Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
I’ve always had a loose money-saving system for myself when I was still living in Manila, but living alone in Singapore has helped whip me up to shape (well, I’m still a major work in progress) in terms of managing money. I’m also big of self-love and self-care, so it’s taking me a lot of self-discipline and self-control to fight the urge to splurge and choose to save up that moolah instead. I’ve learned it pays to have an end goal in mind (mine is always focused on travel), and now, it’s a wedding and a honeymoon!
It pays to save. Now that I’m older, I realized that financial security is something I count as very important at my age. People think money is the root of all evil, but a friend told me that money is a form of energy, and I thought it was a very creative way of looking at money. And what matters, really, is how you put this energy to good use! Here are some tips I’ve learned so far on how to save smart.
I currently have four active bank accounts. Why so many, you ask? Well, it helps that I don’t see the money I save so I won’t be tempted to spend! I have one account for my (1) personal savings, another for my (2) personal spending, a (3) joint account with my fiancé where we commit to add a certain amount of money each month, and my (4) Philippine bank account.
My personal savings account is my “untouchable,” and I make sure I fill up this bank account first before allocating to my spending account. There are times when my personal spending account looks a bit sad, but it forces me to make do with what I have and to spend within my means.
There have been a few times when I needed to withdraw from my personal savings account, but I made sure the amount was replaced right away as soon as I got my next salary. Having multiple bank accounts allows you to have multiple compartments for the money you make, and not cause you to mix your spending money and your savings.
Most people have told me to allocate for my savings first, before I settle the rest of my budget. However, I learned that paying my bills first helps me manage my savings better. Recurring expenses such as utility bills and phone bills tend to differ every month, so paying my monthly bills before portioning my savings gives me a better idea of how much I can save without making my Personal Spending budget look pathetic.
In an ideal world, we consistently get to save the same amount every month (even more, if we’re lucky), but I’ve learned that the key to really managing one’s money and happiness is balance. Don’t stress if you’re putting in fewer savings this month compared to the last three months. It happens because of unexpected circumstances, so don’t put yourself under too much pressure if you find yourself in such a situation. You can save a ton of money but be miserable deep inside, so make sure to find the balance that works for you.
There is a lot of truth in making your skills work for you and earning some extra bucks on the side. Apart from your day job, find other side projects that you can do that aren’t in conflict with your main source of income. I have a number of friends who are part-time baristas during the weekends, and I also know of some who do on-the-side consulting. If you’re into creative work such as writing or production, there are platforms such as Upwork that provide a number of freelance jobs.
If it works for you, create a Microsoft Excel Sheet and track your income, your expenses, and your savings. What I do is a create a slew of multiple sheets in a document (one sheet corresponding to one month of the current year), and I list down how much I earn in that month, as well as how much I accumulate in savings, and how much I spend.
This helps me keep track of how much I have in the bank, and whether I need to adjust my budget or make improvements somewhere. It’s a bit more effort, but it pays to keep track of the money you get to save and spend.
In line with having a Microsoft Excel sheet to track your expenses, what also works for me is having an expense tracker app on your phone so you can jot down your daily expenses. This helps me a lot before I decide on a purchase because it helps me evaluate whether a certain purchase is really necessary, or if it can wait.
Having an expense tracker app also allows me to see how much budget I have left for spending. I use Spendee (thanks to my friend Abbey!). What I love about Spendee is that it makes use of a lot of colors, and I love color-coding. There are also a lot of other apps that have cleaner interfaces if you’d like to go the minimalist route. Find one that works for you aesthetically. But more importantly, find an app that cultivates your habits and helps you be consistent with your financial goals.
Budgeting is one of the things that I still find myself struggling with as an adult. Lately, though, knowing my priorities and the opportunity costs involved allows me to evaluate each purchase better. What I’ve noticed about myself, though, is that the more I pressure myself to allocate too much to my savings and leaving my personal spending with a meager amount, the more I feel that I can’t enjoy what I’ve worked hard for—and this makes me feel bad. So, I guess, the key really is having a good balance and not depriving yourself from treats from time to time. Don’t be daunted! Just take it one step at a time.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Lara Intong
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