Just like in many places around the world, debt is everywhere in the Philippines and it comes in many forms. It could be that few hundred pesos borrowed from a friend or officemate just a few days before payday and used to buy groceries or the baby’s needs. It could be that overdue college tuition fee, late electricity, internet or credit card payment, or ATM card unclaimed from the loan company. Then there are the more structured debts such as SSS and Pag-Ibig loans, even company loans.
And yes, I too have debts and I’m still trying to get rid of them. It gets really stressful at times, especially since I’m using online banking and my salary these days just amount to numbers on screen that disappear the next day after paying all those bills. My monthly income is not that high in the first place and our family is nowhere near rich.
But how come I am still able to travel a lot, you may ask?
The short answer is – prioritization and sacrifice. There’s just no going around that until I wake up one day and I’m a gazillionaire.
The secret that’s not really a secret is simply taking a serious look at what’s important in your life, making hard decisions, and committing to your decisions. Focus on what matters the most to you and cut back or even stop spending on those unnecessary things. Be willing to sacrifice, that or be more clever in making your money last long.
Here are some steps I’ve followed so far that seem to work:
Step 01 – Decide what’s important in life; list down a maximum of five. If you go beyond that, then you are not trying hard enough. My list is this – 1. travel, 2. help parents with basic household expenses, 3. build nest egg. That’s it.
Step 02 – Slash all unnecessary spending. Go for clothes, shoes and bags that will last the test of time; avoid fashion stuff that are just trendy for a few months (this is unless being fashionable is in your ‘most important’ list). Hang out with friends in their homes or yours and limit time spent in coffee houses, cinemas and malls (again, this is unless going out with friends is in your ‘most important’ list, you get the picture).
Step 03 – Be best friends with Delayed Gratification. Exercise patience. I’ve been to Ilocos (after a year of planning and saving), to Palawan (after 6 months of saving), and recently to Indonesia (also after a year of being strict with myself regarding my finances). If you’re focused, you’ll get what you want and getting it will be all the more satisfying due to the fact that you worked hard to obtain it.
Step 04 – Keep looking for ways and means to enjoy life without spending too much money. Buying vegetables from the market for healthy eating everyday is expensive? Grow your own vegetables. Airplane tickets are out of your league? Take the ferry or the train.
Prioritize what you should spend on and stay committed to your budget and I guarantee you’ll be making the most out of your money soon enough.
I hope the steps I’ve outlined above are of help to you; do let me know which steps you find easy to do or difficult to follow. If you have other ways of maximizing your finances for the most important things in life, I would love to hear from you too!