This is all so foreign to me.
I mean, I used to run a regular Finance Fridays column in my old blog, Davao Mommy. I used to spew all kinds of financial wisdom — from technical stuff like investing in stocks or mutual funds to life concepts like being contented and living beneath one’s means.
I know we used to live way beneath our means. Despite paying for the amortisation of a house and lot, we were still able to set aside ample emergency fund.
Things are different now. We’re no longer paying for amortisation (we actually withdrew our application and, with the refunded payment, bought a bigger lot just outside the subdivision). I am no longer freelancing and have been working as a full-time employee for a year now, and Job is in Riyadh. Ideally, we should have been saving more because the income is more regular, but the bitter truth is, our savings account are stagnant.
Well, it’s funny how regular salary gives you a false sense of security. I thought we were doing okay, financially, until I took the time last weekend to assess how we were really doing.
The Hidden Expenses
I found out that we were paying too many bills; unfortunately, they were either in a lock-in period or absolutely necessary. To be fair, we did not sign up for anything unnecessary or exorbitant, but the bills piled up. And I had been thinking of signing up for a gym membership. Good thing I reviewed our expenses first before doing so!
Also, we were paying too much for groceries. Is it normal to have 2-3 full grocery trips in a week? I think not! We should be minimising our household and grocery expenses. What’s worse is that we cook more than we could eat, and more often than not, we have leftovers that we forget about. Bad, bad bad.
Maybe I should just make kimchi rice everyday to avoid leftovers?
Another thing that was eating up the budget was transportation. I don’t have a car so whenever I go somewhere, I always take the taxi. Seems like a little thing but when I started tracking my expenses, I realised that I am paying too much for transportation each month.
Then there’s eating out and buying stuff. I must take my no-spend challenge seriously now.
The Game Plan
In my old job, where I was paid on a performance basis (which means that while I get paid every month, my pay depends on how many student essays I reviewed), I had to be thrifty in preparation for lean months. But now, it took me long before I realised that I had been living beyond my means because there’s always incoming pay to save my butt. In other words, I don’t need to pressure myself to save or be frugal because I can always count on my next salary.
I love my job but I need to re-learn the art of self-control!
It didn’t even occur to me that I was exactly my old self’s description of a person living from paycheck to paycheck.
There’s no time to feel sorry for myself, though. Through the Holy Grail budgeting app that I have recently discovered (I need to blog about it soon – highly recommended!), I was back to tracking my expenses and adjusting my budget to make way for savings and investments. That means maybe abstaining from ordering stuff, avoiding the grocery (my weakness), and develop a more cost-effective way to go to places.