Financial Literacy

Managing Personal Finance

Managing Personal Finance is written by one of the contributors of this blog. Everything written is based on personal views and experience  where we can learn and relate from or share the same sentiments. 

Hello my TL family! In this article I will share my personal experience as someone who has an 8-5 job. I’m an average person. Far from being a millionaire. Just earning enough to provide for my personal needs and a little extra for my family. Save some and invest some.  Let me share with you my personal journey from living YOLO (You Only Live Once) to becoming a financially responsible adult.

SPEND MORE. SAVE LESS.

If you’re a millennial working in an 8-5 job, especially if it’s your first job, you probably have this habit of spending more than saving more. That was my initial spending slip-up when I got my first job years back, I got this unhealthy impulsive buying habit then. Savings is the least among my priorities. 

Just a background, I grew up so deprived of everything. I did not have the luxury of some lucky individuals born well-provided or even have more than enough for leisure. I am from a family that are  “just trying to survive”. Things were really tight in my younger years. 

So when I finally got my first job and first pay, I spent most of them to make up for my deprivations in the past. When you reach that ADULT stage, it’s supposed to be FREEDOM with RESPONSIBILITY. But for me, it’s just freedom and no responsibility (in terms of spending habits). I was young and dumb, admittedly.

THE TURNING POINT

I started my journey to being financially responsible when I realized my parents are growing old and not all the time, I’ll have the luxury of having a salary. With no emergency fund, I couldn’t live for months given I’ll quit my job. No investments, savings and no everything. Frustrated, I deliberately evaluate and assess what went wrong and right. What are the things that I need to do? Including what not to do anymore.

Here are the steps I made when I started planning for my finances and decided to be a responsible adult.

STEP ABC

A. PLAN

In planning,  I ask questions like, what are my current realities?  how much do I have right now? Then, I identify my expenses, needs, future needs and how will I be able provide for them.

  1. I begin with budgeting. I account all my monthly fixed expenses including payable.
  • Food
  • Utility Bills
  • Dues
  • Transpo
  • Allowance
  • Debt?Good or Bad?
  • Play money

2. What are the things I need to be prepared for?

  • Death is inevitable. I don’t want my parents mourning for me and mourning for the expenses that will cost them when I die. I need to lift that financial burden.
  • I was hospitalized twice and it really cost me my savings.
  • I know what it likes when you have financial emergencies and you don’t have a cent in your pocket.

3. Goal-Setting

What are your short-term goals/long-term goals?

  • Investments? House? Lot? (Invest only what is considered extra. Now, what will you invest, if you have none?)
  • Do you have any target amount for savings?
  • Pay bad Debt

Answering these questions will help you plan for your finances and allocate them responsibly.

In my case, to address my future needs, I got the following:

  1. Life and Death Plan (Life Insurance and Burial Plan). These two are separate plans. You see here that I don’t want to burden my loved ones when I die, instead they’ll get something to cover for the expenses and a small amount of death insurance. I say, I’m ready to die.
  2. Individual Health Care Plan or HMO. Hospital Bills can wipe out your account in a glimpse. So I better have myself covered. I pay quarterly and renew yearly.
  3. EMERGENCY FUND. I already have my estimated monthly expenses. Thus if I’m building an emergency fund for 6 months, you just multiply expense x # of months idle, and you will get the amount you need to have.

After plotting your current and future expenses, monthly income & accrued income (future income, including bonuses), it’s time to act on it.

B. ALLOCATE

Once you’ve planned your budget, you need to religiously stick to. I have it listed in an excel file so I can monitor them. My pay is scheduled every 11th and 25th. All my expenses are already programmed every pay day. 

Every 11th

Payable/Dues : 20%

  • Life Insurance
  • Death Insurance
  • Mission
  • Credit Card Debt
Savings- 50%
Allowance- 30%

Every 25th 

Payable 20%

-Death Plan

-Investments

Savings-50%

Allowance -30%

Savings: (50% of my salary goes to savings) This is just my personal choice. You can make it 10% or 30%

Allowance (30%): The remaining money is for utilities and living allowance like food etc. I work around what is left and budget accordingly until the next pay day. I do the same boring routine every pay day. When I wanna buy something, or go somewhere else, I cut it from my allowance. I also don’t use expense tracker apps, it doesn’t work for me.

TRICK: I advise you to separate your payroll account from your emergency fund account. By doing this, you will not be tempted to think you have a lot in your bank account and it’s still okay to spend. (It’s like tricking your brain that you only have this much- do it by sparing just enough cash for two weeks allowance.  You’ll live with it, until your next pay)

C. ASSESS & EVALUATE

Why do we need to assess and evaluate? This is important for us to know whether we are on track and are we hitting our goals?  I usually evaluate semi-annual. I keep an excel file with different tabs and update them from time to time.

  • Am I hitting my target this year? Am I religiously following my plan?

Do not expect a perfect spending habit. I have my fair share of unforeseen expenses too. As for me, when I see that I’m behind my goal, I re-adjust my expenses. Trim down if possible. At the end of the year, I find it fulfilling that I get to reach my short-term goals and follow them as planned.

Delay of Gratification

Delay of gratification, the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future. The ability to delay gratification is essential to self-regulation, or self-control (Conti, 2007). 

This is one of my driving points and my motivation in managing personal finance responsibly. Bearing in mind what can I save now, I can use to gratify myself to a more valuable things in the future. It is worth depriving myself of some unnecessary spending (such as online shopping, items from the grocery that are not really essential or eating out when you can eat at home) in exchange for the more valuable things I’ll have in the future.

FATAL DETOUR

Searching for an additional source of cash inflow, I got my self into stock trading. One fatal mistake I committed years ago was jumping into trading without prior knowledge. I thought of it as an investment, where my hard-earned money can grow  pretty decent percentage  compared to what the banks offer. So I transferred my 80% of my emergency fund to my trading portfolio and the rest is history. As for you, never ever do the same fatal mistake I did.

Where is STOCK TRADING IN THE PICTURE TODAY?

  1. I did not include trading income in my goals since I don’t control how much I’d earn or lose from it. I have so much to learn. My mentor always tells me that I’m still young in trading despite spending quite some time doing it.
  2. Currently, I just allocated a tolerable amount in trading coming from my savings. It means what I have in my portfolio is just extra, money that I will not use. I considered the money in my port as play money or virtual port. I treat it as the money that it’s okay to lose. Why? For me not to be emotionally attached with it and to avoid being emotional when I cut my losses.
  3. When your personal finance is ready, only then you can start investing. (this is just my take)

For me, managing Personal Finance, like trading, is a journey. It also takes discipline and guts to delay gratification and stick to your what you planned.  It is a habit to build and takes consistency. But it is really rewarding and fulfilling .  

According to psychologicalscience.org (2019), 

“It’s Not Your Income That Counts – It’s How You Spend It”

Disclaimer: I am writing this from the perspective of an adult who has a stable job. Everything you’ve read here is experience-based.  The case may be different for someone who has a family, children to feed, or someone who is financially unstable. Yet, you may get practical idea from this article that might be applicable to you.

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