An Amateur's Guide on Budgeting & Financial Management

Before I even start I have to say this now-- I am no expert when it comes to budgeting or handling finances. I have to ask my sister for help and guidance most of the time, so I want to dedicate this article to her. Haha! I'm sure most of you will be able to relate to my neverending saving and spending saga. Like me, I know a lot of you struggle when it comes to managing your finances. I've forgotten how many times I tried creating a budget and then failing to strictly and religiously adhere to it because gawd--so many nice and shiny things on sale online and offline! Amirite?! There are also emergency expenses that keeps on messing with my monthly allocated funds. I understand your sentiments and I know people's earnings also vary, but the emergency expenses alone could be one of the reasons why I think budgeting and setting aside emergency funds are important! Learn more...

Aside from unnecessary spending, I also experienced overspending using my credit card because it is easy and available especially when you don't have cash available. But I learned the hard way because for two years I struggled to pay my debt (with interest) until my mom intervened and helped me get out of that slump. Just thinking about it makes me anxious. At least now I'm wiser and know better.  

Managing finances is not a popular topic because most people don't take it seriously or some just have enough to make ends meet. But no matter how big or small your earnings are, anyone could budget and have a financial goal! 

Here are a few money tips I apply daily:

1. Credit cards are only for convenience and NOT a necessity. Only use your credit card for online purchases (for protection against fraud), travel (airline tickets, hotel bookings), electronics or appliances, furniture, car rentals. Don't use it for daily essentials like groceries, shopping for clothes, medical bills (coz of the high interest, better to ask the hospital for a payment plan), paying for events. 

Bottom line, don't use your card if you don't have the cash to pay for your purchases because you'll only end up paying more or you'll drown in debt. 

2. Online shopping is fun and most of us do it to destress, but that moment of happiness could be fleeting especially when you realize you have no more money to spend on more important things! Just be mindful of your spending if you can. 

3. When I have extra cash to spare and I see something I want to buy, I sleep on it first and think about it a hundred times over. If I still want it after having an internal debate with myself, then that's when I buy it. 

4. I make a list of all my bills to pay and make sure I have enough money to pay everything off before spending on other things. 

5. I make sure I have a separate bank account for my emergency fund. 

6. I don't like borrowing money so I make sure I have enough funds for everything. When I have no choice, I just ask my mom or sister, but NEVER from other people. 

7. I'm proud to say that our utility bills are low because we don't have an aircon (people have been urging me to buy one but I know our electric bill would spike up so no thanks haha) and we try to limit our use of electricity and water.  

8. I now manage my YOLO mindset. Before the pandemic, my motto is why save when you can spend your money while you're still alive. But now, I realized one must have emergency funds for when they get sick or when unexpected things happen like the pandemic where everything came to a halt even work! :(

9. List everything down, even small purchases, because if you add those up you'll be surprised with the amount! That's what my sister taught me and she's right. 

10. Allot a weekly or monthly budget. This is the first step to working towards your financial goal! 

Here are a few tools that I use to manage my budget: 

1. Excel - my sister uses this!!! She lists down all her earnings, spendings, and expenses on an excel file/sheet. She likes it because she could easily access it via mobile and laptop. 

2. Money Manager Expense & Budget app - been using this for month and it helps me keep track of my spending vs my available income! It's very straightforward and easy to use.

3. Spending Tracker app - an easy personal finance app that lets you track your spending so you can stick to your assigned budget!

4. Manage your money by seeking help from professionals. Sometimes you can't just do it alone and it's okay to ask for help. There are many offering money or debt management services to help ease your burden. 

As I said I am no expert, so these are just my personal experiences and recommendations. It's still up to you as to what method you want to follow or adopt--whatever works best for you. I still don't have 100% financial freedom but the important thing is I have a goal and I am working on it proactively. That's it! Hope this helps. Please keep on cheering for me and I am also rooting for you!!! :)

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