On not getting married in my 20s

Dearest Reader,

As I was reflecting on my 20s with my friend, she pointed out some of my major milestones over the years, one of which was not getting married.

I was, indeed, very close to getting married. In other words, I was engaged.

As Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out quite wonderfully,  “if you’re engaged and you don’t wanna get married … it’s a little tense.

It’s like you’re on that first hill of the roller-coaster but you don’t really wanna go on the ride…”

I remember my mother starting a piggy bank for me when I was still in primary school. “This is for your wedding dress“, she said.

Like many other women, I was taught that marriage is one of the most important accomplishments in my life. I must get married, it will be the happiest day of my life, and I won’t be complete without a ring on my finger.

So it was certainly tempting to get married. It was all right there in front of me.

I could finally announce to everyone: GIRLS! I MADE IT!

I would have had that big party and be the princess for a day in a beautiful white gown. My parents would cry happy tears, everyone would applaud me, I’d never be alone again, and I could have as many cats as I like as long as a man was in the house!

But I thought about what my life would be like when the party is over. The dress goes to dust in a closet. My parents fly home. The new family scatters all over town and we will meet once a year. More than loving all the glamour, I had to decide whether I loved the life without it.

So in the end, I didn’t get married. Because sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do.

The moral of the story? Destroy whatever piggy bank has been started for you. Get married because you want to, not because everyone else wants you to.

And if you feel good about getting married, have all the glamour and cats you want!

How to manage money like an adult and save up to 40% of your salary (in a big city!)

Dearest Reader,

I am what is called a Millennial, or formerly known as Gen Y. When I browse around the web, I can see that my generation is most known for lavish, for spending, for ordering fancy things like avocado on toast which prevents us from buying houses, and for being glued to our phones which we use to order avocado on toast.

I live in Sydney, Australia and have previously lived in London, so I know a thing or two about living in a big city where you seemingly have to spend – but over the years I’ve learned that with a few adjustments, I’ve actually been very anti-millennial and pro-saving. In fact, I have finally hit the sweet spot in which I can save up to 40% of my monthly income!

1. Be a smart renter

Sydney is one of the most expensive cities on this earth, and anyone who’s lived in similar cities knows that “only spending 20% of your income on rent” is impossible. If you are like me, on a very post-study average income, you’ll be paying more like 30-40%.

A total downer indeed, but this is the price we pay to live where it’s all happening, and you have to be smart about your rent. Consider these questions:

  • Can you share your place with a friend? Or even a sexy stranger?
  • Would it be cheaper to live a little further away from the city centre?
  • Would it be cheaper to live closer and pay less on transport? (welcome to Sydney!)
  • Could you make a sacrifice, like not having a tub/balcony/washing machine?
  • Can you find some place where bills/internet are included?
  • Can you downsize?
  • Can you settle for a less scenic view from your kitchen window?

All these things affect your rent, so make a list of deal breakers and be open to everything else!

2. Bring your own avocado and toast

Guys, let’s face it – in the city, coffee is at least $3, lunch is at least $10, multiply by 5 and you’re looking at over $60 for coffee and lunch per week. Doesn’t seem like much, until you realise that’s over $200 per month, and $3000 per year. How much do you earn that you can spend that much on lunch, dude?

You know this. You have heard this before. But you keep doing it.

I want you to go to the store now, buy the cutest portable cup you can find, get yourself a nice coffee machine and make your coffee at home. And for God’s sake, get your avocado and toast from the grocery store and bring it to work. It will save you thousands.

3. Catching up with friends doesn’t equal restaurants

A very simple night out in Sydney – a meal, a drink, a dessert to share, tip, uber home – can easily add up to $70 – $100. Add more drinks, and you’re easily up to $150. Do this three times, and you’ll realise where all your fucking money went.

But city life works like that – you catch up after work and that’s just going to have to be at a bar, and obviously you have to spend and if you don’t do it, you won’t have any friends, right?

Wrong.

There are 100 other things you can do together that don’t require money.

  • Sit in the park with a hipster coffee and judge people
  • Work out together (or plan to, and then end up sitting down and judging people)
  • Invite your friends over instead – cook, make cocktails, popcorn and a movie etc.
  • If you’re artsy or culturally inclined, there must be free exhibitions and events everywhere
  • Take a day trip to nature
  • Catch up during work lunch ($10 instead of $100!)

If you can replace some of the nights out with other activities, you’ll find that you can save a ton of money and still socialise. In fact you might become the one friend that’s a little more exciting to hang out with.

4. Finally, learn the difference between wanting something and needing something

You worked hard for your money, and you have every right to spend it on whatever you like. But you know you’ve been spending it on shit you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.

You don’t need more clothes. You don’t need more make-up, skincare products, decoration for your house or any more stationary. Use up what you have first, and you’ll automatically go on a spending freeze. This spending freeze can save you hundreds of dollars a month, which you can save up for greater goals – a trip? a house? Wouldn’t you rather have a coffee in Paris than buying yet another bag?

I hope this was helpful – if you have any more advice, leave it in the comments! 🙂

10 Questions to get to know someone

Dearest Reader,

I was recently approached by some of my beloved readers who requested to know more about me, and I was sent a very interesting set of questions which I thought I’d share with you. They could really spice up a dry first date, I’m sure.

Feel free to copy/paste into the comments and write your own answers, I’d love to know more about you, too! (and if I’ve missed any questions you’d like me to answer, feel free to ask some more 🙂

1. Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?

Well, my own choice, which was ‘princess’, turned out to be unfeasible.

I believe you learn more about your passion as you enter the workforce and realise what you do and don’t want to do. I only discovered my love for education after years of working in the corporate world and hating every minute of it.

2. When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

Most people ask me for practical advice, how to do, organise or manage something, because I am thought to be a very organised and efficient person.

I never get called for emotional support. I should probably look into that.

3. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Definitely an extrovert, the loud and annoying kind that demands all the attention.

4.What are you most likely to become famous for?

Probably my ability to turn almost anything into a ‘your mom’ joke. It’s a sad state of affairs.

5. What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?

Game of Thrones.

6. When do you think a person is ready for marriage?

Oh boy. You tell me!

7.What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

This chair I’m sitting in, which is located in Sydney, Australia.

I’m from Germany, and this is literally the furthest from home I could possibly go.

8.What’s the best and worst thing about getting older?

The best thing is that you stop caring so much about what others think (and I mean actually stop caring, not just saying it). It is a very liberating feeling because you realise the only person you have to do right by is you.

The worst thing are the physical changes; longer hangovers, lines on your forehead and really considering whether bending over to pick that thing up is worth the back pain.

9.What are some things you wish you could unlearn?

Random brain space wasters like the names of Heidi Klum’s children or the lyrics to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”.

10. Are you confrontational?

Definitely not, and I generally respond to confrontation with sarcasm.

You know, like a teenager!

Save or splurge? 2 best tips on how to travel like an adult

Dearest Reader,

There comes a time in your life when you just can’t imagine yourself sleeping in a bunk bed with 10 other people in some hostel anymore. You go to work like a real grown-up every day, you’re trying to desperately stay on top of your adult responsibilities, and you just deserve a holiday with a little more luxury than this.

At the same time, you need to be money-wise, because money doesn’t grow on trees – just remember all them bitches you didn’t slap at work every day to afford this holiday!

So how do you travel like an adult?

What do you save on? What do you splurge on? 

1. SPLURGE: Realistic flights and journey times

How many times have you booked a low cost flight, thinking that sure, I’ll be fine taking off at 6am in the morning and having 2 stopovers of 7 hours each to save 100 bucks. 

But think of the reality. If you fly internationally at 6am, it means you’ll have to be at the airport around 4am. Depending on how far you live from the airport, that means trying to organise transport an hour or more before then. And before that, you have to wake up and get ready!

Trust me, when you are shivering outside in the dark waiting for the airport shuttle bus at 2am in the morning on no sleep, with 22 hours of travel to go, and someone came along and told you:  Hey, if you give me $100 right now, I’ll make this whole journey 100 times more comfortable for you!
You’d be like: Hell yeah, take my money and just get me out of this shit.

The same applies to long or frequent stopovers. I was recently tempted to buy a flight ticket from Sydney to Venice which was $900 cheaper than the average airline because there was a 26 hour stopover in Mumbai.

Woah $900! But let’s do the maths here.

Now, with a probably 40+ hour total journey, you’re looking at basically missing at least two working days. Let’s say you make $200 bucks a day, that means you lose $400, and at this point you’re only saving $500. On top of that, now you’re stuck in Mumbai for 26 hours. Do you leave the airport? That costs money. Do you buy food? That costs money again. Do you rent a room? That’s going to be a handsome sum!

And trust me, even after only 10 hours of waiting at the airport, bored out of your mind, dead phone, out of snacks, you’d be willing to spend $500 to be on the next flight to Venice.

You’re on holiday for fuck’s sake. Time to relax!

2. SAVE: Hotels and room service

When you finally say goodbye to youth hostels, there are a whole new set of challenges: Resisting the mini bar, the room service meals, and all sorts of other luxuries that come with a price tag. Many hotels will charge more because of the little extras – maybe you get a bottle of something bubbly on arrival, or fresh fruit every day, or some ‘complementary’ high-end skincare products.

The good news is that you can have all this and more for a fraction of the price, if you plan ahead a little.

For instance, did you know that you can have unlimited ice in fancy buckets delivered to your door for free? If you just bring your own bottle of champagne, or buy it when you arrive, you’ll be spending $30 on this sparkling experience instead of $150 in extra daily charges for the convenience of having it there on arrival. In fact, have a damn champagne bottle once a day for that price! Go ahead, you earned it!

Fill your mini fridge with your own favourite snacks and drinks – you are allowed to keep your own things in the fridge! You know that you’ll want a beer and a snickers at 11pm at night. And why shouldn’t you have those things, dammit? So when you arrive at your destination, just take a trip to the convenience store and fill up the fridge will all the disgusting things your heart may desire.

And if you really want food and drinks delivered to your door – just use a delivery service. Food delivery is a thing in most countries, so just use any of the normal delivery sites you’d use at home (and yes, they deliver to hotel rooms!). I recently ordered ice cold beers and awesome meals from a local restaurant to my hotel room in Brisbane. Not only was it delicious to eat, but it was delicious to know that the hotel would have charged me 200% of what I’d paid for the exact same thing.

I hope these tips and small hints of luxury will make your next trip feel a little more grown-up. And sparkly.

The Final Countdown: 29 Years and 11 Months

Dearest Reader,

I am only one month away from turning .., well you know. The big 3-0. I thought this would be a very timely reflection of what it has been like to be 29.

Mostly, I’ve done a lot of sitting and thinking, which sounds a little basic but I don’t recall doing this much before hitting this final countdown to adulthood.

I have thought more about my health, my social life, my friends and my family. I have also thought more about the things in my home, the things I want and the things I definitely don’t.

Overwhelmingly, it has been a positive, happy year, and not the scary nightmare I thought it would be.

Yes, noticing the first lines on your face is a total downer, but being faced with your own mortality kind of motivates you to take care of yourself. This year I am proud to say that I have been walking to work, running in the park, getting up early to do Pilates classes, calling in sick when I am sick, not eating fast food and cutting down on the ridiculous amounts of nachos and beer I was consuming regularly.

I have also finally made peace with the fact that I am happiest in my PJs, braless, at home, watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I no longer feel the need to prove to society that I have a thriving social life by attending outings at places I hate with people I have little to talk about.

Of course, I still enjoy socialising with my friends, but I have certainly said goodbye to those nights when you squeeze yourself into an uncomfortable dress, then fight with your face and hair before forcing your feet into shoes that feel like you’re wearing barb wire and then partying all night simply so you can be seen and known as a sociable person.

So, embracing my inner couch potato has been amazing, and I don’t care who knows it.

Finally, let’s talk about stuff. Consumerism is deeply embedded in our culture, and I have certainly fallen victim to it. When I started reflecting on the things I have, I realised what a fortune I have wasted on skincare products, expensive ‘special occasion’ clothes, and even just ‘cute’ stationary. So 29 has been all about getting rid of shit – especially things that made me feel guilty, annoyed or anxious.

For instance, I have given away clothes that don’t fit me, because it is highly unlikely that I will get back my figure from high school because yes, I had a pair of jeans from when I was 17 that I was hoping to fit into, and it was frustrating me that I couldn’t. I finally acknowledged that I won’t fit into it again not because I’m fat but because, well, I grew out of them!

You also chuck people – that person you worked with 8 years ago for 7 months? Really don’t need to follow their story on Facebook anymore. That high school friend that’s kind of the Eric Cartman in the group and their stupid face and attitude has annoyed you for over a decade? Delete their number. Making space for the people you really care about and dedicating your time to them is much more fulfilling. Yes, 29 teaches you that it is about the quality, not quantity of friends.

So does this make the 30s any less daunting?  

It really doesn’t. It still sounds scary as hell.

But I am ready to say goodbye to my 20s, knowing that I don’t want to be 22 again, because have enjoyed all there was to enjoy, made all the mistakes required to learn and done all the growing needed to face the next decade.

So here’s to all the 29-year olds out there, I hope this year is as enlightening for you as it has been for me.

 

Why it’s ok to hate exercise

Dearest Reader,

I don’t know about you, but despite my best efforts to be a more active person, exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. I have never understood how people enjoy the discomfort of exhausting yourself, sweating and muscle aches, and it’s not something I can do without that little bit of “forcing myself”.

I recently saw a clip by brilliant comedian Tom Papa on Conan in which he explained why exercise is hard for us to do, and why it’s just so easy to get fat.

You’re trying not to be fat. Either way, fat’s coming. If you’re not fat, you’re working your ass off. You don’t eat food. Embrace it, your winners. That’s why you’re fat. Part of the first generation that doesn’t have to fight for survival. Good for you! Food everywhere. Perfect temperature everywhere you go. Every day you wake up a perfect 72 and snacky. Thank you America! It’s good. Just embrace it. Don’t tell me what you’re quitting – I don’t care. “I’m quitting gluten.” “I’m quitting meat.” You looked awful yesterday, you’re going to look worse tomorrow. Why are we talking about this? Let’s go get ice cream!

Tom Papa and I both speak from a position of privilege, of course. But if you are like me and one of the fortunate few to grow up in the world of excess and abundance, you’ll realise that yes, we don’t need to run around for survival, we don’t need to eat limited food because we can have as much as we want, and our efforts are spent not on surviving and foraging for food, but on engaging in physical activity despite our comforts, using things like the “pretend getaway machine” at the gym on which we run and sweat for virtually no reason at all.

Our evolution, it seems, has not kept pace with our luxuries, so we now must create artificial exercise, and resist succumbing to the convenience and luxuries we have at our fingertips. 

While this makes exercise in no way easier or more attractive, I feel better knowing that I’m not abnormal, and that it is perfectly acceptable not to be enthusiastic about exercising. It’s the kind of relief you get when you finally realise that everything that’s wrong in your life is your mother’s fault because that’s how psychology works.

In essence, my hate for exercise is Mother Nature’s fault – why did she give me a body that demands the sort of physical activity of an ancient Amazonian warrior and then put me to live at a time where there is virtually no need to move?

While we now have someone to blame, dearest reader, this is no excuse to let yourself go. Sure, sit down with Ben and Jerry and have a Saturday of binging Netflix. It would be silly not to, seeing as it’s right there. But you and I know that we can’t fight Mother Nature, and she wants you to get your ass off the couch and choke down a salad once in a while. Because if you don’t, she’ll literally kill you.

But just know that as you’re doing your squats and sweating in pain, my thoughts are with you and I angrily shake my fist with you at the irony of it all. 

 

 

 

Age Gap Dilemmas

Dearest Reader,

Due to poor family planning strategies, my sister and I are 8 years apart, me being the younger one. She told that I was the long-awaited little sister, the mate to play and share secrets with. Imagine her disappointment when I was brought home from the hospital and she realised I was entirely unable to do anything. While she was free to share any secrets with me, I wasn’t old enough to even have a secret.

So there we stared at each other, 8 years of development between us. Me, embarrassed that I didn’t even know where my nose is, and her, annoyed because by the time I’d be old enough to do anything interesting with her, she’d be almost too old. It was then that we made a silent agreement; I will try to somehow grow up faster, and she will try to make grown-up things easier.

The first thing we tried was playing Barbies. I eventually learned how to sit by myself and hold a Barbie, more or less upright. I also learned how to undress a Barbie, but my motor skills didn’t yet allow me to put on any clothes. So, there we sat together, me with my naked Barbie, drooling, and my sister playing out a story in which she somehow managed to incorporate a naked, silent and slightly slanted Barbie.

Next, we played board games. I couldn’t count or read, but somehow we managed to play games like Monopoly and Cluedo. To avoid me having to read the names and rooms in Cluedo, my diligent sister glued little corresponding symbols on the cards and the board, so I could talk to her in symbols. Instead of saying, “It was Madam Rose in the Dining Room with the Candlestick” I said “The woman with the star, in the room with the circle, with this candle.”

While my sister made this effort for me, I also made an effort to pretend that I know how the hell this game works. I had no idea whether I was winning or not, I didn’t have the logical elimination skills needed to draw conclusions and I didn’t really understand how she always knew who did it and how. To me, she was this amazing magician or super genius and I was just trying to keep up with the abilities currently at my disposal.

Finally, when I reached more of an age of reason, my sister challenged me with new things, such as riddles or jokes. She was in high school, and was learning all sorts of interesting things about sex, relationships and the human body, while I was still tagging along drawing my A’s and B’s in primary school.

I remember that she tried to make a pun which she had heard at school. In this pun, the word ‘orgasm’ was the key word – a word I would not come to know for another 8 years or so, and that she herself only vaguely understood. As she made the joke, and I stared blankly into her face, I remember her frustration as she repeatedly yelled “orgasm!! It’s orgasm!! Don’t you see?”

I finally gave up and asked “What’s orgasm?”

Clearly also not really in the know, she tried to explain it by saying: “You know, when men and women do… things! And they like it.”

This poor explanation had of course the explosive potential to make me run around and ask adults who were enjoying themselves if they were currently having an orgasm. Luckily, I knew better than that and generally let my sister do the talking when it came to handling adults.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, we are pleased to announce that I have finally caught up with her in terms of human development and that we can engage in social life as equals.

I am still no good at Cluedo.