Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

When Shit Happens

A few weeks ago, my colleague & friend Lucius asked me, “Hey Sophia, you know your personal finance blog.. What about when shit happens?”

My response: “When shit happens? Do you mean like having money for an emergency fund?” He said yes.

So I told him I’d thought about writing about this, and the times I’d had to use mine (a brief period of unemployment, taking my car to get fixed at the expensive Mini Garage, etc). However, I was currently in a strange position as I had a large emergency fund that I was planning to use as my soon-to-be wedding fund and therefore, may soon need to start fresh. I offered, “You’re welcome to write a guest blog if you like!”

So here is the result, my friends. Please note that we have different opinions on our job, where I get to round out my financial experience in insurance, banking and tax; where we work in a tall building in my favourite suburb overlooking the Sky Tower & city skyline on one side and the majestic Mt Rangitoto & ocean on the other; where the pay is average but having a few other income streams makes it manageable; and where the job itself can be challenging (also, but less often, rewarding) but our team is amazing to work with. That being said, his thoughts are also completely true, valid, and hilarious. Enough of my rambling – enjoy!

Hello to all of Sophia’s readers. As you all might have guessed I have the fortunate “privilege” of working in a dead-end, shitty job wishing that some random shitstain would just throw you off the top floor of the excrement filled building… Motherfucker! A call centre job is not only career suicide, it presents you with constant and elevated stress due to dealing with the very dregs of society, being monitored like criminals by management, and more importantly, shit-all pay. With the cost of living only going up and the value of the dollar diminishing every year; our standard of living has been worse than it’s ever been.

Being more tight-fisted, finances has become a certain necessity for some and a daily struggle for many. Indulging in luxuries once in a blue moon could shove you into paupacy for a few weeks, while a catastrophic event like a car crash or medical condition could tumble you headfirst into financial ruin… And this is exactly why Sophia has invited me to be a guest blogger: to tell you how to prepare when the metaphorical shit/excrement/faeces/turd hits the fan.

Accidents happen, life is shit and shit happens; moral of the story is shit! Personally, when shit happens to me, it happens all at once. Not only did I crash my vehicle (my fault), the garage door malfunctioned, vehicle tyres needed urgent replacing and I had already pre-ordered re-enactment equipment that needed to be paid off that week. Fortunately, I was able to and am still able to pay these off and multiple times over should I need to. You can budget wisely and save to prematurely prepare for said unforeseeable event(s) that would put many ordinary civilians into crippling debt. I call it: managing micro-transactions.

Sun Tzu (shitstain) once said that the leadership of many is the same as leadership of a few; it is only a matter of organisation. Believe it or not, the management of micro-transactions can make the difference between having a safety net to fall back on or hanging yourself with your neighbour’s extension cord that you had to “borrow” due to financial depression. Saving a small sum on hundreds of small transactions can be much more effective than saving on big ones; the key point is to live within your means. I’m not here to tell you about how to manage your fixed costs, but to educate you wretched shits by how you can save over the long term by breakdown down your variable costs. Let me give you a few examples:

“The most dangerous drinking game is to see how long I can go without coffee”, so the popular saying goes. Everyone loves a good cup of coffee in the morning to kick-start their day. For many people, indulging in a cup of coffee has become a daily routine, for some it has become a quasi-religious ritual. I know certain individuals who cannot and will not start without having their fix. With cafes sprawling all over and showing no sign of stopping, it seems that drinking out is the new norm.

The only problem with this is that most coffee places charge up to $5.00 per cup of shit. A colleague of mine used to get 2 coffees to start his morning before shift. Right there, right off the bat, he’s already spending $10 that morning – $50 per week = $2,600 per year. Just down the road, he can get filtered coffee for $2.50 per cup, effectively cutting his coffee cost in half. In fact, you can go further with saving. If he did what I did and get powdered coffee from the office for free, he would have a lot more spending power.

I know what you’re going to say: “… but powder coffee isn’t the same as filtered…”, yeah I know, but just hear me out you fucking dipshits. Is filtered coffee really a necessity or a luxury? Consider the difference between necessities and luxuries. When you determine those items in your life, aim to limit or eliminate luxuries and accumulate value on your necessities.

At my workplace, there are these cookies that you can buy for $2.50. Supposedly “guilt free” because the proceeds go to charity so you get happily gain weight knowing that you’re helping those kids in Nigeria or something. What you should know is that those kids are doing shit to help pay your rent, so why bother? It’s an unnecessary transaction that will cost you in the long run. $2.50 per cookie doesn’t sound that bad at all considering that it’s several steps away from your cubicle, you can put your name in the promissory list for future payment if you don’t have the money at the time and it’s relatively “cheap” compared to prices set by most other bakeries and cafes around for a similar sized cookie.

BUT… a) is it really a necessity? And b) what are your other options? First, it is NOT a necessity, secondly a 9 pack of Cookie Time is a far better option in both quantity and quality (please sponsor me if you’re seeing this Cookie Time). You can get it for $9.00 on special; that’s $1 per cookie that tastes leagues better than that shitbox for $2.50 which tastes like dogshit sprinkled with sugar. Let me give you a breakdown on what you can save:

Per 9 cookies, with the shitbox cookies, you’re spending $22.50 vs Cookie Time’s $9 for a 9-pack. That’s $13.50 in savings per pack of 9 or $1.50 saved per cookie. Let’s say you have 9 cookies per fortnight, that’s more than $350 saved per year from switching cookie brands. Am I inflating the figures a little? Not really. In this workplace, people overeat the sweet stuff and have seen the charity cookies get demolished a couple of days after being restocked. Therefore, it’s not crazy to assume that people comfort eat to that extent, at least in a fucking call centre.

Eating out has become convenient and tasty, some would say that you can eat out cheap. However, whoever says this are talking utter shit. Instead of eating out, how about packing your own lunch? I personally don’t eat much at all for breakfast and lunch due to intestinal issues, so I suppose I have it easy. I see my colleagues eating out every day, one even gets herself breakfast and lunch (at the same place, might I add). She spends $4.50 on a muffin or sausage roll for breakfast and $12.50 for lunch at some sushi place. With the assumption that she continues to do this for the whole year, 5 times a week, she’s projected to have spent $4,420 per year on her breakfast and lunch habit alone. Quite honestly, this is a low estimate given that this doesn’t include what she may have with her partner during the weekends. I’m also not claiming to be a saint here. Remember what I said about my intestinal issues. I substitute my food for breakfast and lunch with gum. I have a ravenous gum habit where I used to go through 3-4 packs of gum per week. I calculated that to be between $400 – $520 per year. I have mitigated that cost, not only by electing to buy my gum in bulk at the supermarket instead, but also by reducing the amount of gum I can have by 2 packs per week. Gum at the supermarket sells at $2 per pack, the new projected annual spending on gum turns out to be just over $200. Since I work in a call centre, I can’t afford to eat during breakfast and lunch during the workdays should I happen to get intestinal exorcism and be away from my desk 6-8 times that day.

I’m not at all saying that people are wrong in eating out, they can do whatever they want with their hard-earned money. If you do, however, want to make small steps towards saving for an unforeseeable event (or a series of unfortunate events), even reducing how many times per week you eat out would be a fantastic start.

Having worked in a gym before, I understand how many gyms are able to rake in the income. According to my previous manager, 60-70% of membership revenue comes from “sleepers” who attend the gym <2 times per fortnight. If you have a gym membership, how many times per week do you attend and how intensely do you train? Here is my opinion on this matter: that if you’re not attending your gym at least 3 times per week, you’re wasting your money.

Consider this: you purchase a gym membership to maintain a healthy lifestyle or to attain a certain fitness level, but you only attend 2 times that week. Do you really think that you’ll reach your goals by only attending 2 times per week? Highly doubtful. If you’ve got a gym membership and you don’t see results or are getting worse, cancel your membership, you are wasting your money! Membership varies, but usually costs between $6.95 – $15.00 per week (depending on the gym) and that doesn’t include joining and admin fees. That’s $360 – $780 per year that you could have been using for something else. You can get awesome results from using the gym and highly suggest it if you can commit. However, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet alone; as the popular saying goes: “Abs are made in the kitchen”.

I don’t know what micro-transactions are in your own life: video games, drinking out, shopping, clown shoes, whatever. But there are ways in which you can reduce your variable costs and live within your means. Moral of this story: if you work in a call centre, your life is shit.

By Lucius

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One thought on “When Shit Happens

  1. Pingback: Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 3 | Mindful with Money

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