Once I graduated college, I was lucky enough to have a pretty good job fall at my feet. I was suddenly making a good living, and had funds to buy new clothes, get my hair done and go for lunch and cocktails without having to watch my bank balance all of the time.
Unfortunately, I was made redundant after two years in my role when the finance company I was working for cut back. Suddenly, things were not so easy. I had a period of many weeks where I was essentially unemployed and living off credit cards and savings. I went to the ATM at the store to withdraw some cash, and I couldn’t get any more funds out. I was so embarrassed, and knew something had to change. I went back to my apartment, opened the laptop and read almost anything I could get my hands on. From top finance blogs which provided a variety of tips on personal finances, to ways to improve my prospects of finding work.
Within two weeks of making these life-changing choices, I had managed to find work. Although the role was pretty cool, and certainly interesting enough to keep me focused on progression, the salary was around 35% less than what I had been making previously. The first couple of months were tough – I had promised to clear my debts and live within my means as much as possible – but nonetheless, I got through it and learned some pretty valuable lessons.
The Thursday club cocktails went, as did my smoking habit. Instead of buying groceries in bulk only for my fruit and veg to go past their sell-by date, I bought as and when I needed to. No more cab rides to my cousin a couple of blocks away, instead I walked or cycled. After six months, I could determine just how much money I had been needlessly wasting. It almost snowballed from there. I won’t say I became obsessed, but, I was certainly more mindful of my spending. For the first time since graduating, I was learning how to budget. The savings which I was living off when I lost my job were suddenly back to “sunny day” levels, and within a year I was almost shocked to see that I had doubled my “rainy day” pot.
I met my partner in March 2017, and we had discussed places which we would both like to visit. We both had a pretty cool mutual love of Australia and South East Asia, and had talked about going together some time. My partner is equally as sensible when it comes to finances, and maybe a little more frugal, but it is amazing how you can attract similar people with a particular mindset and way of living.
Just two months ago I realised that I had enough money to travel, and discussed this in depth with my partner. We both agreed that it was maybe time to realize our ambition of hitting the road, and visiting Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. We booked return flights to Melbourne just last weekend, and will be heading on a mini-adventure for a few months. My employer was super understanding, and more than happy to grant me the leave.
Just a couple of years ago, I was spending stupid amounts of money on handbags, jewellery and nights out, when I could have been seeing the world and the glorious beauty of the continents I have yet to visit. It’s funny how it took me to fall into a position where I had nothing to appreciate the worth of cash. I cannot wait to get on that plane, and reap the benefits of making some pretty awesome choices!