How to unf*ck your finances
If maths is not your friend, here's one thing you can legit get mad about.
While 14-year-old you was forced to learn Pythagoras’ theorem, which you will literally never need, the Australian Government has invested more than $10 million in kids' financial literacy since 2007.
While that means your average 10-year-old is more clued up about budgets than you, panic not. Financial planner turned sass-talking columnist and Unf*ck Your Finances author Melissa Browne has your back.
Browne – who writes a fortnightly column for Fairfax called Well Heeled and has contributed to Elle, Cleo and Cosmo – is glad schools are finally getting kids thinking about their financial futures early.
She grew sick of hearing the condescending approach of her (mostly older male) colleagues, and decided to take matters into her own hands.
'I was at a conference talking to an older financial planner about Gen X and Y and he said, "there’s no money in them, but if you get their parents, you’ll def get them," and I was like, "really, that’s not how it works",' Browne says. 'That patronising tone is ridiculous.'
Frustration at that money-driven focus on baby boomers drove Browne to write the guide. 'They were kinda ignoring Gen X and Y so I wanted to write something absolutely aimed at them, giving them a bit of a shake, saying not only can you unfuck your finances, the book can help you on your way to financial wellness.'
Predominantly aimed at millennial women, Unf*ck Your Finances compares uncoupling from dubious financial decisions to getting rid of a bad boyfriend or adopting a healthy diet, with cutting up credit cards and getting into saving top priorities.
En pointe chapter headings include 'How to break up with money,' and '30-day financial detox.'
The latter is a simple step Browne undergoes twice a year, cutting out all spending except on essentials like groceries. She says it allows you to focus on long-term goals, whether or not that includes saving for a home.
'I had a really great conversation with a young woman at the end of last year and she said, "buying a house seems so far away I figured I may as well just enjoy myself in my 20s, not worry about it and hope it sorts itself out later". And I was like, "yeah, how do you think that’s going to work?"'
Fact is, Browne says owning your own home doesn’t need to be the long-term goal. You can aim to buy a more affordable investment property further out of town than you’d like to live, start a small business or aim for the stock market instead.
'If you look at the share market and the property market in a 20 year cycle, they will both do a very similar thing, but in Australia we are absolutely wedded to this idea of home ownership and it’s right for some people but not for everyone,' Browne says.
'If my goals and values are all about freedom and travel and taking advantage of opportunities, then the share market or an investment property may be a lot smarter for me than owning my own home, so it’s sort of breaking that cycle, reconnecting back to your finances again.'
Melissa Browne’s Unf*ck Your Finances is published by Allen & Unwin