"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Money Matters

"Never underestimate your power to change yourself." ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr.

In my constant quest to live an authentic life, I am coming clean with one of my recent epiphanies (recent meaning six months ago) and it involves my relationship with money.

I got here because I met up with Max over dinner the other night and I'm off to lunch with King today and both times I've been honest enough to each of them to let them know that I'm on a budget and that means it's food court or a cafe at the most.

It's not as if I live a life of debauchery. (Or sometimes I do. And then I wake up. Hee!) At least not one that has me spending on nights out. But the truth of the matter is that even though I manage to pay my credit cards and my mortgage, invest my money and save for a rainy day, managing the money that passes my hands continues to be a challenge, but I'm determined to learn.

I realize though that it's a process. You don't just decide one day you'll get better at it then voila you are. It's a decision I make everyday and that decision and the determination I have to overcome my shortcomings on this front colors each and every choice I make that day, even to one as seemingly small as transportation.

So here are some of the guidelines I've put in place on my merry way to financial freedom:

(1) Ride the bus or the train on weekdays - taxi rides are now a weekend treat

(2) Eat at hawker centers more - not always the healthiest choice but certainly the cheapest

(3) Get a gold one dollar coin as often as you can and put into your piggy bank - Don't scoff at this. I now have S$1,000 in my emergency fund from saving these coins over a two-year period

(4) Save whatever you can. Saving small is still saving. S$10 a week stashed away is better than zero.

(5) Don't let money pass Mayang's hands. I started putting aside S$300 a month via this saver policy-cum-mutual fund last November. It doesn't pass my hands, which makes it easy to save.

(6) Have simple pleasures. This one is a breeze for me. I don't care for branded items anyways, or expensive restaurants. I'm a no-frills foodie. My new interest is finding really cheap yummy food.

(7) Reward yourself. I was relatively behaved (financially) during my US trip so my treat is my nifty baby pink running Asics. Which I've been training in for the marathon on December 7. My next reward is a good body massage. Can't wait!

(8) Get yourself a healthy perspective: know in your bones that you're immensely blessed and that you are always in the inescapable, relentless love of God. Living a blessed life is rarely about having money in the bank. We all know it's about having a purpose for your life and having meaningful relationships. Most times, I don't feel like I'm in any hardship. I actually look at it as a game. "Will I be able to only spend S$10 today?" "C'mon Mayang, don't hail that cab! Be patient and wait for the bus!"

(9) Have clear, measurable, challenging financial goals. I thrive on goals. Whether it's running the marathon or paying my mortgage in five years. Write it down and read it often. This works!

(10) Give money away to those you are not obligated to give to or take care of. I can go on and on about this one, I tell you. This one guideline has saved me and blessed me and allowed me to see the truth of guideline number eight more than all the other guidelines.

It's a journey. I've embarked on it and I am going to get there. On the way, I learn to be humble enough to admit to the friends who matter that I'm on a budget. :)

(Photo credit: Frecklegirl)


Babs said...

Korek ka jan! =) If there's one thing I learned when it was so difficult last year financially and jack's treatments were left and right, God provides talaga. I cant forget how my friends and staff in the office organized their own garage sale to help us with our expenses.

And yes, life is a journey. We do the best we can. And Im super glad we can pay forward with the BMT fund. At least, may chance yong ibang kids.

Mayang said...

Yeah man! Even the name of the foundation made it seem so right, huh?

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