Miss Balance talks about money, investing and frugal living

Someone gave me some honest feedback the other day. “You haven’t blogged for a very long time,” she said. Doh! She is entirely right. But I promise it is for a good reason. You see, I’ve been working on an exciting new project – a podcast.

Together with my co-host Kirsti McQueen, last month we launched our podcast This Abundant Life. It’s been an awesome journey. When Kirsti first approached me about doing a podcast in early June, I was about to head to Mumbai and life was busy, busy, busy. I had no idea how to start a podcast. I didn’t know anything about the technical stuff, I didn’t know how we would sound together on air, and I had only a vague idea about who we might interview.

Kirsti McQueen (left) and I during a podcasting session

But I said, “okay, let’s do it!”. And low and behold, five weeks later, we launched a podcast. And we are super excited about it. The best thing about having a podcast is that it gives us an opportunity to talk to some amazing people about topics we are really interested in. The second best thing is working with Kirsti, who is both a great friend and awesome co-host. We joke that Kirsti’s beautiful, rich voice sounds like she is a seasoned ABC Classic FM host. (Maybe one day she might end up there! Who knows what happens when you dream big!)

You can find This Abundant Life on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean and many other apps

In our most recent podcast, I talk to Miss Balance from All About Balance. I’m solo in this one as I was in Sydney for Playing with FIRE – Miss Balance was also a panelist. I recorded it while I was recovering from shocking cold (with coughing fits), and despite renovations happening in the next room in our hotel. Talking with Miss B, I felt like I was connecting with a kindred spirit.

A few days ago I met a good friend. “Your podcast with Miss Balance is my favourite,” she said. “Although the sound is less professional than the others, I feel like I am part of a chat between two good friends.” Which is kind of how I felt when we recorded it.

Miss Balance kindly provided some notes ahead of the podcast interview. So I am sharing what she wrote now in a blog, which I hope you will enjoy.

“Serina:  Today I’m talking with Miss Balance from All About Balance.  I’ve known Miss B virtually for a while through the Australian money bloggers community, but today is actually the first time I have met her in person.  Both of us are panelists at the premiere of the Australian screening of Playing with F.I.R.E. – which I’m personally really looking forward to.

All About Balance is one of my favourite money blogs.  I read a lot about money and finances, and let me just say, she knows her stuff.   I feel that I always learn new things when I read her blog posts.  It is a personal, detailed and common-sense guide to modern money issues.  If you don’t follow her yet, make sure that you do. You can find it at https://www.allaboutbalance.com.au

So, Miss B, what is your money goal.  Are you on the Financial Independence Retire Early quest?

Miss B: I’d say I’m aiming for Financial Independence to afford me greater options.  I don’t want to quit work forever and sit on a beach all day, but I would like to have the ability to work less if more important things come up. For me the plan has always been to take time out of the workforce to raise a family, give back to my community and possibly create a small business as well.

The really simple breakdown I tell people is, for every year I save 50% of my income, I can take a year off. I’ve seen some lightbulb moments when I explain it that way to people.

Are you a frugalista?  Would your friends describe you as thrifty? Or is it a deep, dark secret?

I love this term you’ve coined. I hadn’t heard of a ‘frugalista’ before reading your book The Joyful Frugalista. It absolutely speaks to me because I like to prioritise what is important to me and not feel any pressure to spend my valuable resources of money and time elsewhere.

My friends know about my frugal ways and often encourage me.  It isn’t about being cheap, nasty, or trying to rip others off to benefit myself. As an example, if having dinner out, or purchasing a group gift I’ll often find a voucher or a discount code I don’t keep these discounts to myself, but instead reduce the cost for everyone involved and they all appreciate the savings.

What are some of your favourite frugal tips?

My number one tip is to work out what you value, this will help reduce your expenses and make it easier for you to not feel guilty when you don’t accept every invitation you get. As an example,  one thing that is important to me is spending time with friends and family, it isn’t the venue so I don’t mind suggesting a picnic in the park, or pot luck dinner at home instead. Other things I don’t generally spend money on are the latest fashion, makeup, perfume etc, new or fancy cars, or anything that is just ‘stuff.’ Everyone will have their own priorities here and I think Paula Pant has the best saying when it comes to this – you can have anything but not everything.  

Other quick and easy to implement tips are; make food at home as much as you can – it’s better for your health too, shop around for the best deals on bills (insurance, electricity, phone etc) and look at your biggest expenses – housing and transport regularly to see if you can save.

I want to talk about superannuation.  I read that you make the maximum general concessional contributions of $25,000. Why? 

Yes I am currently making extra contributions to my super. The main reason I do this is because I plan to take a few years out of the workforce at some stage and most likely won’t be contributing during that time. I have a large enough buffer outside of super that I am comfortable locking away that money for a long time and realising the benefits of a lower tax environment now. I may not do it forever, but for now it works for me.

Are younger people on the FIRE path missing out on the benefits of superannuation?

Lots of people chasing super early retirement choose to not contribute extra to superannuation, usually siting that they don’t trust the government and don’t want to expose themselves to risk if the ‘rules change.’   That is a valid point and everyone needs to consider their individual circumstances.

I believe I am flexible enough to pivot if needed and work within any new rules that may come along, the same way someone who was planning on utilising excess franking credit refunds may need to alter their plans to fit in with any new framework implemented. I don’t believe in stressing about all the changes that might happen if and when, but rather reconsider options if and when those changes actually transpire.

Saying that, I also allocate the same amount of money to investments outside of super that could lend itself to a 2 phase retirement plan where this amount will allow me to retire or work part time until I reach preservation age and then super kicks in from there. With so many options there isn’t any one ‘right’ way to do things, just the way you are most comfortable with.

Do you rent or do you buy? 

I’ve been a renter for the past 12 years. I sometimes look back and think ‘ouch’ at the amount of money I’ve spent on rent. However renting has also allowed me to live in many different locations such as throughout uni, moving overseas, and then finally closer back near family. It has also allowed me to invest the difference in the cost of a mortgage and home maintenance in the share market to grow an extra income stream. I may not have had the same level of flexibility and additional income if I purchased a home of my own in that period of my life, especially with Sydney prices. I have no plans to buy right now, but want the flexibility to choose that option in the future if I change my mind.

To hear the entire interview, follow This Abundant Life on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean and other platforms.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. It was so great to meet you in person. I agree it felt like two long-time friends having a chat when it was actually our first ever meeting.

    I’m looking forward to more upcoming podcasts.

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