From Financial Integrity
Monika - New generation, new choices
- urban, South Australia
- single adult household
- no dependents
My journey: an interesting combination of serendipity and synchronicity. My life: a jigsaw puzzle being intermittently constructed. The story begins around three years ago.
I'm thirty-two years old and have lived comfortably. I studied Law because my parents believe in stability and security, and I work in Government. I applied for civil service because I felt that I could contribute more to society than in private legal practice. My job involves devising environmental sustainability policy. Until recently I felt guilty working in sustainability as I had no particular passion for 'saving the world', unlike the thousands of passionate young people who are desperate to shape a better future.
My employment provides a decent income, enough to pay a hefty mortgage. Home ownership is the Great Australian Dream. Buying a house is a rite of passage and a social expectation. Abstract ideas of long-term financial and emotional solidity attach to the concept of property ownership. Having a mortgage makes you an adult. Whether this is sensible for my generation amidst an uncertain future, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that every fortnight I pay 40 per cent of my net income servicing an enormous debt.
Mine is the first generation with the luxury to actively query a link between employment and fulfillment. Should we work in a field about which we are 'passionate' as well as one that pays the bills? My grandparents are migrants whose station in life was determined by their place of birth and their education interrupted by the Second World War. They sailed to Australia to develop a post-war economy and provide a better life for their children, my parents. The baby boomers went to university, worked in secure 9-5 jobs, bought houses, had children, and retired. I've spent years yearning to find the 'passion' that will make me want to wake up in the morning and go to work.
I spent my twenties sharing houses with friends, working part-time jobs, consuming pricey goods and racking up debts. My world shifted slightly when I committed to a mortgage. I spent the first year of home ownership ignorant of financial integrity and resentfully paying bills. I felt disempowered. I sought information, and discovered a genuine social movement.
I found my 'tribe' and I wanted to be initiated. Financial integrity provoked my excitement and curiosity. This new perspective promised a flavour of happiness completely unconnected to the conventional, branded, unsatisfying, resentment-provoking experiences I'd collected throughout my twenties. I subscribed to blogs, borrowed piles of books from the library, sought advice from advisers and talked to people who felt comfortable sharing information. In Australia, finances are a private topic that people don’t discuss. Finding a worldwide community dedicated to values-based abundance was revelatory and affirmative.
When I read, Your Money or Your Life, my world changed further. The question of values resonated: do I need to feel whole and fulfilled by my employment, or is it simply another aspect of a balanced existence? I decided that neither my employment nor my financial obligations would define me, and I'm intending to pay off my house within 10 years if I can. With the prospect of 10 more years 'working', something unexpected occurred. I saw purpose in my profession. While I'm in sustainability, I can do my best to make great things happen.
I'm in a privileged position. If I know something about it, my duty is to DO something about it. As my addiction to financial integrity has grown, I've grown more conscious of my impacts. I've become more diligent about recycling, reusing and avoiding wasteful consumption. In South Australia we have extreme water shortages so I collect greywater and divert it onto my land. I'm waiting for change of season to plant backyard vegetables.
My car use was still troubling me. While one less car on the roads probably doesn't do much for global oil supplies, it was costing me money, so I committed to reducing my use. I walked to the shops and the library. I got my bicycle fixed. One week later, my car was written off in a collision. Fortunately I wasn't injured, and I received an insurance payout. Initially I was sad that my old mechanical friend had left me. Sometimes you get exactly what you're asking for.
For years I have struggled with health issues. I considered complementary therapies only when conventional treatments failed. The links between mind and body seemed obvious when I opened my thinking to concepts like authenticity, creativity, love and acceptance. I discovered a community of people who believe in meaningful connections, conscious communication and respect for resources.
Values and new choices are the themes of financial integrity. Simplicity, connectedness, respect, spirituality, hope, mindfulness, responsibility and autonomy have entered my life. These same values echo in sustainability and holistic health. Frugality creates abundance, and I'm grabbing it with heart and hands.