If you’re struggling with adulting and personal financing happens to be one of your weak spots, take baby steps and try making a budget for a short-term goal first to see how you do.
One of the most challenging tasks in working towards a bright future is getting one’s financial life in order. The first step, is of course, to start saving. This simple-sounding task, however, has proven to be a challenge for many, because it requires discipline — the fortitude to resist the temptation to spend for things that are nice to have. Nowadays, spending is also made so much easier with the variety of apps and online sites that make it possible to shop, book flights and hotels, get food and other things at discounted prices with just the tap of a finger. The convenience of online shopping has made parting ways with your money easy and instantaneous.
Many are unaware of the traps or rationalize the need to spend. Be it a big bargain, limited edition, a once-in-a-lifetime offer, a great opportunity, or living for the moment. Before you know it, time has lapsed and the road towards a bright future has become long and winding because of all the detours. It is never too late to go back on track. Refocus, resolve and redirect.
Here are a few tips to help you maneuver your way around bad spending habits and make the most of your income:
Be clear on what a bright future means for you.
To 80 percent of Filipinos, according to a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) study, a bright future means a simple and comfortable life characterized by having enough savings for emergencies, being able to send their children to college, owning a medium-sized home and driving their own car. If you share the same dreams, you need to start planning for and manage your finances now.
Know your basic-spend budget every month.
A universal rule in management is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
As tedious as it may sound, compute your basic-spend expenditures. These are the absolute necessities (such as food, utilities, rent, transportation, and schooling) you cannot do without. Remember this basic-spend amount which you need to set aside every month. Think about how you can also reduce this amount — where to buy your groceries, how to minimize water and electric bills, among others. It is worthwhile to explore cost-cutting measures.
Do have a joy-spend budget for happy indulgences.
Don’t be too hard on yourself by attempting to completely deprive yourself of the things that do “spark joy” in your life. Doing so actually puts you at risk of going on an unplanned spree to make up for the feeling of deprivation (much like bingeing out after going on an extreme diet). Find a balance between keeping the things that enhance you as a person, and forgoing those that will only give you a temporary thrill. You can and should also have a joy-spend budget for movie nights, Sunday malling, family get togethers, summer road trips and even shopping. There are now an abundance of discounted deals to allow you to make the most out of your budget. When you plan for these, there is less temptation to overspend.
Set aside a no-touch save-up budget to achieve your bright future.
The reason why many do not have a no-touch save-up budget is the difficulty of setting the amount for this, or so they would like to think. On the other hand, it is the absence of a joy-spend budget that makes this challenging. When you have the basic-spend and the joy-spend budget, what remains is the save-up budget. Deriving the save-up budget will make you realize whether you’re spending too much, preventing you from achieving a bright future.
As with many things in life, budgeting requires hard choices. It isn’t a one-size fits all matter. A save-up budget higher than your spend budget may be ideal but not possible for all especially for young families in the early stages of their careers. The key is to begin the practice of saving then increasing the proportion of the save-up budget relative to your spend budget as the years go on. One can aim to increase the proportion of their save-up budget relative to their spend budget by 10 percent every year.
Determine the best deposit or investment product to place your save-up budget.
Setting up a separate savings account would work in your favor since it gives you the opportunity to classify for which specific instances to utilize your money on. Get help from your bank to inquire about the different accounts you can avail of. If self-control is a perennial pitfall, perhaps something like BPI’s Save-Up with an automatic savings feature, a Maxi-Saver with bonus interest rate, Pamana with free life insurance, a five-year plan ahead deposit or other similar accounts are very good options to start with.
You may also consider insurance and investment products which may offer higher returns, depending on your risk appetite. For instance, while you are subscribed to an insurance, might as well choose the ones that go with an investment. An example would be the Invest Peso Max by BPI-Philam. It offers an insurance plan that prepares for your retirement while also providing you with an initial investment. You can also choose an optional and more comprehensive package that includes situations involving critical illness, accidents, and term insurance. Make time to educate yourself on the various financial products by seeking expert and trusted advice. Choose a bank that can provide guidance holistically — from deposits to insurance to investment products including how to get the most out of your spending.
Do not wait too long to get that dream home or dream car
Prices move up quickly, particularly real estate property prices. If you wait to have enough money to buy that dream home or dream car, you may be disappointed. Once you have saved enough for that downpayment, which averages from 10 percent to 20 percent of the cost of the property or car, consider getting a loan from your bank. They will guide you through the process of financing that will allow you to realize your dream sooner rather than later.
Because you have now acquired the discipline, your save-up budget should help you pay for the monthly amortization of your loan while still having extra for emergencies or for additional savings for the children’s schooling. You can request for a longer term of the loan so your monthly amortization will be lower. And, every time you receive your bonus, put this in your save-up budget. Before you know it, you will have more than enough to expand your home or upgrade your car.
Rethink your expenses regularly
Small daily purchases may also seem trivial until you see their value in the big picture. Say you have a morning ritual of ordering your favorite to-go coffee from a café on the way to work. It may not cost much as an individual purchase, but once you add it all up, it can potentially amount to half of your month’s expenses.
I’ve spoken with some people who were shocked to realize that their monthly coffee shop expenses could actually pay for the monthly amortization on a small car.
Practice intentional spending
Whenever you find yourself in a conundrum about whether or not to make a purchase, think back on your goals and the values that guide you to that objective. Spending money on what matters to you is a great reference to keep your end goal in sight.
Let’s take saving a certain amount for an important purchase or buying your own house for your family as examples. Your values could be tied to what would ultimately benefit your family. In both situations, you may ask yourself if every purchase you make will support your goal. It is important, however challenging, to observe self-discipline and prudence.
There may be multiple challenges that come with being an adult but handling one’s finances could be taken off that list with the right budget plan. It may seem limiting at first since denying yourself of immediate satisfaction may go against your instinct.
If you’re struggling with adulting and personal financing happens to be one of your weak spots, take baby steps and try making a budget for a short-term goal first to see how you do. You might just be surprised by what you can achieve.