A literal idiot's guide to being money smart

This isn’t financial advice.

Because let’s be honest, someone who pays $450 a week in rent for a room just because it has a private sun terrace isn’t someone who should be giving advice on how to make smart financial decisions.

In fact, I’m so bad with money that I’m pretty sure that in the six billion possible parallel universes that could exist not one would contain a version of me who is some sort of Barefoot Investor because it would be too far of a stretch.

I'm essentially Tom Haverford: I live by a "treat yo'self" mentality and I believe my money will be made thanks to some great get rich quick idea/winning the lotto without ever actually buying a ticket.   

So, you can imagine my surprise yesterday when I started working out my finances. I mean, yes I was on a codeine high after my recent laryngitis diagnosis BUT, I now feel like someone who is living her best financial life… well, I’m at least someone who is being a smidgen smarter with her dollars.

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This is what I learnt whilst trying to make it rain:

  1. Always measure out the codeine. You can’t just do a shot of the liquid good stuff and hope it’s the recommended 5ml. It won’t be.

  2. The technology you use matters. When you get repeatedly get mad at your mobile screen for being so small remember that you have a laptop and log into that instead. It’s easier to see the big financial picture when you can actually see the whole picture on your screen.

  3. Past me is a financial idiot. Turns out past me rather than cancelling her five Netbank Saver accounts (each containing various amounts under $5 in them) just hid the accounts from her view so she wouldn’t have to deal with them.

  4. Actually check the current interest rates. For reasons that obviously exist outside the activities of the Reserve Bank I thought my primary saving account was receiving an interest rate of around 4%. You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was only 0.8%.  

  5. Past me is a financial genius. Turns out two of those non-closed Netbank Saver accounts actually had a higher interest rate than the one I was using! So, I transferred my savings to the account with the highest rate. In your face, Commonwealth Bank you just got played!

  6. Divvy up your savings. I asked myself realistically how much money I would need in a situation requiring quick access to dollars and put that amount aside. Then for the rest of the money, I opened an account that locks the money away but attracts a higher interest rate if I don’t touch it. The key here is being realistic. There’s no point putting the money in a lock away account and then trying to access it two days later.   

  7. Baby steps. Just because I made two really great financial decisions before 10am on a Saturday morning didn’t mean I was now some sort of money whisperer who should start investing in Bitcoin. Walk before you attempt to run.

  8. The limit doesn’t exist. You can’t spend money if it’s not there. So, using that rationale I set up a regular scheduled payment directly from my everyday account to my savings account to occur every payday #moneyhack

  9. Watch those zeroes. When setting up that scheduled payment make sure you type in the amount correctly because, $500 and $5000 are two totally different numbers and I am not the type of person who is earning more than $5000 a fortnight. Realise your error, cancel the payment and start the process again. Default dodged.

  10. Own up to your spending. “Treat yo’self” is exactly that... a treat. You can’t treat yo’self everyday and then be surprised when you have no money. Well, you can but it’s called denial. Going through my transactions was both financially sobering and helpful because I have identified habits that if I cut out might save me some dollars. But, let’s be honest I will still continue to “treat yo’self” because I am worth it.

  11. Don’t be tempted by the bank offers. It’s no surprise there is currently a Royal Commission into Australian banks when you see an offer for a $50,000 personal loan that could be approved in less than 10 minutes. As tempting as it is to book that holiday to Israel, don’t do it. Close the window and just take the offer as a financial compliment.      

  12. Reward yourself with reward points. After going through my transactions I started to notice spending patterns. For example, because of my geographical location I do all my grocery shopping at Woolworths. So, I signed up for a Woolworths loyalty card because for every $1 I spend I earn 1 Woolworths point and for every 2000 points I earn I get a $10 voucher which is pretty much free money.

  13. Credit card awards. Now, I’m pretty fortunate because I don’t have debt (that or, I’m an idiot for not buying a house when they were actually affordable and not million dollar crack dens) so, I do most of my spending on my credit card to get the award points and then repay my credit card when I get paid.

  14. Baby steps god damn it. Just because you have moved some money around and have started referring to yourself as Kochie doesn’t mean you now get to go onto realestate.com and start looking into investment properties. .   

And, there we have it - a literal idiot’s guide at attempting to be money smart.

NOTE: I didn’t close those other Netbank saver accounts; I just hid them again.    

NOTE: I’m writing this post whilst sitting on my private sun terrace so, who’s the sucker now?