This post is based on an interview we conducted with Rayya on 25 February 2019.
Real Money Talk is our series where we interview Australians from all walks of life about their personal finances. The views expressed are those of the interviewees, based on their experiences with money, and as such are not necessarily representative of Spaceship's views.
We have changed the name of the interviewee for their privacy.
Where do you live: Camperdown, Sydney
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a graphic designer by trade but I left that to work in the not-for-profit sector. I travel a lot, and I prioritise spending time with my partner and friends. Some of my answers might be a bit different to my usual habits because I’m getting married soon. I also live with my partner who owns their apartment, so I don’t officially pay rent, but I do contribute in other ways.
What is your current net worth? How does it break down? (shares, real estate, businesses, home, superannuation, etc)
At the moment I work four days a week at the not-for-profit. I get around $1,500 a fortnight.
Savings: Probably only $5,000 at the moment, or a bit less because of the wedding coming up.
Debt: HECS is around $60,000
Car: Brand new, so it’s probably worth $16,000-17,000.
How did you accumulate your net worth?
Just through work. Part-time and a bit of freelancing on the side.
Tell us a bit about your career:
I work as a part-time support worker in the not-for-profit sector. I attempt to freelance here and there doing graphic design. I did a uni degree in a creative design field, then I did a diploma in community service and I’ve been in the not-for-profit sector for almost two years.
Do you have income sources outside of your job? If so, how much do you earn from each and how did you develop them?
My freelancing work. It’s hard to say how much because it varies. Maybe $100 a week? I’ve never really relied on it, I do it more to help people out or if I need a bit of extra cash. I get it all through word of mouth.
What advice do you have for people who want to earn more money?
Your currency is your time. Money is worthless if you’re unhappy. If your parents have money, get a place and pay them back.
What is your savings rate? And how has it changed over time?
It’s tricky at the moment because I’m paying for a wedding and a honeymoon. So, at the moment, 10% if I’m lucky. But normally 30-40%. I’ve always been good with saving proportionately.
Do you have a budget?
Back when I paid rent it was something like:
$50 recreation — and that’s on the maximum end.
At the moment I don’t live by a budget. My “rent” is really variable. I live at my partner's place, and she owns it. She doesn’t actually want rent from me: I contribute for my own sake. So, this month, I’m not paying rent but every time we go out, I pay for everything. I pay for groceries, and I’ll generally pay our utility bills as well. Sometimes we split things.
How much do you spend per year?
Probably like $30,000. That’s a guess. I’m going on a low figure. I don’t know.
Do you make purchase decisions carefully, or are you loose with your money?
If you asked me six months ago, I’d have said I consider everything and don’t buy much. Nowadays I’m pretty loose because I don’t have the immediacy of needing to make my rent every week. If I had to pay rent, I’d be way more careful, so I’m lucky.
How is your work-life balance?
Really good. I have a very healthy recreational lifestyle. That’s because I refuse to work full-time. That’s a conscious choice, not because I can’t find a job. I deliberately refuse to work overtime too.
My mental health spirals down really quickly if I work too much, and the breakdowns actually aren’t worth the money. I really believe that time is your currency. I live by that.
What is your favourite thing to spend money on?
Holidays! I travel a lot, relative to other people. I do a big trip once a year, if not more, and multiple small ones. It’s been consistent. There hasn’t been one year in the last eight years where I haven’t travelled at least once in that year.
How do you invest?
What has been your worst investment?
My dog. It’s been a loss. He’s bloody expensive. You don’t ever break even with a dog!
What's been your overall return?
From my dog? Exercise and emotional support. I guess my return is however much I don’t spend at the doctors because walking my dog improves my health!
How are you building wealth?
I think I build my wealth based around time. The more time I have, the less stressed I am and the more I enjoy my life. I consider that wealth. If I have money in the bank, but I’m stressed out, can I be considered wealthy?
Do you have a target net worth you want?
I’d love to be on a $100,000+ salary on part-time hours, but that’s not going to happen! My main thing is to be debt-free and not stressed for money. I address that by living within my means.
How have you changed to live within your means?
Being selective with jobs, finding ones that pay properly. Don’t just take a job because you’re scared money won’t come in. If I’m not earning enough, I’ll just change my job. At the same time, I’ll go for cheaper options when they’re available.
If you could start again, what would you do differently? (Advice for younger self)
Don’t work for free. Don’t underestimate your worth. If I had better knowledge, I’d love to invest in stocks but I don’t have the brain for it.
What mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?
I didn’t understand my super well. I wish I’d had a better investment understanding when I was younger. Also doubling up on money. Check what you’re buying. I once bought flight tickets for the wrong date. That money definitely could have been saved. Don’t spend what you don’t have and don’t live in debt.
Do you have any worries about retirement? If so, how are you planning to address them?
Yeah. I’m worried because I don’t understand my super. I’m worried that I can’t access it. I think I’ll just take it out when I’m 65 and buy a property. I’m going to speak to someone who has some idea, next financial year, when I need to get someone to help me with my taxes anyway. I did a whole afternoon of research, I’ll switch to one that has good reviews.
How are you learning about building wealth? Is it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?
My family is old-school, they don’t even own cars. You earn whatever cash and you keep whatever cash and that’s it. There’s no such thing as over-spending.
Do you give to charity? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?
Depends. Up to $200 a year, probably $100 a year on average. Sometimes I forget.
Anything else interesting?
Learn how to use points on a credit card if you like travelling. I’m yet to figure it out but I hear it’s the way forward.