10 Tips For A Better Life Ahead: The Millennial Way

October 30, 2017



Saving is easy to say but difficult to start, especially for a millennial like me. Having friends is perhaps one of the reasons why it is difficult for me to start saving. Maybe for most millennials, too.


THAT EUREKA MOMENT


When we planned to book a plane ticket for Singapore, my supposed first international trip last year, I was hesitant. I had that YOLO (You Only Live Once) moment believing that as long as I have money, I can travel. If I don't go with them, I might have that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) feeling. I decided to back out last minute because of an emergency back home and didn't have enough savings to fund my travel.

I have learned my lesson from that experience. First, I need to have a separate travel and emergency fund. This will allow me to become a more responsible millennial without sacrificing my YOLO plans in life. I can only achieve this if I manage my money wisely.

Like me, are you also looking for some financial advice on how to save for a better life?

My fellow millennials, I'm currently studying on how to make the most of whatever I have today. With the use of technology and endless conversations with friends, I learned the technical financial terms that I wish to share with you. I have applied some of these in my life and I will also share my proposed financial plans that you can freely consider. To explain some of these theoretical concepts, I will attach some links for further reading.


1. Make a monthly budget and keep track of your daily expenses.


One major problem of millennials is overspending. We tend to spend as long as we have money leaving nothing for savings. This is wrong in many ways but the best way we can avoid this is to have a monthly budget.

Budgeting isn't as easy as it sounds. You can more or less approximate your budget by tracking daily expenses for a month or two. As for me, I’ve kept tabs on what I spent on during the last year. The year’s worth of data collected is enough for me to estimate my expenses and how much I can save from hereon.

To help me track my daily expenses, I used an app called MoneyLover which is free on both Android and iOS phones. There are other options out there but I am satisfied with the features of this app.

At the beginning, it's challenging to keep track of your expenses but over time it will grow on you especially when you start seeing the extra money you can save. If there are days you missed, consider estimating. Do it regularly--every day even--until it becomes a part of your daily habits.

When shopping or doing grocery, consider creating a list of what to buy. This will not only save you money, but also time, and energy.


2. Consider opening more than one savings account.


I'm sure you have at least one bank account, which is usually where your payroll comes in. Consider opening a secondary one for your savings.

It's best to have a separate savings account so that you will not be able to accidentally withdraw all your money. It can be separate banks or, if you're using BPI, check the BPI Save Up account option. It's basically automated savings but you can update the account balance over the web or your mobile device when needed. It has also life insurance included! As suggested by my friend, owning a passbook savings account could be a good way to curb the temptation to withdraw money anytime, especially if you leave it at home.

Having separate banks is strategic for emergency situations that may happen in the future. Recently, there were a few days that BPI had a malfunction in their system. As a result, account holders couldn’t withdraw any amount until that internal bug was fixed.

Currently, I have a Landbank savings account, BPI regular savings account, and a BPI Save Up account. Note that each account has its own maintaining balance. That's something else you will need to consider.


READ: Dear Millennials, Let's Use Technology To Save Our Future

3. Get a credit card ONLY when necessary. If you can, don't get one.


I don't have a credit card and don't have plans on getting one ever!

I have asked my friends about the perks and risks of owning a credit card. There are many pros and cons. True, there are a lot of promos attached to owning a credit card, and yes, these are so tempting! You can also use it in times of emergency.

On the other hand, I understand that at the end of the day, a credit card is still a debt to be paid. There are also maintaining costs that come with it.

For some people, owning a credit card has more advantages than disadvantages. Still, it's only best to only have one if you have a stable income and you need it on a regular basis. If not, it's always better to use debit cards instead.

As for me, I don’t think now is the best time for me to own a credit card.


4. Work away from the bustling metropolis.


Cebu is next to Metro Manila in terms of progress and traffic. Metro Cebu is already hosting a lot of companies that are expanding out of the country's capital.

The costs of living in Metro Manila is higher compared to Cebu, and so are its basic rates. If you can, work in a place wherein you can save more from your salary. Consider the traffic when going to and from your office. Does it take hours? Keep in mind that time is the most expensive currency we have. The more we waste it, the more money we lose.

Unless you need to work in a city, consider getting a job close to home wherein you can save most of your salary.


5. Do not rely on only one source of income.


Almost all millennials have only one full-time job and their expenses depend on this single source of income. While it's not necessarily a bad idea, it's better to have at least two sources of income to get extra cash.

Depending on your type of work, juggling one full-time and one freelance work could be challenging. But it's a great way to test and hone your time management skills.

If you want to have one source of income, make sure there’s enough for you to set aside money for savings. There are a lot of freelance opportunities for you depending on your skills and network.


6. Start having a life insurance policy right after getting your first job.


Recently, I learned the value of financial literacy because a workmate offered me a policy proposal from an insurance company. I'm already 25 and I don't have a policy yet. Just in case something bad happens to me, my family will be left with nothing.

Since I’m new to all this financial lingo, I'm afraid that I might make a wrong decision. So instead of accepting that policy immediately, I posted on my Facebook asking for recommendations from friends on the best company for me to get my first life insurance policy.

With that single post, I was able to meet about 10 financial advisors from different companies and shared with them exactly what I wanted. The exciting part is that during each meeting I learned how insurance policies work, what type of investments to purchase, and met new people who want to save the millennials from a risky future ahead.

If you recently landed your first job after graduating from college, consider getting a life insurance with investment. Avoid having extras on top of the life insurance (technically called riders) since this is an additional annual expense. You can have a separate health insurance or rely on the basic HMO that is given by the company, especially you're still young. More importantly, invest in a policy with payment installment schemes you can afford.


7. Do your own research (lots of it) before considering where and how to invest your money.


The best tip I can give to anyone is to validate all the information you get from the people around you.

What your friends choose may be due to their biases while some financial advisors may recommend based on their personal preferences in managing their money. You, on the other hand, can do your own research so you can choose the best type of investment for you.

Each one of us has different personalities and this will affect our decisions in choosing the best investments for us. You will encounter technical financial jargons which will be overwhelming at first but it's a good start. Stay curious and always ask a question when needed.


8. Become a member of a cooperative.


After posting a Facebook inquiry about insurance recommendations, a friend recommended me to check out a cooperative as this might interest me. Sure enough, I attended their orientation on a Saturday morning that weekend.

The cooperative taught me about how they work and what I can do to make the most of my money. It's one of Cebu's best cooperatives and their main product is providing loans to members. Generally, this is how they work: you give out a shared capital and each year you get shared annual incentives and dividends.

Interestingly, they offer the affordable health care that I need. Since I don't have a health insurance from my current company, joining this cooperative will benefit me. Last week, I submitted my application to become a member.

There are a lot of cooperatives in the Philippines but not all are created equal. It is always best to understand the status of the cooperative you intend to join.

What's the best thing about cooperatives? Tax-free. I'm even planning to move a portion of my savings to this particular cooperative that I joined since they have an annual 4% interest rate. Is my money safe? Well, this cooperative is insured up to P300,000 per member! This means that if the cooperative will meet its untimely closure, I will still get my money back up to P300,000.


READ: How Can Social Media Change the Financial Literacy Mindset of Millennials?


9. Diversify your investments: mutual funds, the stock market, or cryptocurrency.


Hold on, I understand if these terms may sound foreign to you. All of these are financial jargon that you will hear more often later on.

If you want to invest in the stock market, you can do so by buying shares from the companies. There's a high risk involved when buying directly from the stock market. Mutual funds allow you to invest in stocks, bonds, and more without having to master finance. A financial advisor can discuss this more or you can check the difference here.

While you can be great in one type of investment but diversifying your investment portfolio will lessen the risk of losing all your money. Yes, sadly, losing money is part of investing.

To lessen the risk, having a balanced portfolio might be more secure than focusing on one type of investment. If you find this idea stressful, well you don't have to personally do everything yourself.

For example, most life insurance policies offered right now include an investment. Talk with your financial advisor on how this can work. Ideally, you can diversify your investments depending on your appetite. From mutual bonds to stock market, you're free to choose.

Here's another tip in choosing a financial advisor: find someone you know personally, or at least comfortable with. Your money and future are at stake here.

If you have enough knowledge about the stock market, you can have a personal account wherein you can directly buy and share stocks on your own.

Or if you’re feeling a little more daring, you can explore cryptocurrency (secured digital money) which is gaining popularity. But this is also something I recommend you to study first before taking the plunge. You might want to invest some cash on this. If last year you invested P1,000 in Bitcoin (a type of cryptocurrency), right now that amount would have been already P6,000. That may not be the case this year but Bitcoins and cryptocurrency are good investments, too.

I recently registered an account on Coins.ph and I'm buying Bitcoins here. A few years ago, people can easily mine Bitcoins but today it's already more difficult. What we can do today is convert our peso into Bitcoins and during the right time, we can convert it back to peso. It works like dollar-peso conversion.

Keep in mind: you can lose money in investments but with the right strategy, you can surely earn a lot, especially in the long term.


10. Network with the respected people in the field of financial literacy.


Having the right network, both online and offline, is important. We may not be able to befriend all the financial literacy heroes in this country but most of them have active blogs, social media pages, and are lurking in Facebook groups.

I consider Fritz Villafuerte as one of my financial mentors. We haven't met personally but I read his blog regularly. This is where I learned about some of the tips I included in this list. I wish to meet him someday and learn more financial lessons from him.

If we decide to follow them online, we may learn some tips from them that we can apply in our investment portfolio.


BONUS: Build your own business.


The best type of investment is owning a business. In this digital age, more jobs have been created. There are a million ways to earn money and millennials like us can easily adapt to these ways.

Having an entrepreneurial mindset is what the educational system in the Philippines needs to improve. It's risky but having a great team and determination to succeed, efforts can pay off hundreds of folds.

I'm working with a friend to make a Cebu-based health and fitness blog and will see if in a span of a year we can turn this into an exciting business. Nonetheless, we will share our stories on how to have a healthier lifestyle. You can think of your business idea, too, and start working on making that a reality.

Due to the advent of technology, there are a lot of new business ideas today. Franchising could be an option if you have enough money. Working in a technology-based startup is the “in thing” right now but the real secret to success is having the best people to work with.


FINAL WORDS


Compared to 10 years ago, acquiring new information about financial literacy has become way easier today. With this, becoming successful in managing our money is expected from us. What we need is to have the mindset to look for creative ways starting today!

My fellow millennials, we are lucky to have this information searchable from the tip of our fingers. If we end up financially struggling in the future despite knowing all these information, then perhaps, we are to be blamed. For not studying more. For not researching more. After all, the information is just out there. All we have is grasp it, absorb it, and use it. And then imagine the financial heights we could reach. The possibilities are quite endless.

Like you, my fellow millennial, I have just started my financial journey. But if we work together and learn through the ups and downs of mastering financial literacy, the world would be our oyster. And when we have financial freedom in our hands, the future suddenly looks so much brighter.

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ZUProme Tech + Social Media blog by Rome Nicolas from Cebu, Philippines will tackle social media and technology updates for Filipinos.



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