A common money problem we can all relate to: One day, you’re great at being frugal and keeping a budget; the next day, your impulse purchase game is stronger.
Constantly looking at how much you have in your bank account won’t bring back the money you spent buying three lippies you know you don’t need. The best thing you can do is be aware of the triggers you have that compels you to spend when you don’t really have to. Below are some of the lines you might be familiar with, and what to do about it instead of simply giving in.
You: But it’s at 70 percent off!
Your bank account: Surprise, I’m also at 70 percent off.
When you see the giant red placards on the store window of your favorite retail store, look away before you sell your soul for a discounted price. A sale is perhaps the best-selling strategy that can make even the most unassuming consumer to stop, look, and purchase. This might even convince you to buy more because items are cheaper, but there’s no justifying how much you’ve saved by spending, because the bottom line is, money still left your wallet.
Your challenge: Keeping to your budget *especially* in the midst of irresistible sales is something you will thank yourself for in the future. Ask yourself: Do you really need another pair of shoes, another floral wrap dress, or another set of nude lippies? If not, then put the basket down, and nobody gets hurt.
You: I need a vacation, stat.
Your bank account: You’re already taking a vacation...from being broke.
Sure, it sucks to not live like Instagram influencers who travel for work. You daydream about being somewhere else at a moment’s notice, far away from the crazy Manila madness, and who can blame you, really? The thing is, you don’t have the funds to travel at the moment, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up.
Your challenge: Being unable to travel now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to travel in the near future; the truth is, all you need is some time to make it happen. Figure out where you want to go and when you want to travel. Then, set aside a portion of your money every week specifically for your adventure fund. You’ll be packing your bags before you know it.
You: I’ll have a triple shot venti white chocolate americano breve.
Your bank account: How about just brewed coffee?
When it’s finally your turn to order at a coffee shop, it’s almost a magical moment. You probably know your signature order much better than your lola’s full name. On a different level, it also makes you feel ~sosyal~ for having a custom coffee order no one else has. But do you really need to shell out P150 for a cup of coffee every single day? If you do the math, you’re spending at least P3,000 every month for your specialty java.
Your challenge: Try to treat yourself to your usual coffee order just once a week: on Mondays to start your week right, on Fridays to end the week on high note, or on the morning after a really tough day. For the rest of the week, go for cheaper alternatives, like the coffee cart in the office or three-in-one sachets. It may not be glamorous, but you’ll still get your caffeine fix.
You: I got a new job! Time to buy new clothes!
Your bank account: You still have clothes with the price tags on.
Whether it’s a new job or a promotion, one thing’s for sure: You have to look the part. But that doesn’t mean you should jump at the chance to shop for new clothes when there’s really nothing wrong with your current wardrobe. If you got a job at a new company, they’ve never seen you wear your office wardrobe in the first place. If it’s a promotion, don’t make your pay raise an excuse to spend for things you don’t need—you haven’t even gotten your paycheck yet!
Your challenge: It’s very likely you got your new job or promotion not because of what you wore to work, but because of your work ethic, achievements, and job performance. Maintain your wardrobe, but mix and match clothes to create new outfit ideas. Even better, declutter your closet to remove items you haven’t worn in the last six months, and sort them out to give to charity or sell at a garage sale. Chances are, you’re never going to wear them again anyway.
You: I had such a tough day at work today. Time to go nuts!
Your bank account: Are you sprak-ing kidding me?
Sometimes, Fridays can be just as bad as Mondays. Since it’s the weekend, nothing’s holding you back from heading out with your friends to let off steam and forget the crappy mood you’re in. But nights on the town to carouse until dawn can get tiring and routine and will also give you an even worse hangover when you realize how much you’ve spent the morning after.
Your challenge: There are far better, affordable, and memorable ways to sprak and your body won’t have to suffer from your bad decisions. Go for a hike, visit museums, try archery—choose activities that can contribute to new experiences with your friends and preferably new memories you will actually remember.
You: I should probably get a gym membership so I can finally start working out.
Your bank account: You literally just said you have no time for yourself!
Many people make the mistake of buying into a gym membership (“It’s an investment on myself!”) to guilt-trip themselves into working out so they won’t waste their money on the minimum three-month commitment they locked themselves into. Whether it’s three months or three weeks, if there’s no commitment to build a healthy lifestyle and get into shape, then it’s easy for that vision of yourself looking 10 pounds lighter to fall to the wayside.
Your challenge: If your gym has trial sessions, do those first before going all-in, and do these preferably after work, before work, or during weekends to see if carving out time to exercise is feasible at all or if it’s too much of a hassle. If not, stick to home workouts for the meantime until you can figure out a doable schedule to reconsider a gym membership.
You: I’ve been working so hard, I deserve this!
Your bank account: You said that last week too.
You’ve probably figured out by now that it’s cost-efficient to have your own reward system to keep you from overspending. Not setting a limit to your reward, however, might just be counterproductive, and so is setting goals that are too easy for you to achieve that you’re rewarding yourself almost every week. Recalibrate your goals to make them more long-term and challenging to make your reward more worthwhile.
Your challenge: Ask yourself: Do you really need a reward? If not, then humble #treatyoself solutions are there to compensate. You can use this time for yourself to do the things you haven’t been able to do. Is it time to binge-watch a new TV show or to finally get started on your DIY project?
You: What’s the big deal? I’m getting a raise anyway.
Your bank account: That’s not the point.
The prospect of having a bigger paycheck is nothing compared to receiving the actual paycheck, which is why it’s best to wait before you make bigger purchases. But as the saying goes, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” If you’re not struggling with the budget you’re already working with, then there’s no reason for you to change it. With great pay raise comes great financial responsibility. You can either see this as an opportunity to buy more, or the opportunity to invest in things that have return potential for you to live comfortably in the future.
Your challenge: Think of your pay raise as a bonus. Instead, think long-term, and visualize where you want to be in the next 12 months, or maybe the next three years. Depending on your goal, set aside the extra cash in a short-term investment you can earn from—the return isn’t high, but it’s better than parking your money in a savings account with low interest.