Australian model Natalia reveals how she became debt-free before she turned 30
Just a few years ago, Natalia was struggling with over $ 7000 in credit card debt.
The Australian model and freelance content creator was “intimidated” by the world of finance and didn’t have enough savings for an emergency fund.
“I was earning money but it would just slip through my fingers. I didn’t know where it was going or why it would disappear so quickly,” Natalia, 30, tells 9Honey.
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“I didn’t have the systems or structure in place to manage it or save it properly.”
With growing credit card debt and a deep-seated fear she’d never have control of her finances, Natalia desperately wanted to change her relationship with money.
It was a daunting prospect, but after she began to earn a lot more money in her career, she knew it was time to gain smart finance skills.
She signed onto a course called ‘Mastering Money’, run by SkilledSmart, and was suddenly thrust into the world of saving and investing.
“I did the SkilledSmart program early on in my professional career because I was suddenly making a lot more money, ”she explains.
“But I didn’t know where it was going. I hadn’t learned how to manage money at school, but I thought this program was a good way to get on top of the whole personal finance thing.”
Natalia wanted to learn about smart money management – and it began with simple ideas such as tracking expenses, reviewing her super fund and restructuring her bank accounts.
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As well as practical ideas, the course also helped Natalia dip her toes into investing. She realized it wasn’t just a “rich person” concept and felt empowered to invest her own hard-earned cash.
“I thought investing was something you did later on in life, when you had a lot more money. I thought it was something ‘rich people’ did,” she admits.
“So I just assumed that it was something I’d think about when I got older and had more money, because I didn’t think it was accessible to me now. Investing also seemed really complex and overwhelming to understand.”
“I was earning money but it would just slip through my fingers.”
After signing onto the ‘Mastering Money’ program, Natalia started with paying off her credit card debt and a personal loan.
Then, she focused on building up her savings and emergency fund. Once she had reached tens of thousands in savings, that’s when she began to invest.
“It’s been a bit over three years since I did the program, and in that time I’ve not only paid off $ 7000 of personal debt but saved and invested tens of thousands of dollars,” she says happily.
“I’ve been able to tick some big things off my list, like going on a vacation to Europe.”
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In 2021, one of Natalia’s greatest financial fears came true when she got into a car accident.
Luckily, she had enough cash in her emergency fund to buy another car without getting into more horrible debt.
Just after her 30th birthday, once she was debt-free, Natalia also ticked off another major financial goal: buying her own property.
“So, to say the program was ‘life-changing’ is by no means overstating it. It’s one of the best things I’ve done,” she adds.
“Once I’d shifted to a mindset where looking at money as a means of helping me build the future that I want for myself, my loved ones and the broader community, and that managing my money in a prudent way was a way of expressing self-respect and self-love, it changed everything for me. “
New NAB research shows that more than one in 10 Australians don’t even have $ 2000 for an emergency situation.
Natalia’s top tips for smart money management include:
- Keeping a budget with flexibility
- Look at your unexpected spending each month and take it into account for next month
- Split money into personal savings, monthly spending, entertainment expenditure and emergency funds
- Pay yourself first – put away savings at the start of the month, not whatever’s left over
- Learn how to invest – start small and do more as you earn more.
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