New Journey Series : Now that I’m happy to grow old

Just a few hours before my once a year special day…

Unlike my other birthdays, this one is very different because of my New Journey Series.  This never happened to me and I never imagined that this financial struggle will affect me on my birthday and Christmas. What’s supposedly a merry season is turning out a great test for me.

For the first time, I’m projecting my expenses and income for 2013.  The first time I’m doing it is almost causing me gradual heart attacks. I was surprised of my expenses and all the bills to pay. Though to my biggest relief, I found my income still within the limits of my expenses. Whew! It’s just that now, my greatest struggle would be to fully comply with my budget and target. Gone are the days when I have excessive cash for shopping left every payday.

Part of me is nervous, worried and scared. However, I don’t have a choice anyway. I have to make things happen.

Today is payday and as I was allocating my hardworked turning diminutive pay,  I was surprised to discover that I don’t have enough money for our most awaited Christmas Family Day. Oh Dear God!

Meanwhile, to console my worried self I’m eating my favorite and cheap Chinese takeout, munching these tiny cupcakes given by my dear friend Abigail while reading this article.  The article is a great way to convince myself that aging is not bad after all. As I age, I will surely move away from this financial struggle.

New Journey Series : I crash in cash

When I started the New Journey series, all I wanted was to account my journey to eliminate my credit cards, settle my debts and achieve that level of financial independence. I just wanted a concrete documentation that I can look back two to three years from now.

I never imagined that these mere blogging documentation can help me understand my own financial struggle. One thing I learned is why I have so many cash during the past Christmas seasons. I have cash and at the same time, I have shopped for my much desired shoes, clothes and bag.

This year, I decided to start my journey of eliminating my credit cards. As much as I just want to tear them away, I can’t. I have to painfully endure each month to years settle my shopaholic attacks.  I was quite successful with my first step. I never used my credit cards over the past months, except for a few items for home. This year’s shopping’s strict shopping policy was pay everything in cash. I believe I was off to a good start. My recent shopaholic purchases were all paid in cash. (Lie! Except for the pair of shoes and bag I purchased a week ago)

Anyway, everything I shopped for Christmas was spent in cash. As I was complying with my self-imposed mission, I discovered something. I don’t have that much cash now. LOL Bad! Bad! Bad! You can surely understand the reason for my cash shortage.  I still have the same shopaholic attacks, it’s just that now, I’m using my debit card or cash, which is rather worst.

My debit cards act as a storage for my savings account.  Whatever I can keep every payday is stored in my two debit cards.  Supposedly, they should represent my level of liquidity and source of emergency funds. However, with the way things are going now, my emergency funds are used for another self-inflicted, self-centered and greedy shopaholic attacks.

Lesson learned, I have to remove my debit cards from my wallet starting today. Though at some point, I’m not comfortable of doing this because my debit cards provide me an immediate assurance in cases of emergency. The solution? Discipline! Discipline! Discipline!

And still my greatest struggle

New Journey Series – When prudence meets a desperate dream

Over the past days to months, my struggle to become financially independent has been a dilemma that never left my mind. This has been causing me worries and occasional anxiety attacks. Will I be able to pay my bills for the next three years? Will I have more freelance jobs and writing assignments? No matter how good are my plans and intentions, there are just some things that happen way beyond my control. Sigh..

In my attempt to remain loyal with my much needed mission to be accomplished, I was monitoring my expenses and exerting all means to beat the temptation to spend. The only thing I can be proud of myself now is that I no longer use my credit cards for my purchases. When I want a new blouse or a pair of shoes, I pay everything in cash. My only purchases made through credit cards include the replacement for our 20+ years old refrigerator and my phone that was begging for eternal rest. LOL The cards were used as substitute and not as an extender to my purchasing capacity.

A week ago, I did some decluttering in my room and guess what happened? I was able to almost complete my Christmas list. It’s only now that I discovered that I hoarded a lot of things within a span of a year. I shopped for goods which I thought would be useful. I obviously accumulated things that consumed space and ripped a huge hole in my pocket.

As much as I want to show the proof of my shopaholic attacks, I prefer to keep them because some of my friends might accidentally land on this post. My Christmas presents will be busted then. Haha For those who are raising their eye brows and wanted to call me selfish, go on! One thing I can assure is that all my presents are NEW and never been used. I can still draw the dividing line of my prudence vs. deceit and selfishness .

All the while, I thought that I will be spared from purchasing gifts for everyone. I thought I’m almost done with my Christmas list. Almost not until someone invited me to join their Kris Kringle. Just when I’m teaching and disciplining myself to limit my expenses, I have to spend more for these three-times-a-week-gift-giving. Call me The Grinch but I never loved the idea of buying gifts that would just end up as useless pieces at home, as a result of complying with those “something” “something” requirement. I’d rather spend and lavish gifts the people close to my heart or share a fraction of my much awaited 13th month pay to organizations that awaken that soft spot in my heart.

Another reason why I never loved this weekly gift giving marathon is the minimum amount requirement. (Tag me now as a killed joy and pathetic loser. ) We were asked to purchased something not lower than Php 30. Cheap but do that 3 to 5 times a week, that’s already a significant amount of money. Added to it the fact that I won’t settle with the idea of buying a gift for the sake of compliance. Since it’s a gift, I might as well make it as a real gift.

Since I don’t want to bother and accummulate additional worries to my overloaded system, I went to the mall two days ago to fulfill my Kris Kringle list. So here’s what happened.

I’m finally done and almost happy not until I checked my receipts. I would like to believe that I surpassed the requirement of not becoming an annoying gift giver. I bought useful gifts but when I did the Math, I failed! You see, this is a shouting evidence that I’m never good in budget execution.

As I’m trying to convince myself that I’ll just call it a day, I remembered something that I should have purchased. Gift wrappers!!! No, I wouldn’t want to spend again so I allowed the ambitious and pretentious Martha Stewart in me to handle things. LOL

I checked my cabinet that housed my shopping bags (another proof of my shopaholic attacks) and I did some desperate DIY moves.

Redundantly desperate!

How I wish I was blessed with just a drop of the talent of Martha Stewart or the famous Papemelroti’s Alejandro family. I never knew that creativity can go a long way. Aside from the fact that DIY projects can save some money, it could even turn to some business opportunities… if taken seriously. Now that I’m taking DIY seriously, the more important question is

Will DIY take me seriously too? LOL

Too much on my plate

Fine, this is just one of those days that I should not rather document. But the stubborn and frustrated writer in me refuses to follow rules. I’d rather rant away and maximize my airtime in the blogosphere while it is still being free. Oh WordPress please! Don’t take away the last few things that keep the last strands of my sanity.

I arrived at the office late because I started my unhealthy lifestyle again. I only slept for 5 hours because I have to prepare my lecture. It’s my first time to handle this advance subject so I need more preparation and studying to do. My current assignment in the office is running smoothly. The only constraint I see is as always, to beat the deadline. Nevertheless, I can feel that I can manage each phase of my job. Thank God.

I teach after my 8 am to 5 pm office work. I have been blessed with good kids this semester. I handled them already in another subject and I have proven that they are one of the best college kids that every professor would ever wish for. Having been blessed with good kids, I feel both challenged and obliged to provide them with the best education they deserve.

As I started to render my lecture, all the while I thought I was fully prepared. I was able to finish my lecture, but I felt disappointed because I know that it wasn’t my best. My discussion demands its own points for improvement. Sigh.. I hope the kids will not be able to read this.

After having a bad day at work, all I wanted is to head home straight and finally forget about everything. I can finally call it a day not until I saw the pile of bills arranged near the netbook I’m using to type this post. Another huge sigh here….

I opened the envelopes and even though I know what to expect, the papers acted like poison gas that weakened my knees and planted another set of worries that occupied my mind and heart. All I want to say now is I have too much on my plate.

New Journey Series : The Significant Other

I shared in my first New Journey series the budget and expenditure monitoring device implemented by my colleague turned friend, Wella. A self-made Microsoft Excel file enabled her to track, predict and balance her own earnings and expenditures. While I initially thought it was an exaggerated attempt, I later realized that the tool is something I will be needing.

I made my own Microsoft Excel file that will monitor my daily expenditures.  In my case however, I focused on monitoring my expenses. I prepared a monthly sheet that itemizes and summarizes my daily expenditures.

On my initial weeks, I became the diligent disciple. I ensured that I opened my netbook before going to sleep, despite being dead tired after working for 12 hours. I was very consistent over the first three weeks. Unfortunately, some goods things must come to an end for me. I later turned to an inconsistent and consistently lazy disciple of my own mission. I started to skip days to record my expenses.  These days later turned to weeks, months to never as of date. Phew!

Why did I gradually abandoned my own mission? I guess part of it is my exhaustion from my 12 hours of working schedule. Who wouldn’t get tired of working 12 hours a day and reporting for work at 7 am the next day?
But you see, I know for myself that willingness and determination can break all forms of hindrances. Perhaps, I’m not totally ready to my self-declared journey. The New Journey might only exist in my mind as a need, but not as a goal to accomplish and live each day.

To compensate for my lousiness and laziness though, allow me to share the results of the first few weeks of my diligence. What I discovered from tracking my spending habits are the following

1.  My daily budget for work is no longer enough after 5 years of working. Having a degree in Economics, I stupidly forgot about inflation and price changes.

2.   Much of my income are used to pay debts.  (Ouch!) This trend will continue over the next three years.

3.  I would be able to save something from my daily budget from work if I would shop for my snacks in supermarkets, than the convenient 7-11 outlet outside the school or the expensive snacks in the school’s cafe.

4. Savings is gradually becoming less of a priority. (Oh Dear God, this can’t be!)

Finally and the most important of all

5. The greatest percentage of my daily budget are spent and for the significant OTHERS.  To expound further, this  includes my food indulgences, impulse purchases,  shopping for new clothes and a lot of things that ended up as unnecessary. (Another huge ouch here!)

What to do next? I know what should be done but as always, the determination, perseverance and consistency to make this a successful journey remains to be real challenge.

While the story of this journey remains to be unwritten, I’m hoping that my next posts will relate my much needed improvement.