Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA
Talking about finances can be such a drag and soooo boring. I know when I was a teenager, I found it boring and neglected it myself. However, by brushing aside important financial information or advice, as a teenager meant when I left home for uni, I struggled financially. I would spend my money on Mi Goreng, takeout, and late nights in the city. Although it is important to have fun, these financial choices, were not the wisest. With the depletion of my savings at the end of my university degree, I knew I needed to take drastic steps to become more financially conscious.
Although it is a long process, if I had been provided with some of the tips that I have listed below, it would have helped me become more financially healthy. So, here’s how to build financially healthy habits, how to help yourself save and a little reminder to not be too hard on yourself when it comes to saving!
Become more financially literate.
After completing my first tax return (in which I ended up having to pay the ATO back money) I realised that I needed to educate myself on how to manage my finances and how to complete a tax return correctly. It really showed to me that I had very basic financial knowledge. The areas that I began to build my financial literacy around and that I believe would be useful for more education to be provided on in high school are:
- Learning how to budget
- Learning what an interest rate is and how to get the most out of interest rates.
- How to utilise banking apps inbuilt functions
- Education around credit cards, after pay and the financial impacts of these
- Finally, information around financing and how this works for cars and house loans.
Some useful resources for learning about finances that I have utilised or that I think would be useful are:
- ATO Free Tax Workshops
- Headspace (https://headspace.org.au/finances/budgeting/)
- Investopedia (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/financing.asp) (there is lots of useful information on here!)
- ABC Website (https://www.abc.net.au/education/how-do-interest-rates-work/13938826)
- YouTube (There are some great youtubers with information around budgeting: Debt Free Millennials and Elena Taber are a few I know!)
- Australian Government Websites
- Australian Financial Security Authority (https://www.afsa.gov.au/i-cant-pay-my-debts/support-services/budgeting
- Services Australia (https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/how-to-budget?context=60271)
Be honest with yourself.
It was a bit of a harsh reality when I moved to Perth, and I set my first savings goal, and was unable to achieve it. When I was unable to reach the goal in the required time frame, I became disheartened and abandoned the goal completely. Although you always want to save, it is some important to be honest with yourself about how much is realistic to be saving.
Find fun ways to earn extra money (join committees etc.)
One of the greatest financial tips that I can provide is about finding extra ways to make a bit of income on the side. Currently, I volunteer as a part of a youth steering group and write creative writing pieces (like the one you’re reading now!). These ways of earning additional income do not take up too much of my time and provide me with a little bit of extra financial support.
When you’re looking for extra ways to make money, make sure they are a worthwhile investment of your time. Originally, I looked at surveys to earn some additional money. However, I found that when I was doing the surveys, you were required to do a certain number of surveys before being able to access the money that you were earning. How much I was getting paid per hour was not indicative of the effort of the work I was putting in. And still to do this day I get bombarded with emails about re-joining their survey programs!
Be aware of your circumstances.
We are currently in a cost-of-living crisis. There is an increase in the cost of rent, food/groceries, and transportation. These factors are all out of our control. We cannot control how much our groceries are, and although we can be more mindful when we’re at the shops, even the cheapest alternative is more expensive than it was 3 to 4 years ago.
Being mindful of this, we need to allow ourselves extra time when it comes to setting or achieving savings goals, as we may need to adjust them to have more realistic timeframes. I mean obviously it is all that avocado toast we are eating that means we cannot buy a house, not the fact we are in a cost-of-living crisis!!
Don’t forget to give yourself breaks.
I strongly believe that it’s important to give yourself breaks. This can be by allowing yourself to buy something that you’ve been admiring or something that you really want. If you need a new pair of shoes and you spot a pair that you like, it is okay to let yourself buy nice new things, so long as you are still being mindful of your spending.
Although there will be financial pressure, it is important to treat yourself (make sure to say it with a bit of attitude), if you are mindful about how often you are doing it!
Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio