5 Money Lessons I Wish I Learned Earlier
Girls just wanna have funds!
Working in our local community as a RESCU Ranger over the last few years has helped reshuffle my priorities in so many ways. I find myself striving to make our mobile clinic as convenient and affordable as possible, with a renewed focus on actual healthcare instead of disease care.
This valuable experience initiated my keen interest in fitness and nutrition and even prompted me to earn my Personal Trainer Certification this year and consequently create 3F.energy, a science-based fat loss programme.
Speaking of 3F, I've talked about Fashion and Fitness on this blog and today, we're going to touch on the third F - Finance.
Oh gosh! I can't believe we're going there.
As you can imagine, running your own business often means the lack of a regular pay cheque and this has truly humbled me and made me rethink my financial situation to see money in a completely different light and hopefully make less financial mistakes as a result.
If you've been a long time reader of this blog (You're a real trouper! Thank you!), you may have noticed that my earlier posts were mostly reviews of luxury goods so you can already imagine the kind of money mindset I had back then as a young fresh grad with a decent pay check - it was all about keeping up with the joneses like many of my peers.
The last few years, with my husband's multiple emergency surgeries, the pandemic affecting our business and loved ones' passing, it was all a real wake up call for me. My savings were wiped out within a year but the expenses were still mounting.
I had to reassess our situation and make smarter financial decisions. I'm glad to say that after one year of readjusting our lifestyles and mindset, I managed to stabilise our situation and accumulate some savings again. These days it's all about spending our hard earned money on more meaningful experiences and assets that can help us achieve financial freedom one day.
Here are some money lessons that I've learnt and I hope it might inspire those of you in a similar predicament right now to get your finances back in order too.
1) Pay yourself first
Yes yes. I know you've probably heard this umpteen times but I still need to emphasise on this.
The first time I heard this concept was back in 2010 when I read Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad and it was this that prompted me to look at savings accounts with high interest rates, REITs and investment plans.
Remember! Paying yourself first doesn't mean you go buy that Gucci bag and the Starbucks coffee first before you save the rest. Instead, it's the other way round where you save first, then buy everything else you need. Each month, allocate some money to your asset column FIRST before you pay for your monthly expenses and buy your favourite things.
I definitely do not mean cutting all the fun things out of your budget - that is a miserable thing to have to do. If you made less money or have more fixed expenses that month, then buy less nice things.
The concept is pay YOURSELF first, not Gucci first.
2) Keep track of your expenses
Easier said than done! Even though I knew this is good practice, I've always been too afraid to see how much I'm actually spending. Heard of the ostrich mentality? Head in the ground and hiding from the truth because ignorance is bliss, yes, that's me - guilty as charged!
You'll be surprised how effective this simple habit was for me. Suddenly, I see the light!
There were many times where I went off the rails with my spending and by the end of the month, I realised I don't have much to save and wondered where all my money went.
These days, I track my spending with a budgeting app called the Monny app where a cute bunny reminds me every night at 11pm to record my expenses. It has worked wonders on my budget and helped me identify all the unnecessary expenses such as subscriptions I no longer use, extra duplicate groceries or clothes that I bought and forgot all about! Sheesh!
Well, you don't have to use the Monny app if the interface doesn't speak to you. There are tons of other budget apps out there or you can even consider recording your expenses on a Microsoft Excel Sheet or physical notebook, whatever that floats your boat!
The bottom line is JUST DO IT!
3) Set realistic financial goals
Studies have shown that the failure rate for New Year's resolutions are about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February.
I used to set unrealistic financial goals for myself like - I want to save 50k this year or I want to achieve financial freedom before I turn 35! You get the picture - the goal is too big, it lacks clarity and the expectations are set too high.
These days, I divide my year into quarters and set quarterly goals instead of yearly ones and on top of that I also set daily goals to move the needle in the right direction.
Here's an example, instead of setting a target like saving 10k a year - how about starting with $10 a day, then progress to $20 a day? In this way, the amount will be less intimidating. Save and forget about it, then see the final amount at the end of the year. Trust me, you'll thank yourself for it later.
You can set up recurring payments to your respective bank and investment accounts. I personally adopt the Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) method and create recurring payments to my investment and crypto apps which I'll share more later.
FYI! Dollar-cost averaging (DCA) is an investment strategy in which an investor divides up the total amount to be invested across periodic purchases of a target asset in an effort to reduce the impact of volatility on the overall purchase. The purchases occur regardless of the asset's price and at regular intervals.
Beat inflation with investing! Instead of parking my newly acquired savings in the bank which offers very little returns, I've been putting them towards assets I believe will appreciate in the long term.
I bought some REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) more than 10 years ago and made some decent passive income over the years. This prompted me to explore other investment opportunities and since I'm a noob investor and have a low risk appetite, I started off using roboadvisors which are like the name suggests "robots" that help you to invest. They are automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services designed to be stress-free, approachable and cost-effective for new investors.
I do need to warn you that these roboadvisors are not fool-proof. You're still putting money towards investments after all so you'll lose money if the stocks or ETFs they chose for you don't do well.
I've also invested in cryptocurrency and stocks this past year. Just in case you're wondering, here are some of the platforms I'm currently using:
Stashaway - Sign up with my link and we'll both get up to $10,000 SGD managed for free for 6 months!
Cryptocurrency (Warning: Extremely risky)
Gemini - Sign up with my link and we'll each get $10 USD of Bitcoin.
Again! I need to remind you to use these platforms judiciously. Do your homework before you invest in anything, if not it'll be no different to gambling.
5) Create a passive income stream
If you've been following me on RESCU's socials too, you may have realised that we reduced our telemedicine consultation rates earlier this year as we managed to create a new passive income stream for RESCU by renting out half of our current office. Yay!
If you have a space, an extra room in your house, a car, they could possibly be money-making assets (yes, even the car) that you can rent out and generate passive income!
If owning a property is too far fetched for now, you could buy some REITs instead. A REIT is a corporation that owns, operates, or finances income-producing real estate or real estate-related assets so this means you can earn profits from real estate without the need to own, operate, or directly finance properties.
Other ways you can make some passive income include selling a digital product, starting a YouTube channel or simply using your credit card. I've been using my Citibank cards and been receiving some pretty decent cash rewards to help pay for phone bills and groceries.
I do need to remind you that interest rates for credit card debts are the highest so don't forget to pay your bills on time to avoid late fees.
There are so many more ways to make passive income. Those will be reserved for a whole other post, for another time where I'll go into each of the areas mentioned above in much more detail and connect the dots for you.
If you’ve read the post to this point, thank you! This also means you truly want to do something about your current situation and I applaud you for that and truly believe you'll succeed!
You can do this! 💪
I do need to emphasise that I'm not a financial advisor. The tips mentioned were just for your information only and are not intended as investment advice. Please kindly seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice to help you with your financial portfolio.
Did you enjoy this post? Are there any other topics you would like me to cover on this blog? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck!
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