Hi, My name is Veronica! I am a happy mama of three, a freelance voice and performance coach, a small business owner and now debt free and well on our way to saving for our first property.
My husband and I welcomed our lovely children in our early 20’s, and being young meant that our careers were yet to blossom, we lacked the discipline it takes to grow financially and needless to say, we hadn’t a clue how to budget! We were limited financially and ideally, my husband and I should have taken on full time jobs in order to support our family. But I had dreams of the kind of parent I wanted to be. I wanted to earn a living without compromising the time I wanted to spend raising my young ones and the same went for my husband. Simply put, we wanted to be there while our children were small and this took priority over securing our careers. We knew that in order to maintain that lifestyle, we had to work as freelance parents.
I was working and studying as a singer and musician and instantly fell in love with teaching. This worked very well for me, not only because I loved it, but also because I was able to work from home, often after bedtimes or at nap times. Over 11 years, I have since grown my home studio into a small business in Canada Bay, with four teaching staff and a small musical community of over 100 students. I now earn a passive income on top of my freelance work, which is wonderful, and the feeling of contributing to the young people around my community is priceless. However the path to get here has not been easy. Raising small children on two freelance incomes in Sydney was a week-to-week ordeal. We were using credit to live, paying things off when we could, only to use it again when a ‘big bill’ would come in the mail. This really spiralled us into a pretty dark place financially, which was not too friendly on our marriage to say the least! I do believe in hindsight that the more in debt we got into, the more nonchalant we became with our spending. Getting out of debt was not a priority however I also knew deep down that our financial worries would be temporary. Children grow, start school, and with that, I knew I would have more time available to work and when that time did come, our finances became a lot more stable.
# 1: Treat your debt with a positive mindset and with gratitude
This is a concept I learned from financial author/motivator, Suze Orman. It was not until I wrapped my head around the concept of respecting money and treating our debts with respect that our debt started to decrease. I think that for young families, money is sentimental. It means nourishment for our children, warm clothes, a trip to the zoo. I began to ‘thank’ the money that would come in, no matter how small. If I found a five cent piece on the floor, I thanked it. I changed our banking password to words of gratitude. I wrote ‘Thank you for this money’ on the underside of my wallet. I also wrote a huge ‘thank you for our debts’ manifesto and stuck it to my dresser in order to remind me that this borrowed money saved our family out of some desperate situations (and one overseas holiday, which we thoroughly, guiltfully enjoyed!). These were a constant reminder to switch my mindset from ‘Ugh, not another credit card bill, blegh!’ to ‘This money is precious, this money represents hours of work and resources, a roof over our heads, a warm blanket in winter, a memorable family event…’.
This is the single most powerful thing we did to change our financial outlook for the better, hands down. When you learn to respect money, treat it like you would a good friend, it returns the favour! When you respect that your debts are there because a little plastic card came to your rescue during a tough period in your life, it makes it easier to be humble, to stop treating debt with such negativity and to switch your mindset to one of gratitude. It is so much easier to get on with the task of getting rid of the debt when it is not such an emotional chore to do so.
# 2: Make more money
It is very difficult (impossible) to get out of debt when there isn’t enough surplus to increase your minimum payments. We worked very hard to increase our freelance income and set our careers towards a brighter trajectory. My husband worked overtime, while I worked every available moment on my business. I saw clients during school hours, after bed time hours and Saturdays, and worked on my business presence and admin late at night. I also loved making extra (tax-free!) income by selling things on eBay and having frequent garage sales. When you treat it like a game, it can be a ton of fun! There are many avenues to make extra money. I wish that fiverr.com or Airtasker were around a few years ago, as I most definitely would have used those websites to drum up extra cash!
# 3: Decrease spending
What we’ve learned is that with some preparation and organisation, decreasing spending is actually very easy.
- Food is the biggest expense for a family, so learning how to cook nice meals, stocking a freezer and eating healthily means less expensive packaged food (and is better for you too). Making menu plans and freezing food after a cook up with the kids saves hundreds of dollars a month and is a great way to spend time with young children.
- Holding BBQ’s with friends at home instead of going out.
- Shopped (and still shop) at Aldi and fresh food/fruit markets as much as we could…you really notice a difference in price!
- Negotiated our credit card interest rates down and calling them often to bargain them down even more.
- Use a pre-paid phone sim (Amaysim is the cheapest and the best!)
- Buying second hand where we can (having a love of vintage old things helps!)
- I also make my own ‘cheapskates.com’ laundry powder!
- Use very cheap and simple cleaning items such as vinegar, baking soda, lavender and dish liquid.
# 4: Have a money date
As a couple, we changed the way we discussed about money (see #1), and now at every ‘pay day’, we pour a glass of red, sit in front of the telly, and casually chat about where our money is going that week. I vowed to make it simple and easy. Sometimes the candles even come out! It makes the chore of discussing money into something special. Having a money date is so important as it means we can keep a close eye on where funds are going but also celebrate each time we paid a chunk off our debts. As our statements became smaller and smaller, our money dates became a lot more fun and our confidence and excitement grew, but at the beginning it was not easy and if other couples are in the same predicament, expect a few bad nights (more wine!). It is not nice seeing a chunk of your hard earned money go towards debt, however, remind yourself that when in debt, there are only two choices: Pay it off now, or keep paying forever. They are two sources of pain, yes, but at least one has a happy ending! It won’t disappear on its own!
# 5: Budget to zero and use cash for general living expenses
We have a very conservative budget and take all of our general living expenses (such as groceries, petrol and fun money) out in cash. No cash, means no spending! We then allocate the remaining funds into a high interest savings account (at the moment, RAMS have a very good high interest savings account) and other bills are paid online until there is zero left. Our electricity and gas bills are paid in increments every week, so that we never have to pay a large bill. When we were in debt, what now goes into savings went to our debt, where we paid off the highest interest rate debt first, and then ‘snowballed’ to the next debt. Anytime we had a windfall (such as a tax refund or a big eBay clear out!), we would use the money towards debt. After two years, we paid off 4 credit cards, one personal loan and one car loan!
# 6: Read books and blogs about finance and/or business
Getting educated about money is inspiring, motivating and just makes sense. Unfortunately, being financially responsible is not a skill you learn at school! There are so many tips and tricks from people that I have picked up along the way. Obviously, 10thousandgirl is a blog to trawl through! Suze Orman’s ‘The courage to be rich’ was a game changer for me. We are now able to finally plan our future and are vigorously saving, which is quite easy as we’re so used to living within a small budget. Although we’re no longer as strict on our budget (we allow the odd un-budgeted spend and do it guilt free). We hope to purchase our first property within the next 12 months, expand my business even further within the next 3 years and are now able to plan for our future without a large debt to hold us back. It is worth every ounce of discipline and hard work!
Let us empower you to take control of your finances!
Nice end of year Ripple Effect girls!! A big heartfelt thanks to our most recent 10thousandgirl 6 Step Money Makeover cohort who provided this microloan.
The small profit Christianally Moreno (25) earns selling charcoal augments her husband’s wages. She plans to expand and needs a loan to do so. By increasing inventory she can wholesale this essential cooking fuel to retailers in the market. More stock will also help her serve her existing customer base. Christianally hopes to double her daily sales to $25, and with a successful business sustain her family in the long run.
Borrower Name: Christianally Moreno
Location: Passi, Philippines
Loan Use: Buy and Sell Charcoal
Term: 6 Month
You too can easily donate a micro loan via Good Return so check it out.
Actually two women’s lives.
Last night a group of 30 inspiring women around Australia gave two micro loans. These 30 women came from all walks of life – a mum from a farm in north west NSW, an artist from Melbourne, a mining consultant from central Queensland…
Over the last 6 weeks this powerful group of women completed the 6 Step Challenge, 10thousandgirl’s new ‘Michelle Bridges’ style online personal finance program. And they blitzed it!!
They documented their life plans, tracked their spending, worked out their net worth, negotiated rates on home loans, high interest savers and utility bills. They reviewed their insurance, consolidated super. They discussed investment principles and the behaviour of cash, property and shares. They opened super letters for the first time and made calls to their super fund to change their investment mix to fit with their age and stage. In week 4 they documented their personal investing plans, asking themselves:
- What are my #1 financial goals?
- How much money do I need for each goal?
- When do I need it? What’s my timeframe?
- What investment options suit that goal and timeframe?
- What are my next steps?
And last night they wrapped up by mapping out their personal and professional support networks. They discussed the different professional support roles, how to find trusted advisors and learnt good questions to ask when approaching and engaging an adviser.
Then they wrapped up with an INSPIRATION FEST. Discussing what inspires them, who do they inspire? How do they stay inspired?
Well, wonderful women. You certainly inspired me. Thank you for your Ripple Effect. May it be felt across your life, among your family and friends lives, in your work and community life and as part of your program fee, you each donated $10 into a pool and were able to donate two micro loans, one to Merelita Marama and one to Linita Ponitini.
So thank you for your globally felt Ripple Effect…
Merelita Marama, Nasautoka Fiji
Loan Use: Sewing
Term: 26 Week
Some people are born with a natural talent. Merelita Marama (47) is one of them. She loves sewing for the people in her village and is a skilled seamstress. Merelita has built a steady client base among her friends, neighbours, office workers and church members. With her loan, she intends to buy more sewing equipment to help expand her business. Merelita is certain she will make greater profits, which will improve the lives of her four children.
Linita Ponitini, Tonga
Loan Use: Farm produce
Term: 52 Week
Linita Ponitini has three children under twelve. Her goal is to build a house for her family. She and her husband grow a range of crops, which Linita sells in the local market. But their profits are insufficient to cover both family and business expenses. So Linita is seeking a loan to buy seeds and seedlings to increase the farm’s production and yield.
Want to provide micro loans? Sign up http://www.goodreturn.org
Want to do the 10thousandgirl 6 Step Challenge? Sign up http://www.10thousandgirl.com
Just read a blog on the MoneySoft site that made me go ‘yeah, that’s me too!’ Have you hit that age or stage where dreams of marrying a prince are slipping away and you’re finding yourself thinking about money??
Here’s Amy’s story… ‘Before I was a mum, I was a woman who enjoyed shopping for myself, being out with friends and family, paying for Foxtel to make sure I was update with every show and movie available on this planet. I enjoyed manicures, pedicures, facials, dinner parties, brunches, shopping online, spending summer days at the beach and having a quick drink before heading home. I drove everywhere, not really stressing about the cost of parking meters, or parking stations. Late nights splurging on food and drinks was not an issue as I could most probably sleep in the next day and if not have a quick nap before meeting up with friends for dinner. Everything seemed simple. Life was simple. What I wanted I did with no care in the world.
Something happened between my twenty’s and my thirties. I would always put it down to “well that’s what happens when you start having kids”…but in actual fact it’s just that my priorities shifted. I woke up one day thinking hang on (and that’s a PG version of what I was really thinking) why has everything changed? At what point did I become so money conscious and when did I start loosing sleep over this matter?
I can’t tell you exactly when or why but it happened. I found myself regretting a lot of my decisions from my younger days. What if I didn’t live paycheck to pay check, what if I saved a bit here and there, maybe just maybe I wouldn’t be in the predicament that I’m in now. When friends were all putting deposits on their investment properties I was that hippy saying “Enjoy life, life is short, we have plenty of time to work our a$$’ off and worry about money” then I would laugh and go home and think how I have got it so down packed this thing called life…. Just quietly I think those friends are now laughing.
Something had to be done it was getting ridiculous, having twins, a husband and all the pressures of life I no longer craved the ‘what I wanted I did with no care in the world’ kind of approach. My husband who is equally if not more a little ‘whatever’ with our finances came up with a great idea, pretend like we don’t have money. The first few months was great, we set up separate accounts to which our income was assigned to and another account for all our bills to come out of. We did the whole take food from home for lunch, put our left over coins in a jar at the end of the day, started selling a few bits and pieces online for some extra income, but slowly slowly our spending demons started resurfacing and scratching through the few months of hard work we had put in. In the end we looked at each other and..’ READ FULL ARTICLE >>
Did you know the average credit card debt in Australia is $3500? And paying minimum repayments at the average interest rate of 21.5% could take over 90 years to pay off?
Shocking but true.
In a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald ‘Plot a path to turn red into black‘, some basic tips to get yourself out of a credit card pickle were shared along with case studies which show it can be done.
Here are some other tips and resources to help get on top of debt and back into black:
- Managing debt
- Creating a Debt Repayment Plan (video tutorial)
- Reaching your savings goal
- Credit Card Calculator
TIP!! If you are consolidating debt, make sure you are careful of your credit rating, making multiple applications for credit cards etc can impact your ability to apply for a home loan etc. at a later date. Talk to your bank manager/s but don’t let them log any applications for you unless they’re 100% sure you will get it. You can check your credit history by getting a free copy of your credit report from these credit reporting agencies:
TIP!! Paying a little more than the minimum repayments on your credit card can mean the difference between having the debt for 90 years or 2!
Start small, be strategic, keep on it and you’ll get there in no time.
This article comes to us from our newest contributor, the talented Amy Lovat AKA Amzlove. Amy interviews young businesswoman Peta Serras about her journey to opening her dream Pilates business and her experiences and learning along the way.
Everyone loves a success story, especially one built on passion and confidence, with a humble beginning. Stumbling out of high school and into a Pilates instructor course at Polestar Pilates Australia, Peta Serras now runs her own successful Pilates studio. She owns Pilates Evolution Now in Maitland, manages her own business blog and is working on releasing a range of Pilates DVDs. Last month, Pilates Evolution Now achieved second place in the Hunter Region Business Awards. All at the tender age of 23!
It wouldn’t be a success story without a few speed bumps along the way. During Peta’s year of Pilates training, she dislocated her knee, which resulted in a long and traumatic surgery and subsequent recovery program. Notoriously optimistic, she cites this period in her life as the birth of her true passion for Pilates. “The specialists ended up telling me that if I had been doing Pilates earlier on in my life, I probably wouldn’t have needed surgery on my knee. The muscle strength I had built up from years of dancing just wasn’t enough.” Determined to finish the Polestar course so that she could become a Pilates instructor, Peta completed her qualification exam and apprentice-teaching hours, just a few months after surgery. It was the injury that prompted her to get serious about Pilates. “I really wanted to get the course finished so that I could start sharing the Pilates knowledge with other people. I just realised that I didn’t want anyone to have to go through the kind of pain that I experienced.”
Peta started with an idea for a business; she did her research, corresponded with Business Enterprise Centre and took that idea as far as she could. “I don’t want to be mediocre. I don’t want to do the same thing for seven years without developing or staying inspired. For me, this isn’t just a way to make money.” A few short weeks after doing her Pilates exam, Peta bought some advertising material and business cards at Vista print online and registered her business name: Pilates Evolution Now.
The business began humbly, with Peta running Pilates mat classes at East Maitland Bowling Club. In her very first mat class, on 1 June, 2009, she had only one paying client. “I rang all my friends and family and said: ‘If you love me, you have to come and do my class!’” she laughs, “and about five of them came along, so it wasn’t too bad. But I was so nervous!” So what made her want to start her own business, as opposed to the easier route, some would say, of shadowing other Pilates instructors for a few months and finding casual work at other studios? “I did a lot of apprentice teaching at other studios,” she explains, “and whenever I was there, I would be looking around, analysing the business and thinking ‘I could do this so much better!’” Confidence (and a touch of naivety, she readily admits!) was the key ingredient to getting her business started. She notes the apparent divide between small business owners who are “in it for the money”, and those who are really trying to make a difference. It was her goal to find the middle ground, especially in a niche area like Maitland, where the only fitness facilities are gyms and fitness chains. “Pilates is a bit special,” she muses, “it’s so big in America but still quite small here. And there are so many gyms with instructors that teach ‘Pilates’ without really being qualified, and I wanted to do it differently.”
Originally, the plan was to build a strong client base before leasing her own location, however Peta wasn’t satisfied at the Bowling Club. Just two weeks after deciding to move, the “perfect” studio became available – a former dance school in East Maitland. It was a risky move, but she was confident that running her own business was what she wanted to do, and passionate that she needed to do it right. At first, the move came at a price: “I had about eight regular clients at the time and one night I told them there was a change of location for the class. They all walked into this dirty, bare studio, and some of them started dropping out of classes.” But she’s never looked back. Peta spent the whole Christmas holidays setting up the studio, ordering new equipment and conducting initial assessments for her new clients, and now she teaches 40 classes a week at Pilates Evolution Now. Twelve of those are Mat classes, which have a maximum of 10 participants, and the rest are all Studio sessions, on the Pilates reformers and equipment. The Studio sessions have a maximum capacity of three clients, and the business has grown tenfold since her debut class two years ago. “We have a long wait list now,” she tells me, “We’ve closed the books. Which is a big struggle for me, because it’s great that I’m so busy but I don’t like turning people away. All the more reason to expand the business!”
Was it difficult building that initial base of loyal clients? “Yes,” she replies, without hesitation, “Because it’s so easy for someone to go and get a gym membership for $9.95 a week. And obviously Pilates costs a bit more than that. What I do is quite specialised. And I’m tough!” She laughs, “It’s my dancing background! I work the clients hard and we see the results.” She tells me about one loyal client who has been attending her classes religiously, three times a week for the past two years. The business has mainly spread via word-of-mouth; clients see the results in their bodies and tell their friends. “At the very beginning, I had one real estate agent coming to my classes, who eventually brought all her colleagues and then every single employee of that agency was at my studio! Then another business happened like that, and it got the ball rolling.”
Peta also cites social networking as a major factor in the promotion of her studio. She manages her own website, as well as regularly writing posts about nutrition, healthy lifestyle, posture, Pilates exercises and delicious recipes on her Pilates Evolution Now blog. With the growing popularity of online shopping, blogging and facebook, the internet can provide small businesses with amazing networking and advertising opportunities. “It’s been so great because it’s so easy to get on my phone or my computer and just write something, even if it’s just posting an interesting link or a recipe on the facebook page or the blog…something that clients will be interested in! Social networking has worked so much better than advertising in the paper.” These days, Peta is receiving 2-5 calls a day, inquiring about Pilates Evolution Now, and 2-5 new clients each week.
Peta’s weekdays start at 7.30am; she teaches until midday, then spends a few hours cleaning the studio, updating client records and squeezing in her own Pilates practise before beginning teaching again at 3.00pm, working until 8.30pm every night. It sounds like she’s a workaholic, but this young woman is just striving towards her goals, of which she has many. “The Pilates DVDs are the first thing, of course, I want them completed within the next six months. Ideally, I don’t want to renew the lease next year. I’m a bit anal, and I want something purpose-built. I’m already looking around for land to build a new studio.” A self-confessed perfectionist with a competitive streak, she finds it difficult to delegate, a weakness she freely admits. “I’m working on it,” she says, and goes on to explain that she is training her mother to be a receptionist for her, a few nights a week at the studio. “It’s a bit hard, because I’ve been doing everything by myself for so long and I like things done a certain way. For example, if Mum uses a red pen, instead of a blue pen … I really can’t get my head around that!”
Peta plans to add more classes to the already-full schedule, find additional instructors, buy more equipment for the studio and even launch a nutrition-fitness program, which she will write and coordinate herself. At the moment, she teaches all forty classes herself, updates her blog and manages her own accounts and book-keeping. “At the end of each week, I analyse the income in versus income out of the business, and take the time to figure out exactly what’s going on. Why did we have a good week? Why was it a bad week? I always make sure that I budget. I always have a few months rent in the bank. Because working for yourself, you can’t really take sick days. You never know what could happen, and you still need to pay rent.” No one could claim she’s lacking ambition. “Sometimes, when I’m hard on myself, I just have to give myself a mental pep talk. I already have my own business, I’ve won a business award, have DVDs coming out, and I’m only 23!”
What’s the best piece of advice she can give to young women wanting start their own business? “Just give it a go!” she states, emphatically, “Know exactly what you want and don’t let anyone walk all over you. It’s great to start with a big goal, then work your way backwards and do the research. Figure out exactly what you need to do to get to that goal. It helps to get things down on paper – I’m a notorious list-maker – and think ‘Okay, why do I want this?’ When I first started, I was so young and naive and I really thought that no one would take me seriously. But you have to overcome that. Be genuine; you have to be yourself.” With infectious laughter, a bubbly personality and a competitive streak – “I want to be the best!” – there is no doubt that Peta Serras is taking her own advice. Rest assured, there are big things on the horizon for this young woman.
Peta will be attending the upcoming 10thousandgirl workshop in Newcastle. She is looking forward to the opportunity for networking and seeking further advice about her business plans from professionals in the financial services industry.
Amy is currently completing her Honours thesis in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle. Then she will go and finish her Law degree … maybe. She is also 10thousandgirl’s Local Ambassador for Newcastle.
Kaye Waterhouse discusses Letting Go in this video sharing her experiences with her own finances and her struggles with juggling university and careers and feeling like she had to do it without help. She tells her story with boldness, rawness and light. Get inspired Girls!
I have always been a daydreamer. Ever since I was little I would spend hours day dreaming about my future and about who I would be when I grew up. At the time I attended the Canberra Life Planning Workshop in June 2010 I had just turned 30 and despite amassing 30 years of day dreams I realised that I hadn’t actually achieved any of my dreams or even knew which ones I wanted to achieve. As for how to start achieving, no clue!! I kept waiting for things to fall into place, the perfect job at the perfect time, skills magically appearing to start a new hobby (and be the best rock star ever discovered), buying my dream home, starting my perfect lifestyle and obviously winning lotto to make all of this happen.
It has now been just over 12 months since I attended the Life Planning Workshop and guess what, I won lotto! Nope, telling lies, I didn’t win lotto. I did however learn to make realistic goals and that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of planning! The beauty of the workshop, and what 10thousandgirl is about, is how to identify what is important in your life, how to create goals to align with these aspects and then how to make finance work for you to support your goals.
Creating a life plan was an epiphany for me, along with the realisation that making plans and putting words/dreams into action isn’t all that hard if you view it as part of your journey. So I decided to stop waiting for things to happen for me and to start making things happen!
And to prove it’s all not talk, I actually ticked off a lot of little actions and ended up ticking off a pretty big goal. I created and launched my own range of organic bed linen that is unique and a heartfelt part of me. www.ohmabel.com.au commenced operation in April this year and have had a tremendous response to the concept. Oh Mabel may not take over the world in terms of retail or the bed linen industry, however I hope that by starting and achieving this goal, that the result will set me up to continue enjoying a life that I have created as opposed to continuing a life where I felt I was just following the well trodden line.
I feel that so much is now possible, and that is due to the tools I learnt from 10thousandgirl and their amazing Girls (thanks Zoe!) and from what I have learnt from starting Oh Mabel, is that there’s never any point in saying ‘Nope too hard’.
I am now excited about the prospect of the next 10 years and am determined to keep dreaming so that I can live them out instead of wishing. Thanks 10thousandgirl!
Thank you Sarah and your wonderful enterprise Oh Mabel looks fabulous – we all want to jump into that bed in the field :)
As part of this month’s focus on basic financial health, we thought we’d interview a young woman doing some great things for her financial wellbeing. Margie Perez is a girl who loves vintage (and all things ‘old’) and has started budgeting and tracking her spending to more creatively and efficiently reach her exciting goals. Her advice? ‘Think outside the square and be persistent with what is important to you’. She took some time to answer our questions around these topics and to share her personal experiences. Thanks Margie!
10TG: So Margie, tell us a little bit about yourself!
MP: I’m a 28 year old living in Sydney, some people describe me as a granny living in a young adult’s body! This is because of my love of vintage, antiques and anything old and pre-loved. I love events, festivals and new experiences, anything that brings people and community together in a harmonious environment, which led me to my full time job as an Event Coordinator. I am a day dreamer and I am a creative thinker which is what attracted me to the 10thousandgirl Campaign.
10TG: Tell us a little about yourself in terms of your financial background/habits/experiences before joining 10thousandgirl?
MP: I didn’t have much of an interest in my finances at all. You could say I was an emotional spender. When I was bored or feeling stressed, I would go out and buy a new dress or go buy a book or magazine to make me feel better. Along with my emotional spending I had so many dreams and aspirations but not enough action to make them happen. I realised that I needed to figure out what I really wanted and how I was going to get there.
10TG: What are some of your short term goals?
MP: My short terms goals at the moment are pay my HECs debt off, save enough money for a trip to Spain, read and research the antique markets, and to stop eating too many cookies (I’m like the cookie monster these days).
10TG: What are some of your long term goals?
MP: My short term goals align with my long term goals which are to be debt free minus my mortgage, organise my own vintage themed festivals one day, learn to speak fluent Spanish, and to eat good nutritional food.
10TG: How long have you been using a budget for?
MP: I started using a budget in December last year.
10TG: Why did you start budgeting?
MP: My partner has always used a budget and I always thought he was being a nag when he would tell me to budget. It wasn’t until I went along to a 10thousandgirl workshop and met some like-minded girls who had the same tips as him, that’s when it all sunk in. I guess I needed to learn in my own time and own space. It wasn’t until we started looking to buy our first home that I really decided to give my finances a makeover.
10TG: How do you budget?
MP: I use my phone a lot to budget. I like the iXpenselt application because it so easy to use while I’m on the run and allows me to keep track of my spending all the time. I set a budget for each area in my life e.g. I have $80.00 a month to spend on clothing, $30.00 a week for lunches etc. I stick to my budget because I know if I don’t it will take me longer, and be more difficult to reach my dreams of travelling and learning Spanish.
10TG: What are the benefits of using a budget?
MP: It helps you get to where you want to be. I’m not a money hungry person, I’m not striving to be a super wealthy. I just want to work towards living my goals and not be burdened with financial stress. By sticking to my budget I’m taking small baby steps to help my future.
10TG: How long have you tracked your spending for?
MP: Since April, it takes a more little time to get into the habit of writing down everything you spend.
10TG: What are the benefits of tracking your spending?
MP: Tracking my spending helped me identify where I was wasting my money and then evaluate if it was helping me towards living my dreams?
For example I discovered I was spending over $50.00 a month on books and magazines and then I asked myself ‘Is this really going to help me become debt free, learn Spanish, organise my own events?’ After I realised how wasteful the spending was on magazines and books, I joined my local library and now borrow old books and magazine. I love my library card and the idea that I get to read pre-loved books. It aligns with my love of old objects.
10TG: How do you track your spending?
MP: The iXpenselt application I use allows me to track every little dollar I spend. Each afternoon while I’m on the train home from work I think of what I have I have spent that day and pop it into my tracker. If you are not a technology guru a hand written notebook would do exactly the same job.
10TG: Is there anything else you would like to bring to the attention of the 10thousandgirl community?
MP: I’m an advocate for finding the beauty in things that are old around you. Be it old furniture, clothing or your even you’re Grandma.
10TG: What is the best financial tip you’ve ever received?
MP: Be creative with your finances. Think of ways you can get what you want without spending over your budget.
I wanted to go to this festival in August but it was going to leave a dent in our savings for Spain. I took some time to think creatively about how I could get there. I was persistent and emailed the event coordinator a few times expressing my interest in working at the event. A few weeks later she got in touch with me and said I was welcome to come and work with the team. She even gave me a night off to enjoy the festival. Hooray, it’s covered my costs to the festival and off I get to go!!
Think outside the square and be persistent with what is important to you.
10TG: Are there any resources related to budgeting and spending you’d like to share?
MP: I love my iXspenselt application, also the book ‘The Total Money Makeover’ by Dave Ramsey is a great eye opener.
We hope you’ve enjoyed and been inspired by Margie’s story. Are you budgeting and tracking your spending? If so, how? Share your experience and inspire others in the comments section below.
Click Play above to listen or here to download!
This is our first episode in our new podcast series where we will be discussing topics and issues relevant to us and featuring people around a range of themes to give us, the 10thousandgirl community, insight, inspiration and information to expand our learnings and the Ripple Effect.
10thousandgirl Workshops & Events
A reminder that our next series of workshops are starting in July with three new tours! We’ll be heading around central/north east NSW, then up to Alice Springs and around the Barkly Tablelands in the NT, then back down around southern NSW and through central Victoria to end up in Melbourne just before Christmas. Fancy joining us? Come to a workshop or join us on the road as a volunteer.
In the coming month…
Canberra – 30th July
Orange/Bathurst – 13/14th August 2011
Young – 20th August 2011
Dubbo – 21st August 2011
Tamworth/Armidale – 27/28th August
To find what other towns we’re visiting and to get your tickets head here.
Remember, if we’re not in your town this year, you can start a GIG (Girl Investment Group) at any time.
Featured 10thousandgirl Guest: Zoe Lamont
Zoe is the instigator of the 10thousandgirl Campaign and has produced the Life Planning Workshop with contributions from experts from all areas of life coaching and business planning. Zoe is a certified business coach formerly with ActionCOACH, a Practitioner in NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and an Avatar Master for spiritual development. She has a degree in public relations and organisational communication and has recently graduated from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Australia. Zoe runs a creative agency for social business design, The Fuelthinking Group, which creates and develops projects such as an education program for children in Burma and the continual evolvement of the world’s first online political party Senator Online . She writes a blog exploring ways toward the fairer distribution of wealth, knowledge and power “A Natural Order”. She grew up on a farm near Wagga Wagga and now lives between Canberra and Sydney.
Thank you and we look forward to bringing you another magical podcast episode next month!
This is an article that was brought to our attention via the Everyday Health website. Jillian Michaels interviews Suze Orman about her life experiences and her new book and 10thousandgirl believes it may give you a dose of inspiration! Enjoy! By Jillian Michaels
Jillian sat down with personal finance superstar Suze Orman for an exclusive, candid chat about her life’s ups and downs, her achievements, and her new book, ‘The Money Class.
JM: I love this story so much because you took a major setback and turned it into an opportunity. Your dream of opening your own restaurant was shattered and additionally you were now $50,000 dollars in debt. This scenario would have devastated most people, and yet you accepted the intervention of fate, found meaning in it, learned from it and subsequently the woman you are today was born. How would you advise someone who is suffering a major failure or setback to not give up and fall apart? How does one “turn lemons into lemonade”?
SO: You have to understand every “no” leads you that much closer to a “yes.” When one door closes another door opens. A great teacher once taught me that you’ve got to have faith that everything happens for the best. I have had many setbacks in my career and every setback has led me that much further into my truth. After a few years of being a stockbroker, in 1987 I opened up my own firm and had another major setback where one of my employees ripped off all my money. It closed me down for a year or two and I ended up $250,000 in debt.
That situation turned out to be the greatest thing that every happened to me because that’s where I learned to stand in my truth. That’s where I learned that the truth will always lead you to a better place and a bigger place. And every single setback, every single one, has led me — not in my time, but in the time that it was meant to happen — to a place that I never in a million years could have imagined that I could go or become. So the greatest advice I could give you is the lesson I was taught: that you’d better have faith that everything happens for the best. Nothing happens in your life that isn’t something that you are meant to learn to get you where you need to go so you can become who you are meant to be. And that meant-to-be might be someone you don’t even know exists at this moment in time.
JM: This brings me to my next question. You mention 30 years in this business. In that time you have written many best-selling books on money. Why another book on money? Why The Money Class? Why now? What makes this book different?
SO: I really thought in 2007 when I wrote Women and Money that it would be my last major book on finance. Maybe I would write a book on my journey, my memoir so to speak, but as for finance that would be that. And then 2008 happened and 2009 and 2010 and I knew during those three years that the world of money had changed and it was very probable that it would never change back to how it was before. And that the advice I had given before was not advice I would give now. The dream of owning a home turned into a dream of getting out of a home because people were now upside-down in their homes and all they wanted to do was to rent an apartment and be free. The dream of having one’s dream job turned into “Oh my God, I’ll take any job. I’ve been out of work for two years now. I don’t care what I do. I’ll do anything because I don’t have any money”.
So it was at the end of 2010 that I realized this financial debacle was not ending anytime soon, and that I wanted to write one more book. People needed to go back to class to learn about money all over again. Hence the title The Money Class. And the subtitle of that book is “Learn to create your new American dream”. I wanted to give people the ability once again to realize that they can still dream, but it has to be a new American dream that’s based in honesty, integrity, and security — a dream that allows you to sleep at night, a dream that is attainable and allows you to stand in your truth. So it was actually a very important book for me to write and for America to read.
JM: If someone could take one major tip from the book, what would it be?
SO: Stand in your truth! This book is made up of nine classes, the second of which is to stand in your truth. You can’t build a foundation on lies. You can’t build a future if you do not know who you are. You can’t become who you are meant to be if you can’t tell the truth about who you are, what you have, and everything about your life. The truth is the absolute essence to your success, while lies are the absolute essence to your failures. People were not truthful in terms of what they could afford. The entire economy seemed to be based on lies, deceit, and greed. But we do not need to rehash history, for we all have felt what happened over the past three years. In this book, I leave the lies behind and create new truths. I weave the “stand in your truth” class into the most vital financial areas of your life: retirement, careers, families, and real estate. If you care about your financial life, you had best read this book. It is like no other, and that is the truth…
One of our favourite 10thousandgirls, Marie Delaitre generously shares her journey, tips and lessons from playing her way into the sharemarket.
Would you like to have fifty thousand dollars to invest in the sharemarket?
The ASX sharemarket game allows you to play with fifty thousand ‘pretend’ dollars (risk free), and learn about the sharemarket for three months. It sounded like a good deal to me, so I signed up!
Three months later, I made a nice little profit of $3,694 … ok, a ‘pretend’ profit of $3,694. In the game, 21% of the 10,000 players made a profit. I came 92nd in NSW (out of 3,300 players), which is not bad for a first time player and novice.
Here is what I can share with you.
- Buy what you can afford. If your investments are going to keep you up at night and have you constantly fretting on share price movements, it could end up driving you batty. Keep it simple and fun.
- Do your own research. Don’t just follow what someone else has to say. People can seem very knowledgeable about ‘a good company to invest in’, but it’s your money, your risk.
- Good companies come good in the long term. Hang in there through price dips; remember that shares are long term investments. During the game, when a market rumour about one of my companies made the price fall – I panicked and quickly sold out at a loss (even though I had bought because I knew it to be a solid company). The price eventually came back up, but I had already sold. It was a good learning experience.
- Have a plan. Know whether you are making a gain or loss along the way (know your rate of return – is it better than putting money in the bank?), and know when you will step out.
- Diversify. Don’t put all your money in the one company/industry (the ASX game makes you do this by default, you can’t have more that a certain percentage of your portfolio in one company). This means that if one company/ industry does badly, you don’t lose all your money.
- If you are investing and researching yourself, it can be time consuming, know how much time you wish to invest too.
- Don’t just ‘guess’ – build a strategy based on facts, not hunches. I created a watchlist of ASX companies who have 2 or more women on their Board of Directors – and started to track their performance over 4 month. So far, the results are not as magical as I had expected. What sounds good in theory, may not work out in the market. The watchlist functionality on the ASX website is a good way of seeing how a share performs, without actually investing.
- Keep your records straight! When buying real shares, ensure some of the routine stuff is completed from the outset – eg: have you given the company instructions to pay your dividends directly to your bank account, are you able to participate in a dividend re-investment plan, do they have your tax file number?
Lessons from playing
- During the game, having a ranking helped me feel ‘confident’ that I was doing fine. If my shares went down, but so did the leader, then I wasn’t worried. When this was not the case, I spent more time looking at whether the shares from one company were being significantly affected. Outside the game, I will try to follow an index which resembles my portfolio to keep my confidence up – and calm my nerves.
- I checked on my portfolio once or twice a week during the game. The newsletters from the game were a good prompt to check on my portfolio. I did not make too many changes – once I chose a company to buy into, I held on to it.
- Buying small packets of shares (less than $1,000) can make it hard to make a good return in the short term due to brokerage fees.
My friends have asked me whether I would do the same things if it was my own money – and to be honest, whilst I really liked the profit I made in the game – if I had $50,00 I would be afraid to just invest it in the way I did. So my goal is to start with small investment bundles – use the principles and habits I have been learning to build a portfolio over time.
I suspect that when I read this in a few years time, I will have leant new things and methods, but this is one of the first steps – and I wanted to share it with others who are thinking of buying shares on the sharemarket directly.
Possible actions to get you started:
- Your first investment in the sharemarket could be an investment in learning about the market, while you save up to buy some of your own shares. The ASX runs the game twice a year, and you need to pre-register. Check online at www.asx.com.au for the next registration date.
- Choose one or two companies to follow (put them on your ASX watchlist)– and when you have enough saved up and are ready to try investing, buy some shares using an online trading account. Small investments build up, and over time, you will be glad you took a step in!
Marie is actively involved in a GIG (Girl Investment Group) in Sydney. The group of 8 meet in one of the girl’s homes each month and learn about the basic financial principles; how and when to invest in shares and property, what the options are when it comes to choosing a managed fund, how to be proactive when it comes to super and insurance and what new investment opportunities are becoming available in the fields of ethical or responsible investing. Most importantly, the girls are clear on their plans and goals and keep each other accountable to staying on track. Oh and they manage to have a vino, laugh hysterically and make sure everyone’s love lives are tracking along well too… To start a GIG in your area, check the website or contact 10thousandgirl to see if there are others looking for like minds to form a group near you.