For the first time in my life, I don’t spend as much on stuff anymore. I know it’s a big surprise to many. I was super gastadora before. I tend to buy all kinds of stuff at an impulse. Don’t get me wrong, I am still not the frugal kind. I still do buy stuff every now and then but the only difference is I am no longer impatient when I really want something so bad. If I see something I like, I think about it and assess my feelings – perhaps, tomorrow I won’t like it anymore, ask myself if I really need it, do I have extra money to purchase it, will it give me long term happiness if I do get it. I ask all these questions and if there are more ‘NO’ answers, then it’s time to let it go and move on.
I wish I had been more careful about my finances earlier in life. Had I been well informed and financial literate during my early 20’s, I could have been a millionaire now. But there’s no point going back and wishing I could have done it differently. Lesson learned. There is no perfect time to study and learn financial literacy than TODAY.
I want to share with you what I have learned so far as a newbie investor and some tips to help you in your finances. I am not an expert, I can’t guarantee you that these will work with your current situation. What works for me might not work for you. What I will write and share are mostly based from my own views and experiences hence, do not take this as a professional advice.
1. Track your expenses – if you are the kind of person who doesn’t monitor your money, I recommend you start doing it. If you are too lazy or not too keen on using the excel sheet, there loads of free aps available that you can download – I use expense tracker because it’s easy, user-friendly and serve its purpose. When you track your purchases, you will see where you are spending your hard-earned money and you will be surprised on how much crap you have bought. This will help you set your priorities right and learn how to stop spending money on things you don’t need.
2. Emergency Fund – ideally, 6 -12 months of your monthly expenses. I personally think that setting up your emergency fund is one of the most important steps in taking charge of your personal finance. Sad to say, a lot of Filipino families I know do not have an emergency fund. The first step in setting up your emergency plan is to know ‘in and out’ of your money (see number 1 above) so you can create your budget plan and allocate an amount to your emergency fund. It doesn’t matter if you start putting in small amount as long as you do it regularly and consistently. Our main goal is to build a solid rock emergency fund which you can use to support you and your family in case of uncertainties i.e. job loss, sickness/hospitalization, death etc.
3. Protect yourself with healthcare and insurance – speaking of uncertainties, there are some things in life that are beyond our control like SICKNESS and DEATH. I can’t stress enough how important insurance is. It’s a sad fact that insurance is considered a ‘liability’ or an added ‘expense’ by most Pinoys considering how expensive it is to get sick in Philippines. I remember when my mom was confined in one of the hospital in Las Pinas City for an overnight stay we had to pay around P25,000. In Western countries, you are obliged to have a health and life insurance. I don’t understand why majority of Filipinos would rather spend their money on Starbucks weekly for a freaking planner instead of preparing for your kid’s education or for your retirement. I know there are affordable HMO available in PH like Maxicare or Bluecross and pay between P3,000-P5,000 monthly. There are also a lot of insurance companies where you can get VULs (insurance + investment) and you pay as low as P52/day and you are already covered for at least P700,000 in life insurance. That is a small price to pay for your peace of mind.
4. Invest – once you have accomplished numbers 1-3, you can now start investing for your future. You can invest in the stock market or mutual funds. Please please please make sure that the money you are investing are your extra cash. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use your child’s tuition or your house mortgage payment to invest in the stock market. Warning: it’s very dangerous and risky to get into it without proper guidance and knowledge. Since I am member of the Truly Rich Club of Bo Sanchez, I am being guided and taught on how to invest my hard earned money for the future. If you are interested, I suggest you check it out -> TRC. I used COL Financial for my stocks and Mutual Funds. I will write another post concentrating on Stocks and different types of Mutual Funds. Opening an account in COL Financial is very easy. You can read step by step process here – Opening an Account
5. Increase cash flow – now that you have built up your emergency fund and invested in the stock market, you can now think about ways on improving your cash flow. The formula is Make More, Spend Less. Easier said than done I know. There are ways you can make more money, heaps of them in fact. You can do freelance jobs online like encoding, translation, writing, editing at Upwork.com. You can try direct selling, start your online business on IG, eBay, etsy and sell stuff or your clutter even better (garage sale). Or join crowdfunding community like Farmon or Cropital. Not only you will earn profit, you are also helping our farmers on their financial needs. Just be creative in building your passive income empire and your portfolio will increase in no time.