Hi, I’m Jess from Perth, Western Australia.
I had one big goal to complete this year as I was turning 30, and that was to become debt-free. In my 20s, I made stupid financial decisions that put me $27,000+ in debt. Last year, after finally having only $5,000 to go until my loan was paid off, I decided I would take steps to finally become financially free.
It started with adopting some of the values of minimalism. Minimalism, for me, is a way of letting go and reducing what is holding me back. I’m not just talking about material possessions that no longer mean anything to me, I’m also talking about the activity going on in my bank account, and reducing my expenditures. I became more conscious of what I was spending my money on, and had the mindset of “less is more.” So, hopefully, I’d be able to pay off my loan much faster and regain financial control of my life.
I started with small steps and continued from there. Here’s how:
- I increased my automatic fortnightly loan repayments by $10. It was small, but every tiny bit adds up over time.
- I took on extra training through my job. Now that I have specialized training, I am called on to cover extra customers and I get paid more $$.
- I had a weekend job doing makeup artistry, and any cash from that I would stash away and let accumulate.
- I ditched my TV and canceled my subscriptions (saving $544 a year).
- Saved my $2 coins in a jar ($300+ saved when the jar became full).
- Instead of buying bottled water, I bought a water filter for my home and refilled my glass bottle each day. (Saving around $340+ a year)
- My partner and I negotiated with our landlord to lower our rent. (Saving $520 a year)
- Instead of purchasing makeup remover wipes, I cut up a microfiber cloth into squares. I use them to clean my skin, remove makeup, and apply toner. (saving around $100 a year, and no wipes going into landfill!).
- Don’t hide from bank statements, read them and learn from your mistakes.
- If you’re in a relationship, try being on the same page when it comes to finances and work together to reduce spending. My partner was a wonderful support when I would need advice or encouragement when I would feel low about my financial situation.
- In the process of minimizing the things in my home, I realized how much stuff I actually had. This was a real eye-opener and helped me spend far less on unnecessary crap I didn’t need such as clothing, beauty products, etc. When I would be out, and if something caught my eye at a store, I would ask myself “Do I really need that?” Answer: nope!
- I sold items from my home I no longer wanted and made more than $500.
- When I received more than expected from my pay each fortnight, I would put the extra toward my loan repayments right away.
- I don’t like gym memberships, so I go for walks, swim, do yoga and look up training videos on YouTube. There are plenty on the web. Best of all, they’re free!
- Instead of purchasing an item, I would try borrowing it from a friend or relative. In the past, I have borrowed many things, such as a blender, suitcase, and even a bridesmaid’s dress, which saved me hundreds of dollars.
- I switched to a simple prepaid phone. I was on a monthly contract of $70, which would increase to $150. I now pay only $30 a month! I really don’t need all the fancy, unnecessary crap on my phone.
- I used Visa/MasterCard gift cards given to me from Christmas and birthdays to purchase things I truly needed. Keeping in line with minimalism values, I didn’t feel the need to purchase something “special” for myself because I already feel I have enough in my life. So, during tight weeks I would use the gift cards toward groceries.
- In early 2016, I decided to become a vegetarian. One of the many bonuses of that decision was my grocery bill being halved, and I didn’t eat out as much. Drive-thru convenience foods that are nutritious and meat-free are extremely hard to come by, so in the long run, I had more money in my pocket.
On the 13th of July this year, I went into the bank and made my final loan payment. There is nothing more satisfying and freeing than knowing there is no more debt in my life. My plans are to save intensely for my future, for when I retire and also to travel.
I understand we all come from different walks of life. Some of us are single or have families, and our debts are all different. Yet, I hope the above may be of help, and that you can take on some of the things I did to reduce spending and start paying off your debts more quickly. I wish you all the very best!