Friday, May 21, 2010

Material Girl No More

(Basic Speech No. 2 delivered by TM Jennie Lou Cantago on May 13, 2010)

We live in a material world and I was a material girl. I used to succumb to earthly luxuries and cared less about my financial future. Shoes, bags, watches, name it; I used to splurge my hard-earned income on those things. It was the time when I did not care about my financial well-being. But, time had changed my priorities. From materialistic, I am now savings-listic.

I now prioritize saving money because I know that it is one of the most important things I can do to prepare for my financial future. It is vital to start young and set aside a portion of my income for the rainy days. Why and how did I become savings-listic? Let me share some of my realizations and tips that made me shift to a better path.

Having a healthy savings plan has brought me three advantages. First is financial independence. Saving equals to more money. Money gives me more options in life. Through savings, I can decide on how to run my life rather than being dictated by others. Another advantage of saving is to prepare for life’s uncertainties. These are unexpected things that can happen anytime such as natural disaster, unplanned illness, the loss of a job and so on. During my material girl days, I was a corporate zombie, meaning, I worked at night. I was earning a lot back then but sadly, I wasn't able to save. Thus, when I became fed up with the night life and wanted to resign so badly, I could not. Why? Because I was not financially prepared. If only I had saved, I have a choice. Saving also helps me plan for my future. All of us have something that we are striving for. We all have goals in life. What are you longing for? It maybe a brand-new car, house and lot, education, techie gadgets, a relaxed retirement. Whatever my or your dream is, it surely involves a good deal of money. An efficient and disciplined savings plan can make your dreams come true.

Saving truly gives us tremendous benefits. It is a common knowledge but uncommon practice. How come only few people have the discipline to save? Saving is not just for millionaires. Let me share with you three secrets to help you jumpstart your savings as well. Plan, Cut off, Pay.

PLAN. I started with a savings plan. My plan includes my goals and basic outline of the methods that I will be using to jump-start your savings. Monetary goal is an integral part in planning. Thus, my goal specified my target amount and time frame such as I want to save P100,000 within one year. My end-goal in mind guides me in determining how much I need to set aside each month and the actions to be done. I know that this would require a great deal of commitment, sacrifices and discipline.

CUT OFF. The easiest and quickest way to start saving money is to cut off your spending. Back then in my younger years, I splurged a huge sum of money on the luxuries of life. Clothes, shoes, bags, watches and the list went on. Most of those things, I never really needed. If I only had discipline back then, the wasted money could have been used for good. Now, I am no longer an impulsive buyer. I observe the 30-day rule, where in I usually wait for at least 30 days before I buy something. I also don't window-shop with money with me. Rule of thumb: only shop with a pre-determined list. Another way is to eliminate unnecessary expenses by eating out less and probably, arranging a car pool. I used to dine out every day, on the average; I was spending at least P150 daily. Thus, for one month, for dining out alone, I was actually spending P4500 (P150 x 30 days). My daily expenses seem harmless but the total of all my expenditures for one month is truly a major crash on my financial goals. Now, when I am itching to shell out money, I think about it first. I am sure you have a million other ways to curb your spending. Start now, assess your lifestyle and resist the temptation.

PAY. The last step is to pay yourself first. When I was still a material girl, I spend and shop all I want then save whatever is left. However, with this system, nothing was always left. Now, it is the other way around. I save first then spend whatever is left. As soon as I receive my pay, I deposit at least 10%, or at times 50%, more, of my income to my savings account. I also allot money for my coop and piggy bank. Whenever I receive a bonus, I put all or most of it into my savings. I pretend that there is no bonus at all. You can also follow these simple steps. Over several years, we will have a tidy sum in savings and over decades, we can all be millionaires.

Saving money is easier said than done. All of us at some point of our lives become overwhelmed with our finances and have difficulty saving. The road to financial responsibility may also take some changes in our lifestyles and spending habits. But don't worry, no matter how hard it seems, there is hope. Just mix these three easy steps with commitment and discipline and you will never be lost in your journey to financial success. Who cares if we are living in a material world? I am no longer a material girl. I am free!

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