little like I’d taken a step backwards (which I’m never a fan of). But the important thing was I knew where I stood. Ever stopped yourself from opening your bank app because you’d rather not have that drop in your stomach? I certainly have. Ignorance is only bliss for a short while and without truly knowing where you are, no matter how painful, you can’t move forward. I spent a long time collating evidence about my hitherto poor financial situation and the arrears were dropped on the grounds that I make regular payments going forward. More monthly outgoings, admittedly, but better that than pretending my situation was actually better than it was.
2.) Diversifying Income Streams
There are two ways to get out of debt: earn more or save/spend less. I have the spending more or less under control so what about more money? The easiest way is to get a part-time job to supplement my income. Ever since I was old enough to work I had a few jobs on the go; indeed I’ve been a Butcher’s help, A McDonalds Drive Thru Till-Boy, Paperboy, Silver Service Waiter, Bar Man, Baby Seat Specialist, Golf Club Steward, Man Size Tweety Pie and Chief Poster Putter Upper in my time. Working in my current position has been the only time, for as long as I can remember, that I have been a one job man, necessarily so given the visa I’m on. Until I get my Permanent residency, it will have to remain the same and such my money grabbing efforts have had to be directed elsewhere.
There are a stream of market research companies happy to give you a little bit of extra cash for filling in the odd survey, testing out products or taking part in case studies. The issue is you have to be super careful with your personal details or whichever link-out sites they take you to, otherwise before you know it your phone will be ringing off the hook and your email ram packed with requests for your thoughts. It is, however, an easy income if you can manage your way around it. I’m going to give it a whirl and will let you know how I go!. What about you though? What skills or experience do you have that attract a dollar value? Check these ideas from my good friends over at Budgets Are Sexy
Spins this Month
1.) Not Burning Your Bridges
One of my Credit Cards had a positive balance on it and in wanting to get the money owed, I had to re-order the card Id ceremoniously torn to shreds. As soon as the card arrived, I put it in my wallet to deal with later: within a few hours I’d brought it out, for convenience sake, to pay for a random purchase. It then stayed in my wallet and was used a number of times without paying too much thought. I have since taken it out of my wallet but not before $188 dollars had been spent here and there. This isn’t an issue for me now as I have the money to clear it but it did highlight to me how easy it is to fall back into old habits. What is the lesson then? Ensure that if you are fully committed to one particular path that you burn your bridges to the alternative.
Having Credit Cards is handy for emergencies (I have one for just that reason i.e. a flight back home to the UK if needed) but it’s important to be honest with yourself as to how much you REALLY need them. I have an emergency fund of $1000 which buffers me pretty well as I learn the ropes of Financial Management, that really helps. Re the Credit Card then, what can be done? Take it out the flipping wallet for a start, give it to a friend and tell them to only give it to you in emergencies or even, if you can be honest and realise you don’t need it and/or probably can’t withstand the temptation, close the account! You’ll be grateful for it in the long run.
Until next time Finance Fans!