What I know about money at 33

At 33, I would describe my relationship with money as relatively balanced, with the odd weird behavioural quirk still hanging over me from my childhood.

I learned about the value of money after I landed my first corporate job. As a fresh faced, 23-year-old sales rep on a meagre $36K salary, the only way I could have any semblance of a normal life was to earn my monthly sales commission. Because I literally couldn’t afford not to earn it (or eat), I learned the discipline that comes from necessity. I also learned self-reliance, something I think a lot of young Australians who live at home these days, well into their 30s, miss out on sometimes.

My behavioural quirk with money is probably an unconscious desire to use it to diffuse what I perceive are social tensions. For example, when I started to earn more money in my late 20s, as good sales people often do, I became overly generous. I would never ask someone for money back if I shouted them dinner, and often if they offered it I would refuse. Becoming poor again in my early 30s helped me lose that quirk fast! I’m not sure where this stems from, but my parents were similar, so it’s probably a learned behavior.

As a kid, I was super sensitive to my parents’ money worries, and I think that has shaped a slightly more conservative money outlook. My parents had built and successfully exited their first business in their early 20s, going on to build more - some that did well, others that didn’t. It took me until my 30s to make the leap of faith. I think that’s because I saw first-hand how hard it was, and the insecurity that came with no regular pay cheque.

My attitude to money is driven by an intense desire for self-reliance. I don’t ever want to rely on anyone, especially a partner, for my income. I think that’s why I have a tendency to stay close to my investments, where I have the ability to influence how they grow and perform. It’s worked well for me so far as a strategy, so I don’t see it changing. It’s funny, because I’ve basically become my parents, in that regard.

I can’t be money-friends with people who are bean counters. We just don’t gel. I don’t think friendships work like that on so many other levels, so why should they when it comes to money?

One thing I’m continuously learning about money is how powerful it is, and yet despite this, we still make so many passive decisions about it. This seems to be because we are afraid we don’t have the right, or the knowledge, to make great active decisions. Super is a great example. Here is all this money, sitting somewhere, that could be invested in things that have an impact and that also earn money. It’s such no-brainer, and it’s what gets me out of bed every day. I want to help every Australian have the “penny drop moment” I had:

Money is a powerful tool that can be put to great use really easily.

If you’d like to share your money journey with us, drop us a line on [email protected] and we’ll send you a list of questions to answer. And if you want, you can even do it anonymously! It’s liberating putting pen to paper!

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Jess Ellerm

CEO and Co-Founder at Zuper Superannuation. Loves fintech, writing, pilates, Campari and soda's and, as of 2018, marathon running.

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