Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Bryanna McDermott of Fearless Female Traders.
It was about 40 degrees and 100 per cent humidity – a typical Brisbane summer’s day. I was sat in the serene comfort of the UQ Library, poring over finance literature for an upcoming MBA exam. Suddenly, beads of sweat started forming in my hairline and trickling down the nape of my neck; I could feel little pulses of adrenaline forcing my heartbeat into my throat. My hands were clammy and all I could remind myself was to breathe, just breathe. I thought I was having a panic attack. Turns out what I thought were pre-exam jitters exacerbated by a triple-shot flat white (oops!) was in fact my very own ‘ah-ha’ moment. I think they call it an epiphany. I had just had an epiphany.
I sat the exam, opened a bottle of wine and started writing. This was the night Fearless Female Traders was conceived and to this day, I can’t explain the physical response I had to realising I was about to start my very own side hustle. I wasn’t sure where it would lead or how I would squeeze it into the few hours left in my day, but I could hear Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO, author of Lean In) reminding me, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.
I hear starting at the beginning is a very good place to start, and that is what I did. You see, on the surface I was in a well-paying job and had all the ingredients for a successful, financially secure life. I blindly thought having a bank account and an income meant I understood money. I seemed to be able to travel, eat out and attend a myriad of beauty appointments that was verging on extravagant.
In secret, I was suffering from being on the hamster wheel of living month-to-month. I had a very unhealthy relationship with my credit card, thanks to a lifestyle that was well beyond my means, and the only investment I took part in was my rent. I was spiralling into dangerous territory and it wasn’t until a barista asked for cash instead of card for my morning coffee, that I realised I was in trouble. I couldn’t afford it and I was absolutely mortified.
Something had to change. I hoovered every piece of financial advice like a Friday night vino minus the hangover, connecting with industry experts, mortgage brokers, budget specialists and the dry-as-dust financial websites (you can thank me later). I was the ‘new girl’ at almost every female networking event in Brisbane and spoke to women everywhere trying to understand why some of us were repelled by the world of finance.
It turns out many women, from all ages, could relate to my shameful financial rut – some were still in it and some were recovering. My own mum didn’t even know what interest rate she was paying on her mortgage, and stocks were just a flat-out no. Simply because she didn’t understand them *face palm*.
Fearless Female Traders became my digital-solace, a place that allowed me to write about my own experiences saving money, keeping to a budget, investing in shares and eventually buying a house. I include advice from industry experts – the financially qualified crew – and plenty of sass to keep it light.
If you are hiding amongst a mountain of credit card debt or quiver at the thought of investing, here are FFT’s six steps to get you started:
Six steps to turning your money sitch around
1. Make a list of all your expenses in a month; everything from prescriptions, groceries, travel, life, etc. EVERYTHING. Pour yourself a wine and critically ask, where am I overspending? Is it the mani-pedi, the hair appointment, or maybe the weekly brunches, lunches and dinners?
2. Cut up your credit cards – all of them! If you have multiple sources of debt (personal loans, credit cards, car loans), think about consolidating these into one line of credit and reducing your fees.
3. Buy the book The Barefoot Investor. Read it from cover to cover.
5. Consider opening an online high-interest account, such as ING’s. As an internet banking platform, they don’t have the overheads of normal banking institutions and can pass on higher interest rates for our savings.
6. Look at your superannuation. Did you have five accounts like me? Pick one, roll them over and, if you can, add more to it.
If I can manage to cut out the boring aspects of finance, pay for a wedding (in cash!) and manage my own investment portfolio, anyone can.