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My finances, liberated: the diary of a woman who wanted to be free to spend

After returning from a 6-month trip to Latin America, moving into a new apartment AND starting full-time work, I made the mature (and necessary!) decision to focus on my finances.

I’ve tried to do this before, but this time I knew I needed to do it differently. My new focus came from a place of wanting to be free financially – I decided I wanted to be aware of my saving behaviours and spending patterns. 

I also found this neat resource, quite literally, at my fingertips, with the launch of UBank’s Free2Spend. So, as a newly self-proclaimed financial guru, I set out to see just how financially liberated I could become in a few months.

Week 1: What I’m saving for vs. what I’m spending on

After day 1 as a new, financially aware woman, I thought I’d set out some goals; marks in time to work towards over the next few months.

Short term

  • Things for my new pad; plants, soft furnishings and kitchenware (looking at you, coffee machine)
  • A positive cash flow so I can do things like weekly dinners with friends 
  • Shouting my boyfriend tickets to see ‘Book of Mormon’ to thank him for being my emotional sounding board during this new phase of my life (tickets say that, right?)

Long term

  • We have a wedding in Bali at the end of the year, so I need to start saving for just about everything! Airfare, accommodation, spending money.
  • We also have 3 other weddings throughout the year (is there something in the air?). All domestic, but we do need to save for travel expenses and pressies, not to mention all the Hen’s parties…

Week 2: Allocating my money, money, money

I finally received my first pay check now that I’m gainfully employed again! So, this week I’m divvying up my weekly income into saving and spending buckets.

Free2Spend basically takes care of this for me. All I need to do is put in my weekly income and expenses (rent, bills, transport, groceries etc.) as well as how much I want to save and by what date. Free2Spend does some genius maths and calculates a daily number – which is how much money I have for day-to-day spending.

Weeks 3 - 5: Being ultra-savvy

I’ve never been more aware of what I’m spending and saving and it’s kind of addictive.

My USave account is now home to a decent chunk of money that will help me reach my goals, whereas my USpend account houses money I can spend daily. I’m realising the Free2Spend function is kind of like the middle-man between the 2 accounts and instead of dictating what goes where, it encourages me to save and spend with healthy moderation.

When my app tells me my daily Free2Spend number is over $50.00, I’ll treat myself to a ‘real coffee’, rather than my everyday instant. Or if it’s a Thursday night and I’ve got leftovers at home for a late dinner, I know my fun money is good for a few well deserved glasses of wine with the girls after work.

But if that fridge is looking bare and sad? I’m learning it’s definitely worth trading a night out for some delicious home cooking to see me through the next few days. It’s all about balance.

Week 6: “I don’t have guilty pleasures, because if it’s pleasurable, why feel guilty?”

I notice I’m looking at my expenses differently. Now they’re built into my daily, and weekly financial routine, there’s no more, “uh oh, gotta fork out for the phone bill I forgot to budget for”.

On the flip side of that comes a new perspective on my spending. I used to feel guilty when I would spend my money, and I don’t mean when I’d spend it on rent, bills and food. I mean when I would spend it on a ‘real coffee’ or a new top because my old white t-shirt could do with an upgrade. The other night I heard Nigella Lawson say, “I don’t have guilty pleasures, because if it’s pleasurable, why feel guilty?”. This quote spoke volumes to me and has become the mantra to my new financially liberated life.

Weeks 7 - 9: Feeling free

It’s been over 2 months since I began using Free2Spend. Today, I walked down the street in a fresh white t-shirt, sipping a café bought coffee knowing my expenses were paid, my phone bill is no longer looming, and I am a few dollars away from securing seats to the ‘Book of Mormon’. It was unapologetically pleasurable.

I don’t feel guilty. I feel free to spend my daily number. I feel confident that I will achieve my goal of going to Bali later this year. Is this my state of financial liberation? It certainly feels like it.

Find out how Free2Spend can help with your own financial story.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It doesn’t take account of any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice.