Are you having a happy Easter? My boys and I are having a lovely time. The Autumn weather in Canberra is just so glorious this time of year, and we have been blessed with so many lovely food and social events with friends. Many of the events are simple and inexpensive: potluck backyard events, neighbours over for homemade hot cross buns and bicycling playground playdates. But they are also very relaxing and a lot of fun.
At social events, people ask me what I do and (after telling them about my public service day job), I usually hand them my Ms Frugal Ears business card so that we can stay in touch. That then leads to discussion about what I blog about, and why I blog about what I blog about.
“What is a frugalista?” people ask.
“Well, a frugalista is someone who still lives the good life while saving money and achieving their financial dreams,” I usually answer.
Everyone relates to saving money. Or at least everyone should relate to saving money.
Money is often, sadly, the reason for marriage breakups – and this in an affluent country such as Australia that has seen 26 years of economic growth! Money, and fear of not having enough money, keeps many women in bad or even abusive relationships. People are staying in jobs they hate (and even jobs where there is bullying and harassment or that cause them mental health issues) because of fear about not having enough money. Children are growing up without knowledge of money and becoming economically dependent on their parents.
I am often amazed at just how few personal finance/saving money/frugal/thrifty bloggers and resources there are in Australia. In the US it has become almost a national obsession, but then I guess many people lost their homes after the Global Financial Crisis and had to sleep in cars. That kind of wakes you up in a hurry. A foodie friend from Japan said that for years there have been shows on TV showcasing how you can make super cheap meals for very little. Once again, Japan has been through tough economic times and many housewives (dual income is rarer there) have to make do.
So why do I blog?
Because I am passionate about taking the mystery out of how money works, and showing how when you respect and value money it multiplies like magic. Really. I want to take out all those negative connotations we associate with money like greed, corruption, shame, stinginess and scrooginess. I want to show people that it is possible to have a healthy relationship with money, and that while money does not buy you love, it certainly makes it easier to have good relationships with people when you are in a good situation with your own money. Let’s face it: it is hard to be chipper when you are stressed about having enough money to pay your mortgage.
Ah, mortgages. I have a fairly positive view of the world and possibilities, but in 2017 we are living in a world of big changes. There are massive things happening on the international stage, be it the rise of Trump and other right-wing politicians (it’s not just him), increasing trade protectionism (witness Brexit), instability in Asia (North Korea and the South China Sea), and in Australia, the immediate prospect of rising interest rates.
Are you prepared for rising interest rates? I do not wish to alarm people and suggest the apocalypse is near. I believe in human resilience and I believe that most people will find a way through. But I want to challenge you to think about whether you are prepared for higher interest rates. Are you in advance on your mortgage repayments? Do you have an emergency fund? Could you cope if interest rates went up one, two or even three per cent?
Here on my Ms Frugal Ears blog I have all sorts of resources to help you be prepared. One of the easiest things to do is to start cutting back on your grocery budget. This is because your grocery budget is often one of the few types of discretionary payments you have. So maybe you can just shave $50 off your mortgage. Well, that adds up to $2,600. Maybe you don’t think that’s a lot, but for me (noting I have a relatively small mortgage) that is nearly half my mortgage payments right there.
Now that I have moved and changed jobs and got my kids settled in their new school, I thankfully have a bit more time to write. So I will be sharing my insights not get about recipes but about money and saving. With this in mind, I would love to hear from you about what topics you are interested in.
Are you prepared for rising interest rates in 2017? And what topics would you like me to write more about?