Vic Loves…

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? If like me, you’re a last minute mall rat that ends up buying whatever is cheapest/easiest/most convenient, you might want to read on….

This year, in an effort to become more charitable with my giving, I’m going to make a point of buying gifts that give you the warm fuzzies inside and out.

A friend of mine works for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre in Melbourne who produce a fantastic gift guide for Christmas. Chocolate, tea, spices, soap, candles, wrapping paper and the best part? It’s all reasonably priced, fair trade, charitable loveliness that means Christmas without the shopping hangover!

If you want to give a thoughtful gift this Christmas, here are a few places to get you started:

Asylum seekers Resource Centre
Oxfam
Home-made Christmas treats
Head along to your local Finders Keepers Market
Or check out some great local blogs – Daydream Lily and Renee Anne have been known to produce spectacular gift guides in the past

Happy shopping!

Victoria Craw has a degree in Political Science and English and is currently based in Sydney as a finance writer. Victoria has also worked as a foreign exchange writer in London, a journalist in Samoa and at a winery in a small corner of New Zealand. Described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ she occupies her time reading, writing and thinking about how to finance the next trip overseas. Read her personal blog at http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

Victoria Craw has a degree in Political Science and English and is currently based in Sydney as a finance writer. Victoria has also worked as a foreign exchange writer in London, a journalist in Samoa and at a winery in a small corner of New Zealand. Described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ she occupies her time reading, writing and thinking about how to finance the next trip overseas. Read her personal blog at http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

Such a huge, exciting and un-nerving question…Nowadays, finance and money plays such a huge role in our lives. While they can be stressful and frustrating, understanding your finances properly can allow you to make choices. Always a good thing right?

Yet figures consistently show that people, women in particular, often put their money in the ‘too hard’ or ‘too boring’ basket and do their best to forget about the issue.

Recently I went to a 10thousandgirl workshop which was packed with creative, talented women who wanted to realise their dream. They just needed to take the first step.

As an avid reader of art and design blogs, I always admire those that have been able to turn their passion into a productive reality. So to inspire myself and others, here’s the first in a series of short Q&As with other women as they explain how they took the nerve-wracking first steps to getting out there on their own.

Renee is a tremendously talented illustrator, designer, artist, stylist and photographer living in Sydney. As well as running an online shop and vintage store, Renee recently moved to working freelance and you can see her work on her website and browse her lovely blog.

A massive thank you to Renee for taking the time to answer these questions. Make sure you contact her if you are ever in need of a designer!

What’s a typical day for you?

I guess being a “freelancer”, my days are not often typical. I do try and create a bit of a routine of waking up early, getting into my email that need actioning first thing and checking if I have any deadlines. I would hardly say that I have a 9-5 working day, more like 24 hours! Sometimes I find myself checking my email in my sleep. But for the most part I try and keep up to date on “admin” type tasks, so when the creative urge hits (sometimes at 2am!) I can get onto it! (just for fun, here is a little “day tripper” story I did for Elle Girl Korea!)

What do you love most about your work?

The wonderful amazing people I get to meet along the way. Being a freelancer can be “lonely” but I have never found myself feeling that way. It also helps when you are dealing with people who are passionate and love their jobs.

What inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business?

I guess I have always been inspired to do such a thing, and it isn’t something that I really dove into, more something that has been a gradual thing that has evolved over time. Starting with working on business things “after hours” while managing a full time job, to slowly making the shift into working for myself… I have always had my eye on the goal, it is just a matter of taking the steps to get there… eventually.

Were there any major challenges along the way?

Of course. There always is, and I still wouldn’t say that I am “there” yet either. There isn’t just a day where life just goes “pop” and says “you have a successful business now, enjoy”. It is a constant challenge and a lot of hard, but rewarding work.

Do you have any advice for young women looking to do the same thing?

Take your time. Think things through. Don’t rush. Consider all options.

Can you recommend any great sources of support or information?

I don’t think there is any one hub, especially online as everything is always evolving, moving and growing. There are SO MANY great blogs out their, full of information and inspiration. Try leeloo.com.au, thefinderskeepers.com and meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com

Thanks so much Renee!

Name: Victoria Craw
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Sydney, 29 May 2010

My greatest achievements so far are… moving places on my own, carving out a little career and maintaining great relationships.

I joined 10thousandgirl because… I had recently moved to Sydney and was stuck in a bit of a rut financially. I wanted to meet some positive, inspiring women, do some more writing and get my financial life back on trac

My personal goals for the next 12 months are… to develop my own blog and website, do a LOT of freelance writing, see more of Australia, spend lots of time with my fantastic friends and stay fit and healthy!

My financial goals for the next 12 months are… to pay off my student loan and save $10,000 for a deposit on a hous

In 3-5 years I’ll be… working as a journalist, writer and blogger, have a graduate diploma in journalism, still be with my gorgeous boyfriend and maybe on the verge of embarking on my next adventure overseas.

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll be… the owner of an investment property, have paid off my student loan and be generating some freelance incom

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I… am turning 36. I’ll be at a big barbeque party with my friends and family in my own house somewhere on the coast of New Zealand. There will hopefully be little ones and definitely animals. I will have done lots of travel, be an established writer, with a sound financial situatio

The very first steps I’m going to take right now are… to pay off my student loan, win the $10,000 from ING DIRECT and save for a deposit on a house!

This is where you can find more about me: Come and visit my personal blog http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

Victoria Craw has a degree in Political Science and English and is currently based in Sydney as a finance writer. Victoria has also worked as a foreign exchange writer in London, a journalist in Samoa and at a winery in a small corner of New Zealand. Described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ she occupies her time reading, writing and thinking about how to finance the next trip overseas. Read her personal blog at http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

On a swirling winter’s day in the heart of industrial Alexandria, I blustered in from the rain to the HQ of Napoleon Perdis, for my first introduction to the 10thousandgirl project.

Not knowing what to expect, I was amazed to stumble upon a hive of feminine activity. Part boardroom, part boudoir, the Napoleon office was filled with warm chatter, smiling women, soft music, and the smell of hot coffee. The large table was strewn with make-up, copies of Flirting with Finance and plates of dainty biscuits, with not a man or a briefcase in sight!

Led by the effervescent and positively charming Zoe, we all made our introductions and I was amazed at how open and individual everyone was. The aim of the day was to paint a picture of where we wanted to be, and create a road map to get there.

Firstly, Zoe asked us to look at our value systems, our beliefs, and habits – that when trotted out like a pair of well worn slippers, can become inhibiting. ‘I never have enough time’ or ‘I’m terrible with money’ immediately sprung to mind.

We looked at why we held these beliefs and if we wanted to, what we could replace them with. By saying ‘what’s the worst that could happen? Or ‘trust your instinct more’, it suddenly seemed easier to find a sense of empowerment to move forward, rather than stay in a rut.

We made vision boards, ate sushi, had makeovers and in my favourite part, painted a picture of our lives in 10 years time. By creating a story that involved living by the water, kids, pets, rustic furniture, a library full of books and for some reason, fruit trees, it made it easier to imagine this as a reality. We did the same thing for five years time, one year and eventually, broke it down into specific steps to take away.

One of the ‘light bulb’ moments I had was the feeling of connectivity in a society where people seem innately competitive. Where furtively checking out a women’s outfit can be more common than giving a compliment, it was great to meet people in an environment where everyone was open about their dreams and desires. Any bad decisions, relationships or work environments were obstacles to be overcome, not secrets to hide away.

I came away energized, positive and inspired. It’s easy to be ‘too busy’ or ‘too broke’ and I was happy to have spent time shutting off the background noise and thinking about what I really want. My goals include more writing, building a website, paying off my student loan and eventually owning my own home.

Since I’m a firm believer that to be inspired and positive you should surround yourself with positive and inspiring people, I’m going to embark on a series of interviews of inspiring women who have turned their passion into a day job.

Stay tuned to see how they did it!

Victoria Craw is a writer and contributor to the 10thousandgirl project. Described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ she occupies her time reading, writing and thinking about how to finance the next trip overseas. Read her personal blog at http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

‘It’s embarrassing’

That’s how it all started. The words my boyfriend uttered to me when I was having yet another tantrum about how little money I had to do things, to buy clothes, to go out drinking.

For once, it actually shocked me into silence.

To give you a bit of background, we had recently moved to Sydney. After 18 months spent living in London on the smell of an oily rag and a whole lot of pints and pies, we set up in Sydney with not much to spare in the bank account. It was Christmas time and needless to say, no one was interested in hiring. I got a job first while we held out for Olly to get his dream job and learnt the joys of sharing a bank account, bedroom and suitcase all at the same time (not recommended).

Anyway, piece by piece, it all came together. Olly had a great job, I got a great job, we found a house in the ridiculously competitive eastern suburbs, we were stoked! We sat on milk crates, we lived on toast, we slept on an airbed that sagged in the middle. And then somewhere in between then and the other night, I developed a monstrous attitude towards money.

We needed a lot, we had nothing. Furnishing the house has been an exhaustive task, filled with weekend spats in IKEA and interspersed with small joys – like baking my first cake, or sitting on our new couch. But somewhere along the way, I had forgotten to actually appreciate what we had. There are homeless people living just outside our door for goodness’ sake, and here I am complaining that when we can just get tickets to Florence and the Machine, then I will finally be happy.

I always fancied myself as a low maintenance kind of girl – all I need is the sun on my face and the wind in my hair – but it turns out, I’m not. That’s fine as well, but this overt materialism was dragging me down. While I don’t doubt I’ll be back complaining again some time, I’m going to try and balance my financial goals with a better understanding of what’s important to me.

Hopefully, by changing my attitude towards money and thinking a little less materially, this will help me make better decisions about how I can use money and even invest it. If I can learn to treat my money as a source of opportunity, rather than a constant headache, that will be a good first step in my 10thousandgirl journey.

And as for the house – it’s finally finished and we’re debt free!

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