Sarina Pathela, who has a background in research and development in pharma, spent her entire life not worrying about money or keeping track of expenses. Here, she talks about how she found financial independence.
Before I got married, swiping my dad’s credit card was almost second nature. From shopping sprees in Zara to restaurant bills to my nights out at bars (back in the days when I used to drink), whenever I needed to pay for something, I would resort to my dad’s credit card without thinking twice.
When my dad went through his credit card bills at the end of each month, he would lose it and lecture me on how I needed to improve my spending habits and finding financial independence. I definitely felt bad after hearing his money sermons but unfortunately my spending habits did not improve enough.
Today, however, I completely get where my dad was coming from and am well aware that hard-earned money should be spent wisely.
Finding financial independence: my wake-up call
The consequences of me not keeping track of my expenses didn’t hit me until I got married; it was quite a shock.
It was all rainbows and butterflies until the bills started coming in. Married life has been great and I sometimes still feel like I’m living in a dream, but those bills really bring you back to earth. Now, I understand why my dad used to give me all those lectures regarding spending money wisely. I wish I listened!
But here’s how I’ve changed
1. I keep track of my spending
I’ve never really been the kind of woman to keep track of what I spend yet alone bother looking at my bank balance but since I’ve moved out I keep track of all our bills, grocery shops, travel expenses and other fixed expenses. Knowing this helps me know exactly how much we can take from our monthly income into our savings account. If manually keep tracking of your bills sounds too painful you can try these free budget apps like levelmoney.com and Wally.me.
2. I have bigger financial goals
Now, savings to me is no longer about putting money away for something I plan to buy within the year like my next holiday to the UK. Now, I’m more focused on saving for our future; for kids, a bigger car, a new home, retirement and so forth.
3. I pause before swiping
I haven’t quit swiping cold turkey. I still indulge in shopping and restaurants, but I have definitely started to think twice before spending something over $100. I’d ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is no. If I hesitate even for a second I take a two days break.
At first I used to come up with reasons or excuses as to why I needed that item, but now it’s becoming normal for me to just not splurge. If I really want something after two days I don’t deprive myself of it and I do go back to buy it.
Trust me, this was a massive accomplishment, and my savings account has never looked healthier.
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