How 4 Months of Unemployment Helped Me Kick a 20 Year Habit And Save $120 Per Week

I’d never been without a job unintentionally, so when I was made redundant as a single mum with 2 kids I wasn’t worried, I had my back up savings for this type of thing, all good. I’d be fine. Financially, yes, but emotionally, I wasn’t prepared for that at all.
I toyed with the idea of getting my coaching business back up and running, but it was a half hearted attempt at best….. my heart wasn’t in it.
Unemployment lasted for 4 months. At the time it was the worst time of my life, but now I know it was the best thing that happened to me. Until you have loads of uninterrupted time on your hands you don’t realise how many feelings and thoughts you actually avoid. I was forced to deal with the thoughts in my head all day. They did not shut up, they continued, I analysed, turned stuff upside down and around again, spat it out and it just about drove me crazy….. But, wow did I process some stuff.  I finally read Brene Brown, the wisdom in her research and findings is incredible and helped immensely in sorting through my thoughts.
There was one major realisation that made so much sense in hindsight, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t dawned on me before. It delivered a massive change to the way I spent money, saving on average $120 per week.
To give you’re the full picture I have to go back, back to my days of working full time and studying part time in my 20’s, it was at this point I developed a habit. I would study outside of work time, so most lunch times you’d find me in a local café studying away eating my café lunch. This continued for some time, I studied part time for 6 years. While developing my eating out habit and ingraining that with the ability to study, I also developed another great habit – the ability to have intense focus in loud noise. At least that was a useful skill.
Over the years my café habit also helped me to be creative. For the past 15 years I have worked from home either in my own business or remotely for someone else. Whenever I need to access the creative side of my brain I would head to café with laptop (and now earphones) and be super creative. I just couldn’t seem to do that at my “core work” desk. I was writing and creating a lot, my café spend increasing accordingly. Most weeks, especially post marriage separation that weekly spend was topping $120 to $150 per week.
What I figured out over my 4 months of forced reflection (aka unemployment) was that my café habit was no longer solely about being creative. I was seeking the social aspect of it. Seems harmless enough. Sure, it can be, but it wasn’t harmless. I was avoiding what had been an issue for over 20 years.
I wasn’t comfortable being alone.
This came as a complete shock to me. I loved spending time alone, always have, but spending time alone and being comfortable being alone are two different things. I realised I had in fact felt very alone in my marriage, and since divorcing nothing about that had changed. I spent more time at cafes, avoiding being alone. Sure, I knew everybody, made new friends but it was masking the truth.
During that 4 months, with no job to entertain me during the day, each day became a mind hash, and initially I’ll admit I was feeling very low, very low indeed. But when you hit rock bottom you bounce back up and you have to figure out how in hell to stay there. And that’s what I did. I arrived at my conclusion about avoidance of being alone, by listening to Brene.  Just because you realise it, doesn’t make it all better, far from it. Once something is in your awareness you have to face it, there is no avoiding it.  And so I did, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. One day at a time. Now, I can’t even remember what I did, but I got to a point where I could stay at home all day by myself and be quite content. I was finally comfortable being alone. I stopped going to my favourite café. I instead used my super fancy coffee machine that I had at home, cooked up a storm and I was very happy doing so. And I stopped spending bucket loads of money to make myself not feel so alone. On average that’s about $500 per month, $6000 per year. Over the last 20 years at a lesser average, let’s say $300 per month, that equates to $72000. That’s a house deposit, wow. That’s the first time I’ve calculated that number out, and I’m in shock and feel a little sick. Breathe…. Okay, massive life lesson right there.
While it’s a great outcome for my financial future, it’s a very telling story, for me that money habit had nothing to do with enjoying coffee and the food, it was about enjoying the company because I wasn’t able to enjoy my own. And my biggest spending epiphany came about as the result of being unemployed. And not because I didn’t have money (I had my months’ worth of savings as all Independent Money Chicks should) but because I had time to think and process all the thoughts that arose. I’ll be forever grateful to that four months, it saved me in so many ways.
This journey between understanding my feelings and its relationship to money is far from over, I believe I have more to unpack of which I have no doubt will enhance my financial future even more. It may be hard sometimes, but I will keep questioning why. And you should too, why do you spend the way you do?

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Independent Money Chick Manifesto

jackie-parker-632920-unsplashHave you ever felt trapped? Trapped in a situation of your own making, which by social standards is actually quite comfortable. Nice things, nice life, but oh so trapped. I remember that feeling and that moment when the power shifted and I no longer felt that way. You never forget this feeling when you’ve been in that situation.
I clearly remember the day it all changed. It was such an ego boost and I’ll admit, I ran with it, and in turn restoring my self belief, my worth, my everything, me.
But why did I need restoring? Well, I fell into the trap that many do, losing oneself in a relationship rather than growing oneself and the relationship. As I was clawing my way back to me I’ll never forget an old friend saying “You’re back to the vibrant personality I knew in our early 20’s.” That was an indication to me that I was on the right path.
If you’d asked me back then what I was doing to regain that self belief, that self worth, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.  It’s only now that I can see the steps that I took that got me to that point.
While I didn’t have self worth and self belief in me personally during that time, I did have belief in my professional skills, I had done my time as they say and was super confident in what I could bring to the world. I’d built that confidence and know how over many years in my own business, learning, doing, learning, doing, but the financial rewards weren’t there as much as I was investing in my knowledge at the same time.  I look back now and know why I focused on that, that was what brought me joy and I had confidence in. That confidence helped me land a great corporate job working remotely, getting paid very well. Finally, I was respected for my know how and being paid handsomely for it. And, I was the highest $ earner in our family unit. The tides did indeed turn.
Prior to that I was controlled in my relationship through money. I felt like an employee who had to plead their case ever time they wanted to buy something. The endless questions about what I spent money on and why. No trust, no judgement, no nothing. Except of course when it came to crunching numbers on an investment, after all that was my profession. No wonder I focused on my career…… Was I a victim? No. I let that happen. I didn’t respect me in the relationship.
Lets face it, money makes the world go around. If you don’t have it, it sucks, if someone else is controlling you with it, that’s even worse. And for some, money is power and they wield that power. If you are creating your own money through a business, job or whatever, that brings with it a feeling of worth, and that is the secret to it. Being able to provide for yourself and/or your family brings with a sense of accomplishment, a “I can do this!!!” without needing to rely on someone else. That’s what helps build your self worth. Is it the only factor? No, but it’s what I started with and what I see lacking in so many women out there. Starting with that and getting to financial independence is what everyone should strive for, male or female. No one should ever feel controlled in a relationship. For me it was money for others it’s other things. But money allows choices, choices are freedom and freedom allows you to live your life by your design.
Being controlled by money shut me down emotionally, I can see that now. And obviously that’s not great for a marriage, but hey nor is the controlling… Anyways, financial independence brought back my personal self confidence.  And it never faltered, even when I quit the job to try and save the marriage.  The marriage didn’t work out and I was left without a job, but that self confidence I had developed during my employment kicked in and helped me to devise a plan to get out of the marriage and on my path to financial independence. I won’t lie, it was tricky. I was able get my hands on a lump sum and I had six months to be gainfully employed before it ran out. Sounds easy right? Nope, when you don’t have a job its way harder to get one. Which is why the first one that I was offered I took even though I knew it wasn’t right for me. 2 months later I was in my dream job, and 12 months later settling on my first house purchased solo.  Woohoo!!!  And that emotional shut down is no more, I’m feeling the feels and I can now see what was missing for me, what it took to get me back, find my sparkle and be the real me.

Why Independent Money Chick?

I don’t want others to feel trapped like I was, or if they do, discover tools and knowledge as to how they can make that power shift and restore self worth, and live life like they want to.
I’m not a financial advisor, but I am an accountant. I’ve advised businesses for years. And my approach to money is simple.  Treat it like a business. The purpose of a business is to make a profit and create a saleable asset.  If we apply that to our personal money, our profit is our savings. Our saleable asset is ourself and how much money we can generate using our skills and knowledge.  Our balance sheet is our statement of wealth, how we are investing the savings.
What underpins a successful business? Measurement, and management of the numbers. Exactly what we need to do as individuals to gain financial independence.

Chief Independent Money Chick

You now know my story, but the basics, well. I’m Alycia Edgar, a 40 something chick, mum of 2 teens, navigating life post divorce. I love my life and I love what I’m setting out to achieve here on Independent Money Chick.

Independent Money Chick Mission

My dream is to help as many women as I can feel empowered with money and their life. For them to build their net worth and be able make decisions from a stable financial position rather than a place of fear. To educate them about money and the financial and emotional peace it can bring to your life.

Independent Money Chick Beliefs

  1. Money (or lack of) should never make you feel trapped. Money should never affect your ability to make the decisions you need to make. I’m not talking about living in a villa in France, I’m talking about the ability to make a decision to remove yourself from a situation that is not working for you. Money helps you make the right decision for YOU. Lack of money can sometimes postpone those decisions because you don’t feel it’s possible. You never want money to get in the way of the best decisions for you and your life.
  2. Money is a tool, its energy, it flows, its comes in and goes out again. How that happens is totally up to you. If you let it, it will develop its own flow based on how you use your energy. Think about it, if you watch TV, instead of investing in some new learning to increase your salary, you are stopping the income flow. Or if you use your emotional energy about being lonely by shopping for useless stuff your encouraging the money to flow away from you based on where your energy is being utilised.
  3. You should understand exactly what your money gets allocated to. EFTPOS, Credit cards make it easy to seem like we have all the money in the world. Another round of cocktails Jenny? Hell yes, let’s do it!!! Credit must be paid back people, it’s not your money. Perhaps you don’t ever seem to have enough to take a holiday? If you were to look at where your money goes you might discover that your spending on fav shop Country Road is enough to buy shares in them! But alas you’re just stuck with last years’ fashion, destined for the op shop soon….when you could have been sunning yourself in Fiji.
  4. You should always be making money regardless of your situation. Whether that’s a part time, full time or casual job of some sorts or simply some contracting every now and again, you always need to be making money. The ability to make money is heavily linked to self worth. If we can’t make money and provide for ourselves or others we don’t feel like we’re contributing….
  5. Money does not fix emotions, self reflection and hard work does that. Money does not buy love. A shopping spree every Saturday which might bring an initial high does not fix the fact that you are lonely and want more out of your life, but aren’t sure how to get it.
  6. You should always have a buffer of funds for a rainy day. Because that rain just appears out of nowhere. And it pours!!!!! With every raindrop more stress enters your body, whereas those that have a buffer of funds for those emergencies that life tends to deliver, don’t stress as they know its covered. Wouldn’t you like to feel no stress when your car broke down or your fridge blew up? Or you lost your job? Exactly, that’s a no brainer.
  7. You should always be saving for the future, even if that amount is tiny right now. Savings accumulate even if it’s just $5 a week. The joy that you feel watching your savings balance rise getting closer to your goal is like caffeine, it fires you up. And reaching that goal is oh so sweet.
  8. You should have a financial plan. In fact, you should have a life plan! What does your life look like? What do you want to achieve? And what does that cost? Wealth doesn’t just happen, you have to work towards it. And lets face it, kids cost a lot of money. If you don’t plan for that cost you’re screwed.
  9. You should be thrifty in your spending, but never let thriftiness get in the way of the value of your time. Time is worth money, so if it’s going to take a 2 hour trip to save $30, don’t do it, it’s not worth it. And you don’t have to own the designer piece of furniture when there is a perfectly good knock off available at half the price. Seriously, why would you? No point keeping up with the Joneses, because they end up bankrupt….seriously, they do. Spend your money wisely so that you can have the future life you want. You either spend so it’s the life you want, or you spend and get a life that falls short of what you want. P.S Kmart and Target have awesome homewares #justsayin.
  10. Have more than one source of income otherwise you have all your eggs in one basket and someone could just sit on that sucker and they’re all broken. This is the case for most of us, relying on a job income for your life. And for most, that’s what we know. But relying on just that one source of income is risky.  If you get fired, laid off, become sick etc your income source is gone. If you can create other sources of income you are diversifying your risk if something does happen.
  11. Spread your investments amongst many things, reduce the risk for your future life. Investing in just one area, or product type can also be risky, what if something happens to that investment vehicle? Try to spread your investments over many areas or product types.
  12. Invest in yourself. It’s like interest, your knowledge (and subsequent actions) accumulate to delivering a higher return on investment. This is the best investment you can make. If you invest in knowledge or skills you increase your earning capacity, whether that be in your chosen field or you now know how to build a side business. You are in control of your own destiny, so what you invest in for you has a direct impact on what your life can look like.
  13. Have a budget, yep it’s incredibly boring, but you need a guide, otherwise you get caught in the consumerism hype. Even I hate budgets, but they help you figure out if you can actually afford the life you’ve created now and how you can afford your life in the future. Being able to afford your life, is step 1 in being a grown up. When it comes to finances and affording ones’ life, there are lots of really old kids in this world, don’t be one of them, do a budget. It will be a great guide for you.
  14. Check your habits, they’re probably costing you your future life. Habits can be expensive, perhaps it’s alcohol, cigarettes, dining out or a gym membership you’re not using (we’ve all been there). I’m not saying don’t have fun, have heaps of fun!! But when you track where your money is going it can be really enlightening to see that a habit you have cost the same as the holiday you wanted to take or the house reno you wanted to do. Check your habits, they may just be interfering with the life you really want.
  15. Always know your money situation even if you’re in a relationship. Relationships can feel oh so comfortable and perhaps you let your partner manage the finances, because he/she is better at it. Stop! You need to understand your finances too. No one person in a relationship should control the finances. Always be aware of where your financial situation is at, at all times.
  16. Have your own savings always, even if in a relationship. You never know what you might want to do that doesn’t fit into your relationship goals. Savings for you, just for you, for you to use however you want. Self-preservation, right there.
  17. Always have control of some money. Always. Never be trapped that you can’t access any money. Always have your own access to cash, online banking, signature on an account. Never ever let your partner control all access to funds.  Full control over money can lead some people to use this as a power play. Do not ever get yourself in this situation. Control over some money is also a determinant of self worth.
  18. The greater understanding of money, and management of, the higher your self-confidence will be. Understanding money can be scary, but the confidence you feel within yourself once you have a handle on it and understand how to manage it ultimately leads to management of your current and future life. And with that self confidence you can achieve what you want.

Join the Movement

Want to become an independent money chick? Hang around, this is exactly where you will learn how to do so. Through weekly posts, newsletters, courses, and one day my hope is that we have in real life meetups all over the world, bringing the Independent Money Chicks together to support each other.  You are not alone in this journey. I don’t promise it will be easy, but you’ll learn, implement and have fun, that is a given.
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