In many ways, quarantine has changed how we live. This includes my relationship with money. If the pandemic didn’t happen, I would have spent my paycheck on a roundtrip ticket to Japan, karaoke parties with friends, concert tickets to see my favorite artists, and of course, ~rewards~ after a stressful work week. But, as we all know, the universe had other plans. Because of the pandemic, we’re now cooped up in our homes with not much of a social life and no travel plans in sight. Being in quarantine for over a year altered my lifestyle and it also made me rethink my spending habits.
My priorities changed.
So many businesses were affected by the pandemic—and our company was no exception. In the early months of lockdown, I learned about teammates being laid off and I felt anxious thinking that any minute, it could be my turn. My job security was at stake and I didn’t have a backup plan. Fortunately, I was able to keep my job but there was still a nagging feeling that I needed to prepare for uncertainty. Aside from the risk of losing my job, I don’t have enough emergency savings for a pandemic. I can’t afford to get myself and my family sick. Imagine the stress of having to worry about our health and our hospital bills at the same time.
I had to sort out my priorities. Setting up an emergency fund was necessary and I knew it would require a lot of discipline on my end. ICYDK, financial experts say an emergency fund should at least be three to six months’ worth of living expenses. But it’s much better if you could save more given the current situation.
I started weighing my needs versus wants and also tracked my expenses. I hate to admit it but I found out that a huge portion of my sweldo really went to food deliveries and happy purchases—which in my case were books, beauty items, cute shirts and accessories, and any item that would support my quarantine hobbies that usually change every week. IKR? In short, I was pretty magastos but I was willing to make some adjustments.
“I started weighing my needs versus wants.”
My non-negotiable rule was to set aside a portion of my paycheck and put it straight into an emergency fund. It doesn’t matter how small or big the amount is—what’s important is, I have started allocating money for something that will benefit me in the long run. I can build it up over time until I am able to allocate half of my salary.
I also began researching investment options and came across the term UITF or unit investment trust fund. It sounded intimidating at first but when I read more about UITF, I found out that there are low-risk types—ideal for a newbie like me! By investing in a UITF, my money can potentially earn more than if I just leave it in my savings account. UITF also offers a liquid investment option which means I can still use the money in case I need it right away.
I became more disciplined in handling my money.
The next step was to look for a UITF within my reach. Luckily, I discovered BDO Easy Investment Plan (EIP) and it covers the essentials in setting up an emergency fund. I like how it’s affordable because it only requires a minimum amount of P1,000 every month. And that already gives me access to low-risk UITFs like the BDO Short Term Fund. For convenience, BDO EIP allows auto-debit so I can automatically transfer money to my investment-slash-emergency fund. This way, I can be consistent with my financial goals and even become more disciplined in handling my money.
Given my newfound discipline, I’m not easily swayed into making impulse purchases any more—especially when there are more important things to spend on like saving up for the future.
I’ve learned to check my privilege.
I am fortunate to be in a place where I still have a job that can pay the bills, let me buy what I want, and still help me save up for an emergency fund. Not everyone has that privilege especially during a pandemic. I realized that I need to be more responsible on where my money goes and not take it for granted. Tomorrow is not promised and I could lose the privilege to earn at any moment. Therefore, I better make my spending and saving efforts count.
By investing, I now have an efficient way to help rack up my savings over time. It also makes me feel at ease knowing that I have an emergency fund ready to help cover myself and my family from uncertainties. There is still a lot to learn but at least I can say, my future self will thank me later.
Want to start your investing journey? For as low as P1,000 monthly, BDO Easy Investment Plan will help you practice the twin habits of regular saving and investing. It also lets you build an emergency fund through the BDO Short Term Fund, a low-risk Unit Investment Trust Fund that has potential for better returns than regular savings accounts. Tara, #InvesTayo! Learn more about BDO Easy Investment Plan on their website and on Facebook.