January 26, 2024

Everything’s more expensive, real estate prices are crazy – what else is new? The brutal truth.

There’s been an air of positivity as people start to return to work. I am watching with interest to see how long that lasts. Usually by the end of February, it is easier to get a sense of people’s confidence in business. Having run my own media business in the finance industry for 25 years this year (yes, there will be an epic party), I’ve seen the cycles of business turn quite a few times, and we are at a pivotal point. The share market is making money, interest rates are high but are tipped to go down, and the cost of living crisis has become an everyday fact of life rather than big news. Nobody is able to do much about it in the short term. Government inquiry into price gouging at supermarkets and tax cuts might put the wheels in motion, but there is much more at play, including global war – and the current governmental measures will never be enough to impact the cost of putting a roof over our head or significantly increase real wages in line with inflation.

All we keep talking about is the increasing cost of property – particularly in Sydney. Those who own a property are rubbing their hands together – while many struggle to keep paying the mortgage, they do it knowing that they should have an asset that is increasing in value. Then, there are those that don’t own property, talking about how they can ever afford to get in? How will their kids? How will young people and essential workers be able to stay in the city? And rental prices have shot sky high, meaning any discretionary spending for renters has been cut – and become an overhead in the form of increased rent. Less fun, more money stress.


There is a widening wealth gap in Australia and it’s obvious that we need solutions for the next generation,

because nothing is going to change now when the motivations for people remain the same. The tax laws favour property investors, and I don’t see a time where there are not people wanting to minimise the tax they pay. We have some of the highest tax rates for high-income earners in the world. As far as corporates go – listed companies ultimately serve their shareholders first, so of course there is also going to be a focus on profits over people. That’s business.


So what do we have control of? How can we change the conversation from costs and real estate to how we build something better for generations to come?

And how can we take action as individuals, groups, and communities to ease the burden of the cost of living and make intentional decisions about our own financial futures? Because the current conversation isn’t getting us anywhere. I believe the biggest thing we can do for ourselves is be brutally honest about what we want out of life – both now and in the longer term. Do you want to keep paying a mortgage till you are 80? Do you want to keep a corporate career that you can’t stand, for the money? Do you want to keep living in a city you can’t afford? Do you want to go back to work and stop being a stay-at-home mum? Should you stay married? Are you tired of being alone?


There are so many brutal truths in life that we don’t force ourselves to accept, because to admit them would bring about painful change.

But once we do, we can finally make a plan, including a financial one, that is intelligent and bound to be successful – because it is headed toward a goal that we really want. It is great to set goals, but unless they are so shiny, so attractive and what truly feeds our soul, we won’t achieve them. To be thinner, richer, or more educated are all great goals – but what is the step-by-step plan to get there? Without this, which always starts with our brutal truth, we will not get what we truly want from our life.

Brutal truths are hard to accept, and harder to admit because they mean changing things. As human beings, we are hard-wired to like what we know and are familiar with. Change is akin to a threat, and as a result, we often avoid making a change, seeing the threat of the change outweighing the benefit. At the age of 50, I have gone through many brutal truths in my time, including the end of my 20-plus-year marriage. It has been incredibly painful, and I have had to accept that some days are better than others, and that a support network of friends, family, and people that care can make brutal truths easier to bear. Because on the other side of brutal truths and change is the life we could be living. The possibilities we have yet to explore.


So what is your brutal truth? What do you really want, or don’t want in your life? Have you had the courage to ask yourself that question knowing that you have the strength to act on it?

Because you do. We are braver than we ever give ourselves credit for, and the thing about life is we don’t want things because we should not have them. Our brutal truths tell us who we want to be, and who we have the potential to be if we are strong enough to make the change.

So may this be the year that we tune out a little on the doom and gloom and focus on our own brutal truths. Shining a light on them may be the first step in making strategic decisions that have whole of life benefits. What comes next is up to you – you are in charge. But giving yourself the time and space to reflect on the question of what you really want from life will help guide you with a decision-making framework based on how to get there. A while back I put together a guide on how to start planning what your dream life looks like. It all starts with defining it. This might help your reflection. You can download a free copy here https://vanessastoykov.com.au/resources/dream-life/

May you be on the path to the life you dream of and have the courage to see your brutal truth for what it is – a call to change. What lies on the other side is worth it.

Until next time,


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Each day I wake up excited to inspire everyday people to open up and take control of their money, regardless of their history, goals, or savings amount. About Vanessa >>


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