on simple living

I don’t know you but for us who rented a place in a foreign land, we’re discouraged to invest on expensive things and furniture. It all started when flood destroys the new pieces of things for the house we just bought: computer table , bookshelves , TV stands and mounts, sofa , mats and others. Since then we learned to just use what’s available like an old table for our TV, old boxes for our books and magazines and use a plastic bench instead of sofa. Also, we won’t stay long here in Thailand. We have dreams to explore greener pasture. It’s easier to live a place without too many expensive things to cling on. Also, instead of buying things for the house which we can live without, we better invest it to our siblings who are in college and for my mother-in-law’s medication. But I can’t wait to have that day that I’ll be shopping things and furniture for our own home. That time, expenses for the house will be worth it.

Girl’s Talk: Where did our money go?

 Few more days and year 2011 will be part of my life’s history. Before it ends, let me evaluate how’s this year for us especially on answering the question “Where did our money go?” Large chunk of it goes to our survival in this foreign land- FOOD ( if only we could stop eating..he..he..) of course, shelter, transportation, visa, work permit. Portion of it goes to Hyzyd’s babysitter (until October), family investments, Hyzyd’s school fees and my sister’s university’s tuition fee , few gadgets (iPad2 and my Samsung Candy) and miscellaneous. Though we don’t have HUGE savings right this moment but I’m beyond grateful because God granted my desire to visit Philippines. We’re blessed to be all in great health that we don’t need to spend a single dime for hospitalization. I thank God for this. We’re happy for the opportunity given to us to help my younger sister financially in university too.

Just few weeks ago, part of our money goes to iPad 2. It proves to be such an educational tool for Hyzyd and teaching aide for hubby in school:)

By taking a closer look at what we’re actually spending our money on this year, I identify that we had some negative spending habits that need to be changed to keep more of our paycheck for ourselves. It’s time to cut or totally eliminate expenses on gourmet coffee or pizzas or overspending every month’s SALE of my favorite clothing line! Year 2012 is my time to set and stick to a budget, identify my spending triggers, eliminate my negative spending habits and SAVE for car, for our own house and for our plan to migrate to Australia.


My share for:

The Importance of Family Budget

Since I was trusted with school allowance, I learned to budget it for a week . I had a small notebook before to keep track on how much I spend for the day on fare and snacks. I kept my savings for emergency like projects so that I don’t have to ask from my parents. Now that I have my own family, I deemed it important to prepare a family budget every month to prioritize expenses. You see, if you do not know which expenditure needs to be given priority, you may land up in serious trouble and may face financial hardship to make your two ends meet. This is when a budget will help you and guide you properly to distribute your earnings to various financial obligations. With a proper budget in place, you would already have anticipated the money needed for such expenses and would therefore be prepared. This can relieve you from enormous pressures and can help you feel more in control of things.

If your financial situation is particularly tight it will show up in the budget more clearly. From the budget you may be able to re-organize how your family usually spends its money into a more efficient model or perhaps make the changes necessary within the household that can result in long-term financial benefits.

To date, we keep a tight rein on our budget as we have a college student (my sister) and my son will be in preschool in November. My hubby’s interest on buying the best motorcycle gps for his CBR is temporarily laid on the table. It can wait.

As for our monthly budget, I use a simple envelope system. After receiving our monthly salary, I divide it up into envelopes marked for specific expenses. If I had budgeted $400 a month for groceries, I put $100 into the grocery envelope every week. Then I know I’ll have the money when it’s time to go to the store. I got envelopes for other fixed costs, as well as for luxuries like for “eating out” or “entertainment”,  occasionally.

It’s time-consuming to develop and maintain a budget, find the lowest prices, collect coupons, and shop for the best deals. It takes still more time to shop and cook in bulk, and to make presents instead of buying them. If you need to devote seven hours a week to keep your household costs low- meal planning, shopping, making meals from scratch, and keeping track of spending, then do it. When you consider the rewards, it really isn’t that much!

Preparing for a Baby: Getting Your Finances in Order

Friends are asking us when are we planning for baby number 2. They see it that now is the right time because Hyzyd will soon be 3. Hubby and I are not yet ready for another baby. We’re both working so we need to consider who will babysit the baby. Another thing is we need time to save because there will be financial changes once there’s another baby.

Here’s my advice for partners who are gearing up to become parents. Now is the time to add financial preparation to your to-do list. The best way: Start small. You don’t want to stress yourselves out by tackling every line item at once. But you do want to start socking away cash so you’ll be able to pony up the money for medical bills that your insurance won’t cover during pregnancy — not to mention cover any unpaid maternity leave. Plus, now is the time to think of creative ways to cut corners and generate extra bucks for baby expenses.

Next, make a list of your current expenses and then add in the baby costs you’ll be calculating soon: diapers, formula (if you don’t plan on breastfeeding), bottles, baby clothes, baby gear, baby food, baby toys, etc., . You need this in order to have a clearer view of what would be your expenses once baby comes in. For a lighter mood, think of it as an investment for your baby’s life rather than expenses. Don’t forget the budget you need for maternity clothes. To save, you could borrow from friends and family!

Finally, think of ways (big and small) to cut corners and generate extra cash for baby expenses. Some almost painless ways to save big when you’re preparing for your baby include:

1. Cutting back on luxuries such as expensive restaurant meals and high-priced lattes (you don’t need all that caffeine now, anyway). Now is the right time to use the old “loose-change-in-a-jar” trick. Then, you could move the money periodically into a savings account (preferably an interest-bearing one that you’ve both sworn not to dip into).

2. Be critical on your monthly expenditures for home and cell phone services, cable, gym memberships, and the like. Not that you need to live without these conveniences, but you may be able to switch to cheaper ones.

3. Reducing credit card debt by avoiding late fees, paying more than the minimum each month, and rolling balances onto low-interest cards.

4. Diverting some of your current savings/investment dollars into a “baby fund” for your various baby expenses.

For my partner and me, before we’ll have baby number 2 , we’re gearing on purchasing life insurance . This is what we’ve decided after stumbling on the Wholesale Insurance site. We’ll get this kind of insurance not for our babies but for myself and for my partner. This kind of insurance is designed to replace earned income. Term life insurance is best, because it provides a benefit upon your death without any cash accumulation. Disability insurance is also a smart buy.

Use Your Time Wisely

How are you spending your time?

If you’re wise you’ll stop frequently and think about how you’re spending your time.

Who hasn’t heard the true story of Charles M. Schwab and Ivy Lee? Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Lee, a consultant, was given the unusual challenge, “Show me a way to get more things done with my time.” Schwab agreed to pay him “anything within reason” if Lee’s suggestions worked. Lee later handed the executive a sheet of paper with the plan:

Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on number one and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with number two, then number three. Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your cheque for what you think it’s worth.”‘ That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years. How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after he received the note, he sent Lee a cheque for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.

Try it for yourself. If it works, great. But don’t send me any money for the idea.