When do you draw the line when it comes to your purchases? Where do you put your hard-earned money? How do you spend it and how often? These are just some of the things we have to ask ourselves. Finding answers to these questions will help us determine if we are going overboard with our expenditures.
It’s undeniable that the pandemic does not only hamper our daily routine. Many of us have experienced instances when our spending becomes questionable. Thanks to the boosted resources for online purchases, literally everything can be bought online these days. Depending on where you are looking, this convenience may or may not prove beneficial.
Since no one knows, for sure, when our pandemic-ridden days will end, we need to have the financial security that we have something to pull from our pockets when unexpected events arise. So, let us go back to the basics of managing our finances while also reminding ourselves why it is essential.
Decide on priorities
“Habang maikli ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.”
While deciding on priorities may be a no-brainer for some, others experience challenges mapping out their priorities. It is human nature to find ways to make things work. Filipinos are pretty good with this—otherwise, our ancestors would not come up with the adage above.
Our minds are wired to secure our needs first before the inessential ones. Needs or necessities like food, shelter, medicine, and utilities should always take precedence over anything else. Asserting that the mentioned examples and many more should be your priority can make managing your finances easier. You decide and commit to allocating a good chunk of your earnings to cover these things. When you cut down on the quality of food you eat to buy something that you can purchase at a later time; that is also a decision you are making.
Your money is your business. Wherever you spend it is within your discretion. However, freedom is always accompanied by responsibility. It is our responsibility to ensure our hard-earned money will give us the things that we want and help us stay afloat when push comes to shove. Prioritizing is a good strategy to uphold our responsibilities to ourselves.
Record your expenses
As mentioned earlier, when you already know your priorities, and they are clear to you, recording them is the next step you should take. Knowing is power; taking actions about what we know is divine. It is not enough to just recognize our priorities. Ensuring that we keep track of our priorities while following specific goals is an effective way of strategizing how we’ll manage our finances.
While it may be daunting to see the numbers, monitoring how much we are spending will keep us from going over our limits. It is an actual indicator if we are already spending the money we don’t have—if we are already living beyond our means.
One great thing about knowing where our money goes is how it can help us determine what items we can reduce. Say, if you are living in a 55 square meter-condo unit, and your electricity bill is averaging 3,000 a month, that may mean you are consuming way more than what you are supposed to. When you record your expenses, you see these things, which would likely lead to actions. Maybe invest in energy-saving light bulbs and appliances. You can also reduce the time you use air-conditioning by investing in a fan, or better yet, open the windows and get some fresh air, whichever works for you.
Cut your spending
We mentioned earlier that when we record our expenses, it is easier to see the items we can manage. Cutting down some things will help us save for the more important ones. Cutting down on our daily expenses can help us allocate more funds to the items we wish to purchase.
Utilities are one of the items we cannot live without. Especially now that almost everything has pivoted to virtual platforms, managing our energy consumption is also vital. Checking out online selling platforms are tempting, we know. Some even turned it into therapy, but always make sure that you remember the first two items mentioned above before checking out the items in your cart or adding something to your cart.
Pay yourself forward
Lastly, it is just right to pay the person that has been working tirelessly 24/7—you. Safeguarding the welfare and future of that person should be your top priority. You may have heard of the 50/30/20 rule or the fact that when you turn 30, you should have at least twice your annual salary, thrice when you reach 40, so and so.
Some would say that at least 10-20% of your monthly income should be saved. But since we are in a very challenging time and these presets may be difficult to follow, the best thing you can do is to ensure that you are still putting something on your savings. Putting it as a priority is a way of paying yourself forward.
If it’s really a challenge, start by creating a monthly habit of putting money into your savings account, regardless of the amount. What’s important is that you are already building a sound financial routine. Gradually increase the amount you are allocating for your savings when things become more convenient. When you are ready, find additional income, whether passive or active, that could support you further. Identify opportunities that could give your savings a boost.
We never know what could happen or what the future holds. Our responsibility is to build a safety net for ourselves in every situation. We have to empower ourselves and aim for financial freedom. Above all, we are our own asset. Ensuring that our hard-earned money are placed somewhere it could grow should always be our primary goal, because if not, what else is all our hard work for? Just something to think about.