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!

My secrets to peaceful slumber

When you think about it, sleep shouldn’t be THAT difficult. You’ve been doing it since you were born. Why then do I spend countless nights laying in bed admiring my ceiling? I set out on a mission to boot the insomnia once and for all. Here I share the secrets (?) I learnt and used to finally get those much needed z’s.

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1: Create and stick to a sleep routine

Now when I first came across this I thought it was absurd. I thought, “Doing the same thing before bed every night won’t make a difference, pfft”. Then I tried it. It is probably the best thing I have found to help me sleep.

The premise is that if you do the same things before bed each night, it gets your brain into the mindset of sleeping. It’s like it subconsciously prepares you for a peaceful night’s sleep.

My routine involves having a teaspoon of honey (seriously all the good things like anti-bacterial, throat-soothing and makes the body release serotonin which promotes sleep) in herbal tea. I slowly sip this while unwinding, removing makeup and all the rest of it. A sleep playlist, of chilled songs that calm me are also a must have. I have been working on getting to bed around the same time each night – that still needs a bit of work.

2: Limit caffeine after lunch

Coffee is my guilty pleasure. The smell. The sensation of that first sip. A good cup of coffee can dust away all my worries and help me take on the day. I know that coffee has a pretty big affect on me though – probably more than most. The other day, I bought the most delicious chocolate covered coffee beans (from the Noosa Chocolate Factory). I had been so good but it was about 6 pm and I had some serious chocolate cravings – may have delved into the chocolate coffee bean supply. I DID NOT SLEEP FOR HOURS AND HOURS.

I have been working on not consuming any caffeine after midday. Some days this is more challenging than others for me. So worth it though when I have those blissful uninterrupted hours of sleep.

3: Before bed yoga

Sometimes I find this whole “wind-down” thing a bit out of reach. I would try and then end up getting frustrated with myself that my mind was running a thousand miles with all the things it wanted to think about. Yoga is a great way to calm your body and get ready for sleep.

Don’t be intimidated – I ain’t no pretzel. My idea of pre-bed yoga are some pretty chilled poses like child’s pose, cat pose and supine twist. Really just some super gentle stretching but makes such a difference! But if you are up for the more intense stuff before bed, go right ahead.

4: Escape technology

We spend so much of our time now days behind a screen. I probably borderline on a little too much. The white-blue light of a screen actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s day time. It can reset your body clock and make it almost impossible to fall asleep.

Many devices now have the option to change the colour of the display lighting to make it more warm – which is much better sleep-wise. On an Iphone, it’s under Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.

While this is great, turning off the computer/tablet/phone/other devices is even better. I have heard that some people will not bring any devices into the bedroom. I don’t know if I could even cope with this! For now I will settle for not using them 30 minutes before bed. At least that’s something, right?

5: Dim the lights

Kind of keeping with the technology theme, but this has made such a huge difference to me. When I moved into my unit, all of the fixed lighting had bright, stark white light bulbs. While this is great for offices, studios and photography, it is pretty poor for sleep.

One of the best things I did was replace most of the fixed bulbs and all of my lamps with warm light globes. When I’m starting to wind down at night, I switch from the few white lights to the warm ones and instantly notice the difference.

What helps you sleep better?

Inspiration: My top 5 inspo talks

It’s been one of those weeks! I am only just (FINALLY!!!) getting over this sickness that has dragged on for over a week. Feeling drained and behind, sometimes I just need a bit of a pick me up. We all do sometimes. So I thought I would share with you my favourite TED talks to watch when I’m feeling down or needing a little motivation.

1: Isaac Lidsky – What reality are you creating for yourself?

An amazingly eye-opening talk on the power of perception and vision. Isaac challenges you to think critically. Things that once seemed to be objective truths, are cast in the light of your perceptions. He challenges you to think differently, harness inner strength and look at the world through another lens. I find this talk incredibly powerful and makes me feel in control of my own life.

2: Lidia Yuknavitch – The beauty of being a misfit

OMG! For those days where you feel like you just don’t fit in (please tell me I’m not the only one!). I for one often fall into the familiar grasp of self-criticism. This talks helps me to re-evaluate: Find the beauty in the situation and the endless possibilities of life. It challenges me to look for the chances and opportunities available – instead of feeling like I need to fit in. Such a great pick me up (you deserve it).

3: Emilie Wapnick – Why some of us don’t have one true calling

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I DREADED this question – I still do. When I was in primary school I was torn. My answer was either an astronaut or a waitress. As I grew older this changed, but was more fragmented. All of the options. All of the interesting things, from engineering to painting, law to marketing, sculpture to community, were pulling me towards them. I felt so ostracised because I didn’t want to just choose one thing! This talk embraces this multi-inspired approach and inspires me to how this is good instead of weird.

4: Nonny de la Peña – The future of news? Virtual reality

This absolutely baffles my mind. I find it truly inspiring the amazing ideas people come up with. This is a fabulous and amazing innovation on the way news and events are delivered. Journalistic innovation to drive emotional reactions to stories. While it is a little way off delivering main stream news, it makes me feel like anything is possible.

5: Reshma Saujami – Teach girls bravery, not perfection

I confess I am a bit of a perfectionist. I always just took this for granted. So many of my girl friends also display these traits. I thought nothing of it. This talk really made things click for me. I find socialisation theory pretty fascinating. Reshma raises the idea that this perfectionism isn’t necessarily natural, but rather a result of socialisation. The perspective-shifting talk inspires me to throw away my fear of failure – well try to anyway.

Where do you get inspiration from?

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My run in with crochet

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I feel like such a nanna some times! I have a secret obsession with crochet. There’s something about the repetitiveness that creates something wonderful that really does it for me.

My Mum taught me to knit when I was about 7 years old. I never had the patience for it though! I would start a “project” with these grand ambitions and quickly lose interest. The number of times I would start, get about 20 rows in and then suddenly become fascinated by ALL THE OTHER EXCITING THINGS. It was something that I would pick up and now then. Always in winter. Usually when I was getting my procrastination on – because who really wants to adult all the time.

A couple of months ago, I was deep into one of those intense Youtube sessions where you completely lose track of time and stumble across amazing, unexpected (ok and sometimes weird) things that are the internet. It was then that I first watched a crochet tutorial. And another…quite a few in all honesty. I was hooked. This was something I had to try.

And I did.

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After (a lot) of trial and error, redoing, unwinding, screwing things up, I FINALLY got the hang of it. And kind of fell in love.

There’s something about twirling, twisting, inserting, removing that just clears my head. Ending up with a gorgeous creation is just a bonus. This is my first attempt at a blanket – probably a little ambitious for a first project but that’s how I roll.

While this is a super basic design, I really love the colour palette. It reminds me of the peaceful ocean, the sand, the waves gentling crashing. All those good things to think about while cuddling up with a good book, or maybe just to snuggle while cringe-watching the Bachelorette.

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