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.

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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.

TOTAL NET WORTH @ $6,084

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.

 

Review: Acorns investing app

Score: 3/5 stars

The pros:

  • Packed with features
  • Low fees & great flexibility
  • Robust privacy safeguards

The cons:

  • Can be difficult to navigate the app

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Credit: http://www.Acorns.com.au

Every little helps, they say. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to saving.

But in a world of PayPal & contactless payments, gone are the days of spare change rattling-around in your pocket just waiting to be dropped-into a piggy bank. Or perhaps one of those really cool over-sized bottles…

But the team over at Acorns thinks they’ve found a way to overcome this very 2017 problem. They’ve launched an app that links to your bank account and then invests your spare change into the stock market. Pretty cool, eh!

It’s been featured on Wired, Forbes, ABC News… and now Gen Y to FI! It’s not just the markets that are hitting all time highs :-/

Yeah, pretty cool… but how does it work?

The key feature of the app is how Acorns automatically rounds-up what you spend to the nearest dollar and transfers the cash from your bank account without you having to do a thing. You can also make manual deposits into your account and set recurring payments if you want to give your pot a boost.

When you set-up your profile you’re asked to select from 1 of 6 portfolio funds with varying degrees of risk/return. You can drill-down into which holdings the fund is invested in & change your portfolio selection easily from the ‘Settings’ tab in the app.

Found Money is one of the latest features, where brands will give you a ‘Bonus Round-up’ for shopping with them. Everything from Asos to Uber. I’ve not personally used this feature yet, but it’s a nice little addition.

What’s also great is that it’s super cheap to use Acorns – just $1.25p/m for balances of less than $5k.

And is it safe?

The app & websites are both password protected, as you’d expect, but the thorough verification process also gave me more confidence in using Acorns. There’s more in-depth details on their FAQ page if you want to find out more.

So, does it cut the mustard?

I’ve already saved just over $100 in 2 months, which is approximately $600 annualised. Now that’s nearly an extra month of Super contributions by doing absolutely nothing at all!

However, the app can be a little difficult to navigate at times and some of the features are novel at best. But the beauty of this app is that even if I never click on it again, Acorns will still keep diligently working-away in the background without me having to lift a finger.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Acorns app, or any other similar tools out there. Just post below or get in-touch via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with a link to this super-trippy promo video they’ve posted on YouTube. Weird….

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Acorns Grow Australia Limited and have not received any direct financial benefit resulting from this blog post.

Net Worth Update #1: -$1,042

I’ve been in full-time work for 6 years and although I’ve made great progress in growing my income, I’m still pretty much at zero in terms of net wealth.

So with just half of the year left I’m getting my shit together; by the end of 2017 I’m aiming to have a net worth of positive $15k.

My strategy for 2017 won’t be to focus on growing my assets, but rather to reduce my liabilities (debts). This is how I’m going to do it:

  • Stop spending so much – reduce discretionary expenditure by 20% to fund savings growth;
  • Combine my small savings pots to pay-off my student loan early;
  • Work my ass off in work to hit my bonus targets.

Here’s my net worth report card:

net wealth june 17

CASH SAVINGS @ $10,704

A combination of cash in my Oz current, savings and family/joint accounts, plus a small top-up from my UK savings account.

PENSIONS @ $13,577*

Again, a combo of Oz & UK pots.  I hadn’t been paying into my UK pension for long before moving to Oz and my Oz pension will be larger by the end of 2017 as the Oz government requires employers to contribute nearly 10% as a minimum. How generous!

* Not inclusive of UK state pension

OTHER ASSETS @ $6,922

I’ve been experimenting with stock trading over the past 12 months using eToro. Over the year I’m up about $500-600. What stands-out is the importance of drip-feeding cash into a pot as this has accumulated from $0 to nearly $7k in no time at all.

I’ve also just started experimenting with the Acorns app. More to come on this…

CAR LEASE @ $19,460

In hindsight, this was a pretty stupid thing to do. When I moved to Oz 6 months ago I was caught-up in the romance of it all and got a Jeep. Now, this is utilising a tax deductible allowance via work and in my defence, it looks awesome! But yeah… pretty stupid.

 

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STUDENT LOAN @ $11,477

I’ve been paying this down since graduating in 2010. I’m now in the home stretch & I’ll pay this off over the next few months.

OTHER LIABILITIES @ $1,330

Erm, another financial faux pas. A brand new iPhone 7 on contract at $70 p/m. Very clever…

TOTAL NET WORTH @ -$1,042

And that’s a wrap! The next post in this series will be in early August, where I’ll track my progress against each key area and see how I’m measuring-up to achieve my 2017 goal.

If you can’t wait until then for more net worth fun, head over to Budgets Are $exy. This guy has been tracking his progress for years & inspired me to start posting my own stats.

I’d also 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 or drop me an email (genytofi@outlook.com).

From Gen Y to FI

I’m nearly 30 years old and despite earning a good salary, I don’t own a home & have no significant savings. Oh yeah, and I have $15k of student debt.

Yes, I’m a Millennial cliché.

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Credit: memegenerator.net

Going from Gen Y to FI

Today I take control of my financial future. This is day 1 on my journey towards building real wealth, and in turn, gaining my FI – that’s Financial Independence for the uninitiated!

This blog is the free-speaking, access all areas, no bullshit tale of that journey. On my adventure from Gen Y to FI I’ll publish my net worth every month for the whole world to see. That’s right, every month!

In-between I’ll be keeping it light with some eccentric money challenges to test my financial prowess, or lack of…

I’ll be posting very soon, but while you wait head-over to The Barefoot Investor & Budgets Are $exy. These blogs are packed-full of content & inspired me to record my own journey from Gen Y to FI.

Enjoy!