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Ruby's Real Money Diaries: Carla shares her get out of debt tips

28 April 2021

Sometimes, decisions you make when you’re young can impact your finances in the future – and Carla, who’s currently paying off a large credit card debt, learned that the hard way. More recently, Carla’s worked hard to get on top of her finances, including becoming more mindful of her spending, planning for the future and making her savings work better for her.

About Carla

Age: Mid-30s

Location: Melbourne

Occupation: Sales and marketing

HECS / HELP debt? Yes

Any other debt? A credit card

Income: I have a decent income. I earn $95K+ in a good year if I hit all my sales bonuses. I have room to breathe which is nice.

Do you have any savings? Not much

Are you actively saving? Trying to

RUBY: Hi Carla. Thanks for talking to us about your financial journey! What’s your day to day spending look like?

Carla: I use my phone for everything, which is a blessing and a curse! I have access to my money easier than having to pull my wallet out, but using your phone to pay for things makes it feel like what I’m spending isn’t quite real, so it’s problematic. Most days, I’ll walk up to my coffee shop and grab a coffee for me and my partner. I drive most places these days, but occasionally will jump on a tram if I’m heading out to dinner with friends. On a week to week basis, I buy groceries and the odd takeaway meal and maybe a bottle (or two) of wine. I think I probably spend more than I think I do, and I’m trying to now get a handle on it.

RUBY: How do you feel about your finances today?

Carla: I’m not in a bad position, but for someone that earns what I do, I feel like I should be ahead of where I am financially. Some months I blow out, with nice dinners or too much online shopping. But I’m trying to get better and set up buckets of income and make sure that I’m putting money away each and every week for a bit more security.

RUBY: What did you wish you knew earlier about finances?

Carla: Be aware of what you’re spending on your credit cards! When I was starting out, I was putting everything on my card. At the beginning, I paid it off in full each month, but then it just kept adding up until I was only paying the minimum each month. It’s taken me 18 months to completely pay off the balance and I’m proud to say I’m now – almost – debt free!

RUBY: Where did you learn about money?

Carla: My partner is a saver and invests his money and I’ve learnt a lot from him about how to make my money go further and work for me, rather than just sitting in a savings account.

RUBY: What is the most important financial advice you’ve ever received?

Carla: Don’t buy the couch if you can’t pay for it outright! And make sure you’re working towards something in particular financially, even if it seems trivial.

RUBY: Are you planning on having kids? How will you manage those costs?

Carla: My partner and I are planning on having kids. The added costs do make me a little nervous – nappies are expensive! – so I’d like to have a solid nest egg first. We have a shared account that we each deposit as much money as we can at the end of each month and that’s our way of putting money aside for our future together.

RUBY: Is there one thing you think you nail when it comes to money?

Carla: Most months, I absolutely nail my budget. And I’ve become more mindful of planning ahead, watching my spending and of allocating money to things like getting my hair done instead of just spending without thinking then feeling guilty about it.

RUBY: Do you have an emergency fund? How do you prioritise saving for that?
Carla: Yes, I do. I set this up two years ago and funnel money into it each week via a direct debit. I feel safer knowing that if I run into an emergency, I have a buffer. It came in handy a few months ago when my dog needed emergency surgery.

RUBY: Any big financial goals for the future?

Carla: I’m working on paying down my HECS debt and the last of my credit card debt. I’d love to be able to buy a place with my partner down the track, but housing seems like it’s getting more and more expensive, so we’ll see.

“Most important piece of financial advice I ever received is, don’t buy the couch if you can’t pay for it outright!”

Loved this? Check out more in the Ruby Money Diaries series.

Things you should know: This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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