Works: Public Relations.
Approach to money: Frivolous.
“I don’t deny myself. If I want something, I’ll get it,” she said. While Theresa earns very respectable money as a marketing manager, she has none left at the end of the month. Make-up, jewellery and big nights out are her major weaknesses.
To her credit, Theresa has an emergency stash.
“Enough for a flight home and a bit extra”. Tick the “F*&k Off Fund” box. But otherwise, she has a bit of a spending problem.
When I sat down with Theresa, I found it’s not as simple as seeing something she likes and buying it. It’s a web of social pressure, personality and habit.
The daughter of an Irish farmer and teacher mother, Theresa inherited her dad’s approach to money: if he has it, he spends it. Her mum, however, is thrifty and keeps the family finances in check.
One of Theresa’s challenges is that she sees money as a way to show her love.
“I feel guilty for being away from my family, so I spend a lot on presents for them.” Paying for weekends away for her parents, for example. She has eased off a bit now, but still errs on the side of far-too-fancy gifts.
The same generous streak makes her fast and loose with cash on a night out.
“When I’m out, I’m like the Wolf of Wall Street. I’ll buy all my friends drinks, shots, whatever, no questions asked.” She never chases people for money they owe her either.
I nearly fell off my chair when I asked how much Theresa spends on a weekend. “On average, about $400”. That’s drinks, dinners, taxis and I am guessing some serious hangover food too. It’s definitely time to change things up.
Getting ready for serious ‘adulting’
Theresa’s closest financial goal is straightforward: to buy a house in her hometown in Ireland. Unlike first home buyers in Sydney, that’s not an impossible dream. She thinks AU$20-30K will be enough for a deposit.
Theresa had hoped she’d have a property by the time she was 30, but with the big 3-0 looming in December, she’s revised that to 32.
When I start digging, this milestone is part of a bigger shift in Theresa’s life. She recently moved in with her boyfriend – who is much better with money.
She’s going from a single life of partying with the girls, to a quieter life.
“I had a lot of expenses setting up a home together, plus I don’t want to be out getting smashed every weekend. It’s hard explaining that to my friends though – they are used to me being a party girl. But I definitely feel like it’s time to rein in the spending and get serious about saving.”