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7 Practical (And Realistic) Ways To Handle Money Better

A little discipline goes a long, long way
by Chandra Pepino | Mar 25, 2018
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Not everyone was lucky enough to grow up with a lot of money. Your family’s financial situation is probably extremely unique because of the different issues each household faces. But each of us have our own ways of coping and surviving—tricks and methods that have aided in saving some dough when things get a bit rough. It's an instinct most of us (hopefully) have. Because whether you’re earning P100,000 or P1,000,000 a year, if you can’t save money to save your life, you’re headed for doom anyway. Here are a few realistic ways to nix bad financial habits, no matter who you are or how much you make.

Maintain the same lifestyle, even as your salary increases over the years.

As we go on with our lives, we open ourselves up to more lucrative professional opportunities. Once the prospect of a salary increase presents itself, the initial thoughts tend to be, “Finally, I can upgrade my phone,” or “I can eat out more often now!” But the trick is to maintain the lifestyle you currently enjoy without depriving yourself. How exactly do you do that? Well, it’s a matter of choosing one single reward at a time. You will allow yourself to spend the holidays in Japan, but that means foregoing a new DSLR camera. What’s the use of a salary increase if you’re still squandering a higher percentage of your salary than you should be? Remember: Minsan, hindi maliit ang sweldo mo. Magastos ka lang talaga.

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Don’t focus on saving more. Focus on saving, period.

Plenty of books on finance will tell you that it’s important to put 20 to 30 percent of your salary into savings—but for many of us, that’s just plain unrealistic when you have bills, a family to support, and unexpected expenses to watch out for. Try to save the tiniest amount possible, an amount you’ll barely notice. 20 pesos a day? 50 pesos a week? No problem. Don’t beat yourself up over how little you can save. The goal isn’t to save more, it’s to develop a habit of putting money away. What you’re doing is removing the instinct that causes you to spend money as soon as you get it.

Every time your salary arrives, think ahead to the petsa de peligro version of you.

On the 31st, you’re eating at a Japanese izakaya where the salmon is P300 apiece. On the 14th, you can barely afford to buy pan de sal. What’s the problem here, and why does this happen payday after payday? When we see our bank accounts become rejuvenated, we get excited. We’ve been waiting and suffering so long, and now it’s time for a reward. But the waiting and suffering wouldn’t have had to happen in the first place if we had just distributed our money evenly over the course of two weeks. Here’s a little challenge for you: when your next payday comes in, think of the petsa de peligro you, the one that would give anything for even a fast food meal. Think about how you don’t want to be in that position again. And put some money away for Future You.


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Stop spending money just because you’re bored.

Do you ever have moments with friends where you’re all full from the meal you just had, but you decide to buy some overpriced coffee just so you can have a place to sit down and chill? Do you catch yourself heading to the convenience store midday because there’s nothing to do, so you might as well have a snack? Or aimlessly window shopping, only to find yourself walking out with yet another new shirt? An idle mind is the financial devil’s playground—so make sure to keep your wits about you at all times. Always ask yourself: Are you really hungry, or are you just bored? Do you really need this, or are you only buying it because it’s cheap (even though you don’t need it)?

Pretend you’re earning way less than you actually do.

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Have you ever had rich friends who are super-kuripot? Exhibit A:

Hilarious and painfully true as this might be, it’s how rich people stay rich—it’s an often overused piece of trivia that billionaire magnate Warren Buffett still lives in the same old house he’s had since the 1950s (and is worth only 0.001% of his total wealth). You don’t have to make singil your friends every single time you split some fries, but it would be wise to consistently stick to KKB. If it just so happens that your goal is to impress people (flimsy as that might be), people tend to be more impressed by the guy who never has a petsa de peligro version of himself, not the guy who’s constantly buying everyone dinner.

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Only buy material items that spark joy.

The runaway bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo became a worldwide hit because of these four words: “Does this spark joy?” The goal was to get rid of all the things in your house that didn’t genuinely excite you or bring positive feelings for the long term. Think back on the past three or so purchases you made that you thought would really make you happy. When you saw that fancy vacuum cleaner or leather jacket, for example, you rationalized the purchase in your head by thinking about how happy it would make you. Two months later, you’re too lazy to vacuum, and you rarely put the jacket on because it’s too hot. Think hard about the mileage a future purchase can give you. Will you be using it constantly? Will it relieve you of much-abhorred inconvenience or even pain? If not, you don’t need it.

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Instead of several tiny purchases, focus your efforts on big-ticket purchases.

We’ll need to explain this a bit. Let’s say you’re on a diet, and your sweet tooth is giving you a hard time. You can’t stop thinking about sugar, so you decide, “Screw it, I’m eating something sweet.” You grab a cheap bar of chocolate and call it a day. But what if you had gone to a nice French-style bakery and ordered something decadent, something that really hit the spot? If you’re going to cheat on your diet once in a while, cheat well. If you’re going to spend money, spend it well. This might sound like it runs counter to everything we’ve said to you so far, but think about it—a much-anticipated out-of-town trip with friends is a much more memorable way to spend money than weekly trips to the mall together. By allowing yourself to spend big in this way, you don’t feel deprived—at the same time, you’re not breaking the bank, either.

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