A major milestone in a working woman’s life is getting a place to call her own. The task appears daunting, but these three women across different life stages have achieved it with some smart and careful decision-making, discipline, and hard work. This just goes to show that no matter what life stage you're in, it's never too early to start being smart about your money.

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Investing in your 20s

Michelle Laraya is in her late 20s and works as a field trainer for a cosmetics company. She describes herself as someone who's always had an independent spirit, so she knew that she would eventually get a place for herself. When she started working, it became automatic for her to start saving up. “Someone once told me that once I started earning, I need to put my money somewhere it will grow and he was right. Your best friend is time, so the way I saw it—since I didn't have responsibilities yet—I [had] the luxury to invest.” She also opened an investment savings account with an insurance company and thought of it as “money spent.”

But more than hard work and savings, she also researched heavily before finally getting her own place. She advises budding property buyers, “Don't be lured by low downpayments, cheap monthly amortization, etc. Rank your estate priorities: location, size of property, low-rise/high-rise, developer, amenities, etc. There is a perfect property for you and sometimes all you need to do is be patient.”

“[And] once you find it, you should be ready to give up a lot of things (i.e. eating out, shopping, traveling, Starbucks).”

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Investing in your 30s

Chen Eugenio is in her 30s and works as a marketing manager for a shipping company. As of writing, she is awaiting turnover of her own apartment in Mandaluyong. Once she decided to invest in an apartment, it made achieving her goals easier. For the most part, it was a huge influence on her own spending habits, “I also had emergency funds and savings worth at least three months of my salary. That was my target before I [took the plunge] and bought a place.”

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To help reach her target, she got into investments such as a variable life insurance plan, which was made up of life insurance and mutual funds. She also grew her money through the office lending co-op and FarmOn, which enables you to invest in and support local farmers. The money she earned from these ventures were used to pay for condo expenses and furniture.

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Investing in your 40s

Cheryl Oh is in her 40s, but she's been making small investments since her thirties through the stock market. “When investing in the stock market, only invest what you can prepare to lose. Don’t get emotional.” She held corporate jobs before becoming a full-time freelance web developer after she got married. It was also around that time that she and her husband decided to buy their own place so they could prepare for a family of their own. Some years later, she also invested in another property based on a tip from a friend.

As a freelancer, Cheryl had to be very diligent about tracking her own sales and collections, “I checked my income the past three years so I knew I was making a certain amount every month, and was optimistic about making even more.”

It wasn’t easy, and she admits that she feels tired, but she’s happy that she manages to earn enough to pay for bills and support her family which now includes two children. It’s also her children that help her stick to her investment payments and goals, “With two kids, I think that one day, they can each inherit one.”

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