Why you can have your smashed avo and eat it too

Breakfast catch ups are probably my favourite. Catching up with friends over a good morning coffee are the best way to spend lazy Sunday mornings. Then there’s all the amazing menu choices. For someone who is plagued with indecisiveness, it makes sense to stick to what you know and just roll with it. My go to is smashed avocado on toast because ummm…such deliciousness.

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Source: All About That Food

Now, I’m not much of a budget-maker (I talked about it here). I kind of just roll with it and try not to put too much pressure on myself – as long as it all works out in the end. Well some people have other ideas!

I read this article in the Australian over the weekend (which has caused a bit of controversy, in case you haven’t heard) and was gobsmacked. The reason millennials are suffering in the housing-affordability crisis? Smashed avo(cado)s of course.

I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.

There. I’ve said it. I have said what every secret middle-aged moraliser has thought but has never had the courage to verbalise.

Woah. Hold up. What?

Firstly, I’m not sure where you’re going to eat breakfast but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone charge $22 for avocado on toast #justsaying.

The maths doesn’t add up

Even if I was spending $22 on smashed avo 3 times every week (which I definitely don’t), it would add up to $3,432 per year. Generally, most banks require a 20% deposit. So after 1 year of saving on all those smashed avos, that deposit would be 20% of $17,160. After 5 years and an accumulated deposit of $17,160 from all those smashed avos you went without, that deposit would qualify you for a potential loan amount of $85,000. 10 years? A potential loan amount of $171,600 – still a far cry from buying your own home.

Median house prices for June 2016? Brisbane – $ 521,915. Melbourne – $ 740,995. Sydney – $ 1,021,968. Check this out for more info.

Hmmm. Yeah I’m not convinced my smashed avo habit is to blame for house prices being out of reach.

Why shouldn’t you have fun? It’s your life

It is not everyone’s goal to own their own home. There seems to be such a societal force that equates success with home ownership. Some people want to explore all of the exciting places around the world. Some people would rather spend their keep on their lifestyle. How is criticising young people going out to eat helping anyone?

I’m sure that Bernard Salt wasn’t just referring to smashed avo on toast. Rather the perception of millennials’ over-indulgent lifestyle. The concept of people living above their means is nothing new. In fact, isn’t that just a byproduct of the consumerism condition?

I think it is a bit ridiculous to expect anyone to cut out leisure spending when they have the funds. Live a little. There’s no point to remove all the little fun things from your life just in the pursuit of a financial goal. Life is more important than that. Expecting all millennials to do so is unrealistic. After all, why place this expectation on millennials and not other areas of the community. Of course people would be better off if they didn’t spend their money.

What else would you rather be doing?

I don’t know about you, but I get terrible hangovers. Pretty much the entire day is spent in bed watching Netflix, drinking Gatorade, eating all the greasy foods and feeling sorry for myself. I’m just not in the right place to leave the house, let alone socialise over a breakfast date!

Drinking is expensive. Even if you stay in. You buy the alcohol. The inevitable Uber into town when everyone is sufficiently drunk to be down for that. Paying entry fees. More buying of alcohol and shouting rounds. Then the late night drinking food (who can go past a kebab at 2 am?). The Uber home (sometimes coupled with a quick stop at your local fast food joint if you managed to resist the greasy kebab from earlier). Then you think it’s all over. Until that hangover-induced spending spree I mentioned above.

Now let’s just take a minute. All those hipster millennials sitting around at the cafe for breakfast dates have just avoided all of that (unless they have livers of steel). That $22 avo on toast isn’t looking so expensive now is it?

It’s all about perspective. What you see when you look at someone isn’t their full story. It’s about your story and what’s important to you. If avocados on toast on Sunday mornings do it for you, go right on ahead. It’s not gong to make that much difference anyway. I’m all for avoiding the pounding headaches after a late night drinking session.

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Saving doesn’t have to be a dirty word

Urgh! Sometimes the thought of having to save can bring down even the best of moods. The thought of having to go without by choice is enough to make most people keep scrolling. Saving doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

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Whether you’re saving for a house, a holiday or to buy that designer handbag you have had your eyes on, here are some tips that certainly got me through without feeling like I was missing out.

It’s all about priorities

I think it’s super important to recognise what is important to you. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice everything in the name of saving. I made a list (I am quite impartial to lists) of the things that mattered most to me…and least.

At the top of my important list were family, food and clothes. Family – I feel like this is self-explanatory. Food – I love eating out and trying exciting, new options. I mean who doesn’t love catching up with friend’s over coffee or some deliciousness. Clothes – retail therapy is probably the best way I know to make myself feel better. With this in mind, I decided that these were the things I would allow myself to splurge on a little.

On the flip side, this meant that I did need to make little sacrifices. Alcohol, for example, was on my unimportant list. This probably has something to do with my low tolerance for pretty much any intoxicating substance. When I go out with friends, I tend to stick to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks or steer clear altogether. To me, it actually doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice since it wasn’t that important to me anyway. You can probably imagine that this has saved me quite a lot over the years!

Have a think about what does and doesn’t matter to you and adjust your spending accordingly – you may be surprised at the results.

Budgets are over-rated

I don’t know about you, but I have certainly tried many a time to budget. These attempts always fail miserably. In theory they may perfect sense. It makes sense to keep a track of your spending. It makes sense to monitor it to make sure you spend less than you earn. It makes sense to figure out where your money is going. It just didn’t work for me.

The idea of a budget makes me so anxious. It makes me worry about everything I spend. It makes me dread going shopping or basically leaving the house to do anything that might involve spending money.

What has worked for me, is just being conscious about what I spend money on. It’s ok to splurge now and then – I just make up for it elsewhere. So it probably wasn’t the best idea to agree to so many dinner/lunch dates this week and my bank account is feeling it. The following week maybe I would make coffee at home before work instead of buying it in the city, or maybe I would be more organised and do a cook up for the week at home. As long as this is balanced, it doesn’t matter all that much where you spend your money. It’s better that you are happy and enjoying life.

Security

For me (please tell me I’m not the only one), money can really stress me out. The feeling of not knowing what could happen tomorrow, next week or next year. It can be a huge source of stress: if something happened and I needed some money fast, what would I do?

Having a separate account with some emergency savings has been the best gift to myself. By having it in a different account (I prefer with a different bank altogether) I can’t see the funds every time I log into internet banking (limit the temptation!) and then if I do need to delve into the funds, I just transfer them across – easy. Being with a different bank, it does take a couple of business days to clear, which was a perfect deterrent to stop me from using the money to splurge.

I saved about $4000 in this account – but how much you keep will depend on your income, spending habits and how keen you are to keep those savings locked away. I built this up by saving a little each week.

Saving without thinking

While I didn’t work out a budget per se, I did a rough estimate of how much I wanted to spend on essentials (rent, bills, transport), food (including eating out), and fun stuff each week. At the time my weekly income varied as I was working a couple of casual jobs while at uni. So what I would do is have all of my paychecks deposited into my savings account. Then I set up an auto-transfer payment for the amount of my weekly spending to go to my everyday account with the other bank. I would just go about my life with the money in my everyday account. I didn’t have to think about saving money – I didn’t have that option. It worked well for me.

In the past I had tried to transfer money each week to a savings account, but would always find myself making deals with myself. “Yeah I could transfer those savings, but you know I really want XYZ”. And so it would go that the savings wouldn’t build up at all. Does that sound familiar?

I always found saving easier when I was working towards something I wanted. Saving doesn’t have to be dreaded or difficult or a party-pooper. Let me know what your favourite saving tips are. Happy saving!