How I Saved My First $50,000 at 20

There’s a lot of financial advice floating around on how to save money.

Most of it includes things like cutting out your daily coffee, packing lunch to work or only buying items on sale.

While these tips may help you temporarily save an extra $50 or $100, they are not going to help you save $50,000 or even $100,000.

Plus, I find these tips don’t apply to everyone – especially if you’ve always been frugal. Who really buys a coffee every single day?

The tips I am going to share with you will fundamentally shift your money habits to help you save significant amounts of money and can be applied specifically to your situation.

There’s a lot to get through so grab some snacks or a drink and settle in!

$50,000 at 20 – A bit about my background

At 20, I hadn’t earned a lot of money in my life or been given any kind of financial handout – I’ve always been a regular girl from a hard-working migrant family.

However, what set me apart is starting early.

I started making money early which allowed me to get ahead financially. My first part-time job was at 15 and my first full-time salaried job was at 19.

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I started working at 15 for $7 AUD/hour and never stopped working since. Even with that measly income, I still saved a large percentage of my pay to buy big ticket items like my first smartphone.

At 19, instead of studying full-time like my peers, I had a full-time corporate job where I made a “proper” salary. Okay, fine the proper salary was essentially minimum wage but it was a lot of money at 19. I still studied full-time at university, taking advantage of night classes.

While it was stressful to study and work full-time, it allowed me to start earning a salary early on without neglecting my education. This led to me to buy my first stock at 19 and those returns have compounded every since.

No one had ever told me this was even an option. I was under the impression that I’d be working part-time in retail/hospitality at university and would only make an actual salary when I graduated in my early 20s.

However, I am here telling you it is possible and an excellent strategy if you want to get ahead financially.
Just make sure it works with your field of study, some degrees with high contact hours would make it impossible to do this.

Working and studying full-time was just one of the many strategies I used to save $50,000 at 20 – here’s what else I did.


Budgeting is one of the most powerful personal finance tools. It is essentially an analysis of how you spend and earn money.

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Budgeting helps you set goals, targets and also identifies problems in your spending habits.

The realisations you will make could be anywhere from that you need to increase your income or perhaps need to cut down on delivery food.

You need to budget to find out where you are and what steps need to be taken.

See if you are spending a large amount on one category but don’t feel like you’re getting it’s “worth”, or if there is anywhere that you could cut down. You are essentially deciding where you should spend your money, what you value and what is important to you.

How Do I Budget?

There are many ways to budget such as using software like YNAB or Pocketbook. I personally prefer an excel spreadsheet, you might find that good old pen and paper works even better.

You can read more about budgeting by clicking here.

Plugging the leaks

Once you have identified what changes should be made, it’s time to manage the issues that are causing you to waste money, a.k.a “plugging the leaks”.

It’s hard for me to predict exactly what your leak is, but I’ve created a list below to help you get some ideas:

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  • Spending too much on eating out, delivery – Cook at home and meal prep
  • Spending too much on rent – Get a roommate or move to a less premium area
  • Spending too much on gyms and trainers – Cancel them and work out at home
  • Spending too much on drinks/going out – Invite friends over instead of visiting a restaurant, have pre-drinks at home before visiting a bar
  • Spending too much on fashion, shoes and bags – Buy second hand, unsubscribe from email newsletters, don’t visit shopping centres or online shopping
  • Income not enough to get by – Up-skill to work towards either a higher-paid promotion or a career change, get a side hustle or second job

Self control & discipline

Once you’ve figured out where you can cut down or what changes need to be made, it’s time to implement it.

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This is one of the hardest parts and it requires a lot of self control and discipline. You need to think twice about the financial decisions you make and stop chasing instant gratification. It can be really hard to stick to your budget and you may mess up sometimes, but that’s okay! Just keep trying your best. Some strategies I personally use to stop over-spending and stick to my budget are:

  • Before you buy anything that isn’t necessary – give it some time and don’t buy it right away. Even if it’s just one day, get out of the habit of buying things without a second thought
  • Start using “fun” purchases to reward yourself for reaching goals and not something you buy on a whim. Delivery food, clothes, drinks – start using them as a treat that you need to earn
  • Regularly remind yourself of your financial goals. You’ll realise your goals are more important than that instant gratification purchase!
  • Distract yourself when you feel like spending. I love shopping and can get in a “mood” to go out and spend money. In this scenario, I try to distract myself. I’ll either bake something or maybe start on a painting. It works!

Changing your mindset

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve”

Debbie Millman

If you want to save $50,000 – you need to believe that you can do it.

You’re probably thinking “that sounds too simple” or “this doesn’t really sound like financial advice” – but, here’s the thing. If you truly believe you can achieve, your brain will actually act differently. There is real science behind this – it’s know as the growth mindset. Click here to read more about the research.

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No matter how many coffees you cut out or how much you cook at home – nothing will change until you change the way you think. Believe that you can save $50,000 – visualise it in your bank account or investment portfolio.

Once you trust that this is something that you can accomplish, you will work even harder to achieve it and be more motivated.

And, that’s it! These are the strategies I used to save $50,000. If you apply all of these steps to your life, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you can achieve your financial goals. Are you ready to save? Here are some of my previous blog articles:

The Secret To Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need

Any shopaholics in the house?

I feel you.

I love shopping. I love clothes, shoes, beauty products, home décor – it makes me happy! However, shopping often can mean you buy things you never end up using.

Here’s how I don’t buy things I never use.

Yes, I spend a lot of money on fashion, beauty and other “discretionary” categories but here’s the thing – I use everything I buy. My Dyson Airwrap? I use it religiously twice a week. The cute leather loafers? I wear them religiously. It isn’t because I am just lucky, but there is an actual secret to it.

Let me share my secret with you.

It is…making a list.

I know what you’re thinking. Really? Making a list is so simple. How will this help me save money? Oh, but it does.

It is an incredibly powerful tool that will shift the way you shop.

Now, I am definitely a slave to capitalism. I love cute things and I want them all. Minimalism makes no sense to my brain, pretty things make me happy. However, I keep this controlled and make sure I never spend over my budget.

Whenever I see something I want to purchase, I add it to a list on my phone.

Somehow, doing this almost gives me some satisfaction. I know it sounds really weird, but try it out for yourself.

I guess in a way, rather than telling myself “no”, I tell myself “later”.

This strategy makes me feel like I’m not depriving myself, while spending no money!

Once I have that item added to my phone list, I’ll add a cost next to it. E.g. Soda stream / $80.

Next, I’ll let that item sit in my list for a while depending on how much it costs. For example, I wanted a $30 French press and that only needed to hang out in my list for 2 weeks before I got one. However, a sewing machine has been sitting in my list for the last 6 months as it is something that costs a lot more.

What I find interesting is, I have removed items that I wanted so badly when I first saw them.

This helps to eliminate items that seem amazing in the moment but would collect dust if I bought them. In the same way, if an item has been on my list for months and I still want it – it means it is an item that I am likely to use regularly and it will be money well-spent.

While this isn’t a fool-proof method, I rarely buy things I don’t use by using this strategy.

Along with a sewing machine, another big ticket item in my list has been a Kindle.

As you can imagine, as a writer I also love to read. However, hard copy books are expensive and take up a lot of room. That’s why I added a Kindle to my wish list. Since, they aren’t the cheapest thing, it was on my list for months before I pulled the trigger. By doing this, it let me really understand that this was something that I would use – and I did! I bought it during the Black Friday sales for 30% off and use it daily.

The second part of this strategy is avoid buying things that aren’t on the list or not worth the list.

If you see something you like that is nice and at a good price, but isn’t on the list – don’t buy it. Yes, even if it as a good price.

A frequent second-hand shopper, I find bargains all the time. When I find something that’s a fraction of the retail price, it is so tempting to purchase. However, I don’t anymore, unless it was something I was looking for.

Don’t buy an item just because it is on sale, buy an item you will actually use.

When I first started visiting op and thrift shops, I would sometimes buy items that weren’t quite right. Shoes that were a bit loose, clothes that didn’t flatter my body. Why? Well, they were a great price! But, I ended up not using these “great value” items. Which did make them a waste of my money.

Nowadays, when I come across something beautiful at a good price – I don’t jump to buy it. Here’s what I do:

  • Firstly, I look through my list. Is it on the list? Is it worth adding to my list?
  • Next, I think about if I actually really like the item

Doing this has helped me only buy the items that I really love.

And, there you have it! My super simple yet effective strategy to stop buying things you don’t need.

I’m A Student Again! Here Are 3 Awesome Student Discounts That I Am Using

I never imagined I’d say these words, but here I am—officially a student again.

Four years have passed since I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Business, believing I had left exams behind and hoping to clear my HECS-HELP student loan ASAP.

Well, not quite.

To the utter joy of my immigrant mother, I am now pursuing my MBA. I’m writing a blog post on why and how I am studying, along with the cost of my degree and more – keep an eye out for that. For now, being a student means I can dive back into the world of student discounts. Join me as I share the incredible perks I’ve already seized.

This poor lady thought she had finally finished studying…how wrong she was!

Spotify Student Membership

The minute my new student email was activated, I wasted no time in changing my Spotify membership. For years, I had been paying $11.99 a month for a Premium subscription, but discovering the 50% discount offered to students was awesome.

Now, I’m paying just $5.99 a month. Saving on fixed costs like rent, bills and memberships is a massive win, as they’re not as easily adjustable as bubble tea spending, for example.

$4 Office 365

Here’s another great student deal. Did you know that university students can get access to Microsoft Office 365 for just $4 a year? Yes, you read that right—$4 for an entire year!

After graduating, I sadly said goodbye to Microsoft Office, unwilling to pay the $109 annual subscription fee. However, discovering this student offer has been great. Now, I’m enjoying the entire Office suite for the price of a cup of coffee per year. As if that wasn’t enough, the package even includes a 1 TB of storage which is a great perk.

$12.50 Hoyts Movie Tickets

Another great student perk is $12.50 Hoyts movie tickets with Student Edge. Considering that adult Hoyts tickets are now hovering around the $24 mark, this translates to nearly 50% off! As someone who regularly goes to the movies, this is a great saving. However, I must confess, with how much I go to Hoyts now, I sometimes wonder if I’m just watching more movies without actually saving money LOL. But hey, at least I am having a good time.

These are just a few of the incredible student deals I’ve already tapped into! With a couple of years ahead of me to complete my MBA while juggling a full-time job, I’m determined to squeeze every bit of value from these discounts.

One particular discount that has caught my attention is student public transport rates. Although my online application to the Opal website was unsuccessful, I’m going to try to figure it out. Given my regular use of public transport, getting student rates could potentially save me hundreds of dollars each year. This would be a fantastic win for my budget.

If you know of any other cool student discounts, please share them with me! 😉

I Tracked Every Cent I Spent For 6 Years. Here’s The Budgeting Lessons I Learned

Last week, as I dug into the digital archives of my financial journey, I stumbled upon a humble relic – my very first budget created back in 2017.

It was nothing fancy, just a simple excel spreadsheet divided by month. I would manually type out every purchase I made, including the date, amount and what category it fell into.

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A real screenshot from my 2017 budget! Can you tell I liked colour?

What I discovered in that first month of budgeting was incredible, transforming the way I viewed and managed my money.

The start of my budgeting journey

When I began my budgeting journey, I decided to track all my expenses for the first month without strictly adhering to a budget. It was an eye-opening exercise that I highly recommend, especially if you’re new to budgeting.

Starting a budget without understanding your spending habits can be challenging. After that initial month, I was shocked by the amount I had been spending. It was a wake-up call, making me realise how much I was splurging on eating out and shopping, without even remembering what I had ate or bought! And, I hadn’t saved or invested any of it.

I wondered why I felt like I didn’t have any money.

The reason was simple—I wasn’t spending my money mindfully. I hadn’t been asking myself, ‘Do I genuinely want this?’ or ‘Am I just bored and craving chicken nuggets?

My spending was impulsive and lacking intention.

Can you tell I’m hungry writing this article?

My second month of budgeting

After what I learned, my second month of budgeting was a game-changer. I constructed a proper budget, using the 50/30/20 rule as a guideline. This rule suggests allocating 50% of your income to ‘needs’ like rent, food, and transportation, 30% to ‘wants’ such as shopping, and 20% to savings. Eventually, I adjusted these proportions to save more and spend less on the ‘wants’ category.

During that second month, I stuck to my budget like a pro, and I felt a significant shift.

Budgeting made me feel like I had more money, even though my income remained the same

By making saving a priority, I was able to set aside funds in my savings account instead of mindlessly spending on random crap.

Plus, I began to truly prioritise my ‘fun’ purchases. That cute dress with a slightly awkward fit? I didn’t buy it. I was craving a bubble tea really badly? I did buy it. Being mindful of my spending transformed my mindset from ‘where did all my money go?‘ to ‘I’m spending on the things I love while saving at the same time.’

After month two, I was a convert. I continued to budget for years, tracking every cent and creating a new spreadsheet every year. This allowed me to accelerate my financial goals substantially. With the power of budgeting, I hit some really cool goals which you can read more about below:

My first year of budgeting taught me that just knowing where your money goes is incredibly powerful.

Budgeting lessons I learned since 2017

Since I started my budgeting journey, many things have changed.

I experimented with various budgeting methods, from using apps to my phone’s notes app, but in the end, I found solace in the trusty old spreadsheet! The reason behind this choice is that I don’t think there is a good budgeting app out there. The automated apps I tried often misclassified expenses, and tracking things like transferring a friend $15 for lunch was hard. Thus, the spreadsheet became my go-to tool. And, still is!

Over the years, I’ve come to understand the true importance of budgeting.

Last year, I had a lot going on. I started a new job and moved interstate to Sydney, where I moved in with my partner for the first time. During this time, I stopped budgeting for a couple of months, assuming that my spending habits, built over the years, would keep me on track. Oh, how wrong I was!

Without budgeting, I made zero financial progress. I didn’t save anything, didn’t invest at all, and to make things worse, I couldn’t even remember where all that money went instead. I wish I could attribute it to bougie dinners or designer bags, but I simply lived my normal life!

Unfortunately, I didn’t spend it all on food. Which, is always worth spending money on!

So, I went back and tracked every cent over those missing months. What I found was that I had regressed to mindlessly spending on random crap, falling back into the same bad spending habits I had before I started budgeting.

It was a wake-up call, highlighting how easily one can slip into detrimental financial behaviours. The key lesson I learned from this experience is that I must always incorporate some form of budgeting into my life. While some people, like my partner, achieve financial success without needing a budget, I’ve come to accept that I am not one of them!

After 6 years, how do I budget?

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive when I mention my budgeting journey is how I actually budget today.

As I mentioned earlier, I still rely on a spreadsheet, but it has come a long way from the manual version I used back in 2017. How so? Well, now I can conveniently add my expenses using a simple form that automatically populates the spreadsheet!

This method has proven to be the best budgeting solution I’ve come across, at least until someone develops an awesome automated money app that can actually replace a spreadsheet. For now, this approach works quite well for me.

One of the reasons why I love this method is that it reduces the manual effort required to sit down and input every expense. Additionally, I can add expenses and income on the go while waiting for a train or a friend, making use of any spare moment to quickly record my daily purchases.

The added benefit is that these purchases are automatically organised within the spreadsheet, which includes helpful graphs and category breakdowns, among other features. If you’re interested in trying out this spreadsheet and form setup…

I’m happy to share that the budget I use is completely free! If you’d like to get a copy for yourself, you can click below:

My budgeting journey

My budgeting journey has certainly been interesting.

From my humble beginnings of manually tracking expenses in a simple spreadsheet to discovering an efficient method that automates things, I’ve learned invaluable lessons along the way.

Budgeting has become an integral part of my financial success, and I now understand its undeniable significance. I will always be a budgeting girlie!

Through tracking every cent I spent over the years, I gained a great understanding of my spending habits, identified areas for improvement, and took control of my financial future.

I realised that budgeting isn’t about restricting myself or feeling deprived – it’s about making deliberate choices and aligning my spending with my values and goals.

Budgeting empowered me to save more, invest wisely, and prioritise the things that truly bring me joy. It also (scarily) showed me how easy it is to fall back into naughty spending patterns, reinforcing how important it is to spend mindfully.

If you’re new to the world of money management, I encourage you to embark on your own budgeting journey. Explore different methods (even if it’s good old pen and paper!), find one that works for you, and commit to the process.

Embrace the power of tracking your expenses, setting realistic goals, and spending mindfully achieve your money dreams!

I Asked A Boss Lady CEO Her Advice For Young Women. Here’s What She Said!

As a young woman in the professional world, I can attest to how tough it can be.

I started my first corporate marketing job at 19 which, being an exciting learning experience, was also scary! It was intimidating working with colleagues who were decades older, well-experienced and knew what they were doing. 

However, over the years, I’ve successfully navigated the professional world whether that is negotiating, asking for salary increases or simply just being confident in my actions. What helped empower me the most throughout this journey was mentorship.

Working with other ambitious women helped build my confidence around work, money and helped me become much more self-aware.

But, finding a suitable mentor to help you level up can be hard! I recall, I once joined a mentorship program where my mentor ghosted me again and again – I never ended up meeting with her the entire program!

Luckily, finding a fantastic mentor is much easier now thanks to Elladex.

Elladex is the go-to place for professional, ambitious women to connect with mentors and access daily learning to achieve their goals.I was fortunate enough to interview Shivani Gopal, CEO & Founder of Elladex.

She shared the journey of both her and Elladex and some fantastic advice for young women. I learned a lot from her and I hope you will too!

Ruba: What inspired you to help focus the gender pay gap? Was there a specific experience that triggered this for you?

Shivani: When I was working as a financial planner, I started noticing the sheer magnitude of the gender pay gap and how it can affect women’s lives and careers. I was seeing my female clients earn up to $100,000 less than their male counterparts, and when bonuses or contract negotiations were made, I saw how women were the ones often left with the short end of the stick.

This led me to step in and start coaching my female clients on how they can ask for what they deserve in the workplace. I then realised that women all over Australia – and the world – could benefit from greater access to development resources and mentorship, so I set my sights on helping at a grassroots level with The Remarkable Woman – now Elladex.

Ruba: What key pieces of advice would you give young women who are “fighting for a seat at the table” (like me!)?

Shivani: My biggest piece of advice, and something that I’ve personally seen work wonders, is finding someone who is already in the room to mentor you – someone who believes in you, will invest in you and will use their position at the table to help get you a seat too. We all want to be ‘sponsored’ into roles, and opening new networks. What we need to realize is that sponsorship first starts with mentorship – so always look for a good mentor first, and experience the benefit of having more doors open to you. 

Another important step is to invest in yourself. Do the work to understand who you are as well as what your strengths and weaknesses are both personally and professionally. Getting to know yourself is so powerful because it allows you to identify where you stand out and gives you the ability to leverage your strengths. It’s up to us to know these things about ourselves, it’s only through that clarity that we can leverage our own superpowers.

Ruba: That’s great! I love the focus on investing in yourself – I’m trying to do a bit more of that these days. Last question! Where do you hope to see ELLADEX in the next 5 years? What is your vision?

Shivani: In five years, I see ELLADEX as a global network that helps women across all backgrounds and walks of life reach their full potential. We want to see our  super-app driving the growth of women’s everyday lives, allowing them to wake up in the morning, meditate, learn, and accelerate their success. I’m envisioning a community of a billion women – because why not! There’s no shortage of ambitious women in the world, so the sky’s the limit.

Ruba: I love that! Thank you so much for your time. I learned a lot from speaking with you and I am sure my readers will feel like same. Looking forward to watching the Elladex journey!

Shivani Gopal is the CEO of Elladex and an expert in money and inclusion. 

About Shivani Gopal: Shivani Gopal has over 15 years of experience in the financial, professional and gender equality space. After being denied personal mentoring in her twenties, she set about making personal development, professional growth and financial literacy accessible to all women.

Shivani has spent the last six years perfecting successful mentoring programs for women in business via The Remarkable Woman, and in October 2022 pivoted her database of 25,000 women seeking support to a new digital mentor marketplace, ELLADEX and the ELLADEX super-app, which combines the latest in data-matching and machine learning technology to create tailored bite-sized learning experiences for women at all professional levels.

Warning: Fake Accounts Are Being Set Up Of This Blog On Instagram

I only have one Instagram account, @themoneymarketerblog which you can check out by clicking here. Any variation of this is a fake account. So far, we’ve had themoneymarketreblog, themoneymarketblog, and latest is themoneymarketerblogg.

A couple of months ago, a friend sent me screenshot of what looked like my own Instagram profile but wasn’t my own.

Looks like someone had set up a fake account of my blog Instagram! They had even taken all my stories, used my picture, real name – everything. Of course, I made a post about it right away and had several accounts report it until it was finally taken down.

Phew, I thought. This just moved from being a headache to a fun story I can tell people. Well, one week later another fake account was back. Of course, we went through the motions before another account was set up. Great! During this time, I’ve tried to gather as much information as I can. Here’s what I know.

Who is the impersonator? What do I know so far?

So far, I know that the fake account was set up by a young, male scammer based in Nigeria who is not well educated.

It was fairly easy to figure out the country as they left on where one of the Instagram accounts was based in one time. Many of my followers showed me conversations they had with this particular individual which allowed me to understand their motive, gender, age and more.

The individual behind this account has also ben sending me aggressive, hateful messages which to me indicates they are a younger person, likely a teenager.

What is going to be done about these accounts?

I’ve had success with these accounts being taken down in the short-term but I do have a long-term plan which will take a bit more time.

If you run into one of these fake accounts, please do report them for impersonation. I recommend not engaging with them so you don’t put yourself at risk.

Rent 101: How Much To Spend On Rent

Let’s talk about rent. Are you wondering how much to spend on rent? Read on to find out.

Why do I rent?

Like many of us, housing is the biggest cost out of my budget each month. I live in inner-city Sydney, in a trendy area and it is not cheap. I often get asked why I don’t own a home and pay a mortgage instead, especially since I am a finance blogger.

The truth is, while I’d love to live in a home I own – it isn’t the right time for me. Sydney is impossibly expensive. So, I’d want to buy in Melbourne where the median house price is just under one million dollars. As frugal as I am, that would require over $185,000 upfront including all costs. That’s a lot of money.

Even if I came up with the cash, I’d still struggle to get approved for a mortgage of $900,000. This is as I still am paying off my HECS debt/student loan which significantly reduces how much you can borrow.

However, I am going to buy a cheaper investment property so I can own some real estate without bankrupting myself. You can read more about how and why I’m buying an investment property:

You can also read on how to invest in real estate without actually buying it by reading my article on REITs:

That’s why I rent. With that in mind, let’s move on to how much to spend on rent.

How much to spend on rent?

A common guideline is that you should not spend more than 30% of your pre-tax income on rent.

While this is a good baseline, it definitely depends on your situation. You may pay more than 30% if you live in inner-city Sydney or Melbourne (like me) because it is expensive. The main reason I spend less than this percentage is due to sharing an apartment with another person. If you live on your own, renting in high cost of living cities can be astronomical.

Personally, I’d say if you can pay your rent and bills comfortably and can still save at the end of each month – don’t be stressed about spending more than 30%. However, if you are struggling with your finances then it may be time to look at strategies to pay less rent.

Why should you save on rent?

It is important to save on rent where you can for a few reasons. Firstly, being one of the biggest expenses in a budget, it makes a big impact.

Let me tell you about my experience as an example. My current apartment is my second home in Sydney, being much cheaper than my previous place as I wanted to save more money. It is a little further away from work and I am now sharing a bathroom so it is a downgrade.

However, just by paying less rent I save the equivalent of my entire grocery budget for the year.

This is why saving on big fixed costs like housing and transport is so powerful – it makes an astronomical impact on a budget. I knew that cancelling my Netflix subscription for example, would be a drop in the bucket. Therefore, by focusing my energy on reducing my rent instead – I made a real impact on my finances while keeping the fun things that make me happy.

For example, by selling my car I saved $5,334 in one year – you can read my article on it by clicking below.

That is a massive cost saving in my budget that I simply couldn’t get otherwise. Prioritise saving on these costs if you can, so you can spend more on the things that give you joy.

Cancelling your Netflix subscription or not buying coffee will only save you $500 a year while paying less rent could save you $5,000.

How much do you spend on rent? Is it under or over the 30% figure? I hope this article gave you some insight into how much to spend on rent and why it is so important to keep this cost down!

Is Expensive Makeup Worth It? Your Cheat Sheet On Where To Spend

For those of us who love makeup, it can be hard to figure out if it is worth it to buy a more expensive item.

As a makeup connoisseur for the last decade, I think that it really depends!

There are unfortunately a LOT of brands who charge obscene amounts for bad products.

There’s also brands who charge next to nothing with incredible, high-quality products. Therefore, I use both expensive makeup and cheap makeup products. I love my Estee Lauder foundation and WILL spend $74 on it. However, some of my favourite beauty brand that offer excellent value are Morphe, Essence and Australis.

So, is expensive makeup worth it?

Not always. It depends on the brand and product!

Also, it really is about experimentation and research – trying product samples, reading reviews and blog posts. Not making any impulse purchases, especially if you are new to makeup.

It is such a disappointment spending a lot of money on a product only for it to perform poorly.

As mentioned, the product itself matters a great deal too. I’ve made a cheat sheet to help you decide on if you should buy an expensive or cheap version of an item.

Expensive makeup products that ARE worth it:

Foundation: Expensive foundation makes a big difference. I always struggle to find my exact colour match in cheaper foundations, they are always a little off. In addition, cheaper foundation don’t give you that “airbrushed” finish and doesn’t last throughout the entire day.

Yes, I have tried popular cheap foundations but they aren’t half as good as the bougie ones.

If you have clear skin, you can get away with an inexpensive one but I have lots of scarring and pigmentation that needs to be covered up!

Concealer: Great concealers are worth it. Cheaper concealers either won’t give you the coverage you need or they will be too cakey. I also struggle to find concealers that suit my skin as a POC.

With expensive concealers, a little goes a long way and you don’t have to buy them as often.

Eyeshadow: Eyeshadows last a very long time. I have eyeshadow palettes from five years ago (okay, maybe I should get rid of them) that I still use regularly. It makes sense to spend a bit more money on a makeup item that will last you years, think of it as an investment.

Cheap eyeshadows tend to lack pigmentation and have fall-out which messes up your makeup.

I recommend investing in one high-quality eyeshadow palette that will be your best friend. This palette is one of my favourites.

Blush & Bronzer: Similar to eyeshadow, blush and bronzer are two makeup items that can last a long time. I’ve only finished two blushes in my life, and I’ve been wearing makeup for over ten years!

High-quality blushes and bronzers are more pigmented so a little goes a long way and the finish is much smoother. A couple of years ago, I splurged and purchased this Chanel powder to use as a bronzer. Look, I usually think “designer” brand makeup is a waste money but I did enjoy this bronzer. After using it everyday for years, I have finally hit pan. Even with daily use, it will last me another 1 – 2 years.

Yes, a $90 blush is a lot, but if it lasts you for three years it is “cheaper” than a $20 one that needs to be replaced

Okay, before I ruin your budget – not all expensive makeup is worth it! Here are products I recommend saving on.

Makeup that you can save on:

Liquid eyeliner: My favourite liquid eyeliner is easy to use, stays on all day and has a strong black pigment. And, it’s only $5! I’ve used expensive eyeliner that cost five times more and I find my cheaper one performs better. Save yourself some cash and buy a cheap liquid eyeliner.

Mascara: Expensive mascara is not worth it to me as you have to replace a mascara every three months. Not replacing it can cause eye irritations and infections, ouch! Look, I am a frugal girl. I am not going to throw away a $40 mascara every three months! That’s a $160 a year. Therefore, I recommend the cheap route. My mascara costs $8 and it is fantastic. I also have no guilt tossing it out every three months.

Lipstick: There is a LOT of excellent inexpensive lipstick out there. My favourite ones are from Morphe which are $15. They have great colours and last all day. You usually have one foundation or one bronzer but you never have just one lipstick. It makes sense to go cheaper for items you need multiple of. Buying expensive lipsticks can add up quick especially if you want to build a collection of colours. And, the bougie ones aren’t much better than the cheaper ones.

Fake Eyelashes: Okay, this isn’t strictly makeup but I wanted to add it in. Cheap fake eyelashes are the best! My favourite ones from Daiso cost $2.80, I just use them with Ardell lash glue. I even re-use them. My tip? Look for eyelashes with thin bands. This will make them look less “cheap”, and more natural. They are also much easier to put on and aren’t as uncomfortable.

Think about cost per year

Here’s my final tip that I touched on. Rather than seeing the cost of a product upfront, take a long-term view. How much will the product cost you per year? How many times will you use it? Spend more on products that you will use more often and ones that will last you longer. Let’s put this into practice with a mascara and my Chanel bronzer.

  • “Expensive” bronzer: $92, will last 3 years. Cost per year $30.67
  • Cheaper” Mascara: $17, will last 3 months. Cost per year $68

Therefore, looking at this way – you save more money in the long run by buying the bronzer even though it costs more.

Here is a cheat sheet I put together. Save the image on your phone and refer to it next time you’re out shopping!

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That’s it! You now know if expensive makeup is worth it. If you’re someone who uses makeup regularly, I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you agree with my list? Or have a different opinion? Leave a comment below!

Frugal Living Diaries: Turning Trash To Treasure

Frugal living will have you excited about literal trash.

I wanted to share a frugal activity I did over the weekend – turning rubbish into something useful. With being frugal, I love shopping second-hand. Op and thrift shops are where I get a lot of my clothes, bags, furniture, decor and more.

However, sometimes I become extra-frugal and look to things people have thrown out. We have found great pieces of furniture on the side of the road!

I love living frugally as it allows me to save money while also saving the planet.

On a lazy Sunday, my partner brought me a gift. While he was taking our bins out, he came across an item discarded near the bins by one of our neighbours.

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Found in the trash!

Now, a normal woman might recoil in disgust “Babe, you brought me a gift from the trash?!”

But, not me! I was super excited!

He brough me a spice organisation tray with twelve little jars. A way to organise my spices was something I was looking to invest in, so getting it for free was amazing! Best of all, it was rather clean in great condition.

My previous spice situation was okay, but not great. Of course, being the frugal person I am, I’ve been storing my spices in old glass jars from pastas and sauces.

While this method was frugal, functional and reduced waste – it was pretty ugly. All my jars were different sizes and colours so it didn’t look aesthetic. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see 12 identical storage jars.

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Time to get to work…

The process of turning trash to treasure

While the organiser was in pretty good shape, it needed a bit of work.

Here’s how I turned it from trash to treasure.

I started with giving the wooden tray a wipe and removing all the sticky labels from each jar, as I wanted to customise it for my spices. For this, I just used a butter knife to slowly peel off each label. Although they were pretty clean, I still ran them through the dishwasher to make sure they were sparkling.

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While they were in the dishwasher, I looked through my spices to decide who would live in each of the little jars. I then made a note of the 12 spices.

Next, I created my own custom jar labels just using some coloured paper, pen and tape. I kept one of the original labels, using that to trace out the shape on some paper. I then cut the pieces out, and wrote down the name of each spice. Also added little hearts for a cute touch. Sure, I could have bought labels or stickers but I wanted to use what I had to keep things extra frugal. Why spend money when you don’t have to, right?

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Once my jars were sparkling, I attached my homemade labels using small pieces of tape. Finally, I filled the jars with the spices.

The final result looked great!

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Frugal living is fun!

Throughout this entire process, I had a lot of fun.

It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon activity to set up my new spices and I enjoyed customising it.

Often times, people think that being frugal means you have to live a boring and sad life just to save some money. However, I find that is not the case!

I love the thrill of coming across an amazing second-hand find – it is so satisfying, almost like a real-life treasure hunt. Frugal DIY projects are fun and help spark creativity. Here is my coffee table which I transformed earlier this year for $11:

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We nearly bought a new table, but frugal living saved the day!

If you want to start being more frugal, I highly recommend it! You can learn more about living a frugal life by checking out some of my blog posts below:

I Got Rid Of My Car And Saved $5,334 In One Year, My Review On A Car-Free Life

I’ve lived a car-free life for the last 12 months and here’s how it went.

I’ll share the impact it had on my life and real numbers on how much money I saved.

Why I sold my car

At the start of 2022, I moved from Melbourne to Sydney to take up a dream job offer. This move meant that I went from more of a suburban area to inner-city living.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I should bring my car down or not. It was funny, I had recommendations from both ends of the spectrum. I had people telling me that I couldn’t possibly survive without a car in Sydney, and those telling me I could easily get by.

In the end, I decided to get rid of my car.

The main reason I used my car was for commuting to work.

My old girl & I.

At my previous job, I drove around 40 minutes each way to get to the office so a car was essential. However, after moving to Sydney I could walk to work. I figured if I didn’t need a car everyday, it wold make sense to not have one.

So, I parted from my dear old 2006 Mazda 3 (“Mazzy”) after a blissful 4 years and jumped into a car-free life.

How much it cost me to own a car in 2021

Before I talk about today, let’s rewind to how much Mazzy cost me.

I bought her in cash for $6,000 second-hand so I never had to worry about a car repayment. Actually, I am a firm advocate for buying cars second-hand, you can read my article by clicking below:

Even with buying a car upfront, it still came with many costs.

As a meticulous budget-er, I calculate every cent I spend. This includes all car-related costs as well. Here’s how much I spent in 2021 on my car.

In 2021, I spent a total of $6,411 on my car.

Here are the costs.

Petrol: $4,294 per year / Driving to and from work for 40 minutes each way, petrol costs added up quickly. I also enjoyed taking weekend road trips here and there.

Registration (Victoria): $850 per year / This fixed registration cost is what all car owners have to pay in Victoria. It was always painful when it was time to pay up.

Car servicing & maintenance: $737 / Other than the standard twice a year service, Mazzy being an old girl always needed a couple of things repaired. In 2018, I needed a $1,800 repair (from a hit and run) so this was a good year.

Car insurance (Third-party only): $530 / For an old, inexpensive car I never felt the need to purchase comprehensive car insurance. I always stuck to basic third-party.

That’s right, I spent an average of $534 a month on my car. Not including the cost of the car or car repayments.

On top of this, I still spent additional money on transport. I still caught trains to the city and Ubers after late-night events. So, my total monthly cost on transport was even higher!

In 2022, I will spend around $1,077 on transport.

Okay, 2022 isn’t over yet, but in the last 10 months on average I have spent just under $90 on transport.

As I walk to work, the coffee shop, to buy groceries etc I can go days without taking any kind of transportation. When I do need to, I often opt for public transport and occasionally take Ubers if it is late. This helps me keep my transport costs low.

This means by not owning a car, I saved $5,334 in one year. That is $444 a month which is crazy!

Of course, I also didn’t include additional Uber and public transport costs on top of a car so I bet I saved even more than that figure!

Saving an extra $444 a month is hard. It means making a lot of sacrifices in the budget. However, by making this drastic lifestyle change I was able to bring my fixed living costs down!

Just by not owning a car for four years, I could save over $21,000.

What a car-free life is actually like

You may be wondering, is it really hard to live without a car? Has my lifestyle suffered?

As someone who drove nearly everyday for 4 years, here are my thoughts.

I enjoy a car-free life and don’t miss owning a car.

As I live in a well-connected area, I rarely miss having a car and enjoy my lifestyle.

As mentioned earlier, I walk a lot. Being able to walk to work has significantly boosted the quality of my life. It’s also a great way to keep fit without trying. I’m also close to trains and buses which I use often. I also used to hate taking buses, however they have really grown on me!

I seldom use Ubers and Taxis – only when I really need them. Actually, this isn’t a frugal thing but more so because they cancel so much! Especially in my area. I’ve experienced four or five drivers cancel on me multiple times, so I prefer the reliability of public transport.

I also enjoy not having to do the “adult stuff” you have to when you own a car. I used to dislike having to fill up petrol, fill air in my tyres and get my car serviced, which I don’t have to anymore!

Overall, I think it has been a great decision to live a car-free life.

The one time I wish I had a car

That being said, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

In the last 12 months, there was only one time where I really missed my car – when my parents stayed with me in Sydney for a week.

Unlike myself, my parents didn’t enjoy catching the public transport to places, which they had to – since I didn’t own a car. They quickly got tired of having to keep catching the train and eventually switched to Ubers at the end of their trip.

I felt guilty I couldn’t drive them around and wished I had a car for that week. However, other than this instance I never felt like I needed a car in the past year. Next time they visit, I am renting a car!

Will I always be car-free?

While I love living the car-free life, I see myself eventually purchasing a car after a couple of years.

I don’t think I’ll always be lucky enough to live in a well-connected area that is walking distance to work. If I get a job that is a 20 minute drive from home, I am buying a car.

Let’s see what the future holds.

I hope this article gave you some insight into what it is like to live a car-free life. Funnily enough, if you told me 18 months ago that I would be car-free, I would have never believed you! I was so reliant on my car that I always believed it was essential.

Are you thinking about giving up your car? Or are you living a car-free life? I’d love to hear more, you can contact me by clicking here.

Laser Hair Removal Can Be Cheap, Here’s How I Did It For A Fraction Of The Cost

Here’s how I did laser hair removal for cheap, saving me over $5,000.

My hair loves to grow.

I’m the kind of person where if I shaved off my entire eyebrow, it would grow back within a few weeks. I have a lot of hair and it gets everywhere. As you can imagine, maintaining my hair used to take a lot of time and effort.

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My natural hair!

Many of my friends had raved about laser hair removal. A magical solution that would save me so much time, I had to check it out.

After learning that laser hair removal was relatively pain-free, my next question was price.

It didn’t take me long to discover that laser hair removal is very expensive. Like, thousands of dollars type of expensive.

How much does professional laser hair removal cost?

The cost of professional laser hair removal varies.

In Australia, clinics usually charge $300 – 400 for a full body session. And, you need around 6-12 sessions to get a full result. This means you could be spending $1,800 – $4,800 to get laser hair removal, for your entire body. Of course, this is just an average.

As previously mentioned, my hair is strong, stubborn and grows extremely fast. It’s like all the calories I eat go straight to my hair unlike something useful, like my brain. I had a feeling that it would cost me personally a bit more than that, and I was right.

I spoke to several women with the same hair type and amount as myself. They all paid between $5,000 – $10,000 to get rid of everything. Plus, they had to get maintenance sessions on top of this cost to keep it up!

The cost was far too high for me. It seemed ridiculous to spend thousands of dollars on hair removal when I could invest that instead.

So, being the frugal queen I am, I looked into cheaper alternatives for permanent hair removal.

DIY permanent hair removal

The idea of DIY permanent hair removal really scared me at first.

After all, I had no experience doing something like this and was scared I would burn myself or such. So, I started with doing a LOT of research. I discovered that there were many safe and easy options for at-home permanent hair removal.

After much research, I decided to buy an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) hair removal device.

At-home Laser and IPL hair removal devices range greatly in price. They start at the $100 mark and some of them are upwards of $1,000 – I decided to go somewhere in the middle.

I purchased the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 for around $500 as it was highly-rated with great reviews.

The IPL device I bought

My initial concern was if it would actually work. Would it just reduce the hair or actually get rid of everything?

I crossed my fingers and got to work.

The process. Was it easy? Did it hurt?

The process of actually doing the hair removal was pretty simple.

You just need to shave, then zap your skin by clicking the button. There are different modes for how strong you want the laser to be and two different caps to target different areas. The device itself was comfortable to hold, had a long wire and also came in a cute bag for easy storage.

It also doesn’t hurt. Which is fantastic as I still have trauma from waxing.

Sometimes, I felt a bit of a zap especially if I missed shaving a hair but the “pain” was pretty minimal.

I did mess up once and gave myself a tattoo

One time, I did make a mistake with the IPL tool.

On my leg, I missed a few areas so I used some eyeliner to mark them.

So, when I was doing the session I’d know which areas needed extra attention. In the process, the eyeliner I drew with also got zapped by the machine.

And…it just stayed there for months. It sucked as there was a long line across my leg. This was 100% my fault and not to do with the machine – they do recommend using it on clean skin. Luckily, it disappeared after a few months.

Results, did it work? Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 Review

The results were fantastic.

In 12 months of usage, most of my body hair is gone.

However, there were a few bumps along the road.

Braun says this device should give you visible hair reduction in 4 weeks. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for me. Look, I wasn’t surprised knowing how stubborn my hair is. It was still growing as fast as ever at 4 weeks.

At the 12 week mark, Braun suggested to reduce the session frequency to once a month. But, it took me 12 weeks of weekly usage before I actually started noticing changes. So, I kept doing weekly sessions. 12 months later, I still do bi-weekly sessions on more stubborn areas and monthly sessions on areas with finer hair.

I am so pleased with the results.

Yes, it did take a full year to achieve “permanent” hair removal however I still think it is well worth it. The $500 I spent on the device is money well-spent.

Doing DIY permanent hair removal has saved me so much time and money. I have saved thousands of dollars compared to if I had it done in a salon.

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Smooth as a baby!

Would I recommend DIY laser or IPL hair removal?

Yes, I would definitely recommend it.

Especially if you are someone who can be disciplined with giving yourself weekly sessions. Not only is it 90% cheaper than professional sessions, but there are many other benefits.

It saves time as you don’t have to visit a salon and you can do your sessions when it is easiest for you – even if it’s on a Sunday or 3am. You also don’t need to pay extra for any maintenance sessions as you can keep doing the up-keep with the device you already own.

That’s how I was able to get permanent hair removal for a fraction of the cost. Are you looking into DIY hair removal? Or, if you have had laser hair removal done in a salon, how much did it cost you?

I’d love to hear from you, contact me by clicking here.