As I pulled my bank card out of my wallet and scanned the PayPass the cashier gave me a knowing smile.
“You’re one of them,” she said. “Barefoot.”
I nodded back, slightly embarrassed. My cult status was exposed. “I’m on it too,” she confided. “And I see it almost every day.”
Right now, thousands of Australians are flashing orange bankcards with mantras penned on with sharpies and stickers. “Splurge”, they read. “Daily Expenses” read others. And they all signal one thing: that you’re following the biggest finance cult in Australia.
The Barefoot Investor is one of Australia’s biggest-selling finance books, having topped the charts for the last few months. It doesn’t matter where you go; everywhere from independent hipster bookstores to chain stores has it a the top of the pile. And for good reason: the author Scott Pape cuts through all the jargon to give you some of the simplest financial advice you will ever read.
Listen: The Barefoot Investor shares his best financial advice for the single woman, with Mia Freedman. Post continues after audio.
It works on the principal that you automatically ferry your earnings into different “buckets” to then spend or save. It’s like putting your money on autopilot – set it, and forget it.
You divide your income into three “buckets”:
- A blow bucket (for daily expenses, bills, and splurging)
- A mojo bucket (this is ‘safety’ money for when stuff goes haywire)
- A grow bucket (your long-term savings and security).
It’s simple, and that’s the beauty of it.
The cheats way of explaining it (the book does a much better job, believe me) is that your grow bucket is for your super, rolled over super funds, shares, or property investments (should you be in the position to have them).
Your mojo bucket is a high-interest online savings account that you only touch in emergencies; it's to stop any money stress over losing your job or getting sick. You fill up this bucket by selling stuff on Gumtree, taking up a second job on occasion, putting in overtime, having a garage sale. It's a safety net.
Your blow bucket is where the daily life stuff happens, and THAT is why there are so many of those orange cards getting around the streets.
So if you start with 100% of your income, this is how it's divided:
- 60% of your take home pay goes into 'Daily Expenses'.
- 10% goes into a 'Splurge' account
- The other 30% is divided into two other savings accounts for medium term goals (he names them 'smile' for larger happy things like weddings and holidays and a Thermomix, and 'fire extinguisher' for medium level emergencies like your car engine blows or you break your leg or you suddenly need to rustle up a rental deposit).
It sounds like a lot of accounts. I had to read the chapter twice and draw it up on butchers paper on my dining room wall to get it:
And you will start with tiny amounts in each. But the crux is this: You now have a short, medium and long-term savings thing happening. And they will grow, bit by bit, with you hardly noticing.
So day-to-day you now have two ATM cards:
- One is for boring stuff like bills and groceries.
- And one is for whatever the hell you like.
So basically, your splurge card, the one that got me a raised eyebrow, is to spend on anything that makes you smile.
You can dole out sweet cash on mani-pedi's, books, massages, those swishy pleated skirts everyone's wearing and anything else that makes your heart sing. You can buy beers for everyone at the pub. You can buy fresh kicks knowing that you saved for it, and that you've got the rest of your dollars sorted.
Listen to Mia Freedman's full interview with Barefoot, below. Post continues after audio.
This all takes one night to set up. Barefoot calls it date night, where the rules include drinking wine and eating delicious food because you're clever and you're about to save yourself lots of money. People are happy to oblige.
Take a look at the new "fiscal meeting":
A "date night" with a difference. Talking finances isn't exactly sexy, but this way, at least you'll be feeling good about getting your hard-earned under control.