Plus one of the worst.
Last month, it finally happened. I passed the ominous checkpoint that had been looming on the horizon. You know, the one that makes you question just whether or not you’ve successfully morphed into a ‘proper’ adult. I turned thirty.
Spoiler alert: I do not feel like a proper adult. But now that it’s come to it, I don’t think anyone really does. It was enormously reassuring to speak to friends and learn that everybody has their doubts—even the ones that, from an outsider’s perspective, look like they had the whole ‘grown up’ thing down pat.
As it turns out, there isn’t a wisdom fairy who pops by on the eve of your thirtieth birthday, to deliver the skills you’ll need for the next decade. Nope, you wake up just feeling twenty-nine years and three-hundred-and-sixty-six days old. And for the most part it’s pretty great.
It did, however, make me stop and seriously consider all things money-related. What had I done right so far? What had I messed up? And what could I change to make my financial future more secure?
I started a savings account with a second bank.
For many of us, our mid-twenties are when we start making ‘proper’ money. We’ve completed some form of study or training by then, done our time working part-time gigs, and finally got a job in the field we’re interested in—or, in my case, started a small business.
But it took me until my late twenties until I had a proper salary and had enough disposable income to enjoy the kind of lifestyle I wanted. But what about saving for my future? While I admit that I didn’t do this perfectly, I did do it.
I set up an account with a bank other than the one I did my usual personal and business banking with. Why a different bank? Because it meant a three-day delay on any transfers. It was the digital equivalent of freezing my credit card in a giant ice block: it meant that I couldn’t draw from it on a whim.
I still had a savings for short-term goals like travel, but this second account was dedicated for ‘the long haul’. By putting it out of reach, it meant that I couldn’t blow it all on impulse purchases.
Is it as much as I would like to have saved? No, not yet. But it is something.
I sold my car—and got out of the office more.
I live in an inner-city, walkable area. My gym, grocery store, and workplace are all within walking distance of my apartment. Besides, with the arrival of car share and ridesharing services, I could have the best of both worlds. I added up how much it cost to keep and use a car of my own, then calculated how much I’d save by taking advantage of the sharing economy instead. It was a lot, so the car went.
This sent me on a mission to consider what other ‘essentials’ I didn’t need. I realised I only really needed a physical office space for one or two days of the week, and so went on to find a flexible and casual arrangement for my clinic set up. All of my other work could be done from the local library or my favourite café.
I finally took my superannuation seriously.
Admittedly, this one took me until I was twenty-nine to get right. That’s when I was introduced to Grow Super. Until then, my superannuation was something I’d theoretically get to ‘when I had the time’. But I never did. I always found more pressing priorities. Which is ridiculous, because it’s my future retirement we’re talking about.
That all changed when I realised I could get involved with my superannuation through my smartphone. Like nearly everything else in daily life, my super now had an app! Suddenly, I could see exactly how much I had stored away for the future, easily make personal contributions using the round ups feature, and choose where I wanted my money invested. One-click consolidation pulled all my older accounts into one place as well. Easy!
I didn’t do my research.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t realise until recently just how much I’m overpaying on the basics. From credit card and business loan interest rates to health insurance premiums, I didn’t do enough research. I lazily assumed that they were all roughly the same, and then got a shock when I tallied up all my unnecessary expenditure.
I guess fixing that will be my goal for my thirty-first year then.