Never drink your rent (and other sensible life advice)
It can be a dry old topic, personal finance, and it can sometimes inspire feelings of sadness due to one’s lack of savings, which is why I used to imagine it might be more fun to work in in banking pocketing ludicrous bonuses for throwing around other people’s money while sustaining a truly ludicrous social life possibly due to illicit substances.
Unfortunately, I have since worked for a bank and I didn’t once get to roll around in piles of dosh that belonged to other people while quaffing champagne at 2pm on a yacht. Très disappointing.
So, over the years I have been forced to look at other ways to improve my financial situation – and fortunately for you, my chums, today I deign to share some of these tips with you.
1. Never drink your rent (also applies to mortgages)
A family member (who shall not be named) told me this the year I went flatting, I assume based on his own painful experience. If you’re reading this thinking ‘who would be so stupid as to drink their rent’ then I think you’re underestimating the lure of more booze to an already intoxicated person having a really good night out. All logic goes out the window and straight to the bar. I have danced perilously close to this cliff edge on a number of occasions and it is only a) the voice of reason and b) the knowledge various flatmates would fill my bed with drawing pins if I failed to pay rent that stopped me from toppling over the ravine and into the valley of total destitution from whence no rent can be paid.
2. Always take your lunch on your first day
I am actually a keen follower of the ‘always take your lunch’ school of thought – not just on your first day (although this is good if it turns out you work in a wasteland with nothing but fried badger available). It might seem naff to some but if you’re spending $10 a day on snackery, then that’s $50 a week you don’t have for stamp collecting or pet food for Captain Waffles. No one likes making lunch or having to think about making lunch which is why I personally always cook too much for dinner and take that instead. And there is the pleasure of watching your colleagues venture into the rain to purchase a luncheon probably quite high in saturated fats while you’re sitting pretty scoffing last night’s pasta surprise which tastes both free and surprisingly good the next day.
3. If it’s cold, volunteer to cook or do the dishes
This depends a little on your living situation, but if you’re cold, with limited heating and you can’t afford more, you’re wearing all your merino and you’re still shivering, then cook. And if you can’t cook because it’s someone else’s turn and they will not relinquish the saucepans, then once you have eaten said warm meal – do the dishes. If you don’t want to be caught using your hairdryer as a personal heater, destroying the power bill in the process and attracting the wrath of those you live with and incurring a bed full of drawing pins, then run a sink full of hot water and get stuck in.
4. Save 10% of your pay regardless of how little it is
I was fairly useless at this until quite recently. Particularly when I was in my twenties. If I had a goal to save for (like a plane ticket to somewhere way more interesting) then I was fine. If I was just supposed to be just saving for whatever, e.g. a rainy day (weirdest thing to save for, right), then yeah, nah.
5. Claim for stuff at tax time – legitimate stuff, of course
For many years, I had little understanding of how you should best do your tax return, probably because I was too busy not drinking my rent and doing dishes instead. But if you’ve made donations over $5 you can claim tax credits, and if you’re self-employed or work from home, you can claim on your expenses – but keep in mind you will have to prove all this so this is not the time to use your imagination and claim you have a home office with all the trimmings when you actually work from your bed.
The above certainly isn’t rocket science probably because I’m not a rocket scientist but it’s been surprisingly useful and kept those wolves from the door (I have no idea why they’d be there in the first place) so ignore it at your peril.
Penelope Whitson is a freelance writer and comms professional who likes custard squares, so long as they are not frozen. In her spare time Penelope enjoys reading, slothing and overreacting to apostrophe crimes.All stories by: Penelope Whitson