It’s been 10 weeks since Australia went into lockdown, and there are at least four more weeks to go before we’re headed back to work in some format.
But with a pandemic raging on around us, and some of us still continuing our day jobs from home, we may not have gotten the six-pack abs we wanted, started that million-dollar business or written that novel.
But, there’s still time to get fit. Financially fit.
Yahoo Finance has created a 28-day financial fitness challenge for the millennials out there wanting to take control of their money before they emerge from isolation.
We understand some of you may have been stood down from work or been made redundant during these difficult times – but for those who are able to, we challenge you to do a little better when it comes to your money.
Attendees of Carat’s Couch-Ella 2020 got the first glimpse into the 28-day millennial money challenge, and we’ll be keeping an eye on those of you who choose to partake in the challenge by sending daily updates to our Broke Millennials Club Facebook community and the Women’s Money Movement group on LinkedIn.
The first thing you need to consider before you embark on the 28-day challenge is: What is my personal money goal?
Your personal money goal is just that: personal. It can be anything - buying a house, having $50,000 in the bank, or wanting to fly first class around the world.
Whatever your personal money goal may be, jot that down somewhere you will see it. Then, put a date next to that goal, so you know when you want to achieve it by.
Now it’s time to get stuck into your money bootcamp. Here are some of our favourite challenges, broken down into three broad categories:
Saving money isn’t as fun as spending it, but depending on your personal money goal, you’re going to need to start.
First thing’s first: you need to get rid of your debt.
This means credit card debt, buy now pay later (BNPL) debt or a debt you owe to your mate for those drinks he bought before lockdown came into play.
Afterpay in particular can be a killer, with 69 per cent of Aussies using BNPL platforms feeling “financially stressed” by their instalments.
Once your debt is cleared, then we can start gathering some extra cash.
This part is simple: we want you to search for 5 items in your household you no longer need or use, and sell them on Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree.
And when I say search, I mean raid. Raid your grandmother’s kitchen for a CorningWare cookpot, which can fetch up to $10,000 on eBay.
Raid your old toy box for Polly Pocket figurines, which can fetch up to $14,650 on eBay, or rare Pokemon cards that sell for up to $100,000.
Any money you gather - set it aside for the second category, investing.
So you’ve cleared your debt and you’ve made some coin. Now it’s time to track your spending.
Tracking your spend sounds tedious and boring, but it’s the best way to figure out where your money bucket is leaking from.
Think about it like this: Have you ever gained a few kilograms but you’re not sure how because you don’t think you’re eating anything? Then you start a 7-day food diary and you realise you’re eating everything?
It’s very similar – those daily coffee purchases, Friday night work drinks and Saturday brunches really do add up.
So, take your phone out, head to the app store and download a budgeting app. A few banks have them, and there are good independent ones too.
If you’re not with a bank that has its own app, we recommend PocketBook. Finder.com.au also released its own budgeting app that you can download.
Once you download it, chuck it next to your MyFitnessPal. That way, you can stay physically fit while also being financially fit.
Investing sounds difficult, and in fact many of us put it off for that reason. But it doesn’t need to be.
Your first step to investing is to get informed - knowledge is power!
Australian Securities and Investments Commission warned inexperienced investors against trying to time the market, so don’t go in there blindly.
If you don’t have Instagram, then listen to these money podcasts: My Millennial Money; The Money Café; Money News and The Australian Finance Podcast.
If you love a good old-fashioned book, then read: Rich Dad Poor Dad; The Barefoot Investor; ann The Intelligent Investor.
Once you have a good understanding of investing, it’s time to open up a trading account.
You don’t have to do this now, but we do want you to lock in one hour in your calendar next week to do this.
Now it’s time to follow through: put $50 behind an index fund.
The world’s greatest investor, Warren Buffett, compared those who put money in low-cost index funds, with those that play the market.
Who won? Those who played it safe in index funds, of course.
The Barefoot Investor also believes index funds are the best way to earn money on the stock market.
3. Investing in yourself
You’re saving, you’re investing - now it’s time to make the best investment: in yourself.
Buffett, the fourth richest man in the world, said the single best investment he ever made was signing up for a public-speaking course – and there’s a brilliant reason why.
Soft skills are just as important as technical skills and experience. In fact, 61 per cent of employers rate culture and fit as the top consideration in a job interview.
The best chief executives in the world have incredible soft skills, like decision-making, influencing, strategic thinking and taking action.
There are plenty of LinkedIn and TAFE courses you can take to get better at these soft skills, and ultimately be more employable.
But, you can also use your hard skills to get a better payday.
With that being said, your first challenge in this section is to think of one skill you can sell.
This can be anything. Are you a brilliant content creator? Can you master Photoshop? Have you got great social media skills?
These are all things people will pay for.
If you can’t think of any skills related to your work field, do you have great organisational skills? Maybe you can be someone’s virtual assistant!
Once you’ve thought of a skill you can sell, it’s time to open up a Freelancer account.
Block in 30 minutes in your calendar next week and spend it creating profiles on Freelancer.com and Upwork.
Set your skill, set your fee, and let the work roll in.
Now it’s time to set your next challenge.
Self-care isn’t just a bubble bath and some rosé, people. It’s creating daily habits that help out future you.
So if you’ve done the 28-day millennial money challenge, that’s great! But it’s not over. It’s time to set your next challenge.
That can mean trying to spend less than you spent this month, or going the month without a coffee purchase - it doesn’t matter!
If you can’t think of any challenges, you can simply do this one again. And again. And again, until you reach your money goal.
Best of luck!
Are you a millennial or Gen Z-er interested in joining a community where you can learn how to take control of your money? Join us at The Broke Millennials Club on Facebook!