So yeah, ok then. It was going to be one of those days where I’ll be over sensitive. No watching Pixar films for me then.
I called in sick for the day, told me team I was out of spoons. I’m really grateful that I can be open about this stuff with my colleagues.
The source of my depletion
I’ve started studying a graduate diploma in financial advice part time on top of full time work. I had 2 interview assessments this week where I had to play the role of advisor for two hypothetical couples. I’ve also had two statement of advice assignments due over the last two weekends. Today was burn out day.
I started my morning with a nice coffee and breakfast in a cafe. Taking this time to appreciate food helps me recenter. Then it was a walk through Newtown and I ended up buying some awesome craft beer. We are hosting board games tomorrow and I enjoy sharing a beer with friends.
I think using retail therapy to help me feel better is one way my credit card debt got to 35K. I never use to budget for these episodes and because I have an impulsive nature that’s impossible to reign in during a low day all of those purchases use to go on the credit card.
I had an afternoon nap. It was just so nice to rest for a bit. I also find the act of writing helps me to get my thoughts in order. It helps me get my thoughts out of my head. Hence this blog. I would consider going for a motorbike ride if I hadn’t already left home for the day. I’m going to watch some TV and drink beer with my partner this evening.
Having friends over for boardgames tomorrow is also going to help. I love cooking and creating tasty things, cooking for others is one way I make myself feel useful and appreciated.
I’m studying to be a financial advisor and I’ve been exploring many of the mobile apps out there that can be used to help manage finances. This post is a review of the ones I’ve used so far. My preferred apps are listed first.
This is NOT financial advice or a product recommendation, a professional can help you if you have any concerns about your finances.
I own shares in CBA, Westpac, Eggy & Tyro. This represents an invested interest.
Otherwise most of my banking is done through CommBank. I have used a variety of other banking apps but they are all kinda similar. 86 400 has a bank feed integration feature and a decent predictive bills feature which is cool.
The bank card I received from Xinja was the funnest card that I received:
If you need to do EFTPOS/credit card processing as part of your business Tyro is cool. I worked on their mobile app a few years ago. Otherwise I use commbank as my main business account because the fees are cheaper than westpac.
CommSec pocket is great if you are learning to invest and has a minimum investment of $50, but the fees can be expensive. Raiz has an auto roundup on bank transactions for the purposes of investing which is nifty.
Most of my portfolio is held in CommSec (minimum initial investment $500). BrickX isn’t a mobile app but their website is mobile friendly and I’ve been using the platform to learn about property investment. BrickX may not be great if you need to liquidate those investment quickly though.
This is starting to get towards the bigger end of town in terms of minimum investments. If you have a larger portfolio these options might be worth considering. These products aren’t all mobile apps but they have very attractive web portfolios for checking this stuff while on the go.
I don’t have much invested in spaceship but their managed portfolio has exploded recently mostly due to US tech companies doing exceptionally well during the pandemic.
I’m biased, the mobile app that I’ve been working on for the last 1.5 years is the best one here. However Sunsuper is my main super and I like Aware super. Grow is also pretty but it was confusing to use at first.
this post is a reflection on what I’ve done with that money. All numbers are in AUD.
This is not financial advice, a professionalcan help you figure out the best approach for you.
Show me the money
I first withdrew 10k from my super, then my bonus was 5k after tax and then my tax return was 1.5k. For a total of 16.5K in extra cash in the last 2 months.
Paid off debt
The first thing I did was pay off a 2k credit card, cleaned up my outstanding zip-pay and contributed and extra 1k towards my personal loan.
The next thing I did was put 2k into an emergency savings account. Then topped it up with 1K one month later when I got my bonus. Then I put 1k into a spare cash fund in my main bank when I got my tax return.
I put 1k towards the purpose of saving for a holiday and 1.5k towards my side business app idea.
Investing in the stock market
This is not a product recommendation, this a list of funds that I invested in for my own personal investments
I bought mostly index funds (an investment with a selection of companies):
8 units of IEM (mostly Asia and other emerging markets)
43 units of ETHI (an ethical/sustainable investments fund)
2000 units of DOU (a new neo bank for the US market)
Which is nearly 4.2k invested, that DOU investment is an experiment, most of my portfolio is index funds and not direct shares.
I use Commsec and Commsec Pocket to buy shares. This is not a product recommendation, all major banks in Australia have some sort of trading platform and there are alternatives like Stockspot, Raiz and Spaceship. Your superannuation is also an investment account.
Investing in property
I put 1k into brickX, I’m doing this to learn about property investment over time with small investments.
This is not a product recommendation
Treat for myself
I took my partner out for dinner for their birthday, we went to Tetsuya’s; a Japanese fine dining restaurant in Sydney. I prepaid for the food and paid for a whiskey at the Baxter Inn before hand. This was a $500 treat and I also spent $200 on buying some new clothes.
Feeling financially stable
This is the first time ever in my adult life that I’ve felt financially stable. It is an awesome feeling. I can’t state how grateful I am for escaping the poverty trap and not getting stuck in the over spending loop. In our society it is too easy to overspend.
This blog post is a walkthrough of how I manage my finances so I can answer the question, how much does it cost to be me? I’ll be doing a budget spreadsheet for the month of October to come up with a number for my minimum living standards and my current living standards.
This is not financial advice, if you are concerned or have questions, a professionalcan help you sort this out.
This is not a product recommendation, this a list of tools I use for my own personal finances
I own shares in CBA/Westpac/Tyro and have worked on some of these apps so please consider this a vested interest.
I’m calling mine a “lifestyle budget”. I think it’s important to come up with a process that works for you. It doesn’t matter how many spreadsheets I’ve had professionals share with me, I’ve gotten more value out of tweaking my own method.
In the first tab I’ve listed out all of my expenses under a few categories, there’s the expenses I share with my house mate at the top. The total rent for the place I live in is $460 per week. I split the rent $250 for the big room and $210 for the small room. My house mate has the big room. We both contribute $50 a week towards house hold expenses.
I get paid fortnightly (every two weeks) and I’m in the process of increasing my salary sacrifice into super to save towards buying my first house using the first home savers scheme. You will see my October income is actually $2740, it’ll be $2600 from next pay.
Then there’s reality
With the second tab I’m tracking my actual expenses to see if it matches with my plan. I don’t do this every month, I’m only doing this for October. I started on the 7th of October when I got paid and I’m tracking everything that comes in and out of my accounts:
Traffic light categories
I’m using a traffic light system to categorise each expense as
Could reduce if my budget became really tight
If I lost my job, those luxury expenses would be the first thing to go.
When it comes to my minimum savings needed to survive 3-6 months I’ll be using my essentials + my reduced orange expenses to come up with a number.
I fill in the spendings on mobile
I access this spreadsheet on my mobile device and fill it in as I go about my day, this is what it looks like on mobile:
I like adding things in as soon as I see notifications for them:
But I’ll also cross reference check with some of the budgeting apps like MoneyBrilliant to check they are keeping an accurate record:
I use seperate bank accounts as “buckets”
I have my groceries come out of my every day account and my luxury/Splurge expenses come out of my Up bank account which is connected to my phone via google pay.
I also have a bucket for spare cash, emergency savings, business expenses and my motorbike expenses (I want to save up for a new helmet), this is very similar to the barefoot investors “buckets” process:
I also regulary check for upcoming bills through different apps (commbank, 86400 and WeMoney) to make sure I’ve got enough cash in my everday account to cover these costs:
I try to set up automatic transfers as much as possible so I don’t have to think about my budgeting as much. I don’t have to worry about, “do I have enough money to pay for those bills due soon?”
For my electricity, I like to be 3-6 months ahead. I’ve been stung by a few surprise bills before and hate being in that situation.
I also like to purchase carbon offsets for my electricity too. My electricity is through powershop and they have monthly future power packages that I always buy and a mega pack (2-3 months of electricity) that I’ll purchase every now and again.
I went through this process myself. All of the income from my side business had all completely dried up. I was previously helping YOW! conference promote their conferences at tech meetup groups around Sydney, when all meetup events were cancelled all of that income dried up. So I met a condition of release.
I put in an application to the ATO on Friday the 28th of August, by Monday the 31st I got a text message saying the ATO had approved the application. By Wednesday the 2nd of September I had an 10k in my bank account. Oh I’ve never felt so rich before. I was surprised at how quick the process was.
Where did that money go?
I used 2k to pay off a credit card, put 2k into my emergency savings (it was at zero before this point), and 1k put aside for my business to get that restarted. The remainder 5k was re invested. I put 1k into property via brickX and the rest in shares through commsec/commsec pocket.
I know this re-investment isn’t the best option, I’m moved that money out of a low tax environment into a high tax environment. I used half of that money to help me get my financial ducks in a row and it is such an awesome feeling to experience.
The only debt I have left to pay is my personal loan which is at 18K and my HECS debt.
Disclaimer; this is not financial advice. This is a story about how I put aside a small amount of money each pay and how I invested it into a portfolio. I also work/have worked for a few of the companies mentioned in this blog.
The TLDR; I put aside a percentage of my pay into investments/savings and topped it up when I got a bit of windfall.
How this investing started
This all started when I got my 2018-2019 tax return. I wanted to learn how the stock market worked so I started with $1100 in shares. I started the year 2020 with no savings (I had just paid $1400 for a motorbike service) and only a small stock profile:
My initial portfolio was Westpac shares, prospa shares and 2 ETF’s (index funds):
Setting up regular payments
I get paid fortnightly (every two weeks) and back in January I tired to set up the following regular transfers:
$100 per fortnight into super (a retirement savings account)
$70 per fortnight into cash
$60 per fortnight into shares
$50 per fortnight into property
Which would be $7280 invested/saved over a 12 month period (which is over 10% of my take home pay). But the pandemic kicked in, my income from my side business dried up and I had to have my gall bladder removed (which was a 2k out of pocket emergency expense). I ended up doing:
Salary sacrificing into super to take my contributions up to 15%
$100 per month into property
The technology I use
For investing in shares, I’m using Commbank’s pocket app to invest in different ETF’s and using their commsec app to buy shares when I have a bit more money. The minimum investment in the pocket app is $50 and the minimum investment in commsec is $500.
For Property, I’m using brickX, which is a company that buys properties and then divides each property into 10,000 “bricks”, they then on sell each brick to budding property investors. Their minimum investment is $50 a month for their self managed “smart plan”.
When I get a bit of a windfall (e.g my tax return or bonus) I’ll squirrel away a bit of extra into my portfolio to help balance it out.
Here’s what that portfolio now looks like after 12 months:
There’s 3k in emergency savings
2k in property
8k in stocks
Shares (some are still poorly performing):
Property via BrickX:
Emergency savings via Up Bank:
Side note: During the peak of the Pandemic 😱
I was down nearly 30% at one point during the pandemic and it got worse, you can check out my investing during a crisis blog if you’d like to read more.
Also there are tons of investment platforms out, here is an interesting video comparing the fees on the different platforms:
Let me tell you the story of how my credit card addiction blew out to be 35K AUD in debt (that’s 1.8 million rupees, 19K pounds and 25K USD for any of my international visitors). And how I’m still struggling with paying it off today.
But would I have done anything different? Probably not.
Learning how to manage money is one of the hardest things to do in life. And I think you learn the most by taking the hard route. Experience it all first hand.
2008 – The Student Credit Card
My first credit card was a $500 one. I got it before I went on exchange in Sweden. It did help when I was at uni, traveling around or had an unexpected expense come up.
2012 – The First Job Credit Card
When I moved to Sydney in 2012/2013 that creditcard was joined with a second one. This new card had a $2000 limit. I used it to buy a new laptop, and a bluetooth speak. I still use that speaker. The laptop really should be recycled through e-waste.
I also got my teeth done the first few years I lived in Sydney.
Getting my teeth fixed cost me $8000 and it was all cycled on the credit card over 2 years. So I never really paid it off. I just constantly cycled money on it.
That 2k credit card soon slowly increased to 7k.
2014 – The half arsed credit card application
Then I thought about consolidating that 7k creditcard. I half applied for a card but didn’t finish the application process. But Citibank were so desperate to issue me credit, they called my employer to check my income.
Nek minnit, I had a freshly minted 15K credit card in my letter box. I should have just canceled the card.
Narrator: She didn’t cancel that credit card
2015 was a bad year for my debt
In 2015 I had around 14k in debt across 3 cards. I had moved in with a partner at the time, used a card to help with the purchasing of household stuff. Had a sciatic nerve problem flair up, decided a decent mattress was in order. It went straight on the credit card. Got a loan for a motorbike, all of the extra gear I bought for it went on the credit card.
I was just about to consolidate it all into one card and cancel all the others, when my dad asked to borrow 2k. I used the credit card to do it. He paid it back but it meant I didn’t cancel that 7k credit card. I kept it open.
I applied to pay for the $7000 excess for weight loss surgery out of my super, the application was declined because my doctor didn’t emphasis the life and death nature enough on the referral letter. I ended up using that remaining credit card to pay for it all.
This I wouldn’t change at all. It helped me lose 40kg. The gains in quality of life and earning potential have probably already paid for itself. You can read more here.
2017 – Personal loan 35K
In 2017, I decided I had enough of all of those credit cards. I had 35K in debt across 3-4 cards. I took out a personal loan, cancelled most of the cards. I kept the 2k one. I still couldn’t completely shake off that credit card addiction.
But my housemate had already found a new roomy to take my room. So I had to move again. That 2k credit card had slowly increased back up to 7k and I used part of it to help me move again. I’m really proud of my new furnishings though, I even got a photoshoot for it. It’s all second hand furniture and now I pay sweet fuck all rent in Sydney:
After a few months working at Commbank I transferred my personal loan from westpac to commbank and reconsolidated that 7k credit card into it.
I also had my gall bladder removed at the start of 2020. Only about 2k out of pocket, but it still went on the credit card.
Today – it’s 20k plus 2k in credit cards
Today my total personal loan debt is at 20k and I have a 2k credit card. I finished paying off my motorbike loan last month. Woohoo. It’s the first big debt I’ve acquired since moving to Sydney that I’ve now paid off.
I’ll have that 2k card paid off by October and I’m track to have that personal loan paid off by the end of next year.
I feel on track to domino all of my debts but oh boy, has it been a rollercoaster ride to get there. I don’t think there is much I would change because it’s all a part of how we learn about life and how to manage our money.
If I hadn’t gone on this rollercoaster, when I do become debt free I wouldn’t appreciate it as much if I hadn’t taken the hard way to get there.
At the end of Buddha in Testing, Pradeep asks the reader to co-author the next chapter with him. So this blog post is my attempt at writing part of Chapter 5 of this book:
What is the chaos that surrounds you in testing?
Write now, during the pandemic a lot of people have been made redundant and are struggling to find work. I’m lucky enough that my day job isn’t all that chaotic, which is a good thing. The mobile app I’m working on is doing pretty well. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with a stressful work load on top of everything else.
What is my contribution?
I put together a software testers career cheatsheet to help anyone whose struggling to find work right now. After having career coaching sessions with a bunch of people, a few themes came to light. I got the inspiration to do a video series on those points. I found out it makes for great marketing content.
What situations have put you out of calmness?
Last weekend I recorded 7 career tip videos in one weekend. I was burnt out by Monday and a blubbery, teary mess. I couldn’t focus on work and took the day off to mentally recharge. I told twitter I was out of spoons.
How did you bring peace?
Walking around the city, listening to podcasts and shopping in second hand clothes stores was how I recharged. I even had a beer in a sports bar at lunch and watched some cricket (England vs West Indies) :
What answers are you searching for?
Satisfaction in life. I’m over software testing. I’m starting a graduate diploma in financial advice next week because I have an idea to disrupt the retirement funds industry here in Australia. Making retirement funds easier is something I can get behind.
How will you recognise the peace?
I enjoy adding value to other people. It’s a huge driver to most of what I do. I miss the constant interaction with people from my shop assistant days. If money/labour wasn’t a drawback I’d prefer to work in a supermarket over most of the testing roles I’ve had. With my history of depression, I don’t think I’d ever achieve peace but I can be more content with life.
I’m now outta steam
I could continue answering the questions but I think I’m going to leave it there. How would you answer some of these questions?
I recently posted on LinkedIn that I had been in software testing for 8-9 years and was thinking of a career change. Maybe financial advice could be an interesting path?
Now this isn’t me starting a career change just yet, but I’m looking into the process.
Where can I go in my current role?
I see atleast two ways foward if I remain on the software tester path. Either focus on technical mobile automation skills; becoming a principal software engineer in test so to say or try to move towards leadership. I’m not super keen for any of these paths. I could move into consulting but I feel like there’s a lot of competition in this space already. Software testing is a hard sell.
I’d like to run my own business
I’ve always felt like a bit of a misfit culturally speaking to some degree in most of my roles. My behaviour and values haven’t always aligned in a corporate sense. I’ve always had a desire to create my own culture, it’s hard to not fit in when it’s your own doing.
Growing up poor
My family background has influenced me towards wanting to run my own business. My dad use to work in a sawmill earning minimum wage, after a sawmill accident and a workers compensation payout he started his own business doing garden and home maintenance. He’s an aussie success story. I’ve felt like working for yourself can give you more success and satisfation with your career.
Why the finance direction?
Eventually I’d like to build out digital focused experiences to help people navigate things like pensions. Many of the products on the market aren’t easy to navigate. However building up a base of clients in the mean time could be a way to get there and earn a living. I’ve recently started blogging more about finance too.
What about other paths?
I’ve considered data science as a path, I’ve applied for an internal data analyst role with my current company because I’ve recently enjoyed building out a mobile app analytics dashboard for my team. I’m going to keep my eyes open to trying new things within my current situation before completely jumping ship.
Marketing and sales has been great fun to learn about, a masters in business administration could be interesting. I had considered applying for technical Sales Engineers roles if my current job had fallen through.
I do have an app I’m trying to build and I’d like to use it to help teach people better ways of doing software and quality. I could focus on creating workshops and consulting around it more too. However education and training is also a hard sell.
This is all still 2-3 years off
I currently have some credit card debt left to pay off and I’m opting for a stable job that I know how to do in the meantime until my debts are paid off. A diploma in financial advice will take 2 years part time to complete and I haven’t event started it yet. I might look into starting it next year if it’s still an appealing option by then.
This is not my first career change
I worked in supermarkets for 7 years during highschool and university. Mostly in the deli area but I did the occaisional check out chic role too. If money wasn’t a driving factor I would still be working in a supermarket; I was hardly bored, enjoyed serving customers and felt more engaged compared to most of my tech roles.
I got into tech because I wanted something that was a bit more related to my degree compared to the supermarket work. A part time testing gig during uni was the first tech role I got. I’ve generally stuck with software testing since.
Have you ever made a career change?
What was your thought process? Did you go for education first or did you jump straight into a new role? How did you decide the new career path was something you wanted to try?
Here is a table breaking down the average funds per person based on country and population (roughly sorted by funds under management):
Assets US$ (in billions)
Population ( in millions)
Average funds per person
Wow, look at Norway
Norway has the most saved per person, but their fund is publicly owned and was formed when Norway made lots of money in oil and is now invested in ethically run companies. Individuals don’t contribute to it and the government can only access 3% of the funds each year. You can watch this youtube video to find out why Norway is so rich.
A few other countries of note
The US has the most funds under management, but due to wealth distribution the average per person is lower. Pensions in the UK seems to be a confusing affair and it’s up to the employer to set up a pension plan and to make contributions on your behalf.
Singapore once had employer contributions set as high as 25% before their recession in the 80’s.
The main reason why we have so much saved is because of the compulsory employer contributions; which is currently 9.5% on top of your salary goes towards retirement savings. This was established in the 90’s by the Keating government at the time. Here is a youtube video of Keating ranting about super.
The average working Australian
I’ve told my brother, who’s 22 and works in a supermarket as a fruit and veg manager, that he’ll likely have 400k in super when he retires, even if he does nothing with it. You can use money smarts super calculator to play around with some numbers.
The average supermarket employee makes around 50k a year (plus or minus around 5k). 400k in savings feels like an insane amount of potential wealth for someone in my family (a previously low socio economic but still very bogan family, we are now upper middle bogans 😉)