How to Upgrade Your Life on a Budget
10 Ways to Upgrade Your Life when you have no Money
Currently, we need to find a new home to live in, buy a larger car (a Corolla does not fit 2 adults and 4 kids), and visit Vanuatu to sort real estate/business/family matters at the end of the year. With moving to where we are, the kids have the opportunity to be involved in some incredible programs, so there are costs for that as well.
Aside from the needs, we want to set up a home gym, do more camping and other trips. Basically, after having a few years kind of stuck, focused on 2 pregnancies, Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s residency visa and commercial diving qualification, we are ready to upgrade our life again.
How can you Upgrade Your Life on a Budget?
Knowing what you need and want to have your ideal life is part of it. The next part is making it happen. In our experience, there are a few components to upgrading your life.
1. A Mindset Shift
Visualise and know the reality you want. Work on removing any scarcity mindset, money blocks, negative views around money or ‘rich people’ etc. Doing this work makes a huge difference. Read Rich As F*ck and Lucky Bitch for more on mindset. The Psychology of Money is another recommended book. It takes a more factual, science based approach for money and our minds.
You will need to continually work on your mindset to level up. Spend time with people you admire and want to be like, who have the mindset and life you aspire to. Read their books, follow their channels, look for motivation, nor for comparison.
Still spend time with your friends, family and others in your life, be aware of how you spend your time though and how it makes you feel. 4000 Weeks and Die With Zero are good reads for spending your time wisely.
2. Take Action
You don’t need to know exactly how everything will work out but you do need to be taking action to create the life you want. Knowing what you want and focusing on your goals makes it easier for your subconscious to scan your life and everything you do and connect opportunities for you to get what you want.
The list below will show some ways to take action.
3. Acceptance and Gratitude
Acceptance plays a huge part in our life in various ways. By accepting and being grateful for where we are in life and what we have, while still striving for more, we are happier and find opportunities easier.
It isn’t just about accepting life as is. You also need to accept and feel comfortable with the upgrades you want to make in life. Too often we self-sabotage because we aren’t comfortable with wealth or happy relationships or whatever it is we want.
Being comfortable can be good but not when it is connected to unhealthy life patterns. Just because something feels comfortable, doesn’t mean it’s right. It generally means that is what we are used to. If you want life to change, you have to get uncomfortable.
What Steps or Action can you Take to Upgrade Life?
Action to upgrade your life depends on what you want your life to look like and how you want to spend your time. The steps below are suggestions but tailor them to suit your life goals.
1. Champagne Life
How to have a champagne life on a beer budget wage is where I shared a few tips to have a fancier lifestyle. If you know what you want, there are many ways to make it happen.
As an example, we love travel and experiences so I went into tourism marketing as a side gig. This enabled us to get paid to travel and do some incredible things we might not otherwise have done.
More recently, I wanted more of my time back and help from the kids. The day after I decided this, I was offered a promotion with some meal kits. Now the meals are planned out for us each week, delivered on Monday, my family take turns cooking and it has definitely upgraded my life.
2. Time Management
What do you want to spend your time doing? How can you make that happen?
We spend a lot of our lives doing stuff we don’t want to do or being so busy and stressed out, we miss out on a lot.
Recently, I read and implemented the tips in Life Admin Hacks. It is all about streamlining everything from paying bills to getting a will.
As a result, we’ve changed quite a few things our home. Instead of going to the shops, we have a running shopping list that we add to and order when it reaches a certain amount. This is saving us time and money.
The family calendar got updated, we are using meal kits (check out over $600 worth of discounts for meal kits to get save you time and money), we are more conscious of how we do things and when. Tasks in our home are proper organised and it doesn’t all fall on me, the mum.
Plus, we are buying a larger car and planning travel again.
Spend your time in a way you’d be happy with so you can look back on life with joy instead of regret.
3. Know When to Say Yes and When to Say No
Many people I know say yes even when they don’t want to do something. Learn the power of saying “No.”
It is a complete sentence, you don’t need to explain yourself and there are many ways to say no so you can take back control of your time and life.
In general, if it won’t add value to our lives or isn’t something that absolutely has to be done, I say no. Too much of my life was spent pleasing others. Knowing when to say no to things I don’t want to do but say yes to things I want to do even if I don’t know how I can make them happen has upgraded my life drastically.
4. Read and Educate Yourself
Knowledge is power. The application of knowledge is what will change your life. Learning can be free, depending on what you want to learn and how.
Borrow books from the library, listen to podcasts, join groups relevant to what you want to learn, sign up for cheap classes through places such as Udemy or Coursera. Then put what you learn into practice.
Doing things to upgrade your knowledge and skills can often lead to promotions, increased incomes, side gigs, a wider network and more opportunities in general.
5. Grow Your Network/Community
Expand your circles whether they be career circles, friendship circles, community connections or any other aspect of life. Go to networking events, join a gym or do some classes, volunteer and get connected.
During the past few years, we have not been able to do that as much and it has greatly impacted our mental health. Humans need connection.
Get out of your usual circles if you want to change your life. Connect more with others, get involved in projects you have always wanted to and do the things you want but haven’t made time for yet.
Doing this can often result in new opportunities for career, travel, relationships, health and all areas of your life.
6. Get Out In Nature
Numerous studies show the benefits of getting out in nature, yet most of us still don’t do it enough. This doesn’t even have to cost anything but can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health.
Take up a hobby such as hiking, diving, beach volleyball, yoga in the park or similar. Use websites or apps such as Meetup and Facebook to find similar events in your area.
Getting outside has benefits such as vitamin D, being active with these sort of hobbies will improve your overall health and if you do it with others, you will strengthen your relationships.
7. Plan Your Retirement
Those within the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early) have their retirement planned out. The average person does not. Most people have compulsory contributions done and that’s it.
Few think about what they want to do in retirement, when they want to retire and how they will fund their lifestyle. While superannuation or retirement funds in general are great, they won’t cover everything and the pension options get changed, so you can’t rely on that.
We plan have a plan but probably won’t fully retire since our lifestyle is fairly flexible already and our focus is helping others, especially in Vanuatu. Helping the whole family progress and have opportunities is important to us.
8. Focus On Health
Without your health, life can be severely limited. In 2015, I was paralysed on and off for 7 months. My last 2 pregnancies in 2020 and 2021 came with numerous health issues. At those times, my life basically stopped.
Get control of your health, make it a focus and your life will drastically improve. Whether that is slimming down, getting fitter, more flexible or stronger, it all helps. As does ensuring you look after your mental health too.
When you are clear on the life you want, health will play a part. While we aim for body positivity and acceptance, the reality is, health impacts our life. There are some things that simply cannot be done if we are not in good health.
One year, I did a lot of diving, international travel and even got offered a place on a once in a lifetime hike through Slovenia. If I had not been focused on my health, getting in shape, increasing my stamina and flexibility, I could not have said yes to those opportunities.
On top of physical health, focus on your mental health. When our mental health is good we are more resilient, patient, better parents and friends etc. Mental health needs to be a priority, get any help you need to optimise it.
9. Improve by 1%
You don’t need to overhaul your entire life drastically all at once. Aim at improving by even 1% and increasing it by 1% regularly. Changes will compound and you will eventually have made significant change over time.
You’re living life, why not live it with a 1% improvement? Doing this will ensure you are living the life you want. The time passes anyway so do it with your ideal life in mind.
For example, if you want to focus on health, start with a 20 minute daily walk or 10 minute yoga session. Going to the gym for 2 hours a day is not typically sustainable. If you can walk or do yoga or similar daily, you are more likely to stick to the habit and can expand on it.
Another example is money. Transfer 1% of your income into savings every time you get paid. Increase it to 2% the next month and so on. You learn to adjust your spending to these small amounts and before you know it, you will be saving 10% or more.
Choose an area of your life you want to change and look at a way you can do it starting small. Check out 10 Small Habit Changes to Drastically Change Your Life.
10. Upgrade in Areas that Matter to You!
Just because your neighbour bought a new car, doesn’t mean that is what you need. Same goes for their clothes, gym membership or anything else. Someone else having it or suggesting it doesn’t mean it is right for you.
This is your life, you know how you want to life it and you are in control. Make decisions based on your values and what you want in life.
Choose an area of life you want to improve, create a plan of action then make it happen.
How to Streamline Your Finances
5 Lessons From Numerous Bank Errors
Recently, $15,400 landed in my account unexpectedly with no description except ‘admin’. I had no idea what this money was for, where it came from or what to do with it.
At the same time, I was waiting on the payment of a much smaller invoice. After some follow-up, it turned out that invoice was paid into an old account.
On top of that, I was having issues with the tax department over my tax return. My return needed to have an amendment done as I forgot to add one thing (the rest was prefilled). Issues with this went on for months.
The $15,400 happened on Friday, and then on Monday, I found out what it was for and it was not mine. That same Monday, the $700 happened and I finally got a call about the tax issues. Only for me to have to teach and show the person on the phone what tax was payable and why etc. Luckily, I knew my stuff and had the proof.
All 3 of these took time and energy away from my work and personal life. I felt stuck.
When the $15,400 hit my account I actually froze. It was unexpected and suddenly, I didn’t know what to do with my money, despite being all over it normally.
I realised with all these money issues, something has to change. I need to get serious about my money, streamline it and get more organised than I ever have before.
1. Know All Your Accounts and the Details
Often, people sign up for bank account bonuses then end up with an account they don’t need or use. Check your banking, know what money is doing, where it’s going and then close any unnecessary accounts.
That old account the $700 went into really should have been closed by now. Due to my work and referral bonuses from banks, I have too many accounts.
These bank errors were the push I needed to close the accounts I don’t need and streamline the rest. Essentially, I need the business accounts, a personal account, we have a joint account for expenses with the kids etc and a joint savings account for Vanuatu and things we agree to save for together.
Yet, I have accounts with 6 banks right now, 3 I get referral bonuses through so don’t want to close them. The rest are unnecessary now.
What I need to do is edit a few payments to go into and out of another account then close them. It’s not hard, I’ve just been lazy about it which costs time, money and energy. (Note, none of these accounts have extra fees, they are fee free. It would be worse if I was accruing monthly fees on top.)
2. Work Out Your Goals
What are your money goals? Do your bank accounts and how you manage money reflect that?
Having my money managed through different accounts instead of one is a pain. There is more to check, more to juggle and when applying for rentals, I had to send across so much paperwork.
None of that aligns with my money goals. These banking errors brought to light just how far away from my goals I am with how I manage my money.
How can I expect money to flow to me quickly and easily when my financial process is such a mess?
3. Decide on the Accounts you Need
In general, the following is used or recommended:
Daily expenses account
Sanity/Splurge/Fun money account
Larger expenses account
An emergency fund
If you are partnered, a joint account and joint savings account are good as well as having your own.
Some people prefer to have multiple accounts for various large bills such as car registration, insurances, medical expenses etc. I have them in one account, the larger expenses account and pay for them as they come up.
The bank errors made me look at the accounts, what I want to use them for and change their names to match my goals. Plus, with Up Bank I can set an emoji for the account so the joint account for Vanuatu has the Vanuatu flag.
4. Cancel, Close and Open Anything you Need to
I have already mentioned it but will again, get rid of what you don’t need. If it isn’t being used, close it. There are rare exceptions to this rule but in general, if you aren’t using it, it’s a waste of time and energy to have it.
If you are paying fees on any banking products, look for fee free options or how you can get those reduced. Also, check the interest rates on anything you have, even call and ask for a better deal.
It’s your money. Make it work for you instead of wasting it on fees.
Look at your money and work out what you can automate. Most of our bills are paid by direct debit. I have a reminder set in my calendar for when things are due. Investing is mostly automated, as is savings.
The less I have to manage my money, the easier it is. In general, I prefer to have enough sitting in the expenses account to cover anything that comes up instead of having to transfer money as needed.
Doing it this way, late fees aren’t an issue, discounts are usually offered for direct debit and pay on time so I save money too.
6. Get On Track: Money Meetings
Our finances (well, the bank accounts) are reviewed on a daily basis. This is to ensure no scamming or similar happens and if it does, we can resolve it quickly.
Money meetings happen weekly in our house and cover what was spent, upcoming expenses, goals and tracking where we are at. Money wins can also be celebrated.
Being open with the kids about money has enabled them to learn and as a result, my eldest is better at saving than I ever was.
Money Manage Books I Recommend
Sometimes, getting on top of finances is a little trickier so reading a book that outlines what to do can help. Here are a few I recommend.
Essential reading for any business owner, Profit First shows you how to implement a system and guarantee you actually have profit sitting in your account at the end of the financial year.
Money With Jess
Jess writes a regular money column and her book, Money With Jess is a great way to set up your finances. She also shares numerous tips for all areas of the budget to save money.
The Automatic Millionaire
If you want to know more about automating your finances, how and why you should, The Automatic Millionaire is a wonderful read.
Life Admin Hacks
Not only for your finances but your life in general. Life Admin Hacks will share all the ways to destress your life by streamlining all the general admin tasks that build up.
How do you streamline your finances?
How to Achieve BIG Financial Goals
Whether that goal is a new car, saving for a house or maybe something smaller such as dental work or a PlayStation, what you need to do to achieve it is similar.
1. Set an Achievable Goal
One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting unrealistic goals. If your goal is a new car, decide the type of car you want and can afford, work out the budget and whether you will save or get a loan for it.
We might want a brand new Landcruiser but if you’re on the average Australian wage, a brand new one is probably unrealistic for now. A more realistic goal would be either an older model or a different type of car.
As an example, we need a 7 seater car. After reviewing our options we’ve decided on a Hyundai Sante Fe. Our budget is up to $30,000.
Knowing what we want in a car made it easy to eliminate many others and not get distracted by others, as well as makes it easy to set a realistic goal.
2. Create a Realistic Plan
Once you decide what you want, how will you make it happen?
For the car example above, we were considering finance but instead have challenged ourselves to make and save as much extra cash as possible by the end of the year. We’ve done this before with huge success, resulting in $30,000 within a few months for Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s commercial diving course.
Maybe you are saving for a house deposit? If so, you need to work out how much you need, create a budget and saving plan then look at ways to make more to achieve what you want.
3. Break your Goal into Easy Steps
The simpler you make your goal and plan to achieve it, the more likely you are to make it happen.
As mentioned, with the house deposit, you need your budget and a saving plan but you can make even smaller steps. Save bundles e.g. $1,000 as your steps. Get a graph to colour in to keep it visual and to keep you motivated then work out how you can make it happen.
I like to start with breaking it into small steps and setting it as a savings goal, then I take it a step further by looking at every possible way to make more money to put towards the goal too. Check out 22 ways to make money in 2022 for ideas.
4. Look for Opportunities
You’ve got your goal and a plan but that doesn’t mean things will go smoothly or that it’s the only way to achieve your goal.
For example, I needed a new MacBook and had started saving for it while using my eldest child’s laptop. I planned on having it by the end of September.
Well, as I had made this known to a few people, recently, someone surprised me by giving me a brand new MacBook! My goal was achieved in a completely different way from what I expected.
Another example, I wanted a holiday and was offered one in exchange for doing some social media for a tourism company.
Be open to opportunities and think outside the box. Your plan is definitely what you should do but be open to opportunities.
5. Work on it Daily
Small, consistent changes will make a huge difference over time. Too often we view our big goals as unachievable or we pin our hopes on winning the lotto instead of taking small steps every day.
I wrote about how small changes can make a big difference, including 10 examples of habits to change. By actively working on your goal a little bit every day, you are making progress. That daily action takes you one step closer to your goal.
6. Make It Visual
Create a vision board of your goals, write them in permanent marker on your mirrors, add inspirational quotes. Change your passwords to be connected to your goal so when you use them you get reminded.
Make digital images related to your goal to use as screensavers and backdrops. Do what you can to make your goal front and centre. Doing this will make your subconscious brain work towards achieving it even faster and often in ways you might not have considered.
When my goals are right in front of me and I am working on them daily, they become much easier.
What Big Goals are you Working on?