When I was a lot younger, my only concern about money was whether I had enough of it to buy stationaries and stickers. I would collect them—some to re-sell, some to keep and look at every once in a while—and use up my measly allowance in record time. As I grew up, I let go of my penchant for spending on what is essentially paper, only to replace it with other material things like clothes, books, and makeup. My relationship with money, however, stayed the same. I did not lack reminding, though. My mother and my grandmother are both femtrepreneurs who have very liberated views about women and money, and they have never been shy about discussing it with me. However, I was also part of a consumer generation. There was always something new to buy—the latest gadget, book three of a trilogy, piso-fare plane tickets—and so for the longest time, I lived from paycheck to paycheck.
Like any other millenial, I was young. I didn’t have any mouths to feed. I didn’t have to contribute to anything at home. And I was confident that I wouldn’t starve even if I were fired from my job. It wasn’t until I started writing more articles about money, budgeting, savings, and investments that my attitude toward my finances really changed.
Mind you, I’m no investment banker. I’m not even very good with numbers—it’s my sister who’s the economist in the family—but when you spend time and time again reading and writing about personal finance, lessons can’t help but stick. Even interviewing people about their tipid tips has affected my perspective about money in a lot of ways.
For one, I'm actually saving to save now and not just saving to spend. While there are still plenty of purchases I intend to make—like a new laptop, which I sort of need but not right away—I make sure that spending for them won’t deplete my bank account. Having a financial goal helps. Whether that’s P100,000, P300,000, or P500,000 by the end of the year, I set a target that is realistic and not just wishful thinking. Writing about money has also made me less intimidated about things like mutual funds, insurance, and compounding interest. Speaking of interest, I've become a much better credit card owner, too! I pay my bills on time and I think carefully about what each swipe will cost me (and I'm not just talking about the charge).
But my biggest revelation was not these tips. While they helped me manage my money better, what I recently realized was that I have become more comfortable with the subject matter itself. Instead of shying away from money talk, I take mental notes. Instead of ignoring money articles, I excitedly read them from start to finish. The change didn't happen overnight, just as my spending and saving habits took time to improve. But without a doubt, writing about money helped me keep an open mind about my finances and develop a healthy curiosity for it.
The exercise isn’t just therapeutic, but also helps me stay on track of my financial goals. There's a reason people who want to lose weight or people who had a traumatic experience are encouraged to keep a journal.
When you write, you can't help but give your words, and therefore, your thoughts, closer examination. The more you write about your spending habits, the better you understand yourself and your relationship with money. Besides, according to Life Hacker, "Keeping a journal is a great way to build better habits, as it forces you to be aware of your actions and behaviors."
It's something you might want to try tonight. Write about that tote bag you almost bought at the mall or the insurance policy your kabarkada recently got for herself. Write about your moment of weakness with your credit card or that ongoing sale. Give yourself tips based on what you’ve read or heard. In short, write down all your thoughts on money. Are you intimidated by investment talk? Does the subject fill you with dread? Before all else, you need to be comfortable enough to have a conversation with yourself about your finances, and writing, I believe, is the first step.
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