Interview: The 23 Year Old Aussie Girl With $50k in Savings!
An estimated 43% of young Australians are living at home. Rising property prices and our famous millennial behaviour means moving out just isn’t as high on our list of priorities as another $8 bag of nutritional yeast. But, is there anything wrong with living at home? In theory, no. Homes are expensive, and rent is money that could be saved. But are millennials really stashing that money that would be spent on rent and teaching themselves life lessons? Who knows. In the case of 23 year old Jacqueline, she’s recognised that her time at home with her parents shouldn’t be wasted, and has come up with a savings plan that’s already stashed her $50k towards her first home – and she still travels overseas and enjoys social outings. Here’s what she had to say:
Hi Jacqueline, thanks so much for being a part of The Broke Generation’s interview series. Tell us a little about yourself – your age, job/career, passions, etc.
Hi Emma! Okay, so I am 23 years old, lucky to be living in Melbourne! I work full-time at an office job for a top 4 bank, not earning crazy amounts of money, but the whole point of my savings journey, is about making whatever your financial situation is work for you to best of your abilities! That’s what my Instagram @hotformoney is all about, really.
I think as a millennial you are often told that the world is your oyster and you have the opportunity to be whatever you want to be. For some that is a dream come true, for me it is absolutely nerve-wrecking. Not to mention, they don’t tell you that becoming whatever you want to be usually comes with the price of a HECS debt (student debt). In the midst of my current existential crisis, I am focusing on saving money before anything else. I don’t know what I want to do career-wise in 5 years’ time, but I want to be financially comfortable.
Something I feel really strongly about is the lack of education in school around money, and the financial consequences of doing things society lead you to believe you should – like university.
I’ve been able to save $50k so far, largely due to the fact that I live with my parents. It has taken me 5 years to save that, but in that time I have travelled to the Philippines, New York and Japan. I completely understand how lucky I am to be able to have a good enough relationship with my parents where staying at home works for both sides.
For anyone who has the opportunity to live at home, I strongly recommend it. There is a lot of stigma for young people to appear like they have “made it” by moving out, but I think if you truly don’t want to, don’t feel like you have to – but make sure you’re saving!
That’s a really gracious way of explaining your lifestyle, Jacqueline – thank you. If you had to categorise yourself as either a saver or a spender, which would it be?
Saver! I get it from my dad. He is almost too frugal! He is super content at staying at home and finding hobbies that cost nothing. I try to be like him a lot.
How would you describe your relationship with money and finance? Are you a ‘save it for a rainy day’ gal or do you treat yo’self more often than you should?
I split it in the middle! There have been times that I have been too focussed on saving money. Yeah, I saved, but it stressed me out a lot. I was saying no to seeing my friends or to meals out and I wasn’t happy. I think you need to try to plan for a bit of both in your life so you don’t go crazy!
That’s really interesting actually. I’ve been working on a piece about the similarities between disordered spending and disordered eating – it’s a bit controversial but I think there are similarities, particularly in obsessive restriction. So, why do you think you’re like this with money? Can you trace it back to any habits you formed as a child, or lessons learned from your upbringing?
My family is a bit interesting and I mention them because I attribute my savings habits to them. My father is a lot older than most. He established himself in his career, built his own house and has enabled my mother and I to live comfortably, not lavishly by any means, but to a point where I don’t think I ever heard my parents having struggles with bills. My mother on the other hand, came from the Philippines and from a very poor background. She is still working, but in the past her focus was saving enough money to be able to send back home to ensure her family can live a better life. Now she is taking more time to save for her.
What I am forever grateful for is that she saved most of the money I got as a child as gifts and put it into a bank account for me. As I entered into the workforce I already had some savings there for me to add onto, as well as the values my parents had instilled in me.
How do you budget? Do you have any exciting or unusual tips?!
Honestly it is nothing revolutionary. I have a budget but I am not strict with it because you cannot plan for every single thing! If an unexpected outing comes up with a friends I don’t think you should always say no because you’re afraid of spending. What I do is when my pay comes in, automatically I take $1000.00 from that pay and put it straight away into my high interest ING account. The leftover money stays in my everyday account for me to use for that fortnight, whether it is to pay for any bills that I have, pay for public transport or any social outings that may come up. Part of the left over money will go into my Stockspot account as well. Once I have the leftover money, there will always be a mental note in my head of how much I have in my everyday account. I never like going under $100.00 in my everyday account. It feels scary to me.
Never going under $100 – that’s a cool idea. Thanks for the Stockspot tip too! We love hearing about platforms to get started with investing. So are you a cash or card gal? Do you find using one or the other helps with your spending?
I don’t have a credit card, that is too scary for me. I use my debit card a lot though. The reason why I do is due to my ING high interest savings account giving me a 2.8% interest rate if I transfer $1000.00 into it every month and use my debit card 5 times in that same month. It is an awesome way to earn some cash for money that is already sitting in your account.
Yes! We’re big fans of ING here! In theory, everyone would like to have more money – but how close would you say you are to being happy with your financial situation?
I tend to be a glass half empty person. I fail to recognise how far I have come, my focus is always on what left there is that I have to do. I am proud of my saving habits and the thought I put into my finances, however I get overwhelmed at the fact that you need a lot of money to be able to buy your own place and fend for yourself! I have a really strong awareness of the fact that my comfortableness is largely due to the fact that I haven’t really had to struggle like other people do.
Okay, a fun one. You find a $50 note in an old wallet – what do you do with it?
Deposit that sucker straight into my bank account. Cannot hide from me now!
Haha that’s a very sensible answer! Describe an average day in your wallet. What do you spend on a day-to-day basis?
I eat with my family at home and take leftovers to work for lunch. I Spend around $9 a day for my public transport commute to work. If I want to buy any extra food I will try to stick to $5 and under for snacks and under $15 for a meal. However, during the week I would probably do two social activities, with my partner or friends so I would spend cash then as well.
What would you say is the one thing you spend too much on? Do you have any money-sucking habits, passions or obsessions?
I have definitely improved, but a lot of my money goes to ASOS and buying new clothes. I think your emotions play a huge part in your spending habits. If I am bored or sad, a bit of online shopping will definitely perk me up. I can spend a bit when I am out with friends or my partner, but I don’t regret the money spent on experiences with loved ones. The same goes for travelling. I have been really lucky to go on an overseas trip about once a year, because living with parents allows me to be able to budget for them.
Totally agree on the emotional spending thing. I used to do ASOS orders at uni if I was feeling down about myself. It’s kind of like a way to reinvent yourself. Do you think you’re better off, worse off or the same as you expected you’d be by your current stage of life?
I have only recently started thinking about my future and planning for it now. I don’t think I was mature enough back then to plan ahead. I think I was busy living in the now. I think there is definitely a correlation between your spending habits and how much you do think about the future. I think that is why I am so much more mindful with my money now.
If you could go back 5 years and change one thing about your finances, what would you change and why?
When I was younger I was definitely addicted to online shopping. I have so many shoes and clothing items that I do not wear, and I think about that all of these items were once money in my account that I could have saved instead of spent. I am now in the process of trying to sell these forsaken items. However, hindsight is a beautiful thing so I have definitely learnt from those experiences. I am now aware of the fact that my time equals money, so I would have told my younger self to just be a bit more mindful about where you money is actually going, and how many hours of work it is actually costing you to buy specific things.
Lots of people we’ve spoken to are mentioning the ‘time is money thing’. It’s a very interesting way of looking at finance. Okay, last question! What is one current financial goal you have?
Since starting my Instagram my goals have changed, but only slightly. I thought I was saving to be able to build a small granny flat behind my parents’ house for me to live in, but there are certain rules and regulations that prevent that from happening. For now, I just want to save $100,000.00. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, but I’ll deal with that once I have it saved!
Jacqueline, thank you so much for chatting to me! Your insights are really interesting and I think a lot of young Australians are in a similar situation as you, but perhaps not yet saving as much as they should. I think you’ll really inspire people!
Follow Jacqueline’s journey to $100k on Instagram at @hotformoney.