Hindsight is a gift we all wish we had especially when we’ve made such terrible mistakes that seem to have no way of getting up from. Financial hindsight would definitely have saved me from investing in a business that lost me, not only money but also a friend.
Or had I known there was going to be a financial instrument higher in interest rate the day after I placed the one I had, I would have made more profit and been able to invest in a business sooner. Ah, so many financial mistakes notwithstanding, if I could warn my single and younger self, what would be the tips I give to her, knowing what I know now that I’m married and wiser.
1. Swallow the boredom of keeping track of my expenses and just do it.
Getting in the habit of knowing where your money is going and when to curb your spending is important, more so when your expenses increase multi-fold when married life kicks in.
After you’ve spent on something, just take a few minutes after to list down what you spent. Keep receipts so you can list them down and not have to remember from memory.
I actually know why you don’t keep track. You feel guilty about what you’re spending. Well, that’s why you also need to set a budget so that when you do reward yourself, you know you’ve set money for that particular purpose.
I know it feels like such a chore, but believe me, once you get started you’ll actually get obsessive-compulsive about it.
2. When you start using your credit card, make sure that you have money in your account to pay for it already.
In other words, don’t live on actual credit. Confidently use your credit card, knowing that you already have the money to pay for it.
Needless to say, you only max out your card if you have the funds. When you start working, don’t even live from paycheck to paycheck. Don’t get something using your credit card with the thinking that, “Oh, I’m going to get my salary in a few days anyway.”
That’s actually counting your eggs before they’re hatched. Not a good habit to start.
3. Avoid partying or cafe hopping too much.
Instead, save up. A friend who recently had a baby actually told me that if he could go back in time, he would have saved up for diapers! There really are just some things you don’t realize you will be spending for once you get married and have children.
Even if you and your spouse do not want to have children, you two will be spending on groceries, electricity, trips, dates, etc.
4. Start learning to invest as early as possible.
Housing, children, and bills start to be a huge burden when you’re married. Having the means to grow your money beyond your monthly income is a good idea.
5. Pick a partner who has similar money ideals as you (eg. frugal versus spendthrift).
Doing so helps you avoid additional strain to the very many adjustments you and your partner constantly make as you grow older together.
6. When starting a business with partners, make sure the exit strategy is clear to all parties concerned.
Talk about everything in the contract openly. Don’t be afraid to bring up what should happen if the business is not working out and how much each partner should get. You may or may not eventually get married with each other, so it’s best to be absolutely clear.
Commit to transparency with them, but if they cannot offer the same, then look at what other value-added services they can provide and indicate this in the contract. If they still refuse, now’s a good time to bid pleasant farewells and look for someone else.
7. Take your financial mistakes in stride.
I know, I know, easier said than done.
We’ve lost money to real estate and insurance investments, but always remember that money can always be made. Being financially down is not a permanent condition. The great thing about money is that we can always make it.
So in connection with this, don’t forget to keep learning new skills or enhance our already existing ones. That way, you’re not hung up on the achievement but rather in the process, the work, the next project.
So, my dear single self and to all the singles out there, learn from my mistakes and take it from my married self.
Need more help? Read up on Your Decade-By-Decade Guide to Financial Wellness.