I have chosen to do something about my finances last year as the weight of home-ownership as well as negative chequeing account made me depressed, hopeless for my future, and hugely anxious.
I knew that unless I have had a hard look at my finances, these feelings would continue and I would experience further financial hardship.
So I made the choice of doing something about the situation and started a budget, where I calculated and monitored my fixed (e.g. mortgage, bills, etc.), flexible (grocery and other purchases, entertainment), and savings and investments for my retirement. I failed many times to keep up with my budget but eventually it stabilized. My spending was more conscious and wiser. I have had shopping freezes for items like books. I took advantage of loyalty points and followed sales. I still was taking the cab and wasting money, but hey, that was what I could do best at that time. Eventually things got better, but not perfect. Nevertheless, it was a small victory.
Then, I decided I could do way better. In the new year, I have aimed for a tighter, smaller budget that forced me to be better with my spending and better with my choices. I started price comparison and followed the sales more closely. I designed my meals around the produce on sale. I stop taking the cab and started taking the bus almost all the time. I traded one expense/product for another, more enjoyable or useful alternative. I never, even once, forgot to reward myself. I listened to my feelings and saw I was happy and excited. I saw that I was able to save way more than I can imagine with the new budget. I decided I liked savings and I paid my gratefulness everyday. For some miraculous way, I never felt deprived. In contrast, I have been feeling empowered, abundant, free, and able.
My choices and feelings have a huge role in my current financial status. I cannot know what the future will bring, but I know whatever I am doing it is working for me so far. I have wiser choices and more satisfaction, and less anxiety over the finances. It did not come with occasional fails, but that is a part of any journey. What matters is that I have seen my own progress and it made me excited and more motivated.
I think it is important that we find ways that work for us. I think it is also important to record and monitor our goals and our progress. Additionally, I think it would be dry and somehow demotivating if we have not rejoiced our progress or achieving our objectives. So, give yourself the chance to celebrate your financial choices and progress.
I am lucky that I have a simple life, I am not materialistic, I do not bend in the presence of peer pressure, I do not have a car or wishes for luxurious items or vacations. I do not mind shopping items at thrifty stores if they are in good conditions and in good hygiene. I do prefer to shop whenever I visit another city or country, where things are cheaper than where I am. I am lucky that my feelings give the motivation I may need to keep going. I like these about myself and my life.
Maximizing the value of our dollars is a very valuable choice. I do not use coupons (I am not against them, just cannot have time to find and use them), but sales, price check, and the loyalty points all made it for me. Would it not be wonderful if we had bought the laundry detergent half of its price? It would be. So if I can, I stock pile durable items while they are on sale. I cannot believe how much I am saving this way. In terms of food, the pantry items and dry food proved to be awesome (i.e. much cheaper than prepared meals), and so did the frozen meals and veggies I learnt to prepare myself. I regularly freeze my extra meals and consume them later when I do not feel like cooking.
Freezing food and being conscious about my spending also helped me to limit my food waste, for which I am extremely grateful.
And over time, I noticed that I did not need to spend money to feel good. I rather felt good with my choices, the funds accumulated, and the hope and empowerment I have got as a result. This requires a daily reflection and being in touch with my finances and feelings. A good way to spend 5 minutes each day to monitor my finances and a good way to calculate the increase in my net worth every two weeks on the day I get my salary.
I am extremely grateful for this new found freedom and appreciation I have. Like any other achievement, it started rough and was somehow as a struggle at the beginning, yet keeping going seems to be the best way. I also appreciate and am thankful for all the fellow bloggers who support and share useful tips and experiences that made this journey a pleasure.
I also thank myself for being candid with my financial situation, for writing about my journey in my blog, and making my finances, savings, expenses, and budgeting a daily, organic, evolving, and pulsating part of my life. I hope I will be able to go ahead like this for some time and keep these positive feelings towards my financial situation.