Spending is something we like to do because we want to treat ourselves with things that can make us happy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but most of the time we are blindly led to the destructive habit of overspending and later we realize we made a big mistake.
This year will mark my eight years in the work force (yes, eight years, where has all the time gone?). Graduating and working at 20 has allowed me to experience the joys, pains, and yes, regrets in how I handled my money. I recall starting off with a measly salary barely enough for my gas, food, and other things I wanted to buy. As any fresh graduate would understand, the first few years you are paid in experience and for a time that was okay. Thankfully, I lived with my parents and got to keep most of my money to myself. Unfortunately, this wasn’t such a good idea since I spent it on nonsense things and I ended up with no discipline with regards to my finances.
Fortunately, my dad put a stop to it by giving me responsibilities at home and by God’s grace, at 27, I am slowly learning to save and invest wisely. Now, we look back on the purchases I wish I didn’t spend so much money on.
1) Branded Bags.
My parents constantly reminded me that branded bags are not an investment. And while they encouraged me to invest on a few classic pieces, they also told me to do so when I had extra. However, my persistent 22-year-old mind insisted on buying bags first before anything else (like savings) on installment. This was insane on my part because it simply meant that a) I didn’t have the money to pay for it and b) I would still be paying for it even though I no longer liked it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy branded bags but it would be wise to buy it when you can fully afford it and by that time, you can also choose the ones you really like instead of settling for something that’s cheap. Believe me, like in life and love, patience is also a virtue when it comes to buying stuff we really want.
2) Clothes on Installment.
I previously shared that I had my first credit card when I was 23 and I immediately activated it because my favorite clothing store offered a six months, zero interest deal for a minimum of P5,000. Thinking that the clothes in my closet were not enough, I went crazy in the store and continued paying for those clothes even though they were already faded, ripped apart, or no longer fit. The lesson learned here is to only but what I currently had the money to pay for, that way I don’t feel guilty wearing clothes that I didn’t fully pay for yet or feel bad when they no longer fit or no longer in style. (Another tip: buy classic go to pieces!).
3) Weekly Gimmicks.
I’m not saying this to be a Tita or a KJ Lola but one of the biggest money waster for me was all the weekends out with my friends. To be clear, I have never been the party animal so what I spent on these night outs were probably mediocre compared to what other people my age have spent. Some of my former friends and I used to go around our village in the South for food, a few drinks, dessert, and coffee. I didn’t realize how much money I was spending to hang out with friends (because let’s admit it, we’re never paying just for our own food, we’re splitting the bill, period).
And while being with friends is always a good thing, it’s wise to not keep up with joneses and pretend we have a thousand bucks or more to burn every night in a new restaurant. Always find the perfect balance so you don’t eat like a peasant during the day in order to party like a king at night.
4) Cheap Clothes.
I always thought I couldn’t afford store clothes so I always relegated myself to buying in tiangges and while some tiangges produce really good clothes (I just probably never had the knack for it), I realized that I was spending more because these clothes did not last and faded quickly so I needed to replace them monthly. I recall my dad saying that it was okay to buy a few items of clothing that lasted for years instead of buying them by the bulk but wasting them away because they were not of good quality.
5) Excessive Food.
I used to be an emotional eater so I spent a good part of my brokenhearted years spending way too much on excessive food. I recall constantly using my credit card to buy junk food for my brother and I to enjoy even though my mom prepared perfectly good and healthy food at home. Soon, the credit card bill piled up (how embarrassing that it all went to food and the grocery!) and I realized that the added weight plus the interest that went to food was just not worth it. It has gotten so bad that food became excessive and a vice more than a source of enjoyment.
Runner Up: Excessive Phone Lines
I used to have a problem with impatience (hehe, obviously) and I immediately wanted to get the brand new phone I’ve always wanted. Because of this, I would constantly pester my dad to get me a new line. This is bad news kids because at the end of the day, without realizing it, you already have three lines under your name, all of which you have to pay for. So again, be patient, as long as your phone is still working enough to text, call, browse, and take a selfie, you’re okay.
To end, spending really isn’t bad but it’s important to always be responsible. There is so much freedom in having a little money saved up every month and to not have your back against the wall. By not spending on stuff that you don’t need, you also have more room to be generous and help others who are in need. For me, sharing with others have been more meaningful than any food, branded bags, or clothing.
It is truly by God’s grace and wisdom that I can now enjoy that freedom and no longer have any Yuppie-Gets.
Carla Bianca V. Ravanes is a graduate of International Marketing Major in Advertising from the American City University and is currently a lifestyle columnist for The Manila Times and a Publicist for Perk Communications. It’s her goal to make finances topics relatable to the ordinary yuppie.