Many determined Australians were on the road to financial independence when the pandemic hit.
While the ongoing effects of COVID-19 have presented many obstacles to this vision, many have used this time to redefine their financial and personal goals.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of six Australians who are breaking the money management mould.
OBJECTIVE: Financial Independence. To buy land and a small house.
REQUIRED INCOME: $55,000 per year.
INVESTMENT STRATEGY: Save. Keep an emergency fund and buy Vanguard funds with savings.
When Nataasha Torzsa, known as Tasha, came across the concept of financial independence on Instagram, her expenses were out of control. She had a debt of $11,500, which she mixed up on credit cards. She had no savings or emergency funds.
Tasha, who was single, really wanted a baby. But financially, that was not an option unless she embarked on the path to financial independence. To hold herself accountable and stay on track, she started an Instagram blog called tashaagetsfrugal in 2017.
“Having a supportive community can be the difference between succeeding or giving up,” Tasha says of how they celebrated her wins and cheered her on every step of the way.
Tasha has learned a lot from her followers, especially about cooking. “Cooking is something I don’t really like to do and spending money on food is my biggest weakness,” she admits. “Learning about ways to reduce the cost of food and create recipes that are consistently delicious is very helpful.”
Tasha also learned side tricks to boost her savings, like having a business, keeping a house, keeping a pet, walking her dog, and doing surveys and market research.
Within 18 months she was debt free, helped by cutting expenses such as personal training and gym membership, as well as taking on a second weekend job in addition to her job at full-time. She spoke to her real estate agent and extended her lease, scoring a rent reduction of $50 a week.
Her savings took a boost when she was laid off, which helped her have a baby.
“There’s no way I would have had a baby in my previous situation. One of the reasons I started a debt-free journey was so I could have a baby on my own and be financially enough. stable to raise my child and not be stressed about money,” says Tasha.
In December 2019, she became pregnant. “Once you have savings behind you, you feel more in control, less worried,” she says.
She shared a house to keep her rent and utility bills low. She funded her year of maternity leave from two and a half weeks of annual leave, 14 weeks of maternity leave paid by the employer and 18 weeks of government leave paid at minimum wage.
Her son Ryan was born at the end of August 2020. Of her frugal life, she bought everything he needed, apart from his car seat, on Facebook Marketplace.
“It’s everything from the crib to her pram to the clothes. I saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars buying second hand. Her crib was half the price of brand new. The pram was about $500 less than the price of a new one.” Tasha said.
She points out that babies don’t need new items. “They don’t care if something is second-hand. They outgrow clothes too quickly, so buying new doesn’t seem worth it when they’ve been wearing something for only three months. Every time I look for something thing for Ryan, I check Marketplace first.”
As a single mother, she focuses on Ryan and enjoying her life with him. She works three days a week at a job she loves and remarkably saved nearly $10,000, or 22% of her income, last year by blogging about her spending and saving on Instagram.
“Once you have enough savings behind you, you learn that it is possible and if you have a period of time where you are not saving anything, you know you can always do it and you can go back to that” , Tasha said.
She lives alone with Ryan, so her fees are higher. “I don’t have any sort of loan or credit card. I don’t owe any money outside of my HECS.”
Tasha’s dream is to buy a small house and land.
“I’m still only about 45% away from my goal of being able to build a tiny house. The savings goal is about $100,000. Once I have that, I can then consider having it built. a house and finding land. I also hope that local laws will change at that time and that living in a house on wheels for long periods of time will become legal. Currently it is not really legal to live in a small house as they are classed as caravans.
Tasha loves the idea of defying the norm, doing what we want and having more freedom in our lives.
“Why should we spend our lives in the typical 9-5, get married, have kids, buy a house with an expensive mortgage, be in debt. It’s not the only way to live.
Keep an eye out for other Aussies sharing their FIRE journeys over the coming weeks. Or, order the April issue of Money for all the details!
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