Back in 2013 I was let off for Redundancy. I was in Pampanga most of the time because it was when my family needed me the most. During this time I studied to become a Financial Consultant. In January 2014, I was ready to take the next steps.
Having known someone who was willing to refer me to training, I attended a business opportunity seminar at Pru Life UK. Once I got a walk through on how to get my licenses, I pushed forward to the Training Series. I was able to get two licenses, one for Traditional Life Insurance and the other for Variable Life Insurance. I attended a FOREX training at the Philippine Stock Exchange as well to get an edge on market trading and stocks. I also included in my schedule a financial literacy program with Bo Sanchez for the Truly Rich Club. This was how I spent my time in the middle of job hunting.
Though I had gotten a 2 year separation pay from my previous company, I still did not want to lose my stream of income. I went back to Online English teaching with Rarejob and selling baked goodies.
It was not long before I got a job as Quality Control Manager. For a while I thought I could handle my day job and still teach at night. Later on I realized that my day job needed more attention. I spent long hours at work trying to find ways on making processes more efficient so I could continue teaching in the evening. Sadly, I had to let my online teaching go…
Teaching with Rarejob was wonderful for me. I made many friends old and new. The Japanese are wonderful and live with such strong values and integrity. Teaching was never a chore for me then because of the people I met. True there were many that were difficult to teach because of the language barrier…so what little knowledge I had of Nihonggo helped me tremendously.
Then I looked at my certification with Life Insurance as a good way to make extra cash. Training as a Financial Consultant and taking the necessary licensure exams allowed me to not only help people manage their finances, but also reap the benefits from commissions. From the teachings at Pru Life UK, I was able to set up a financial goal for myself.
My boyfriend, Jeff and myself both got Variable Life Insurance, which was Life Insurance paired with an investment component. He took it more on the risky side with Equity, while I was more on the safe side with the Managed Fund. He took a similar Equity linked Variable Life Insurance with Sunlife of Canada as well as Pru Life UK. Hopefully in the future I can get one with Sunlife as well as an educational buffer for my son when finances permit.
As a couple, our journey to financial stability did not end there. By the end of the year we had opened our Joint Account and he invested in a UITF Equity Fund with his payroll bank BDO. We both had pending applications with BPI Trade and have set up our own individual trading accounts. With little to no knowledge with proper trading, we have yet to educate ourselves further before moving forward into bigger investments.
All in all the Financial Review both as a couple and as an individual has been very rewarding. We are actually both quite excited about the years ahead and continuous Wealth Management Plans.
In a nutshell, here are a few things couples may want to consider for their journey to financial literacy:
1. Set a Goal
You need to know what you want to achieve. Are you looking to build a future together? Do you want to open a business? Are you saving for marriage? Whatever you have planned as a couple or even as an individual you have to know what you want. You may have a vague picture now but sooner or later it will all fall into place.
2. Get Out of Debt
Pay off your credit card balance ASAP. Nuff said. Cannot dwell much here since I do not HAVE a credit card. Well, not YET.
3. Track your Expenses
Before you even think about setting aside savings you HAVE TO KNOW where your money goes. This has taken me years and years of practice and I still haven’t got it. Well, not in a way that I am satisfied with. In one way or another I have managed to meticulously track how much I spend on a daily basis. Yes, every single centavo I spend per day, summed up to how much I spend a week, a month, etc etc. I have found it easier to just write them in my Belle de Jour Power Planner as opposed to tracking it in an app. Whatever rocks your boat. I figured the most effective way to do this is to track this for a MONTH. Yes, not a day or couple of days but for an entire month. Segregate into categories like: Food, Rent, Transportation, Tuition etc.
4. Sum it up and cut it down
After you get all your monthly expenses, think about your annual expenses. I for one think about my son’s tuition. It is a big cut if you look at it as a whole but you will smoothen it out and cut it down later on. Add your annual expenses to your monthly expenses to get a total.
Overwhelmed yet? Well for now that is what you are spending on. If you go through your items one by one, you may find some that you are willing to let go of. Highlight everything that IS important and sum it all up. This is how much you HAVE to HAVE per year. Divide it by 12 to see how much you will need per month.
5. Income – Expenses = Savings. vs. Income – Savings = Expenses
This is a debatable topic which is justified on a case to case basis. For me, I HAVE TO PAY my son’s tuition. It MUST be deducted automatically from my income. It is not savings, it is an expense. The funds for which are my top most priority. But then again for others that do not have many financial responsibilities you may very well practice the Income – Savings = Expenses. Like I said, it will depend on you.
REMEMBER: DO NOT COMBINE YOUR EXPENSE TRACKING!
Even if you are in a couple, you have your own expenses. You have to define the tracking and limit it to yourself. You can look at both your expenses combined, later.
You can treat Savings as an Expense (if that makes sense?) by willingly deducting it from what is left from your income. Always start with an amount that will not be difficult to achieve. You may always add to your savings later on. The key here is to make sure it is UNTOUCHED.
6. Cutting costs
Take a look at your list and everything you crossed out as a least priority. You can actually do research on cheaper alternatives. In example, you may not need to have your nails done every week and limit it to just once a month. Better yet, do it yourself. You are doing yourself a favor by paying yourself instead. Another is gym memberships. A friend of mine spent thousands of pesos on gym memberships but was so busy with work that it was difficult to squeeze in time for the gym. Admit it, it happens! She ended up buying her own treadmill and dumbbells instead. Our favorite cut back would be cooking our baon as opposed to eating in restaurants. My boyfriend and I cook our own meals to bring to work instead of eating out everyday. We limit our “eating out” to Fridays and now to every Payday.
7. Setting up the Emergency Fund
I have seen my emergency fund come and go and it kills me every time. I build my Emergency Fund by having it on Auto Debit with BPI. Here in the Philippines, an Emergency Fund can be as little as 3 months worth of expenses. You can continue building it as you please, or just leave it in a high interest account. Remember, an Emergency Fund is exactly for that…EMERGENCIES. It MUST be readily available so I suggest to have an ATM card account and keep the ATM card stashed away.
8. Get Insurance
I greatly regret not getting insurance right after I started working. Like the stock market, you generate more returns for yourself if you start early. Whether it is Termed or Full Life you must have it. I cannot even begin to stress how important it is to get Insurance. One day you will get sick, one day you will die. Whether it is one or the other, you or someone dear to you will need money. On a happier note however, Life Insurance now comes with an Investment Component so you do not have to wait till something bad happens before you get a slice of the cake. In our case, the Investments go to building our Retirement Fund. Yes, we are working our assess off while we are still young in order to reap the benefits later on. Think of it as delayed gratification.
9. Find Extra Sources of Income
I have made it a personal mantra to try and find a way to bring my salary in FULL. The money I made with my sideline work was what I used to pay for my monthly expenses. I have tried almost everything from MLM VMobile Reloading, Online English Teaching with Rarejob, Online Transcription with BabbleType, Online Article Writing, Direct Selling with Avon, Dakki, Reselling with baked goods, clothes, perfumes, earphones and headsets, and now selling Life Insurance. As a couple however, we are looking to put our expertise together to form a potential business. Since my bf-slash-fiance is a wiz with Software Engineering, I compliment his skill by using my Marketing and Project Management Skill to build IT Solutions. It not only helps us build extra income for ourselves but also increases our value as IT Professionals. We continuously find ways to educate ourselves in our respective fields which luckily enough, intertwine.
10. Be Consistent
Consistency in your saving goals is just as important as getting started. In fact, it is the core of actually achieving anything. For now we are both looking at the Auto Debit Features. Both our insurances and savings are on Auto Debit.
I think for a relatively new couple (We have just celebrated our first anniversary last November, yay!^^), the journey has been quite productive! Everything above however is what works for us, you still have to do your own research on the manner that best suits you.
Thanks for reading! ❤