Reader profile: where have my savings gone, and how to start again from scratch?

Happy New Year! If you are like many people, focusing on your finances is one of your New Year’s Resolutions.  There are lots of “make 2018 a big year” yah, yah, yah posts out there.  So I was surprised to read that a talented and creative friend of mine posted something incredibly personal about her situation.

One of my 2018 blogging goals is to do a warts and all profile of friends and readers of this blog post.  I am also commencing a financial coaching service.  There has been a lot of research about the psychological aspects of investing.  I mean, we all know that we should do the obvious such as make long-term investments into things like super and avoid having big credit card debts -but how many people actually do this?

So this month I am reposting, with permission, a blog post written by my friend Michelle – a talented photographer and blogger at Dory the Explorer. What she says really speaks to why small things are really important, and why every dollar counts.  It seems like just the other day I was admiring her focus and commitment (and creative use of sausages) in saving for a family holiday.  I was thus surprised to learn that she had encountered some significant savings challenges of late. I really admire her candidness for sharing this.  Does it resonate with you?

Saving from Scratch

This time last year my bank statement looked rather impressive as far as my savings were concerned. I would not consider myself to be a big spender, especially if there is the promise of travel looming, so the accumulation of funds slowly built and I gave myself a mental pat on the back.Michelle and her family bound for holidaysThen one morning last month I looked online and there was barely any money in my account at all! I panicked; had I been robbed, had my card been stolen? A frantic scan of my statements revealed that the only thief of my funds was myself. Without even thinking about it, I had drained away my savings.

The first culprit I noticed was the leeching buys, those small, painless (well, painless at the time) purchases of a coffee here or a cheap fast food snack there; buying everyone a smoothie when we were out shopping; buying a book rather than borrowing it at the library. Impulse buys, hangry buys; all those little purchases added up.

And then, quite uncharacteristically for me were the big purchases of 2017.

Two expensive new lenses sit in my camera case, the accommodation for a family reunion was not cheap; an expensive yet worthwhile splurge of a girls’ weekend to Melbourne for Kara and myself (ie plane tickets, staying at a nice hotel, eating out and seeing a show), not to mention forking out big bucks for that stupid calendar that turned out to be unsellable.

[Ms Frugal Ears note – I love this calendar and am buying four. Michelle also has a range of Canberra and regional images for sale.]

Oh, and Christmas…. Arghhhhh!

So, with a plan to be in the air on Dec 1st, 2018, I find myself saving from scratch. How is this going to happen?

Well, for one thing, never underestimate the zeal of wanderlust. I can already feel the steely focus of money-saving ZEAL beginning to course through my veins, fortifying me against the traps of good coffee, ready-made meals and fun outings trying to seduce the dollars from my wallet. The ZEAL helps!

And actually maybe the fact that the trip is now a short-term goal rather than a long-term one I will find it easier to save hard. Doing without some of those luxuries, sticking to that bread and water diet essential to a pre-trip budget when the big reward is dangling so tantalizingly close will seem less of a chore; I hope.

I will be getting nothing this year that is not essential. That is the goal. No camera equipment, no teaching resources, no clothes, hair appointments or silly grocery buys. If it does happen, if I do slip, I will do a post of shame. The older kids have their own money so they will be buying their own junk food and fast food (although I will provide the 12 yr old with one fast food meal a fortnight).

The need to save money forces me to put my photography skills out there a little more. I have couple of weddings, an event and some family shoots coming up in the next few weeks and because I have had a few jobs in the past month, I am feeling excited and in the zone. Plus, the ZEAL makes you really brave!

Where is this trip taking us, you ask? Full reveal next post.

All images by Michelle Taylor from Kazuri Photography

Ms Frugal Ears comment: The convention when sharing such stories is for the financial blogger to comment with a ‘its easy to fix this problem by following ABC” approach.  I’m not going to do that. Instead I am going to be Michelle’s biggest cheerleader on her path to saving for her goal.  Michelle, I hope you have a picture of your dream holiday up on your visualisation board or somewhere you can see it.  And I know that you are a woman of strong focus and discipline, and I have every faith that you will achieve your goals.

Do you have a short-term or long-term goal?  What will you be saving for in 2018?  Stop by the Frugal Dare to Millionaire Facebook group and share your challenges and successes.

2 comments

  1. It’s so easy to spend miney without thinking, i did for years, now i track everything and check my accounts almost daily. I’m a bit stunned at the “one morning I looked at my bank account and there was no money in it”.

    1. I was a bit stunned about this as well; Michelle is a good friend and I know how hard she saved for her last trip. I think it is easy, though, to get a bit slack with things. I know I can be like that with my eating. And I might be frugal, but I love a good bargain and I can also get distracted with online specials and op shop buys.

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