There’s a big gap when it comes to teaching young women about money. We don’t do it because money is like sex or peeing in the shower - people get hella embarrassed about talking about it. But the problem is that when you leave home you realise that your freedom is resolutely tied to your finances. And having enough money for something is one of the most useful, essential elements in guaranteeing your independence as a young woman. So with that in mind, here are a few financial hacks to live your best 20s independent boss ass bitch life by.
1. Have a ‘Fuck Off Fund’.
This is exactly what it sounds like. There will come a time in life when you need to escape. Your boss may be sexually harassing you at work and you know you need to leave. Your live in boyfriend may be turning nasty towards you and you feel unsafe. Or maybe you just need to get out of NZ because you’ve got a desperate feeling there’s more to life than this....
Whatever it is, when it hits you then you’ll know. And that’s when you need the Fuck Off Fund. The logic is that you should try to put aside roughly 2 months of living expenses in a bank account so that when you need to tell someone, or something, to fuck off then you can. So make a habit of saving any available money into this fund until you hit about 5k. Because it means that when you need to leave a situation, you can just walk right on out.
2. Get over your fear of investments
Research has consistently shown that Kiwi women are far less likely than their male counterparts to actively invest their money. Not only do they invest less, the group of 18 - 30 year old Kiwi women are the least likely demographic to engage with KiwiSaver. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re also retiring with on average 40k less in our bank accounts than men are.
Now I get it, I told myself I was bad with numbers and shied away from investing because I “didn’t get it.” I was just scared. But we can’t let that stop us, especially when it means putting our future wellbeing at risk, and especially when investing correctly is a great way to earn extra money. Luckily there are a number of excellent blogs out there that understand that the language of investments is scary and explain in layman's terms what it actually means. (Ryan Johnson’s Money for Young Kiwis as a good place to start.) So take a deep breath and educate yourself, girl!
3. Don’t be on the lease of your flat
Now I know this isn’t always possible, but if there’s a choice then don’t be. The thing is, in your 20s you’re going to live with some flaky af people. And you’re soon going to realise that things that are normal, basic necessities for you (eg. paying rent) aren’t so important to other people. If you’re on the lease, their negligence becomes your financial responsibility. And you’re the one who has to produce the money somehow each week, which means either a lot of painstakingly awkward conversations, you begging your parents for money, or no power for a week. But if you’re not on the lease, it’s not your responsibility to clean up after every other failed adult in your house. The added bonus is if you need to Fuck Off with one week’s notice, you can!
4. Get a tiny credit limit till you're 25.
I’m talking like $500. There’s a school of thought in financial circles called ‘fill up your bowl.’ It’s the idea that as humans we’re trained to eat everything in our bowl (aka spend everything we have available to us). So the logic is that you get a small credit card limit because you know you’re going to hit it. You know you’re going to walk into KMart one Sunday and walk out with $500 of unnecessary but cute crap. So get a tiny limit, the type that you could reasonably beg/borrow/steal off friends to pay back in the event of emergency, and train yourself into good habits paying off a small card. Then you can graduate when are ready to a larger limit and not immediately rack up $10,000 spent on scented pineapple-shaped candles.Support Villainesse