Zero to frugal:
Diary of an overspender pt. 1

Zero to frugal: Diary of an overspender pt. 1

Max has just joined Xinja as our community manager. Maybe part of what attracted him to the whole company was a desire to get his own finances in order. So he’s in at the deepend and on a quest for inspiration to become fabulously frugal.

As a soon to be thirty-something, it astounds me that the majority of my financial planning over the past 10 years has come down to hope.

Early confessions

My goal seemed to rest solely with spending as much as I could, whenever I could, and hope that I still came out on top. The best part was every time I came out “on top”, I’d somehow find myself further behind. Some of my greatest hits include:

> When I was 22, I won 27 grand on a poker machine at star city, then spent 28 grand on an Audi. Why? Because Audis were cool obviously, and if I had one then dammit, I’d be cool too.

>When I was 25 I consolidated my all credit card debt into one, easy to manage 15 grand loan. That worked for about 3 months, then I started spending on my cards again.

I never learnt to manage my money because I always had enough.The only relevant question was “is there money in my account”, and the answer was almost always yes.

My first marketing job out of school paid me 60k, and I legitimately felt like a millionaire. While I never felt ‘poor’, an unexpected $500 expense would have more or less wiped me out. The problem is, it’s not until you have a lot of money coming in, and even more coming out, that you truly need to sit down and think about your budget.

As the latest Xinja and undoubtedly the least financially savvy (hi – I’m Max – aka #socialxinja – and this is day 3…) I’ll be embarking on a journey over the next 3 months to see if I can’t get my spending habits back up to scratch; finally learning how to actually live a great lifestyle without turning into a frugal fruitcake.

The problem is, it’s not until you have a lot of money coming in, and even more coming out, that you truly need to sit down and think about your budget.

Getting inspiration from the frugal fruitcakes

Whilst I’m on the waitlist for my Xinja card (yes…I’m a waitlister too!) I can’t actually use the Xinja app to help me track my spend, so in the meantime I thought I’d get some inspiration from people more frugal than myself.

Now I know the idea of a frugal spender might conjure images of mothballed coats and lint-filled bags of 5-cent pieces, but the truth is far more vibrant. A quick search on our forum revealed some awesomely novel ways to curb some of that spontaneous spending:

Make things Thanks to @Lingfei for this one. Don’t turn to a retail store every time you need something. Can you make it or do it yourself? Start small, like making your own meals and coffees. Eventually, use your motivation to make bigger and greater things, like building your own deck, BBQ or even creating your own beer! (We may or may not have already made Xinja beer)

Borrow stuff Before making a purchase, consider whether you can borrow the same item from a friend, family member or even a coworker (looking at you @XinjaSensei) Borrow books, borrow gardening equipment, borrow car washing equipment – become the person who lends their stuff, and people will lend their stuff to you. Simple!

Learn to barter Shoutout to @Ka_Coffiney, who’s boss-level frugal expert of a girlfriend used an Entertainment book voucher on their recent date. Don’t be afraid to use discounts, the alternative means wilfully paying more for the sake of your ego. Furthermore, on a personal level, if someone asks you for something, don’t be afraid to ask for something in return. If your friends need you to help them move into their new house, kindly agree but suggest you need a little help in return in the garden, or say…cooking you dinner for a week.

Scavenge Are you a skinny sausage who can get away with kids’ t-shirts like @two_seven’s colleague? Buy them, nobody knows. Have you stared longingly at a pristine curbside couch, yet walked off in pride? Go back and get it, it’s a free couch. Stop thinking like your mum.

Listiscles To curb impulse buys, create a 30-day list. This is one of my favourites, I find writing it down has a similar effect on my brain as buying something from china with a 30 day delivery time. Make it a rule that you can’t buy it for at least 30 days after you put it on the list. You’ll realise a lot of the stuff your buy is crap. (cheers @ZenHabits).

Stop thinking like your mum.

But do I really want to do this?

Although I’ve realised that both a lot of my purchases are crap AND I spend far too much on takeout, do I want my life to change ‘that’ much? I”m not sure I want to do all the things listed above. Is there a different way I can look at this? Rather than scrimping and saving on what I do now, can I look instead at finding luxury and indulgence without spending a fortune? So as part of this series I’ll also be looking at ideas for living like a king, without getting into debt.

So let’s get fabulously frugal together. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any angle of this, so please share your ideas on our community forum and help me on my way.

The content above does not represent any form of advice and Xinja has obviously not considered your individual circumstances in preparing this. It is simply a few thoughts on money to get the conversation started. 

 

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