Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

When I woke up on my 19th birthday, deep in the streets of Aucklands North Shore, I didn’t have a cent to my name.

I was never phased by living on a tight budget because my friends and I were living this crazy, hyped up, university / drink every night, shop every weekend lifestyle, and every inch of it was living up to the expectations of University and flatting with your best friends.

Albeit this week I had partied particularly hard, eaten out a lot, and shopped a little too excessively. I had spent my entire $200 student living allowance, my $100 Mum and Dad allowance, any mere savings I may or may not have had, and it was only Thursday, oops.

This meant when I woke up that particular morning, I couldn’t even afford bacon and eggs to celebrate surviving another year. Luckily for me, after digging hard enough I managed to find a $20 note hidden amongst empty bottles under the drivers seat of my car, alas I did not starve.

Every weekend during Uni looked a little something like this

Although I wasn’t particularly affected by this minor set back, it was annoying enough to spark a lightbulb moment.

I was a bit of a late bloomer in the money department. I didn’t get my first bank account until I was 16 and I didn’t get my first proper job until I was 21. But that didn’t mean I had everything handed to me on a silver platter, as it was obvious that, that was some people’s perspective of me.

I milked cows a lot growing up. I was 14 and I was in the cowshed earning $50 per milking. I worked so hard for my money, I got out of bed before 5am every morning throughout my school and university breaks. I would go to concerts with my friends and stay at their houses and have to crawl out of bed, sometimes still drunk and get myself to the cowshed before 5am, while my friends peacefully slept in till lunchtime.

I always made goals and had a fair idea of what my hard earnings were going  to go towards at any particular moment in time. I was heavily into competing horses so there was always a new pair of boots or a horse cover that I would have my eyes on and I would save my money until I could afford such purchase. I learnt pretty soon on, that you don’t get what you want, you get what you work for.

I was always quite the consumer and never very conservative with my money, but I was very lucky as I always had a roof over my head, food in my belly and always had a lot to show for the money I did earn.

It didn’t occur to me until this particular morning of my 19th birthday that maybe I need to work with my money a bit better. I didn’t live with Mum and Dad anymore, I couldn’t just reach into their fridge and eat anything I wanted.

Although my situation was minor, it made me realise, that I needed to better organise my life, and most especially my money, if I didn’t want to be in this (or potentially a lot worse) situation again.

And long story short, I am now very money conscious, I budget almost every aspect of my life. It has never held me back in anything I have wanted to do, or purchase – it has only pushed me further. I now always have money in the bank after any excursion, no matter how big or small. In fact any of my friends probably still think I am a very reckless spender, the only person who probably really knows the truth, is Zac, and that’s because he has to live with me and put up with it in the flesh.

My online shopping cart is still always full, I repeatedly indulge and eat out with my love, and I have regularly managed to travel around the world. The difference from back then until now, is that I still manage to always have money left in my bank account for the next adventure. Not because I earn more money but because now, every aspect of my life is well budgeted.

Hawaii, May 2015

It’s not a very hard thing to do, it is extremely rewarding and you will thank yourself if you get into it earlier rather than later. Buy a diary, write things down, make goals both long and short term, record things, analyse your salary and work with it, save your money, reward yourself, and never ever stop having fun.

I strongly believe that there are years that ask questions and there are years that answer questions. My university years were definitely asking years and the last two years of my life have answered those questions. I have slowly learnt that everything does happen for a reason. I am still very, very young, I learn new things everyday and come across new challenges. I am a glass half full kind of gal, and very optimistic and that in itself is probably one of my greatest skills. I often look back at my friends at home who are all becoming ‘somethings’, climbing ladders or creating families, while I am here, somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean ocean, regularly wondering what I’m doing, climbing  a gigantic mountain and hoping to find slabs of gold. But I’m happy doing that, and I’ll be climbing mountains for a while yet, I’ve got the love of my life by my side and that’s the most important thing.


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