When I was a kid in the 90s, I remember meticulously counting the pennies in my savings jar. Every purchase would be planned & I’d examine the trade-offs carefully.

Today, 80% of my monthly expenditure is via electronic bank transfer (rent, healthcare, etc) and the remaining 20% (my personal allowance) is nearly all via debit card.

I also spend more today than at nearly any point in my life. Yes, I earn more so can afford to, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I drift through each day swiping & tapping my card to pay for things without questioning their true worth.

As part of my mission to become financially independent (FI), this has to change. By going back to cash could I rewire my brain the think differently? Would I actually want to spend less?

They say it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, so I’ve put away the plastic & embarked on 3-week Cash Diet. I’m 1-week into to the challenge, so how has it gone so far…

Day 1

Monday is always a slow start in the GY2FI household as it’s generally pretty hectic in work & we always have a fridge packed with food after topping-up at the weekend. Zero spend day, $200 remaining.

Day 2

I forgot to bring my packed lunch to work. $10 penalty for a deli-bought sandwich… $190 remaining.

Day 3

Bought ingredients from the grocery store for International Food Day at the office – spend $11.60. I cooked-up a traditional Toad in the Hole & Yorkshire pudding to give the Aussies a taste of northern England. Complete with gravy, of course.

I fought-off the temptation to buy a stash of cookies whilst shopping. Using cash actually made me reconsider whether it was worth it! Balance remaining $178.40.

Day 4

Another zero spend day. Even after walking through the main street down at Neutral Bay to meet Miss GY2FI after work I didn’t succumb to sushi for dinner. Normally that’d cost around $45!

$178.40 remaining.

Day 5

Worked from home on Friday so very little opportunity to spend cash. I did find myself browsing Amazon over lunch, but I should be able to hold-off on getting that Kindle until Christmas!

After a packed week we decided not to go out for the evening & have a nice couple of steaks at home. Zero spend, $178.40 remaining.

Day 6 spend

The first half of a very outdoorsy weekend kicked-off with the weekly soccer game, where we won the league championship! After a quick swim we headed-off to watch one of the other teams from our Club play & enjoyed a BBQ on the house.


I slipped-in a few cheeky drinks with the guys in the evening to celebrate the day’s earlier victory – $31.40 spend. Lost my discipline a little bit here… $147 remaining.

Day 7 spend

A very Sunday-ish Sunday, packed with bike rides & car washing. The weekly grocery shop at Woolworths was $160, so after deducting my 50% contribution this leaves $67 in the pot.

Total spend to date: $133

Total savings to date: $67

I’ve been on my Cash Diet for an entire week & I’m adapting pretty well. It’s definitely reduced my desire for impulse purchases whilst in the supermarket & has even made me reconsider grabbing a takeaway or eating-out on more than one occasion.

I won’t be rolling my $67 saving into next week; instead I want to see if I can continue this rate & get to a $200 saving by the end of the Challenge (33% saving). I’ll update on my progress in around a week’s time, but feel free to have a poke-around in the Net Worth series of posts whilst you wait!

Net Worth Update #2: $6,084

Last month was the first time I measured my net worth. I was in the red at -$1,042. Womp, womp!

In July, I took my first deliberate steps towards growing my wealth & achieving financial freedom. My playbook is simple: spend less, save more & invest for the long-term.

Let’s take a closer look at how July finished-up:

POST 4aCASH & SAVINGS @ $20,670 (+93.1% change)

Cash on-hand ballooned this month for 2 key reasons:

  • Tax rebate of $6,600 from the ATO, way higher than I had expected
  • Liquidation of my eToro trading balance

I’ll be using a large chunk of these funds to pay-off my student debt in full over the next few days, so I’m expecting this to fall sharply in-line with a drop in liabilities in my August report. This should still leave me with a comfortable amount of cash on-hand in case of any emergencies.

RETIREMENT @ $13,138* (-3.2% change)

In contrast, my retirement funds didn’t progress nearly as well… Not a huge deal as I’m focusing on paying-down debt at the moment, but not ideal either.

I don’t make any contributions to my UK private pension at present since I’m not working over there. The balance of my pension did in fact increase, but as I’m reporting in Australian dollars the GBP to AUD exchange rate change this month cancelled-out any gains.

* Not inclusive of UK state pension entitlement

It’s the end of the financial year in Australia and my super fund contribution for July was effectively wiped-out by tax on my contributions year to date. The ATO giveth with one hand & taketh with the other!

OTHER ASSETS @ $119 (-98.3% change)

I liquidated all share positions in my eToro account and will pool with funds from my savings & cash accounts to repay my student loan before next month’s report. I really enjoyed my time learning about stock investing & will probably get around to writing a review soon.

This just leaves Acorns as the single contributor to this pot. Over the past month my balance has nearly doubled to $119, as it continues to collect & invest my spare change without me having to lift a finger. If you want to know more about Acorns, check-out my review here.

STUDENT LOAN @ $7,819 (-31.9% change)

I’ve spent the last few weeks getting my ducks in a row: increasing my monthly repayment for July, liquidating stock investments & pooling them with my newly-buoyed cash reserves. I’ll have this paid-off by the end of the week. BOOM!

CAR LEASE @ $18,765 (-3.6% change)

Not much news here as I continue with the fixed monthly payments on the Jeep. Snore.

OTHER LIABILITIES @ $1,260 (-5.3% change)

The only item in this pot is my phone contract. Similar to the car lease, no news here, as I just continue with my monthly repayments. Snore. Snore.


Month 1 was a fantastic start, with a significant boost coming from a higher than anticipated tax rebate. This is going to go a long way in helping me to eliminate all of my student debt before my August report and free-up more cash to save & invest!

Moving from negative to positive net worth is a huge psychological step & it’s very rewarding to see some solid progress early-on in my journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Gen Y to FI blog & news about your own net worth adventures. You can post a reply below, drop me an email or message me on Twitter @genytofi.