Kate Pokorny, 28, describes her former self as the poster girl for every unflattering generalisation about Generation Y - materialistic, reckless and image-obsessed.
But the former shopaholic has reformed her financially irresponsible ways and is now on track to purchase her second investment property.
"As soon as I started working I started spending my money stupidly," she told news.com.au. "I do love high-end fashion, a luxury lifestyle, and travelling overseas ... I wouldn't hesitate to go and buy a new pair of designer shoes for $1000. I wouldn't think twice about buying a Louis Vuitton handbag for two or three thousand dollars."
Her favourite brands were Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and Christian Louboutin, and her wardrobe was brimming with them. She was living in the family home with few expenses and she was a working adult; she could spend her money how she pleased. And what she thought pleased her was living a luxury lifestyle, or at least giving the impression she was.
"I had this thing with image," she said. "I had to look like I was wealthy and I had to look like I had money. I'm not sure exactly why. I just always felt I had to look a certain way to keep up with society."
But Ms Pokorny, who now works in customer service after many years as a personal assistant, was living on borrowed time and not saving.
"I spent more money than I was earning, stupidly, and I couldn't pay [my credit card debt] off."
Still, her "light bulb moment" didn't come until she was close to buying a brand new luxury European car.
"I was chatting to someone one day and telling them that I was thinking of buying a new car - a fancy European car; brand new. They actually said to me, with a funny look on their face, 'Why would you do that? You've got a good car that gets you around at the moment. Why would you need to go spend money on that?'
"They were then saying to me that I was actually living this lifestyle that isn't getting me anywhere; that I was living a lifestyle 10 steps ahead of myself ... I actually walked away and I was quite offended. Who did this person think they were and how can they tell me that? I thought it was so rude."
But then it came. That judgment got under her skin and within a couple of days, Ms Pokorny said she just had a "complete mindset shift". This was in mid-2014.
"I just started educating myself. I knew the type of lifestyle that I wanted to live," she said. "I didn't want to be tied to a nine-to-five lifestyle down the track, so I thought, how am I actually going to fix this now before it is too late?
"I started reading finance books about financial intelligence and money management and started looking at property magazines."
It was actually her love of the finer things in life that drove her to reform her frivolous ways.
"I do like that sort of [luxury] lifestyle, it was something that I always wanted. And it is something I want to keep being able to do. But at the rate I was spending, it wasn't going to happen in the long-term."
SHORT-TERM PAIN FOR LONG-TERM GAIN
Ms Pokorny, from Sydney, has already bought her first investment property - a two-bedroom townhouse in Brisbane's Edens Landing, that she settled in May this year for $195,000 - and she is saving an impressive 50 per cent of her income for her next property purchase.
But in the beginning, it was baby steps and it was tough. "At first I just cut down on buying clothes, or going out with friends for dinner and drinks," she said.
"Then it was like, okay, let's actually save a little bit, maybe $100 a week. And then it increased and increased. As I paid that debt down, my savings were able to increase as well."
This is an important lesson, she said, to ease into it gradually. "If you go straight head-on into it, you are going to come to a point where it becomes too hard. You are going to give up and you are not going to stick to it."
Another important lesson is to block out the negativity.
"There was this big thing about how I was young and I would only live once," said Ms Pokorny.
"I think we have a culture at the moment in society which is all about instant gratification; we need this now ... But staying focused is the biggest thing and blocking that negativity from others."
And now? The 28-year-old Sydneysider is definitely reaping the benefits. The rent from her investment property in Edens Landing is more than covering the mortgage and she is "probably six months" away from being in a position to purchase her second investment property - the second of many.
"I want to acquire two properties per year for the next 10 years to build up my portfolio," she said.
But the biggest benefit of all is realising how little her lifestyle really has changed.
"I don't feel like having a mortgage and buying my first property has really affected me at all in terms of my lifestyle. Because of the way I have set it up, it really hasn't infringed on my lifestyle at all. I am able to go out - I am very careful because I'm conscious of what I am trying to achieve - but I don't feel restricted."