Wednesday, May 28

Tales from my wallet!

Word! Thanks so much for the tweets and comments on the previous post! All this time I've been blogging about goats when I should have been confessing my financial fails - lolz.

Ok, so as promised, herewith my money strengths and weaknesses. I expected this to be a brief account but as usual, it's turned into a long, rambling affair. 

Let's start with the strengths so that I don't get dismayed halfway through scribbling this!

Money Strengths

- I'm a hardcore thrifter! +- 70% of the things in my flat were cheap, thrifted buys or freebies I swiped at office chuck-outs. I don't thrift things like bedding or cushions (ok, there was one cushion) but I will thrift cool, old shi*! It's quite thrilling to stumble across a dirt-cheap collectable, and thrifted things help to infuse your space with lots of character. Oh crumbs, it sounds like I'm scribbling a decorating article. 

- I don't have a TV (because I sold it when I was skint, ha) and thus, I don't have DSTV - and I don't miss it one bit! Ok, I do miss the doccos and shows like "Storage Wars!" but I can watch those and now and then at Tall One's. I tend to read more since I've gotten rid of the telly and I'm less exposed to consumerist advertising (said by someone who works - in advertising.) I will get stuck into the odd series now and then (I pretty much know know every ep of Downton off by heart) but yeah, point is, I save on the DSTV. 

- I stopped dying my hair as often as I was. Now I just touch up the roots occasionally. Ombre for the win! 

- I travel on the cheap. As much as I love snuggly, white robes and piles of toasty towels, I would rather go on a couple of cheap and cheerful campouts a year than blow my travel budget on one fancy hotel stay. Tall One and I recently holidayed in a pretty cottage but we paid for it with money we made by selling old cr@p! 

- I splurge on investment pieces when I can - which is not very often! So yeah, when I can, I will save for something that needs to last me many years like a blazer or a killer pair of boots. This saves me moolah because I'm not buying new boots all the time.

- I hardly ever eat out (and I stopped going to movies years ago). I love good food but personally, I find most places to be overpriced and the service is pretty avs. I always think, "Jon and I could have way more fun making this at home!" I will have the odd pub lunch if we're missioning through the countryside but I don't mind that because it's more of a treat than a weekly activity. 

- I drive a seriously fuel efficient car and I live close to work so I don't spend a fortune on petrol. That said, I secretly want to live up the hill but it's miles away from work and I can't quite justify it yet. 

Money Weaknesses

- Being suckered in by pretty packaging! Yoh, yoh, yoh. I love pretty packaging. Nay, I REVERE it. But I seriously need to calm down with this. You can get addicted to buying things just because they're prettily packaged. Sounds so ridic when I type it here.

- Convenience Foods! I think we all know which retailer is my weakness. I won't necessarily buy unhealthy rubbish but I do find it hard to resist a rotisserie chicken which I haven't had to cook! This is probably in conflict with my whole 'not eating out much because it's overpriced' thing.

- Not monitoring bank charges! I've recently done a ton of research into this. I've been costing myself a fortune by simply not understanding what my swiping and withdrawing is costing me. Will be switching to a new bank soon! (Although I saw a lady from my bank today at Checkers and she was so lovely to me and now I'm feeling guilty about switching!)

- Emotional spending. Oi. When I'm stressed and exhausted, my knee-jerk reaction is to eat something nice and/or buy something nice. DANGER! DANGER! Things do not buy long-lasting happiness. (Although they do buy happiness for a good ten minutes!) 

- Frittering small amounts away on things I don't really need. It's great that I save by thrifting. It's not great that I've also thrifted some raaaaaandom cr@p that I don't actually need. My new thrifting motto is, "only thrift if it's super special at a ridiculous price."

All this said, spending completely depends on what you value. I freaking love my thrifted owl ornaments and soft, white bedding. These things do bring me repeated joy. So much so, that I'm always snapping them for Gloss! The trick is to not spend your way into debt.

I have so much to save for, it overwhelms me. I need to build an emergency cash stash and save for all the furniture that I currently rent because I never had a load of loot to begin with. As for saving for a home deposit, it seem virtually impossible but I have to trust that I'll get there one day. Fingers crossed, eh?

Now, spill! What are your spending strengths and weaknesses?

PS: I wanted to post some loltastic pics of Jon and I cooking soya mince in his tent but my WIFI is giving me gears and not loading anything - soz!

PPS: Future posts include, "Cheap and cheerful things to do in KZN!" We're not clubbers as you can probably tell. We're all about the animal farms, walks in the forrest and house parties (read: braais). 

Tuesday, May 27

Managing moolah!

I know I usually blog about animals and weird, old thrift stores but I feel super compelled to chat about things I've recently learnt - as I briefly mentioned in my previous post.

I don't even know where to begin so let me frame this impending waffle with some context. 

FYI: I know some people consider it crass to talk about money but I'm a pretty open person whose made some blunders along the way and if I can help just one soul from making similar blunders, I'll be chuffed!

Ok, so this is me right now in a nutshell - money wise:

My current age: 31 (32 in Oct) My knowledge about personal finance up until now: Pretty abysmal My spending habits up until now: Fairly frugal coupled with some massive mistakes Where I am with money in a very broad sense: I'm by no means rolling in the randelas but I am rich when you consider that a massive chunk of the world's population lives without shelter and regular meals. I rent a small studio apartment, I drive a little run-around but I can afford a few luxuries like takeaway coffee, cheapish clothes and the odd splurge at Typo. My parents always insisted that I figure my own way out of money troubles (which I used to hate but am now grateful for) so I am entirely reliant on myself to pay my way through life. Random FYI: I used to be married and when I was sharing living expenses with my ex-husband, I had a lot more disposable income. It has been helluva challenging to pay for rent, food and utilities on my own but I kind of enjoy the challenge of it now. 

So, what led me to take an interest in "personal finance?" (A term which I always thought sounded seriously dull and complicated.)

I guess it was a number of factors. 

- I realised that my car will be paid off by the end of January next year which sparked thoughts like, "YAY! I'll have extra money to TREAT myself with"...and then, "Ooooh, but I could buy a cool NEW CAR!" I have since redirected these two dodgy lines of thought! 
- Tall One started purchasing shares some time ago and one day I was like, "Just exactly, what the hell are shares, Tall One?"
- Jon - his actual name - got me hooked on one of South Africa's biggest forums and I stumbled across the Finance section and found some intriguing articles about how to build wealth. I started reading those, which led me to some hilarious but super insightful personal finance blogs like THIS ONE. READ IT. It is extreme but there are some general principles which we can all apply - even those of us who often feel like we are just scraping by. 
- I recently paid off my credit card, camera and lens (there were  tears of relief) and I started to think, "Well, what should I do with the money I was using to kill down my debt every month? TREAT myself???" Nooo, Lauren, nooo....

Ok, I could write a blog post about each of those things but - say, I could only ever write ONE post to one twenty-something who was about to receive her (or his! It's just easier to imagine myself talking to a girl for some reason) first pay cheque, this is what I would say:

Hello twenty-something year old!
You're finally about to start earning some money which could buy you all sorts of things! If you're anything like me when I was twenty-two, you're probably thinking, "Yay!! I can finally eat at restaurants with my friends and buy shiny new things for my home and hey, the bank said I now qualify for a credit card which means I can get a fancy clothes for work!"

Wooooah, there Sally. Yes, you can have fun doing SOME of that but before you start living it up like there's no tomorrow, do these things:

1. Go online and read about personal finance. Listen to lots of people. Try Suze Orman. Try Dave Ramsey. Try Mr Money Mustache Man! You will find it all overwhelming. You won't be sure whose advice to follow but you will find some LOGICAL common threads which you can discuss with your boyfriend/mom/wise uncle. And if you're thinking of getting married, PLEASE don't leave the budgeting and financial decisions solely up to your husband. Sure, he could be the most honest, wonderful, financially-savvy man in the world, but wouldn't it be cool if you totes understood your financial life too? The basic principles aren't that hard to grasp. That's from someone who has numerical dyslexia and flunked Maths at school. Yup, I did.

2. If you're not ready to invest (who can blame you, I am still figuring that all out) then, just SAVE something. I know you probably won't be earning much at your age but seriously, just get into the habit of stashing away a bit of cash every month because


For example, your car may break down. And if you don't have some cash stashed away, you may be forced to pay for the emergency with your shiny, new credit card. And then, you will be forced to use some of your hard-earned salary to start paying down this horrible debt every month. Take it from someone who has been there, IT SUCKS. Come on girl, you don't wanna ask the folks to bail you out (although they may kindly do so) - you want to get used to the challenge of solving your own money problems because that's bad-a$$. (I've been reading a lot of MMM!) I know some families generously share money with each other and that can be a wonderfully supportive thing. I just think it's kind of cool to first try and pay for it yourself. That said, I have called my parents when my credit card was on the verge of being maxed and I literally couldn't afford two-minute noodles to get me through to pay day. I may regret sharing that here but as I said, hopefully I can frighten inspire someone into not making the mistakes I made!

3. Be mindful when it comes to spending. When you've just started earning, it is tempting to blow your newly acquired loot on clothes because you've never been able to do so before but be MINDFUL. Think to yourself, "Is this a want or is this a need?" Treat yourself to some wants, as long as you don't have a DEBT EMERGENCY on your hands, and as long as you are saving some cash.

Ok, let's leave it at that for now. I have just started to get to grips with money things and I have LIBRARIES worth of things to learn! 

In my next post, I am going to share my money strengths (like, going on cheap and cheerful camping trips as opposed to frequent larny getaways) and my money weaknesses (like, spending too much at the canteen - ugh, my worst)

If you're keen to hear that, stay tuned! xxx

PS: I was also planning a picture post for this week but when I arrived at the dog park with my camera, I realised it was as dead as a doorknob.  (The camera, not the park.) Charging that sucker now! 

PPS: My parents are probably reading this and thinking, "Ya, we tried to teach you about compounding interest and all those things when you were sixteen, but you wouldn't listen!" Fair enough ballies, but I'm trying now!

PPS: I just happen to be facing what is going to be a very challenging month in terms of stress and lean-spending so I am going to have put some of what I've just learnt, into practice. This is going to mean saying 'no' and sucking it up while I learn the lessons and re-configure my budget. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 18

The things I would blog...

Thanks to this blog, I got an awesome job last year - yay! 

Said job is keeping me so busy, I can't find time to scribble the blog anymore. Oi!

Don't get me wrong. I am infinitely grateful my job. 
It has been one of the most exciting - and challenging - adventures I have ever embarked upon.
Plus, it's full of fashiony things you guys would LOVE.

If I weren't so busy werqing, I would blog about:

// my current obsession with all things financial (let's hope job = cottage home one day!)

// the recent regret I experienced when I realised that I hadn't saved a single cent in my twenties (bar a smallish RA which I have since caught up) - if I had put R100 aside every month since 2004, I would have one gabillion jillion rand to my name by now. Well, not quite but ya know how these things go. Compounding interest and all that! I want to write a thousand words about the lessons I've learnt but one day, one day...

// the fact that I'm feeling a bit sad about something personal. Why even blog about it? Because it helps to just punch 'Meh' into Blogger now and then. I'm not one for airing dirty deetz online but I got probz too. One is that I write like a fifteen year old when I'm thirty-one.  Just joshing. Slang for lyfe.

// the new lens I desperately wanna get. I've been holding back from doing shoots regularly because while my nifty fifty is wonderful, it is rather limiting. I'm hoping to save for the lens of my dreams so we can BRING ON THE SHOOTS! 

// the calming force that is Tall One. He is so patient and kind and takes me for Sunday drives when I am feeling shattered and achy with neck pain.

// how I'm always debating whether or not to shut this blog down because I struggle to find time to play here these days - but I can never bring myself to because I know I will go to an animal farm one day and think, "MAN, I wish I could BLOG these cute creatures."

I hope you are well? I miss you guys and that's legit. Not just saying that! x

Monday, May 5

Weekend Away at Solitude

Tall One and I have just returned from the most awesome weekend away in the Midlands! If you've been reading Gloss for a while, you'll that my dream is to live in a little double story cottage one day. So, I couldn't believe it when Jon's fam showed me pics of a place they'd stayed in which looked like the cottages I've pinned on Pinterest! We booked ourselves in for the first weekend of May when the leaves would be falling from the trees. It was HEAVENLY! Our upstairs bedroom led onto a deck through white, flowy curtains - just like in my dreams! Inside, there were blankets, heaters and a fireplace - this was a bit too much for Jon who prefers to sleep on snow-covered mountain tops but it was wonderful for me as I usually end up hypothermic on these wintery getaways. I wish I could have shown you more pics of our cottage but it was a bit tricky to snap with my lens - you can check out  our little slice of heaven here. On Saturday, we visited Swissland Cheese to see how the baby goats were doing (last year's post lives here) and we also stumbled across an 'Animal Farm' which was more like someone's back yard with a couple 'o crazy creatures wandering around - we kinda felt like we were trespassing! Kerry treated us to an amazing lunch at Sapore (seriously, suuuuuch good pizzas) and the rest of our break was spent chilling, braaing and trying not to fall out of the world's dodgiest row boat. I am one happy, chilled-out panda now. Hope you all had lovely weekends as well? PS: The pic below of Jon in the woods - officially my fave snap of all time! x

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