Hello friends, and Happy New Year!!!
I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season and feeling rested, refreshed, and inspired for the year to come! This time of the year always calls for reflection and aspiration, so today I’m sharing with you my 2018 money wins – the best things I did for myself financially. I’ll also share with you my financial goals for the year to come.
Money Win No.1 I did a 0% balance transfer
I shared a little about this in How I’m Paying Off My Debt Faster | 3 Easy Ways. Instead of letting the interest-free period on my credit card balance pass and consider it sorted if I met the minimum payments, I said “no thanks” to 25.99% interest and transferred it to my bank. More than just the benefit of having tons of time to pay off the balance, the peace of mind I had made it easily one of the best financial decisions I made last year.
Money Win No.2 I made the most of banking discounts
A little extra thing I did was add my partner to the credit card – we already had joint bank accounts, so it was no biggie. The transferred balance is 100% my responsibility and he doesn’t help me out with it, nor do I expect him to, so you might be asking: why? Because having him meant that I had zero account fees – score! My partner’s job in workforce analytics involves forecasting for insurance teams within ASB, BNZ, Westpac, Co-Op and SBS Bank. His staff discount at our bank meant that the fees for opening our new account were waived. As a bonus, him having access keeps me accountable (no shopping sprees for me!).
Money Win No.3 I increased my income
As you may know, I worked part-time for two years and searched only for part-time job opportunities as a way to keep doing what I love, such as volunteering. I earned everything I needed from a combination of this part-time work, rental income, and money from side hustles & passion projects. Well, that all changed recently. My partner and I got engaged in October, so to help save up for our wedding & honeymoon, in November I got my first full-time job since early 2017!
Money Win No.4 …But reduced my expenses
With a lot more financial freedom, it would’ve been easy to give myself permission to buy more now that I was earning more, a common phenomenon called ‘lifestyle inflation’. But I decided to reduce my expenses instead. I talked about minimising my gym membership and phone bill in How I Saved $232 a Month While Looking for a Job | One Year Update, but last week I ticked another one off the list: my insurance payments. By increasing my excesses and removing extra benefits I can afford to be without, I’ll be saving over $200 in premiums over the year.
Money Win No.5 I got super savvy with shopping
This money win is made up of a few things. Even after adopting the minimalist lifestyle, I still love shopping – albeit a lot less than I used to. I’m proud to say I now practise a few smart, savvy shopping habits:
1. I stopped impulse shopping. Old Sophia impulse shopped a lot. Nowadays, I rarely buy anything the first time I see it, thanks to the patience to comparison shop, research, and use wishlists! To me, wishlists are the perfect antidote to impulse shopping. In 2018, most things I bought had spent months on my online store wishlists, while half the things I thought I wanted were eventually removed. It takes only seconds to create an account, and the psychological benefits are worth it.
2. I make consumables last. Food, beauty, and personal hygiene products are things we will all buy indefinitely, so why not find ways to save on them? It may sound simple, but things like picking fresh fruit & veges with the latest expiration date (usually hidden in the back, or under everything) makes a huge difference, as does halving huge boxes of takeout for another meal. Beauty wise, I also like to apply organic rosehip or argan oil as a base to my face before moisturiser, and mix in extra water to my micellar water. Everything has lasted so much longer and cost me less time and money to replace. Plus, less trips to the supermarket or department store!
3. I double up on discounts, promos & perks. A few times this year I was given store credit or a gift card, like $60 for Forever New and $50 for T2. Old me would’ve been happy with simply not having to spend my own money, but in 2018 I chose a more patient approach and waited for double the perks. With Forever New, I waited until they had a 20% off sale and bought a black lace playsuit on my wishlist. Along with the store credit, the savings were huge. For T2, I also waited until they had a promotion – 3 for 2 – before using my gift card. I got to choose three delicious teas, pay only for two, and still have enough on my gift card balance for another purchase down the line!
Money Win No.6 My partner and I got an Entertainment membership
Bought to save us money on our hotel while on holiday, we spent $70 but have saved so much more on Sunday brunches and dinner dates, and also movie tickets and clothing alterations! For us, it was worth the purchase. I share more in Is the Entertainment Book worth it?.
Goal #1: $18,000
I’m getting married in 2020! My joint goal with my partner is to pay off both our wedding and honeymoon well before the end of the year – about $18,000 (this doesn’t include the wedding dress, suit, wedding bands etc). Our wedding is going to be incredibly intimate, costing less than most weddings, but our dream honeymoon is a more expensive option we were happy to go with because of what it means to us. Having put a realistic savings plan in place, I’m feeling optimistic about this one.
Goal #2: Bye Bye Credit Card
This year I’d like to pay off and close my credit card once and for all. Later down the line, my partner and I might look at getting a credit card with perks.. But not just any credit card. Cashback? Airpoints? Cheap movie nights? There are so many out there, but I’m not fully convinced on any yet.. Has anyone got recommendations?
(Another future goal is switching to an ethical, New Zealand owned bank.)
Goal #3: Do a No Spend Month
In 2018 I read a lot of great personal finance books, one of them being The No Spend Year. For a year, personal finance journalist Michelle McGagh bought absolutely nothing except the necessities. The challenge is to be creative and still have fun when you have such rules in place: No shopping. No entertainment. No eating out. No subscriptions. I can’t even imagine an entire no spend year, but I’m very curious and even a little excited about challenging myself to a no spend month! The book is quite London centric, and it can be tough to relate to a city I’ve never lived in before, so I’m hoping that by doing this challenge, I can also document my journey and inspire others in a way that’s relatable to Aucklanders and New Zealanders.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my 2018 money wins and 2019 goals and perhaps even found some inspiration for the coming year. Wishing you all an incredible year ahead!