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YOUR Beginning

A note to YOU

The beginning of anything is always hard. The start of a new job, a new school / course, a new exercise regime. Your knowledge base is weak and everything is new, so any and all information is overwhelming. You’re never sure if you’re doing the right thing. 

It’s like pushing the first few pedals of a rusty bike. There’s a lot of resistance before the cogs start rolling. 

The momentum is slow and you have at least a few months of uncertainty before you can even start to feel slightly confident in what you’re doing. Within those first few months, there’s a lot of room for mistakes, heaps of setbacks and multiple chances of giving up.

You might have to start again – more than a few times. 

Starting anything for the first time is rough. But getting on track with your money? Ugh. Talk about a LONG game. You have to dig deep into your psychology, unpack a lot of emotional trauma, do a lot of unlearning & relearning combined with a great deal of trial and error. 

It’s also exciting. The beginning brings opportunity, new people, new conversations and a fresh start. If you approach it with patience, giving yourself the grace to fail forward, it can be the breath of fresh air you’ve been longing for. 

So I invite you to come on this journey with me, learn as I learn, no matter where you currently are on the road to financial freedom, we can do it together.

My Background

I’ve been lucky in my life. I definitely acknowledge my privilege of being a white, middle-class, straight female growing up in Sydney, Australia.  It’s important to acknowledge our backgrounds in articles like this because each of us have different starting points, and I don’t want you to compare yourself to my story when you’ve lived a different reality.

On top of my inherent privilege, I also grew up with parents who gave a wonderful example when it came to money. They came from nothing, raised 6 kids on a single teacher’s income and worked their way up to a comfortable life. 

By the time I reached young adulthood, we had a pool and even *very* occasionally bought brand name groceries. Just recently, my parents got a coffee machine & a zippy tap?!  (For real, that zippy tap is my favourite thing in their kitchen. Honestly, nothing screams luxury more than not having to wait for the kettle to boil. Time is money, people!!) 

But we didn’t always live a comfortable life. We grew up in a house that had 1 bathroom between 8 people; I lived in hand-me-down clothes and I never saw the inside of a restaurant until I was in my mid-teens. We went camping for our holidays (which I loved & honestly feel blessed to have had these experiences), but we never stayed in hotels and I couldn’t even imagine catching a plane to go on holidays…I mean huh?!! 

My parents actually only went on their first ever overseas trip in 2017.
The point is, they worked hard. They saved like crazy and they built their own little empire. 

“They taught me how to save, how to be frugal with my money, how to enjoy the simple things in life and that you don’t need to spend money to have a good time.”

The False Start ($0 - 8k)

I grew up a saver, frugal and a super savvy shopper. I definitely got that from my parents. I love free fun activities and I LOVE a bargain. Honestly, nothing makes me more excited than a good deal (Facebook Marketplace & Op Shops are my happy place). So, I was in a good starting position.

First job

From the age of 10-18, I earned my money. I didn’t get “pocket money” like a normal kid. My parents assigned monetary values to chores around the house ($2 for vacuuming, $5 for window cleaning, $10 for car washing etc.). I did the chore & then I would submit an invoice to my parents. They signed it & I could cash in my earnings when I needed it. *immaculate work ethic forming*.

I didn’t work a “job” through high school, my parents thought it’d be better for me to focus on school & extra-curriculars. But they also didn’t pay for my stuff either, I had to pay my phone bill and to buy any clothes I wanted. I had to work out how to earn my money in unconventional ways.

Money was always scarce for me. I had to save up my ‘earnings’ through the year to buy christmas presents, birthday gifts etc. 

Finishing High School & Starting Uni

In 2013, I finished highschool with maybe a couple of hundred dollars in the bank. In 2014 I started University and I was itching to work so that I could finally have some cash to spend. I got a job as an administrative assistant, which earned a lot more money than my friends working in retail or hospitality. 

Pretty soon I picked up two extra jobs, one in childcare (which paid even higher than my administrative assistant role) and another in disability services (which paid even higher!!) 

Very quickly I started to learn that I could work the same hours and earn double the amount, just by picking the right jobs.

Negative Money Mindset & Early Mistakes

Throughout my 7 years at Uni I worked 4-5 jobs at once, whilst studying (and somehow added an unpaid internship on top of that?). My work ethic was through the roof. I was addicted to working and seeing money roll in. I didn’t find it easy, it was stressful. But that’s what you had to do to win financially right? (Wrong)

The only problem was, my savings could never get above 10k. No matter how many times I “rebalanced” by budget, started again and “committed” to a stricter, more frugal lifestyle, I couldn’t grow my savings, I couldn’t reach my goal. 

It was insanely frustrating.

I felt like I worked more hours than everyone I knew and with higher paying jobs, yet somehow I wasn’t any closer to buying that property. I made sacrifices too, I didn’t go on that Europe trip with all my friends, I didn’t buy an expensive car, I didn’t spend all my money on clothes. So what the heck was going on??? Where was my money going???

It took me 5 years to realise that working 15 hour days, the hustle and grind, didn’t automatically mean I was good at money.  In fact, that intense hustle was burning me out & leading me into a shame-filled cycle of “save – splurge – repeat”. I’d work so hard and save as much as I could. But every few weeks I’d crack, burn out & binge spend on random things. Often I’d spend out of exhaustion, I’d buy all my food, because:

  1.  I didn’t have the energy to prepare meals and
  2. I was tired, burned out and unhappy, so buying food, coffee & alcohol were my escape.

I’d sabotage all my hard work then feel extremely guilty and “start again”, with an even stricter mindset. In 2018, I was 23, I hadn’t bought a property and I had $8k in the bank. I had had a promising start, I was naturally frugal, I had a big dream, good jobs and a solid work ethic. But my inner psychology, my subconscious spending habits and my scarcity mindset really held me back.

A Fresh Start & New Dialogue ($8k - $25k)

In 2018, I met my future husband at Uni (yay!!). We had very open conversations about money from the very beginning of our friendship. We both had big dreams and speaking about money was so refreshing. 

I hadn’t really had these sorts of conversations with friends before.

Although we were at a similar spot financially, he had a very different point of view to me. He came at his finances from a standpoint of abundance and positivity. Whereas mine was overshadowed by shame, frustration and scarcity. He introduced me to a brand new concept – financial freedom. The idea that we could use financial security to buy back time. 

In 2018, I met my future husband at Uni (yay!!). We had very open conversations about money from the very beginning of our friendship. We both had big dreams and speaking about money was so refreshing. 

I hadn’t really had these sorts of conversations with friends before.

Although we were at a similar spot financially, he had a very different point of view to me. He came at his finances from a standpoint of abundance and positivity. Whereas mine was overshadowed by shame, frustration and scarcity. He introduced me to a brand new concept – financial freedom. The idea that we could use financial security to buy back time. 

Juggling so many different jobs, time was something I definitely felt a lack of, so this concept was revolutionary for me. In the early days of dating, he and I would have date nights where we would learn about personal finance. We’d listen to finance audiobooks, sort out our superannuation, come up with new budgeting strategies that were realistic, accounted for everything and gave us permission to spend. We’d spend entire dates dreaming about reaching financial freedom. 

We got very specific with our dream. We talked about it every day. It became part of us, part of our individual identity as well as a symbol of our relationship. 

This dream was the catalyst for everything that was to come in the next 3 years.

Connor and I didn’t combine our finances whilst dating, but we came up with our budgeting strategy together. Budgeting with someone else was super helpful for me, it gave me confidence and accountability. It also gave me purpose, I was doing this for our dream, it wasn’t meaningless.

I created an emergency fund and developed a system based on percentages because we had a variable income. This budget was a game changer. I actually started to see my savings grow.

2018 - The Year of New Beginnings & Laying Foundations

2018 was a big year for me. It’s the year I first discovered the stock market, I started to budget realistically, I learned about passive income. Between 2018 & 2019 my savings jumped from 8k to 20k.

I was beyond happy with myself. I was finally picking up momentum. I had finally found a budgeting system that worked for me. 2018 was also the year Connor and I, first started to think about creating our own business.

2019 - The Year of Action Taking (20k- 45k)

When they say everything happens at once, they mean it. 2019 was the year of many “firsts” for me:

Stock Market

Property

Full time work

After deciding to invest in the stock market in 2018, I only started in late 2019. It took me about a year to finally take the leap and just get started. Starting something new is scary, especially when the narrative we’re fed is: Investing in the stock market? You’re basically gambling. So it took a lot of research and myth busting for me to take the plunge.

If you’re reading this and you’re procrastinating on making your first investment in the stock market – this is your sign. Get started now. 

In 2019 I entered into a joint venture in property with Connor & his family – Connor contributed 27k and I contributed 8k. (Bit of a risk considering we weren’t even engaged yet, but I was written into the contract as a separate party). Traditional investing in property requires a much bigger upfront contribution, as well as signing on for a mortgage. I was fortunate to have been in a position where I could get started with such a small figure.

In July of 2019, I got a full time job whilst studying. It paid well. I was also living at home again. (I was paying rent and all my own expenses but it’s still so much cheaper than living out of home. Again, noting my privilege that I was able to come back home to save money.) During this period of full time work, I was able to save 75% of my income during this time. I saved 12.5k in 3.5 months. At 24, I had about 25k in savings, about 5k in the stock market and my individual portion of the joint venture was worth 14k.

2020 - A Sacrifice for the Future (45k - 89k)

By late 2019, I knew we were going to get engaged soon. I was saving like crazy because I know that a wedding is expensive, even to do it on the cheap. In early 2020, I quit my full time job to finish up my study and focus on our business.

Around the same time, a new property investment opportunity came up in the form of an Options Contract. Basically, an Options Contract allows you to buy the right to purchase the property at a later date, at a set price.

We needed 27k to go into the Options Contract so Connor put in 7k and I put in 20k (almost my entire wedding savings). 

This was a hard decision for us, we wanted a big wedding and didn’t want to rely on our parents to fund it. But we weighed it up and decided that our future was more important than a big wedding. (Plus, we weren’t even engaged yet, so I had to trust myself that I’d be able to make enough money by the time we got engaged.)

$100,000

The Leap of Faith (89k - 100k)

In the middle of the chaos that was 2020, we got engaged.  

We had to halt our stock market investing and put everything we were earning towards the wedding. Mid 2020, I (finally) graduated from Uni with a double degree of Bachelor of Laws (Honours) with Bachelor of Arts (French)….and a huge HECS debt of $61,141.00.

We had a 6 month long engagement and got married in January 2021.

It was a small, intimate wedding, which was absolutely incredible! 🙂

With the wedding absorbing all of our liquid funds, we were basically starting from scratch in terms of liquid cash. We combined our finances and created a new, bullet proof budget. 

In 2021, we took a huge risk and a big pay cut and decided to go full time into our 3 business ventures, prioritising setting up passive income streams that have exponential growth.

In 8 months, we saved 15.5k for our Emergency Fund in 8 months on a very low combined household income of approximately 50k. In October 2021 we were able to start investing again (yay!!)

Our Net Worth just hit $100k ($100,432)

The Mindset ( & Money) Makeover

In 3 short years, my money mindset had a huge makeover

I went from believing I needed to make heaps of money every week, living and breathing hustle culture, believing that was the only way to be successful…. to willingly taking a huge pay cut, in order to build passive income for our future. 

I went from working 60 hour weeks to working a 4 day week on our businesses and prioritising living my life to the fullest, whilst building up our future.

This money mindset shift was pivotal to an actual money makeover.
In 3 years I went from saving/investing 8k to 55k on my own and over 100k combined Net Worth with my husband.

Key Take Away – your money mindset is everything.

Written by @moneybymajella
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Published by @MrMoneyPlant
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