I have had my fair share of financial cul-de-sac in the past. My first job didn’t pay much. In fact, my salary was below minimum. I had to sacrifice a lot of things to make ends meet. Plus, I had to split my little salary for my sister’s tuition fee and help my parents pay the bills. It was tough every time I reach down my pocket, only to find out that I don’t have enough money to get me through the end of the month. It made me sick to my stomach.
It didn’t take long for me to decide to leave the corporate world and try my luck in freelancing. Thankfully, an opportunity knocked on my door and gave me the chance to have a bit of luxury. It made me happy. I finally had more than enough. But then, earning three times my usual salary became dangerous for me.
You see, I grew up in a simple family and my sisters and I didn’t always get what we wanted because we needed to be practical. So, I told myself, when I start earning my own money, I’ll buy the things that I’ve always wanted to have – and that’s exactly what I did. I bought things. I spent my money on clothes, shoes, makeup, books – impractical things that I don’t need (well, except for books). Shopping made me happy. It was so addictive. I was on a high. Until one day, I had an emergency and I didn’t have enough money in my bank account. That’s when it hit me – I’m becoming like Carrie Bradshaw, a woman with lots of shoes but no place to live!
It was scary, but I finally had my wake up call. Since then, I’ve started spending and managing my finances wisely. I still spend a lot nowadays, but my receipts no longer include Converse or Vans (Well, at least not as often as they used to). Instead, I have receipts for HMO, memorial plans, real estate, and now I’m about to get a life insurance.
Recently, I attended the SunLife Fun Day, where I got the chance to pick the brains of Entrepreneur Mark Bonifacio and SunLife Advisor JP Fabian who shared their experiences in financial management.
Here are a few keynotes to help improve your money habits:
- Create a realistic budget
- Make savings automatic – 20% of your salary
- Always have an emergency fund (should last you 3-6 months)
- Prioritize needs over wants
- Downsize if needed
- Invest in yourself – training, travel, books
- Improve your cash flow
- Be prepared for anything
- Investment and Insurance should come together
- Live a brighter life
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel like you are trapped in bills and financial responsibilities, trust me when I say that there are plenty of ways to turn your life around. All you have to do is take that first step, and soon you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom.