We need money to be able to buy our essentials and to sustain our needs. However, with all that we see and hear about money, the truth of the matter is, only a few people have truly mastered how to handle money properly. Money isn’t bad. What is wrong is the greediness of people and their love for money. It is when we allow money to control our lives that makes it bad. Money should enrich our lives instead of controlling us.
I don’t mean to become a ray of sunshine here. I'm no financial expert either. I just want to share what I had learned about keeping my finances in the hope that it might work for you too. But people, in general, must learn more about money management. About having too little or too much. About how to spend and save wisely as well as know when to invest. About the satisfaction it brings and the hassle it can cause if you don’t manage it well.
Contrary to what we have been made to believe, mastering money doesn’t need any financial related degree or expert investment strategies. It only takes both short term and long-term planning, being consistent on the plan, also entails lots of discipline and having the right attitude.
Here, I am sharing some personal finance tips to get you started:
1. USE CASH WISELY
Back when I was a teenager, I was given a supplementary card of my mom’s credit card. When you’re at that age, swiping cards seemed so cool! So out of my immaturity, I would use my credit card each time I’d dine in restaurants and cafes with friends and when I’d go shopping. Until such time when I’ve maximized my card’s credit limit. Can you imagine how my mom got the shock of her life after she has learned what I had done? The lesson here is it’s still best to use cash instead of a credit or debit card so you can monitor well your outgoing expenses. You have to use your money wisely. Cliche as it may sound, but it's true, it's important to distinguish your needs versus your wants. The thing is, if you can't live without it, it is a necessity. But if it's one of those things you've been jonesing for, it's best to forget it.
2. SAVE SMALL WEEKLY SAVINGS
This isn’t really easy especially if you’re doing it the first time. If you’re not sure where to begin, follow this simple formula: Salary-Savings=Expenses. Or make it 60-20-20 because you might feel that you’re going to be short each time you receive your salary. Try to save a small amount of money on a weekly basis. For example, each week try to save P125. It may be a small amount but at least you will be having P500 savings per month! It isn’t bad to start with. Once you’ll get used to saving weekly, you can try to save bigger money.
3. STAY AT HOME.
If there isn’t anything important to do, remain at home. By doing this, you stay out of the many temptations, especially at the malls. You are saving not just your energy, but your gasoline (if you have a car) and money as well.
4. COOK AT HOME.
Cook for the entire family, be it an heirloom dish you have learned from your grandma or you try to recreate your favorite restaurant dish. Your family will even thank you for it. You could also always go back for another serving and even your tummy might thank you for it.
5. USE THE ENVELOPE STRATEGY & CREATE A BUDGET.
This trick has been effective for most people I know. Even financial guru/resource speaker Chinkee Tan teaches this method of saving. If you have not heard of this strategy, the concept is simple and easy to understand. You must make use of different envelopes and segregate your money according to your needs. There should be an envelope for the grocery, tuition fee, debts, luxury/leisure activities, etc.
It’s easy to spend every single peso we earn. Filipino encourages splurges and overspending on the latest gadgets, fashion trends, frequent dining-out, high-end coffee, and lavish vacations. But as they, the problem isn’t how much you earn, rather it is how little you save. Having money in savings helps you deal with emergencies and unbudgeted needs. It also minimizes the need to borrow money and pay interest on credit cards.
Allot a particular budget depending on your needs, bills, and other expenses. Set a budget including savings and unforeseen expenses and sticking to that budget no matter what tempts you to overspend is the key.
6. TALK IT OUT AS A COUPLE
If you’re married, it’s best to discuss finances with your wife or husband. Both of you must arrive at the same decision and should be on the same page. You need to discuss where to spend and where you have to save. This way, you will prevent any disagreement and fights regarding money in the future. The best kind of couple is when they encourage each other to invest and save at the same time. Stock market advisor, author, and Catholic preacher, Bo Sanchez believes that when a couple freely and openly talks about financial issues, the better they will be able to settle all their debts together.
7. PAY YOUR DEBTS
You need to pay your debts because your reputation and credibility depend upon this. You might be subjected to shame if you have made a promise to pay your debt but failed to do so and act as if you did nothing wrong. Check and improve your credit score. Your credit score informs lenders and other interested parties of your credit risk. It gives information on how much debt you have relative to your income and if you’re able to pay past debts in time. There’s nothing like having a peaceful sleep when you don’t step on others and don’t cause them any trouble.
Throw away or sell those items in your household that you’ve been keeping for years now and would only accommodate dirt and dust on your shelves. Organize a garage sale or sell your preloved items online to help you gain more money. It’s hitting two birds with one stone: decluttering your house will make your house cleaner and more organized while gaining extra income as well when people purchase your preloved items.
9. USE A FINANCIAL CALCULATOR
Yes, you need to use a financial calculator. Financial calculators are specialized tools for business and finance. They include necessary features and components that you won’t be able to find in a regular calculator. Using a financial calculator will help make your lives easier when you calculate the rate return on an investment or loan payments. By doing so you will be able to learn how to handle your finances the right way. One of the benefits of using a financial calculator is that it can calculate more complex problems like discounted cash flows, internal rates of returns, loan formulas, net present value, and markup calculations.
Mastering anything in life needs an abundance of knowledge and patience to get it. With numerous resources available to help you learn essential financial concepts (make your research, read up online, buy financial books, listen or attend financial lectures, etc.), you can learn what financial concept works for you. The key here is to find out which concept is the best fit for your lifestyle. And whatever it is that works for you, embrace it. That way, the time you invest in understanding how to improve and maintain your financial health will be time well-spent.
10. BE SATISFIED WITH WHATEVER YOU HAVE
The problem with most people is that they tend to live beyond their means. When you must be happy and make do with whatever you have. Stop competing with others. Stop comparing your life with your friends. Comparison is a thief of joy. The minute you compare your life to someone else’s, it’s the start of envy. We all have our own journey in this life. Keep your life simpler but keep reaching for your dreams. Start saving and there’s no better way to do it but NOW!
The Bottom Line:
Time is money. The sooner you begin saving, the more you will potentially have money even after your retirement. Being an expert when it comes to handling your money isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It entails hard work, patience, and lots of self-discipline. It is in fact a lifelong journey. It requires patience and diligence as you plan for your future. There will be mistakes along the way, but for as long as you never lose focus, the drive to save for the future—you will learn it a lot sooner than you think.