Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the person behind She’s on the Money Blog, featured on the financial comparison site, Mozo.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, as She’s On The Money, my whole schtick is that I’m an anonymous personal finance blogger – so, like batman, I’m afraid I’d rather not divulge my name or any defining details. I can tell you that I live and work in Australia, and that I didn’t formally study finance – everything I know comes from life experience and good ol’ fashioned common sense. I actually work at a financial comparison site called Mozo, which is where a lot of my know-how comes from, and explains why most of my money strategies revolve around comparing products and getting the best value from your dollars. My friends hate shopping with me these days, because I will only make a purchase after comparing similar products from every shop within walking distance.
2. How did you get into blogging?
I started working in finance before I ever blogged about it. I was more or less learning about finance as I went, and I kept searching for accessible information that didn’t immediately jump into loan-to-value ratios and gross profit margins.
What really kicked the blog off was realising just how boring finance can really be. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves here – stocks and bonds aren’t exactly the height of Friday night entertainment. It occurred to me that if I’m working in finance and having trouble digesting all this dry information, then it must be torture for your average person just trying to get started. What the world needed was a blog that approached money management with a really strong financial knowledge base, but with tongue firmly in cheek the whole time.
In the end, I decided, if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself, and She’s On The Money was born.
3. What are your long term financial goals?
Like all millennials, I don’t really have goals – I just want to eat smashed avo for brunch every day and vacation in exotic destinations with beautiful celebrities. I’m joking, of course.
Long-term, I’d like to pay off my student debt completely, and even longer-term I’d like to someday own my own home, although with the property market in Sydney like it is, that’s a long way off.
4. How do you plan to achieve them?
That’s the million dollar question, huh? At the moment, it’s a bit of a balancing act between making extra payments on my debt when I can and saving for bigger goals, like a house. In Australia, student debt (called HELP debt) is interest free, so I’m not breaking my neck to pay it off immediately, but I will breath easier when it’s all gone.
I’m a pretty good saver, so my plan as it stands at the moment is to combine that thriftiness with some serious hustle, so I can both pay down my debt and put savings away. Doing some freelance writing to create a new revenue stream is on the cards, but I’m also pinning my hopes on being able to get a good return on my money by getting into the sharemarket. I don’t have a lot of experience with investing though, and I’m naturally pretty cautious with money so I’ll be doing a tonne of research before taking that plunge.
5. How far along are you on your path to financial independence?
Not as far as I’d like, that’s for sure. But you know what they say: it’s the journey that counts, not the destination. …Except in this case, the destination is also quite important.
Flawed metaphors aside, I’m at the stage where my finances are comfortable – I have an emergency fund stashed away, I’m not relying on credit and my budget is pretty streamlined, if I do say so myself. Now I’m at the point of making sure I can stay in this position – which for me means building up multiple revenue streams. Sharemarket, here I come.
6. What was your first personal finance lesson in life?
I have a very vivid childhood memory of my mother handing me $10 and sending me into the local grocery store to pick up a few things like milk and bread. I was a bit of an anxious child, so as the woman behind the counter swiped my purchases and the total ticked steadily closer to $10, I started to panic. What if I didn’t have enough money? Would I have to shamefacedly replace something on the shelf? What was more important to buy – milk, or my mother’s guilty pleasure chocolate? What if the woman made me work off the extra cost by scrubbing floors?
Obviously, my mother knew the cost of groceries better than I did and had sent me with plenty of money, but that day I learnt that it is always better to be financially secure, and know you can pay for the things you need, when you need them.
7. What is your money philosophy?
I don’t have a snappy catchphrase for this, but it boils down to the fact that the whole point of having money is so you can use it on things you love. So to me, it’s all about priorities. I bring my lunch to work everyday, because I’d rather spend the money on a night out at the weekend. I live in a cheap apartment with walls so thin that I can hear my neighbour say “bless you” when I sneeze, but I’m on my way to saving a home loan deposit. If drinking expensive Starbucks coffee makes you happy (don’t lie to yourself, of course it does), I say go for it – as long as that isn’t standing in the way of more important money goals.
8. Any financial mistakes you’d like to share?
Thankfully, because I am pretty cautious with money, so far all my financial blunders have been pretty minor. One time I had a mishap with Dominos online ordering system and wound up with $120 worth of pizza I didn’t want at all and couldn’t eat, which still makes me cringe almost a year later.
The biggest mistake though, was probably living on campus in a studio apartment for my entire four years at university. It was super convenient to roll out of bed and be in class two minutes later, and I loved having my own bathroom, but I could have lived pretty nearby for considerably less, or found a roommate I could stand to share a shower with, which would have really helped in getting my emergency fund off the ground. At the time though, I was enjoying the convenience and not thinking too hard about the future.
9. Please share your top 3 personal finance hacks.
- Rent cheap: I cannot stress this enough. Since making the mistake of overpaying for my student accommodation, I’ve lived in a few places that were far from castles, but I really can’t see the point in paying a tonne of rent for a flash place. If you’re paying off a mortgage, maybe you want to upgrade, since you’ll own it at the end. But while renting, go for the cheapest place you can stomach.
- Pack your lunch: I know this is one tip that gets trotted out every time anyone talks about saving money, but it’s so true. There was a time when I was spending at least $60 a week on food and drinks while at work. Now I bring leftovers, which contain significantly more vegetables, are basically free and also super tasty.
- Don’t be afraid to say no: Invited to an event that you don’t really want to attend, and which will wind up costing you a neat hundred bucks between transport, drinks, cover charge and any other miscellaneous costs? Don’t go. Just don’t go. Your wallet will be glad and when you’re tucked up in bed watching Netflix, every other part of you will be too.
10. What financial advice would you offer teens?
I’m going to go with the old chestnut that it’s never too early to develop good money habits. If you do anything for long enough it will pay off in the end. Practice piano every day and you’ll be a great pianist. Practice good money management every day and you’ll be financially secure.
Also, don’t believe everything you see on social media. Life may look glamorous on celebrity instagram feeds, and other seemingly “regular” people will give the impression that they’re living this high flying lifestyle too. But all is not as it seems, and if you try to live like a Kardashian on wages from your part-time maccas gig, you’re gonna wind up with a tonne of debt. And that is the least glamorous thing to bring with you into your twenties.
Thanks for the informative yet entertaining answers!
She’s On The Money is the newest lifestyle blogger over at Mozo.com.au, bringing you the cutting age of personal finance with a healthy serving of humour on the side. She is a fount of frugality, a purveyor of personal finance, a merchant of money-saving knowledge.