How I Finally Got On Top Of My Money

How to get on top of things.

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

If you asked me a year ago if I cared about my financial future, I would probably ask you to repeat the question. The slurping from my gigantic $22 cocktail would have drowned it out.

Because a year ago, I couldn’t give two flying fucks about my financial health. I lived for the moment. I YOLO’ed. I spent $120 on a dress I only wore once. The future was way too far away for me to even care that I had nothing but $5 to my name. And I wanted to spend it on a latte.

But living pay check to pay check was a nightmare. I’d have to borrow money off my parents, my sister, even my partner. It was like living on the edge in a very not-fun way. Everything feels terrifying when you don’t have financial stability.

So I decided to pull my head in and get serious. Here’s what helped me.

#1 Barefoot Investor

The Barefoot Investor was, for a long time, the book equivalent of going to the dentist. People kept telling me to read it, but I kept saying it could wait. It sounded tedious and a pain in the ass.

But I’m so glad I caved. The best thing that the Barefoot Investor taught me is how to organise my money. The book breaks down different “buckets” that your money should be direct debited into each pay cycle, giving each dollar a home. It meant I was growing my savings without having to give up anything.

Looking back, my biggest financial failing has always been that I didn’t know what to do with my money. So I’d always handle it how I thought you should: spend it.

But now I know how disastrous that was. Your money should always have a home and a purpose.

#2 Dave Ramsey Show

OK, this one is a bit odd, I’ll admit. A few weeks after I inhaled the Barefoot Investor and started divvying up my money into buckets, I came across the insanely popular Dave Ramsey Show podcast.

Dave Ramsey is a middle-aged god-fearing evangelist who teaches people about smart money. He’s got a classic ’80s opening tune, a thick southern American drawl and he answers calls from people all over America who are in dire financial need. His biggest thing is helping people get out of debt. He thinks any type of credit is a huge no-no. He’s insanely, insanely popular.

Ramsey’s podcast is super preachy, really intense and really motivating. I can’t stop listening to it.

Sure, I have to turn it down on the train because I’m embarrassed that someone will look over my shoulder and think, “what the actual fuck” but it’s definitely helped shape my outlook on money. His no nonsense attitude is exactly what I need when I think I “deserve” a muffin from the cafe.

Just rice and beans for me, thanks.

#3 Feeling Totally Fine About What I Already Had

The other two were easy. This revelation took a lot of work.

Staying on top of my money is about looking at my bedroom, my clothes, my pantry and telling myself that they’re completely OK the way they are. I might not have the flashiest of things – and boy, does that suck – but I’ve got everything I need to live comfortably. It’s a sacrifice you have to make to save more money and enjoying way flashier things later on.

By no means has all this transformed me into a millionaire. But I do have a modest fund to fall back on in case things go awry, which feels like permission to breathe a little. Ten out of ten, would recommend.