finance

Financial expert Melissa Browne got divorced at 33. She gave the entire settlement to charity.

Melissa Browne was 33 years old and had just got divorced when she learned an extremely valuable lesson about money: Never mix it with emotion. 

On a whim, she donated her entire divorce settlement to charity to prove to her ex that she could make it alone - leaving her with only $200 to her name.

And she regretted it. Quickly.

Listen: What The Finance: Your Toxic Money Habits Aren't Your Fault. Post continues below.

In her book, Unf*ck Your Finances, Melissa wrote about her poor thought out decision.

"An accountant. Someone who was supposed to be able to talk about money. At an age when I was supposed to be starting to get my financial s**t together."

She attributes it to the fear that came with talking about money. 

"At this point everything feels overwhelming, but you're too embarrassed to tell anyone what is going on: both the reasons why you left, and your dire financial situation. You're deeply ashamed of what you perceive as your failures."

Now, Mel is passionate about making sure other women don't make the same mistakes. 

"By sharing our secret money business we can start to realise we're normal. By sharing our stories we can learn from each other's mistakes and build on them."

In Mamamia's new podcast; What the Finance, Melissa teams up with money novice/actress, Pallavi Sharda to get women chatting about money. 

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In the first episode, Mel explains that our toxic money habits are not our fault; they're all tied to our underlying beliefs and values about money that are formed before we even earn our first dollar.

So, you could be a super saver or an impulse spender thanks to the way your friends and family handled their money as you grew up. 

Worried yet? 

Don’t be! The best thing about our money stories is that we can take charge of them and change them for the better. Melissa suggests five ways we can do that: 

1. Decide the person you want to be

... And prove it to yourself with small wins.

Maybe you'd love to go on holidays once a year or own your own home. Picture a 'dream you' and lean into it. 

If it's a holiday you're wanting to go on, create a savings account and make your first deposit. Give yourself a pat on the back! You've just made the first step.

2. Consider swapping, pausing and cancelling 

Are four streaming accounts really necessary?

Have a think about where you can save some money on your regular purchases. Sometimes a quick phone call to your energy or internet provider will reap big rewards (and reductions!)

Oh, and pro-tip - most bank accounts have a feature where you can check your automated charges. 

Do with that what you will.

3. Start with your money story. 

Mel wants you to get to know your money story.

Once you've got a good idea of where your attitudes around spending and saving come from, you're going to have to do some self-reflecting. The questions Mel suggests are: 

"Is your money story serving you or sabotaging you?"

"Do you need to rewrite it or can you lean into it and amplify it?"

Take notes.

4. Work out your 'money relationship' 

Are you and your bank account BFFs? 

Maybe they're a faraway crush. An angry ex?

If you can put your relationship with money into a few words, you can nurture it or break up if things just aren't working out. 

5. Set your 'wealth creation values' 

"If you ever want to understand what you value, go back through three months of your spending," Mel says.

When you can see where your money is going, you can also work out if it aligns with what you most care about it. 

Maybe you spend a large portion of your income on fashion like Pallavi, despite it not bringing you a huge level of joy. 

By identifying your "wealth creation values" - what you most value spending money on (or don't!) - you can set a plan for how to make room for, or eliminate those expenses.

Feature Image: Instagram.