Just in time

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here. Not that there’s nothing happening. On the contrary, we now all know how crazy 2020 has been. There have been times where nothing was happening (hello, lockdown) and moments when so many things were happening at the same time. Might be hard to write about all of those things at one time.

One significant change in my life is I’ve recently moved to a new 1 bedroom apartment. For the first time ever in my life, I have the entire place to my own. I’m definitely over the moon about it and enjoying every moment of it. On the other hand, it also means I’m now spending more for rent and utilities. Over the course of the year in anticipation of transitioning to living by myself, I’ve also been spending a lot on household stuff.

Which brings me to what I really want to write about. Independence and financial freedom also means one actually really need to think very carefully about spending.

I do have a good, stable job that provides me a decent income. Nothing excessive, but enough to live a comfortable life. However, I must admit I have not been managing my finances as well as I should be. At the moment I don’t have any substantial savings to cover me in case anything happens. I have some loans and liabilities that I still have to settle. I definitely could do much better.

Now that I have fully established all that I need (and want) for my home – furniture, cooking and dining equipment, and everything else – I think its time to re-train myself in regards to how I spend.

I have realised that I have the tendency to stock up on things – food, drinks, clothes, shoes, toiletries, makeup, among other stuff. Although this may mean I save on unit costs when I purchase, it also means I spend more ahead of time and some of it I don’t really get to use and end up as waste (which is especially true for food). This is one of the main things I know I have to change. I have to shift to a “just in time” or JIT purchasing – just buying what I need when I need them.

At the moment I’m also trying to go through and use all the stuff that I already have on stock. Its a bit overwhelming to see how much food I have in my fridge and in my pantry. I also have so much makeup and personal care products on hand. I have more than enough clothes, shoes, bags, and linen than I need.

Therefore, trying to be more mindful of my finances, I’ll have to train myself well in the next few months to do the following:

  • No purchases for clothes, shoes, and bags unless necessary
  • No new technology purchases
  • Try to use everything on stock, including food, toiletries, personal care products, and household products
  • Only buy things when needed
  • Only buy food if I’m sure I’ll cook or eat them, especially for perishable items

Hopefully if I’m successful retraining myself to manage my purchases and my household expenses, I would not need to deprive myself of other things like occasional dining out, entertainment, and travel.

Also, I probably will be trying not to spend too much as I start to prepare little gifts for my family and friends for Christmas. Would definitely still put a lot of love and thought into the gifts but not as much money, and hope the ones who receive them will not mind at all

Back to (a different kind of) normal

My life is back to normal. At least, it’s an entirely different kind of normal from the normal I’ve been used to for the past few years.

I’ve somehow chosen a different kind of life to live now. I’ve given up the luxury of driving to and from work five days a week. Gone is the 1.5++ hour drive (one-way) to and from work, and the thousands of pesos spent monthly on gasoline charges and other car maintenance expenses. I am back on the daily commute. I’m back to working in my comfort zone, my timezone. It’s about two-thirds of the distance I used to travel every day. My new work is a short walk from the MRT station. I take the MRT everyday now, going to work in the morning and coming home in the evening. I then take a shuttle after MRT in the evening, and take a leisurely walk (under the stars) from the village gate on my way home.

I try to pack my lunch everyday too. I make myself a yummy sandwich, enough to fill me at lunch. When I don’t get to pack my lunch, I buy a sandwich at a nearby convenience store. It costs a lot less than what I used to eat for lunch, and has a lot less calories too.

Work is both something old and new. I’m starting to get into the groove again. The project I’m doing now is pretty interesting and challenging, enough to give me just the right push to give my best, as I always would like to do with whatever I do.

My personal life is also warming up too. No lovelife yet, though. I’m just loving the time I have on my hands to write blogs, do errands, read books, study/review on some topics and interests, pamper myself, relax and meditate, and opportunities to do many other things.

There’s just something that feels really nice about the new kind of normal. There are less expenses, less calories, more walks and physical activities, more time to just look around and observe the real world, and more time to be me again. I guess I really needed this change.

A better me everyday, that’s the goal. Sometimes it happens in small moments, in baby steps. Sometimes it happens with long strides, or with some jumps. This time, it was a leap for me again. I’ve landed, and am back on the ground, but this is an entirely different land already. Time to continue walking.

Credit card hiatus

I have put my credit card under house arrest. I have taken it out from my wallet and have kept it in a special place in my room. It will not be used for the coming months until I’ve been able to clear up my credit card debt and re-learned how to live on cash alone.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my credit card in the past five years. I love it when I am using it for purchases, but I hate it when the bill arrives. Are most of us like that? Perhaps I’ve developed a terrible credit card habit. I use it to purchase, and I purchase some more using my cash. Come billing time, I pay off my entire balance, but soon after I use my card again because I’ve ran out of cash after paying my credit card bill. The cycle goes on month after month. No matter how I try to get out of the cycle, it keeps pulling me back in.

Now I’ve really taken a drastic step. I’m separating myself from my card. Time to live again on nothing but cash. And time to get my financial freedom back.

Wish me luck.

A balancing act

I just came back from Singapore a week ago. It was an official trip for conference, but I extended my stay to meet up with friends and do a little shopping and sight-seeing. I stayed at my friends’ place before and after the conference, and went around Sg like I always do, like it’s my second home. And historically, I always end up spending SO MUCH while there, excluding the cost of airfare and accommodations.

I am still trying to settle all my liabilities, trying to zero out all my credit card debt. But of course, it’s much of a challenge whilst being in all the shopping glory of Singapore. I was not going to keep myself from shopping, but I didn’t intend to get into more debt during the trip. There were a lot of things I needed that I intended to buy in Sg. I just had to make sure that I spend just enough, and spend on the right things.

It was an absolute balancing act, letting myself go and shop for the things I need and enjoy the trip, while keeping myself from spending over the top. In a way, I set an “artificial goal” for myself, something tangible that equates to zeroing out my debt. At the start of the year, I resolved to buy myself a pet rabbit only when I get to clear out my debt. And thus, there was an image of the rabbit tattooed on my mind the entire time while I was shopping. I made a list of things I needed to buy. I stuck to the things in my list, and avoided purchasing things which were not on my list AT ALL COST. Every time there was a temptation to buy something else, I remind myself about the rabbit. I have to have that rabbit when I get back to Manila. It was such a big challenge.

So far so good. I just paid my credit card bill from the trip, and I think I have enough to live through to the next salary day. Hopefully I get to buy me the rabbit this May. It’s about time. 🙂

Ten things I wish they taught us back in college

1. Work-life balance
2. The dynamics of a workplace
3. Stress management
4. Time management
5. Managing personal finances
6. Insurance
7. Investing
8. How and when to get a loan
9. The proper use of a credit card
10. Philippine taxation