by Christopher Lesson | @pennymag101
Tonnes of people will talk about money, as a motivational tool, a success story, an evil thing, a source of happiness or an elusive concept they’ll never attain. Money or Dollarydoos (depending where you’re from) is pretty important though and I get why people obsess over it, but half the time it’s not worth it and the money ‘experts’ only seem to talk to retirees or middle aged folks; not people starting out and winning at life like us.
So the other day I was on the usual commute into the city and I’d just finished reading an article in The Economist and decided to have a bit of a look around at the people on the train, as you do. The train was packed like normal but everyone either looked like they weren’t sure about what to wear because of Melbourne’s four seasons in a day thing. Or, looked like they’d sold their souls to Millhouse for five dollars.
Later that day, I was in Building 80 and we started discussing the true value of things, it made me think back to those people on the train. I then had to ask myself, if I wanted to have some extra cash at the end of the day how much would I sell my soul for – or – what could I do instead.
So I made a pretty simple list for making sure I had a bit of extra cash… More than five dollars anyway.
– Firstly I had to realise our time is the most valuable thing we have. If a third of our lives are spent sleeping and another third is spent doing routine things like going to the toilet, eating, waiting or commuting, we have to make the most of all the hours in the day. This made me think, if our time is so valuable then we shouldn’t waste it working. We should make our money work for us instead. By putting it in a high-interest account or term deposit you can make your money make you more money (WIN!).
– Budget a little and reward yourself for budgeting, it’s all about incentive. So I gave myself this little challenge. If I could get through the working week by making my lunch every day or by not buying coffee then on the last day I could buy lunch or coffee. Simple, but effective at saving the dosh. And damn did that lunch taste good at the end of the week.
– The words of Vice President Joe Biden somehow flowed into my ears through week saying “don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I’ll show you what you value”. This made me think, shit. I wonder what my finances say I value and I wonder how I can find out. Download a budgeting app, there’s heaps of them. All you have to do is put in how much you’ve spent and what on. It’s scary how accountable this makes you and how much money you end up not spending on things because you don’t want to put it into the app and admit you just bought that. I don’t know about you but I’ve spent heaps of money, on small things I really didn’t actually need at the time or even want in the future, but went yeah why not. This stops you from wasting the money you spent your time earning.
– Once you start tracking what you spend you realise the little things add up. Every dollar here and there adds up very quickly. Anyone who has kept his or her spare change will tell you this. So put that poor change aside and let it grow.
– In short though I think if you value your time, budget and plan ahead, track what you spend and save on the little amounts you’ll end up with a lot bigger bank balance, probably feel better too. If we all spend 10min a week and think about what we can do this week to put us in a better position for next week then we can make it happen.
I’ve got to say, I’ve learnt a lot from the Simpsons and maybe a bit from my lecturers too… Money and the way we spend it, is a personal thing. Yet it doesn’t seem to matter where we come from, or who we are, we all appear to know that a bit of cash has the ability to make life a little easier. With a little bit of time and a few good choices we can easily make a massive difference to our bank balances and make life better for poor uni students like us.