I was never good with money.
I remember when i was a kid, a then-childless aunt would occasionally borrow me. I would sleep over and we’d say the rosary before we go to bed. I knew the rosary by heart then and my auntie would let me lead as we pray for her special intentions.
The best part of being with my auntie was the upgrade in my baon. She used to give me P50, which is more than twice the baon i normally got from my parents. The first time that happened, I felt I won a major prize and went on a spending spree on food, mostly ice cream and soft drinks. The rest of the day, I felt rich and powerful and every now and then bought candy and snacks. I had a smirk on my face I couldn’t erase!
On the way to the tricycle stand after school, I reached into my pocket for my P1.00 fare but alas! I had nothing in my pocket. Not a centavo. Nothing! Nada! How could that have happened? I started the day rich and then suddenly I was penniless? I felt like crying. I almost did. How the hell was I to go home without money for fare?
I felt so desperate at that time. I turned to my cousin for help but all she had was P1.00, just enough for her fare. Our young minds could muster only one solution at that time – we flagged down a tricycle and I sat on her lap the whole trip. We must have been a funny sight! We were the only passengers yet we tried our hardest to occupy space for one person because we can only afford fare for one. The driver was indignant when we handed over our precious P1.00 coin but we didn’t wait for his reaction, we ran as fast as we could and never looked back.
I felt so euphoric in being ‘rich’ that I spent more than what I had. After that humbling experience, one might think that I would have learned my lesson. Not really. I always felt scarcity of money was the problem, not me or my attitude towards it. The mindset was “If I just had more money.... ".
I continued to have financial mishaps through my teenage and working years. I would ask for money from my parents for ‘ghost’ projects so that I can go out with my friends after classes. I remember my first salary was not enough to finance my daily expenses that I had to call my mama every once in a while to ask for money. Eventually, I became financially independent but with the increase in salary came credit cards! What a temptation those small plastic cards were. They thought me how to invest and my ‘investments’ were in the form of stilettos, bags, cellphones, office suits, clothes, facials, salon treatments, etc.
And then i realized i’ve been working for almost a decade and getting old but with nothing to show for it. What a shame! I even had the guts to go jobless for six months!
It is hard and a bit embarrassing to start thinking of managing my finances only at this stage. Of course, i did try to put my finances in order at some sane points in my life but somehow, I always failed.
I am proud to note though that since the start of the year, i have been more prudent in my spending. Reading my husband’s blog and an occasional nudge from him helps. We’ve been saving some money by cooking our baon for lunch instead of buying, and going on runs instead of date-night movies. I also do not frequent shopping malls as much. I have one credit card left which i use only for my online purchases (restricted to apps and digital magazines) and I make sure that I pay my bill asap. I have also made my first mutual fund investment. Yay!
I dream of financial freedom someday. I read somewhere that a long journey starts with one small step. I am not hopeless. I may be a late-bloomer but as they say, it is better late than never. I don’t want to grow old and miserable.
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds six, result misery.”
– Dickens’ Mr. Micawber