You might find some of Jenni’s tips below a little unorthodox.
JENNI Ryall is on a journey from financial hell to financial freedom in 12 weeks. She shares her honest account of turning her ridiculous situation around.
There was a time when I was about five years old and my mother hid the toy roulette table. Apparently I was winning a “worrying” amount of times and she was afraid I was going to get some life-destroying gambling addiction which would ultimately end with me selling my only asset, that trusty steam mop, to pay off my increasing debts while swearing I wasn’t really at the casino buying into the $100 table on Tuesday at 3am.
Luckily, due to her quick-thinking approach I didn’t end up with a gambling addiction. I did, though, end up with a financial problem.
Sure I’m not wearing a nappy at the blackjack table, but something did go wrong. Was it the fact I did chores for love and didn’t get pocket money? Was it that I wasn’t given any assets or puppies to look after? None of these excuses will help. The honest truth is I never accepted responsibility for my actions.
The best things in life are free — a very broke person once told me. And I laughed. But recently the appeal of the old free living has started to rub off.
Free and Sydney are rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but I am sure it is somewhat possible to last at least a week and do all the things I love to do.
EAT FREE: So Monday hits and there is free pizza doing the rounds in the office. It doesn’t matter that it has weird meat patties in the crust, I eat two and thank the money gods for blessing me this fine day. Then I eat a piece of office birthday cake for dessert.
On Tuesday, I realise it’s a religious food holiday. Shrove Tuesday. Score! What a day to be Catholic, I think as I say my first prayer since the pancakes were served last year and shovel down a salmon crepe courtesy of mother dearest. She also presents me with a delicious glass of red wine — for free.
The week continued with a meal at a girlfriend’s place, a date with the boyfriend and some general scavenging through my freezer to defrost the two-month-old steak I had been saving for a rainy day.
As I was window shopping in the supermarket, I snapped up some free pieces of sausage courtesy of a gourmet meat company sampling their wares. I told him I’d be back to buy some in a week.
PARTY FREE: The one fear about saving money is that you also have to downgrade your social life. Pfft. I planned on being the exception to that ridiculous rule. On Wednesday, Vice hosted a free party with free beverages that got me through the evening. On Thursday, Yelp cultured me by taking me to an outdoor movie. I even got some bonus new friends. On Friday, I hit up a gallery opening and sipped complimentary champagne. On Saturday, I danced on tables at a house party for a friend’s birthday. Oh, and if you are really desperate for a wild time — try the wine tasting in the bottle shop.
RELAX FREE: You don’t need to spend money to have a good time. The cities are oozing with free events and beautiful places. I spent the week swimming in the ocean, running along the shore, visiting friends, listening to talks and walking through a gallery. I also spent a lot of time at work to keep me out of trouble — and locked myself in my house the remainder of the time. Result — $0, stacks of good times.
So I got free entertainment and mountains of booze. All. Week. Long. Not one cent gone from the coffers.
But you can’t live for free forever, so it is time to cut down on your expenses. By knocking out one provider at a time thanks to my 12 week Finder Financial Challenge.
WEEK 5 — FRUGAL IS SEXY II
Bank account: Undisclosed
Savings account: $353.67
Credit card: -$2965.12
Prioritise and sort your providers.
Knowing what you are paying for different services can help you realise you need a better deal.
Write all your providers down, the amount you are paying them for the service and their contact number. Then ring them up and ask for a better deal. Just like a pay rise, if you don’t ask, they won’t give it to you.
Step 1. Be direct, ask for what you want. Tell the provider about your stellar payment history, your many years of patronage and any complaints about the service.
Step 2. Tell them about deals you have seen. Research pays off here.
Step 3. Threaten to leave. You want to get onto the customer retention department, where they will hopefully give you what you desire. The general call centre employees don’t normally hold this power.
Step 4. If they aren’t coming to the ballpark you want, jump on a comparison website and find a better deal. Then dump those rip-off agents like you would a clingy boyfriend.
My realisation: Just saving coin isn’t going to get you far if you are paying crazy prices every month to organisations that don’t give you what you deserve. You wouldn’t pay $30 to go one stop on a bus, so don’t pay it to Mr Insurance.
I was paying beyond reasonable prices for my mobile data — with the extra packages I had on top costing me an extra $45 a month. When I gave the lovely telephone man a call, he packaged it up for me for $15 — and threw in a couple of free gigabytes. And I didn’t even have to raise my voice once. Sometimes all it takes is a chat and a gentle death threat.
Disclaimer: This editorial provides general information only. Before making any financial or investment decisions, we recommend you consult a financial planner to take into account your particularly investment objectives, financial situation and individual needs. Charter Financial Planning and its authorised representatives do not accept any liability for any errors or omissions of information supplied in this editorial. Charter Financial Planning Limited ABN 35 002 976 294 AFSL Licence No. 234665. Principal Address 750 Collins Street GPO Box 2830AA Melbourne VIC 3000.