If you are reading this, I hope you haven’t blown off your half-month paycheck and are currently indeed of dire financial advice. This is not it. Second, I am really not in a position to put out a budgeting gospel out there as I myself is a struggling millennial. Think Isla Fisher in “Confessions of a Shopaholic” but without a credit card.
So why then should you read this article, you ask? Because millennial to millennial, we need to talk about our spending habits and more or less realistic curb it to a point where we are sustainably allocating what little money we make—beyond it being a new year’s resolution.
What’s a budget?
First, let’s define your budget—or a budget, for that matter. Just like diets, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for your finances. Budget, simply put is your income versus your expenses. Experts say that the best way to allocate is to categorize your spending into two types: fixed (rent, bill) and discretionary (things you could do without but can indulge in every now and then like movies, eating out, clothes. This is what your mom calls luho).
Now, ideally, your income should be portioned off like this: 50 percent for fixed expenses, 20 percent for savings, and 30 percent for discretionary stuff. But again, this can vary. You can alter these portions depending on your income, your maturity, and your needs. Yes, maturity, because after all, budgeting is a matter or responsibility and control (at least for me).
I, myself, have yet to stick to this. But I find it helpful to stick to a weekly budget, just like in college. I’ll share other tips as we go, but this one, in particular, has helped me more or less stay on track until the next payday—which, in retrospect is bad advice, but baby steps, right?
So, for reals, what should I do?
Much like budgeting, these tips may work for others or seem passe to some. You may already be doing some of these steps and finding that it doesn’t suit you. And that’s okay. It’s a learning curve, a journey even if you will. Just as long as you are not finding yourself in bankruptcy, it’s okay to be experimental until you find your budgeting groove.
What are successful people doing?
I’ve consulted with some of the people I know who I see as financially responsible (because again, I am not the best advisor here), those who while I suffer from my inability to budget my salary three days before payday enjoy a relatively worry-free life. Here are some of their tried and tested tips on how to manage and stick to your budget:
Separate your funds into different accounts
I have different bank accounts apart from my payroll account so I don’t have the money on me all the time and in turn, I don’t spend all of it. You can even make an account that’s only accessible over the counter without a card to make sure you won’t get money.
Tricia, 22, junior designer
Embrace your lifestyle with a little self-control
You don’t have to do away with things that bring you joy like watching a gig every or catching a theater play every now and then. You just have to set aside an ample amount for it.
Pau, 26, associate managing editor
Set a progressive savings target per month
I set a figure every payday, so that, for example, Jan. 30 my savings should be at P9,000, Feb. 14 at P12,000, Feb. 28, P16,000 and so on. I also highly recommend resisting your urge to buy things, which I’m also training myself to do by taking longer routes than my usual going home that passes by a mall. Works every time. Almost.
Eric, 35, editorial manager
Setting a saving goal
I try as much as possible to have a rough estimate of how much I want to set aside each month. At times it could be hard, so I motivate myself by setting goals: a dream travel destination, a covetable item, or something.
Nimu, 33, creative director
Automate your bills payment
It’s so easy to consume money all at once—easier than earning it. Since everyone gets their monthly salary automatically credited to their payroll bank account, I suggest enrolling all payable bills to automatic debit arrangement. That way, these expenses are automatically deducted and what’s left is free to spend or save.
Ces, 54, finance and admin manager
Leave your money at home
This may sound crazy but leave your money at home. I do it all the time. I just bring enough cash to last me through the day and go. It’s worked for me so far, except maybe in times of emergencies and sudden night out with friends. But then again, I always have my credit card with me.
Ziggy, 27, marketing supervisor
Header photo courtesy of Cheng Ilagan/Philippine Canadian Inquirer
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE